Thursday, November 13, 2008

The whole nine metres

Standing where I am with the camera, it's nine metres down to the end of the garden, so for this morning's little backyard ramble I thought I'd arrange my posting in terms of their distance from this spot. So let's give the whole nine metres a look-over.

Sorry about the rather obvious splicing job in Photoshop (on the left side) merging two pix of the backyard to create the splendiferous panorama, but that's what you get when you let an untrained amateur loose on sophisticated computers these days. Now, to begin our 9m long journey, one step forward.

In the still morning air, the first thing to strike the visitor is this sweetly fragrant trio of low planter tubs just leaking gardenia scents and pure whiteness amid thickets of glossy green. They're just starting to come into bloom.

These low-growing plants are Gardenia radicans, and they fit the bill here well when it comes to size, and for just a brief little while they really do look the part, too.

Unfortunately, these gardenias have a dreadful case of Pig Pen syndrome, and after about 24 hours of impeccable white loveliness their trousers are brown with dirt and they look, at best, like a caramel swirl ice-cream. The first year this happened my disappointment was quite deep, but now after several years I can't help but smile at the knowledge that the crispy cleanest, purest whitest pearl in the garden is really a grub at heart. Treasured member of the family is Pig Pen.

Swinging overhead the gardenias in a hanging basket are strawberries putting on good growth and now a flush of blooms. I had done the wrong thing with the strawbs for the first month or two I had them and let every flower develop into a small, pathetic fruit. Then I started feeding the plants and plucking off all the fruits for several weeks, to allow the plants to grow. Now the plants are looking bigger and the flowers I'm allowing to develop are more robust, too.

Here's a trainee strawberry aiming himself at the sunshine. Small beginnings, but I'm keeping an eye on how this one develops.

In a corner of the pergola area, on the shady east side, the bromeliads are having sex. You can tell they're having sex from their blushes. Normally these potted people are just variegated all over, but right now they're in the throes of passion, and looking like they're enjoying it. I started off with just one of these, and now I have five. More babies expected.

On the western, sunny, side of the pergola area this hanging basket of pelargoniums is having a lovely time. Several months ago a fairly violent storm tore them to shreds, and all of them ended up on the ground in tatters. So I just turned them into cuttings, whacked them back into some fresh potting mix, and they're back in business, until the next storm at least. Great plants, pelargoniums, one of the best.

Wandering three metres up the path, past a just-planted potager patch on the left (that I'll feature in a later blog), a salad patch on the right (ditto, another upcoming blog), and the potato patch which I've already blogged on about a couple of times, we get to a pot of chives which is bouncing back from the annual spring attack of the miserable black aphids. I've come to see the aphid attacks as just part of the cycle of the seasons. There's nothing safe or useful that I can spray the chives with to prevent the aphids stuffing things up, and I just deal with them once they arrive, squishing them off with fingers and hosing them off with a strong jet of water - and sometimes just cutting back the chives to ground level if things get bad. The chives always bounce back rapidly with food, water and sunshine. As you can see, they're telling me that they're OK again.

Towering high over the chives about a metre away is a patch of canna lilies, which are coming into bloom in numbers now.

Neighbouring the cannas is the frangipani which I've mentioned before, and it should be in bloom very soon. Can't wait to smell them, my favourite fragrant flowers.

In the few feet between frangipani land and our next stop, tomato city, there's a little patch of colourful Ajuga reptans, a groundcover that is briefly at its best in spring, spreading out optimistically once again in search of more ground to colonise. Then the Sydney summer strikes and Ajuga shrinks back into the cooler, moister corner that's its real comfort zone here. But it never gives up, even though over the last three years it hasn't really succeeded, either.

The tomato patch is belting along, making rapid growth in the excellent spring weather. We're not getting enough rain, but we're getting all the warmth and sunshine that you could hope for. In the foreground are some Roma tomatoes which the seed packet insists are not very tall-growing and ideal for pots. So far so good with them, too. In the background, in between the bamboo stakes is a single tall Grosse Lisse salad tomato plant. It's on the rise.

The other tomato plants, four small 'Tiny Tim' cherry tomatoes, are proving to be surprisingly sprawling little affairs, but they are flowering profusely and setting fruit all over the place. Can't complain too much, but for small plants they like to take up space. Think I'll grow next what I grew last year – 'Tiny Tom' cherries – which took up much less room.

On the other side of the path from the tomatoes, the three 'Black Beauty' zucchinis are cropping heavily, and the sight of all those wonderful big yellow flowers would cheer up anyone. Pam cooked some of the zucchinis the other night and flavoured them with some of our chervil, and that was probably the nicest tasting zucchini dish I've ever eaten. So simple, just a single vegie and a single herb. All you need if both are fresh and home-grown.

Behind the zucchinis, the beans have already reached the top of my cutesy willow tripod, so goodness knows what they're going to do now. Reach for a low cloud? Healthy and happy, though, that's the main thing.

Up against the shed wall, almost the full nine metres from where I began, the geums are in bloom. This is a terrific effort from these plants, as they were growing in another part of the garden only about 10 weeks ago, and to make way for the frangipani they were roughly and quickly moved to a rare but available spare bit of ground, without much thought about how suitable that spot would be, etc (low on the totem pole of priorities are the poor old geums, I'm afraid). I'm amazed they're flowering at all, but admittedly they're not flowering much. However, as I had until now never seen a geum bloom, I'm very pleased that they've managed to put on any kind of show.

Speaking of 'putting on shows', my ornamental ginger blooms were last year chomped to death before they put out so much as a glimmer of colour. Subsequent research reveals that there's a range of caterpillars who find these things delicious, and so that's why the leaves are speckled with the residue of my organic anti-caterpillar spray. This is based on a naturally occurring bacteria which gets into the guts of the caterpillars and interferes with their appetite, big-time. The spray doesn't harm other insects, just caterpillars. At least the ginger plant is healthy, and this year it has sent up four new flower spikes. Only time and persistence will tell whether my cunning plan will work, or whether the sneaky ginger-munchers win again. I do realise that it's fun for me, and no fun for them – not unless they win, that is.

So, for the meantime, this guided tour of the goings on in mid-November Amateurland ends, nine metres later on. I sometimes do have fantasies of gardening on a larger block but these fantasies need a massive lottery win and early retirement, just for starters. There'd be orchards, that's for sure. And very large vegie patches. And herb collections. And room for crazy experiments. And chooks. And meadows of flowers. And a whole hillside of natives, gullies of them, too. I'd need at least 40 acres, so maybe I'm better off with just 9m x 7.5m. With 40 acres, there'd be no blogging time, that's for sure!


seo said...

wow, so beautiful garden~!

Chookie said...

I'm jealous at how advanced your summer vegies are. Mine are tiny, as I started them late. Salivating at the thought of home-grown summer veg...

Linda said...

Yep, I'm like Chookie - had been away. So looked at yours and had a severe case of Tomato Envy.

Thank You for the tour.

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