Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Idle idyll

Too much of a good thing right now. Wet days, plenty of them, above average February rainfall after a too-dry January. Fair enough. The only thing an idle gardener can do at the moment is wander around during a break in the rain and enjoy the scenery. Rain softens summer gardens here in Sydney – like a delicious sauce it adds complexity to the dish.

My healthy, happy, potted cumquat, all dolled up in pearls. Its summer flush of flowers has just given way to reveal a host of little fruits eagerly making their way in life.

Next door to my potted cumquat is my friend, Michelle's, potted cumquat, which I am baby-sitting for her while she and her husband, Evan, spend a year in the Outback discovering the other Australia. For some strange reason, Michelle's cumquat is about two to three weeks more advanced in flowering and fruiting than mine. Both plants are the same variety, in the same spot in the garden, next to each other, and they receive an identical regime of food, water and encouragement from me. Yet Michelle's plant finished flowering three weeks ago and is steaming ahead with fruit formation, while mine happily lags behind at all times. One of life's little mysteries, but the main thing is that both plants are doing well (and you'll get another batch of home-made cumquat marmalade later this year, Michelle!)

As well as babysitting Michelle's potted cumquat, I'm also looking after Evan's standard 'Friesia' rose. Ever since I gave it a light mulch of old cow manure, plus a treatment with a soil wetting agent, it has really started to power along beautifully, a much happier chap. Such a lovely scent to its yellow roses, many of which make their way indoors into Pam's little empire of vases, which are dotted like pretty little forts guarding bookcases and ledges here and there throughout the house.

Speaking of lovely scents, these scented-leaf pelargoniums (rear, left) smell heavenly on this moist morning. The other participants in this pleasingly green scene are a golden marjoram (front left), potted mint (front right) and Murraya (rear, right). The trunk in the centre belongs to an olive tree, by the way.

The berries on the potted curry leaf tree are changing colour from red to black at the moment. My wife Pam does botanical illustration in watercolours, and she has chosen the curry leaf tree as her subject for a course she's doing at the Sydney Botanic Gardens, doing studies of its flowers, berries and leaves. Can't wait to see the completed work, but I will have to wait, as she doesn't like to hurry these things. She takes her own time, and the results are always a thing of lasting beauty.

After a snooze through the dry heat of January, the new 'Eureka' lemon tree has perked up wonderfully in the February rain. And, as part of the annual routine with citrus here, I'll be feeding all of them this weekend. I feed the greedy in-ground plants twice a year, in late February and late August (the potted citrus are given lighter feeds every six weeks). Citrus love their pelletised chicken manure, which adds a certain farmyard aroma to Amateur Land for about 48 hours, but it keeps them very happy, even if Pam and the neighbours aren't always thrilled.

Everywhere on this idle morning the garden is gently sagging under its shiny coat of rain. Coleus Corner is much more maroon-hued than in any previous year, but that's OK with me. I think this colour scheme is probably at its best in the rain. The more varied and colourful versions of Coleus Corner of other years looked better in the sunshine, but on a rainy day I like this darker, moodier scheme best.

So, there's no weeding, no trimming, no jobs to do at all this idle weekday morning. Just a few minutes during a break in the rain in my soggy little idyll before getting down to work. The perfect start, really.


nfmgirl said...

What a beautiful garden! I'm envious!

Chandramouli S said...

"Like a delicious sauce it adds complexity to the dish" - such an apt description - I liked it. I too love the rain drenched garden, with beads of water adorning it! Great photos!

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

How very lush and green, the picture are so wonderful to look at on this cold February day.
I have walked through the lovely Sydney Botanical Garden and I do envy you to have it so close. I remember this extraordinary huge tree down on a slop. Thank you Jamie for showing us some of your lovely garden. Please do tell your wife to show us some of her watercolour pics.


Anonymous said...

Jamie, My husband calls rain "free water." A rain shower lowers the water bill and, I don't have any science to back this up, but I think the plants prefer rain over tap water. Your plants sure look happy.

Your writing is so entertaining. Love your "empire of vases..."

And I ditto Tyra: would love to see your wife's paintings.