Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Looking on the bright side

As a gardener, I don't think I could make it through one of your North American or European winters. Too long, too cold and too quiet for me. I like action! Even these last few weeks of chilly weather (by Sydney standards that is – we almost had a frost last week – unheard-of cold!) had got me wishing the lull would all be over soon. What nonsense, Jamie! So I thought it was time I slapped myself in the face and said "snap out of it, kiddo, there's plenty happening out there, and there's lots to look forward to as well." I needed that good talking to! Really did, and so here's what's happening out there in Amateur Land this morning.

For starters, there are things in flower, if I had only bothered to look. My snazzy new 'Groovy Baby' tibouchina is loving its new home, and this morning it gave me another cheery purple smack on the cheek. Thanks, Groovy Baby, I needed that, too!

And the plant the Chinese people call the money tree (a succulent Crassula) is in bloom. It's said that the Chinese plant these to bring prosperity to their homes, and I guess Pam and I are prosperous after all.

Mrs Lithops' countless fans will be pleased to know that she is back where she belongs, at the head of Succulent City, where her recent fame has elevated her to election as Mayoress of that small, quirky metropolis.

On the other side of the pathway, and elsewhere, crops are cropping. This is my patch of coriander, sown from seeds saved last spring. To keep the plants bushy, snip off as many leaves as you need that night in the kitchen, and feed every few weeks with an organic liquid plant food. That's the trick with herbs – use 'em or lose 'em.

The lemons are wonderfully juicy, if not plentiful. I severely reduced the number of lemons on the tree, so it could put most of its energy into just becoming a tree, but the few fruit which have been allowed to mature are very fine specimens of the humble lemon, if I say so myself. These very squeezable, juicy lemons provide the perfect excuse for everything from buying another dozen oysters through to crumbing and frying another chicken schnitzel.

Elsewhere, there's the promise of things to come, and pleasure of seeing familiar friends returning. Pictured above, a small, delicate and seemingly indestructible cyclamen is poking through the mulch once more.

Close to the lemon tree, the hellebores are growing new leaves, and around the end of winter and the start of spring, they'll start flowering. It was back in May that I cut off all the daggy old-season leaves, to make room for the next season's foliage, which was starting to poke through the centre of the clump. A good feed with chicken poo back then, some winter rain and now they're back in business.

In various other parts of the garden, bulbs are living out their life-cycles in different ways, but the nice thing about bulb stories is the very great likelihood of a happy ending. These are the brodiaeas, blue-flowered things busily growing their foliage prior to the appearance of the blooms in mid spring, October I suspect.

And these are the scadoxus bulbs showing all the signs of being willing to do it all again.

This is a photo from last spring, of what the scadoxus do best. So that's something to look forward to as well. I think I've got over those midwinter blues now. There's plenty to look forward to, and in a sense it's already happening, only slowly.

Even this seemingly sad sight of yellowing leaves cheers me up. Well, it cheered me up when I found out that this is exactly what this Louisiana iris should be doing right now. Like any self-respecting bulb it needs to die back, build up its stores of energy, then burst into blue-flowered bloom later on in the year. I'm glad I cleared that one up. It had me worried for a while.

And finally, those who regularly read my blog might recall that Pammy recently gave me a microscope as a wedding anniversary present. Well, I took about 20 completely crappy, blurry, useless photos of things as viewed through my microscope, but this one, the 21st photo, came out OK. Unfortunately, I am not sure what I did right, so I am not really any closer to nailing microscope photography, but this photo should be entitled 'Hope' because that's what it gave me. Its more prosaic name would be 'Mouth Smear', which just doesn't some up its significance very well at all, does it?

So, there you go. Midwinter chills, I thumb my nose at you! I can hear the chatter and activity of Spring calling me already. Won't be long now before the party starts again.


Evelyn said...

Jamie, your garden is looking fantastic - glad you are over the blues. I'm particularly jealous of your flowering crassula, which is looking fantastic.

Garden makeovers said...

Brings back great memories of growing up in Victoria. Your photos are beautiful.

Chookie said...

And it's lovely to hear more of the story of Mrs Lithops, too!

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