We're having a purple patch of lovely weather here in Sydney right now, a wonderful line-up of sunny, fine days. Last week we fell just short of the record for our warmest July day on record – that's a bit over 25°C (77°F) – but these last few days have all hovered around 19 or 20. With the sun on your back it's almost perfect gardening weather, so instead of dutifully heading inside to slave over a work-from-home computer keyboard, I decided to potter about and tend to a few plants while I also took a few snaps of how things are going here in Amateur Land.
I usually stand just outside the back door to take my snaps of the whole garden, but with the morning sun low in the sky making that shot impossible, I ventured all nine metres to way up the other end of Amateur Land to look back to the house, for a change. Lots happening, as usual. Here's a few close ups of what's going on.
While there aren't a lot of flowers in bloom now in the garden, the rosemary has just started producing its pretty mauve flowers. This is such a nice plant just to be near, thanks to those fragrant green leaves.
The poppy patch carries on prettily, but it has such a casual approach to the business of blooming. Though there might be 20 plants in the little patch, each sending up half a dozen droopy-headed stems at a go, you never really see much more than 10-20 blooms fully open at any one time in the little patch. That's plenty to pick in the morning to fill a vase (as Pammy does regularly) but you never get the razzamatazz of the whole patch in bloom all at once. That never happens. Instead, the patch just pops out its pretty blooms a few at a time, never trying to seem all that showy, but it does it so well for several months each year (from early June to early October).
The shallots in the foreground have been like this for weeks, and that's the wonderful thing about them. You can leave them there and just pick one or two when you need them, and leave the rest behind for another day. They do get a bit stronger in flavour as they age, but they're fine in cooking. Behind the shallots is a pot of rocket, and behind that a mixed planting of a couple plants each of Chinese cabbage, mini cauliflower and lettuce. On the left the tatty sage bush is due for its midwinter pruning. I'll cut off about half the growth and it'll bounce back nicely in spring with a new flush of aromatic, soft grey leaves.
I do like the look of this pot of colourful ornamental kale, but I can't take any credit for growing it. It was left behind by the TV crew who filmed here last Wednesday (see my previous blog entry for the details on that). It's pictured here next to some more baby cauliflower plants, and it always amazes me how incredibly diverse the Brassica group of vegies is. Essentially they're all the same plant, Brassica oleracea, but the huge number of different forms the same plant takes – all sorts of cabbages, ornamental kale, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts – it's just amazing.
Hooray, the eschallots are up! Last year I tried growing these onion-family members in a tub of potting mix and it was a miserable failure. This year I whacked them into the cold arms of wintry Mother Earth and in just four weeks all eight bulbs have sent up optimistic little green shoots.
Nearby, the garlic patch marches on. The central row (sown in May) is currently doing the best, but the other rows (one sown in April, the other in June) are still performing respectably, if not quite as well. I'm feeding them monthly with lines of chicken manure sprinkled between the rows.
At last the dwarf peas are getting a bit more sunshine and have started to gain in height and produce some flowers, but as for ambitions of any bumper crops, to quote a great Australian philosopher, Darryl Kerrigan "tell him he's dreaming".
Final stop on the sunny winter morning ramble is the cumquat tree, laden with fruit. This was actually the reason for the TV crew's visit, to do a segment on potted cumquats. These tart little citrus make wonderful marmalade, and that's what I'll be doing with them very soon.
I'd better get back to work. It was just too nice a morning to leave the garden straight away on such a perfect winter's day!