Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finally, some real progress

Should I ever get my hands on the Weather God, Huey's, temperature control knob which sets the day's conditions for Sydney, for a lot of hard yakka in the garden I'd go for a day like today: sunny, max of 20°C, little or no wind, maybe just a puff. Today was perfect for what I planned to do, which was finally, at last, get my succulent garden bed re-organised. And here's how it looks on this very pleasant, sunny Sunday afternoon on the first weekend of spring in Sydney.

The many wide spaces between the plants are filled
with Cowra white pebbles, so hopefully it will slowly
look less white and more colourful in shades of
green, pink, peach, blue, silver and grey as the
months and years roll by.
As soon as Pammy came out into the backyard for the final inspection, her first words were: "I can feel a blog coming on" (from me, not her) and she was right. Here's how the day unfolded.

This relatively dreary photo was taken near the end of
about three hours' work. During this time I dug over
the compacted soil first with a mattock, then a spade,
then with my nifty Japanese Niwashi hand-tiller.
I went down about the depth of a spade (30cm) and
hopefully found every last weed, stone, old root
and other impediments to good root growth. Finally,
to lighten up the soil for the succulents, in went six
large bags of washed coarse river sand, to make the
10-15cm of topsoil much sandier, and hopefully more to
the succulents' liking. After this photo was taken, the sand
was forked into the soil, so it was ready for planting.

Next, the classic domestic gardener's method of garden
design, known as 'put and look'. Pammy came out for
this all important phase, and after much discussion and

rearranging, this is how the planting plan looked. 

Another hour or so later, this is how they looked,
after unpotting, de-weeding, tidying-up and
replanting all the potted succulents.
And another half hour later it looked like this, with
the pebbles added (and the paving swept clean).

I have some clues how big some things will grow,
and I have no idea about how big others will become.
I don't know the ultimate size of all the succulents in
this shot, so it's all guesswork right now.

There's only room for one really large
shrub-style succulent, so it takes centre
stage at the back of the bed (it's a
Crassula, with interestingly dimpled
leaf ends). Again, I am not sure how
big it will grow; only time will tell.

The large clump in the foreground here is a Haworthia
which was totally pot-bound as this clump, so instead
of breaking it up I have left it as-is but freed up the
roots. One of the main themes overarching the whole
planting scheme is the old one of "fingers crossed".

What's pleasing about this outcome is that this is
essentially how I thought it might look when we talked
some time ago about getting all the succulents out of
their messy gaggle of assorted pots and into the ground. 
What we don't really know is how it will all look in a year or two from now. We're not far away from adding the gardenias as a green screen behind the succulent
garden, and getting rid of the awful metal fence will cause cheers all round on our side of the fence.

This is about the fourth major revamp of our garden in the 22 years we've been here. The garden is evolving to suit our changing interests in plants, and my need for a slightly lower level of maintenance as my ageing back starts to give way. I'm thoroughly amazed how my back has stood up to the last two weekends of truly hard gardening work, fully digging over and revamping five garden beds (I did the vegie beds yesterday, but that's not blog-worthy stuff!).

Next weekend, the gardenias will go in, so too the tibouchinas and some pretty annual flowers to give the whole thing a burst of quick spring colour. There's plenty more to do, but at last, we're making some real progress here.


Lithopsland said...

Wow that's a wonderful looking succulent garden! You've done an amazing job, and I'm sure the vege bed looks great as well! The Haworthia looks grand. Overall, the garden looks very zen; beautiful! Congrats! :)

dirtgirl said...

Congrats on your hard work. Please post photos of how the succulents fare over the months as it will be interesting to see how they fill out the spaces. I went to a succulent nursery last weekend whilst staying in Eden, the array of succulents was mind boggling and I managed to restrict myself to coming away with only another 5.
I find succulents a brilliant addition to the garden, even here on the outskirts of Sydney where we get a few frosts.

Jamie said...

Thanks for your kinds comments, Lithopsland and Dirtgirl. And yep, I'll post some updates.

Most of my succulents have come from holiday purchases in towns far away. Succulents are great 'travelling' plants, putting up with life in the back of the car until they get home. I'll be passing close to Eden in a month or two from now, so I'll seek out that succulent nursery you mentioned.

Catherine said...

The texture from the Haworthia looks fabulous in the foreground. I also had a potted plant which I broke up into lots of smaller plants to put among my dwarf crucifix orchids but now, seeing the effect in your garden, I wish I'd planted it as one. I guess they'll all spread out again in time.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

I can almost see all of the succulents in your new garden bed taking on characters and personalities. It looks great!

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