Thursday, August 25, 2011

Flowers out of thin air

Plants often talk to us by the way they go about flowering, and the message from this little person here is simple: "I'm happy, I like it here."

This little bloom belongs to Pammy's air-plant, a tillandsia, which lives under the covered pergola area attached to the rear wall of our house. This is a spot which gets lots of light but no direct sunshine. It gets terribly hot and humid in summer, but at least it's protected from the chilly southerly winds of winter. And so it's happy.

Like all tillandsias sold in shops here, it's not planted in soil. Rather, it's ignominiously glued onto a stick usually, and the glue never lasts as long as a happy tillandsia. So that's why we have used a bit of plastic-coated wire to bind it to its stick. As I mentioned earlier, this is Pammy's plant. She dutifully mists it with her little water sprayer bottle to keep up the humidity levels, and that's it as far as care goes. No feeding, just misting.

Stepping back two feet you can see one of the three wall pots planted with other bromeliads which keep the tillandsia company. These are almost at the end of their oddball 'blooming' of their colourful bracts, which has been going on for a couple of months now.

Pam and I both love the little flowers in our garden every bit as much as the big bobby dazzlers. We could see the tillandsia's flower buds forming a week or two ago, and we looked forward to these tiny blooms every bit as much as any other plant's flowering. Today they 'came out' in all their tiny pomp, and they didn't disappoint us. In fact, I think the bluey-purple is a bit more bluey-purple than last year. It really must like it here!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The lost spring

"We're going to miss out on spring this year," Pam said this morning, and she's mostly right, as we'll be travelling while many things will be bursting into leaf and bloom, and we won't be back until after they have finished. And so this afternoon I did a quick lap of our small garden to look for signs of spring, and I found plenty. On with the show.

Only one-third of the way to full bloom, and already the Scadoxus are stealing the show again. The wonderful thing about this year's blooming is that it's earlier than in the two previous years. I was sure we were going to miss out on seeing anything from them, and what do you know! They must be mind-readers and took pity on us.

This is the first time all three bulbs have bloomed, and the good news is that the oldest bulb is sending out a little 'pup' of a new bulb forming at its feet. Who knows, in 10 years we'll have a clump!

Very pleasing to see the first leaf burst out from the Turkish Brown fig which we planted in late autumn, when it was just a bare stick.

I've seen our pinky-white orchids bloom in late September every year for the last 20 years here, and so I can imagine how lovely they will be very easily.

Our rosemary bush is just starting to flower now, and it was a beautifully fragrant place to be when I brushed against its leaves to take this snap.

These buds belong to our NSW Christmas Bush, and it will be touch and go whether it will still be in flower when we return in early November.

The angel wing begonias always get a bit sad and tatty looking over winter, but they've turned the corner of the season now. I fed them a week or two ago and every pair of leafy 'angel wings' is opening to to make space for a rose-pink tipped baby new leaf to emerge.

Every year the flowering weeds like this heartsease (viola) reappear without any encouragement from me.

Another flowering weed, the primulas have been in this garden ever since we moved here two decades ago. In our first year we foolishly asked the garden centre for something that flowered in shade, and so we brought home primulas and impatiens. I have eradicated the impatiens, but the primulas always come back.

At least these darker coloured primulas offer a bit of a variation on that pastel pink.

I shouldn't complain about the primulas, it's not as if they're giving the parsnips a hard time. By the time we get back the parsnips should be OK to harvest.

And speaking of harvesting, I really should harvest all the cumquats and turn them into marmalade, but I have so many other things to do right now before we leave, and marmalade-making doesn't make it into the top 100!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tempus fugit

Talk about time flying, my tempus has been fugiting along at a cracking pace lately. Here it is the middle of August and not a sausage from me on this blog this month, until now. I have many excellent travel-planning reasons for being a bit distracted at the moment, but I thought it would actually be good for a moment to stop, hit the metaphorical 'Pause' button on life (that we all wish we could actually possess – wouldn't that be cool), and do a little update on what's happening here.

Great news, my plan with the mirror at the back of the garden is working. Back in March this year I attached a mirror to the shed and blogged about it all here. Well.... traa daaa!

Just like the plan promised, when you step out the back door and look down the path to the shed, the garden seems a tiny bit bigger and more colourful, thanks to the mirror picking up the potted cumquats in the distance, the lettuce and succulents in the middle ground, and the cheery cinerarias in the background.

Hardly my favourite flower colours, but good old cinerarias deserve a bit of praise for putting on a cheery flower show while spending most of the winter in the shade. Can't be choosy about colours when hardly anything will flower in that spot, at that time of year.

So it's lovely to have a little garden design plan come off, and in the summer I'll plant something equally floriferous and cheerful as the cinerarias to keep the colourful reflections going.

And now, just a quick update on those other plans which have been distracting both Pammy and I lately. Travel! It's less than a month to go now before we head off on our road-trip odyssey across the United States.

We've booked all our flights, the rent-a-car, the major bits of accommodation (Hawaii, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco), and we have also attended to two thousand other little planning details, which leaves us with only another nine hundred or so to go. We have a house sitter organised, expert garden waterers (Katarina and Nick from next door) lined up and raring to go, I've bought a new laptop so I can blog my way across the country, and now all we have to do is pack up and get to the airport on time.

I'll keep on updating the blog here while we're on the road, but before I head off could I again say thanks to all the lovely people who have suggested gardens to visit in the USA and given us so many handy travel tips, both here on the blog and also via email. It's much appreciated.