Friday, February 9, 2018

Summer holiday

Time does bounce along, doesn't it? It's been more than two months since I last posted anything here, and that's because I've been on a summer holiday of sorts.

No, we haven't been travelling much, apart from a short holiday break down on the NSW far South Coast. Instead, I just haven't felt like adding anything to my little gardening blog for these last 10 weeks. The garden is in summer mode, that is to say it's as thirsty as can be, every known pest and bug is doing its best work right now, and this little gardener is merely helping where he can, watching it all unfold.

So here's a little update on just a few things happening here, more for the record that any earth-shattering insights.

In its first full summer here, the baby frangipani which I've dubbed 'Serendipity' isn't breaking any records for speed of growth, but as you can see, it's a beautiful bambino.

Sometimes you have to measure success in terms of sheer survival, and this Pieris japonica is looking remarkably chipper despite having to spend summer in hot and humid Sydney. There's new growth everywhere, and last spring's dead bits, which I simply cut off, are well hidden by greenery. One secret to keeping this alive on scorching hot days when the temperatures reach into the high 30s and beyond, is that I have made a little shade cloth cover for it and pop it on whenever the weather forecast is unfriendly to delicate petals which would rather be under a cool forest canopy, if given the choice.

I'm not sure what the minimum allowable size is for a meadow, but I am hoping that four feet by four feet makes the cut. Even if not, I am also considering this a minor success, at least as a lesson in persistence, which I do believe is a close cousin of pig-headedness.
These simple little daisies are Zinnia linearis, grown from seed. I couldn't find the seed I wanted from any seed growers online, or in garden centres, so I bought a packet on eBay and they were complete duds. Hopeless. Nothing came up. So I tried online again, and second time round a grower in California came to the rescue, and her/his seeds sprouted well. I was hoping for yellow flowers as well, but I am OK with white and orange only.

I do love the way bromeliads quietly go about their business of producing outrageous flowers. This one is tucked behind the Thai lime tree and I like the way that it's in a "backstage" position in the garden and so very amazing when you finally discover it.

Meanwhile, in the vegie patch, all is quietly ticking over, and my only problem is the usual one of the backyard vegie gardener: Gluts.

This is far too much silver beet for two little people to eat. We've been harvesting lots, but that only makes it grow more, and quite frankly we're a bit silver beeted out. 

We also do not suffer from any shortages of purple/white striped/speckled eggplants.

I am currently fooling myself into believing that I've finally got on top of radish production, sowing just half a dozen seeds at a time, at spaced intervals of time.

However, I have saved the best for last. Well, it's not the "best" for everyone, but it is the one summertime gardening project which I've been most interested in. It's the little fern garden out in front of the house, sheltering under the dappled light of our wide-spreading Cootamundra wattle "ground cover" tree.

Last time I posted about this the begonia cuttings were just bare stalks stuck in the ground. Now they've sprouted their spotty leaves (which are a lovely deep red on the underside). The native violets are winding their flowery way here and there. All the ferns are well and truly alive and growing, and so too are the spidery trails of Spanish moss.

It's still quite hot and humid here in Sydney. In fact February is generally a rotten month to be a gardener here, so I don't expect to be very busy.

However, I was getting a minor sense of guilt over my slothful ways, and so by posting at least something, anything, I hereby announce that the 2018 garden blogging year has started, and all is well.


Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Back to garden blogging as the year progresses!
I've always liked the name 'frangipani'.
And your little meadow is delightful.

Anne At Home said...

Welcome back! I love your mini-meadow, might have to try it in my tiny patch. The bees would love it. My Rosemary is flowering it’s head off and some days I spend a pleasant 20 minutes just watching the blue-banded bees enjoy it. Does this count as gardening? 😂

Jamie said...

Thanks for your comments. I do love that mini meadow.

And Anne, watching blue-banded bees is definitely gardening. In fact, all looking at anything in the garden is gardening.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie, I love the pink frangipani you have, so vibrant. Mine has had no flowers for two years now, but plenty of leaves. :( Do you think putting potash in would be a good idea? The spot is sunny enough I would think, north facing, against a brick wall (I'm in Melb though). I saw your post about neglecting them and they will flourish.

Jamie said...

Hi there, I'm no frangipani expert but generally I think it's too late this year to do anything. Fertilising during their winter dormancy isn't recommended, either. The best time to do it is early next spring, when the plant is growing new leaves and forming flowers.

I do know that frangipanis can take a season or two to produce flowers from new stems, so patience is needed if your plant is a youngster.

Another general principle to follow is "not too much fertiliser". Just follow the recommended dosage (next spring!) and remember to water it in well after applying. This is why the seemingly bonkers activity of fertilising plants on rainy days actually makes sense.

Good luck, I am sure your little frangipani will blossom beautifully for you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Jamie :) I hope it will too, in the meantime I will just look at pics of your flowers haha

Phil said...

Hi Jamie. Glad you posted at last. Gives me a long-awaited chance to continue hijacking your blog with my thoughts :0)

Did it rain on the South Coast. I notice for the last 2-3 months the rain radar shows them getting drenched every second day, while here in "Newy" the predicted rain never arrives. It's brown parched grass in city parks (and we're coastal!) so I'm forced to water regularly. Fortunately I installed a trickle irrigation last winter, to both the beds and the larger pots around the (tiny) yard.

Your photos are delightful. Nicely done, both growing the subjects then capturing them at their best!

You mention being "beeted out." Probably comes as a surprise to no-one except us two "tiny people" at our place that it's particularly easy to get "tomatoed out." Our first crop in 17 years resulted in 3 inventive meals a day incorporation tomatoes, plus a freezer full of them. Cut them back and they're preparing a second wave. Here we go again.

Regarding the meadow. Our front has not been mowed fora year after the (now sold) chooks ate it back to soil. Grass is removed as it appears, only flowering weeds of a certain type are allowed. Meanwhile awaiting rain to get a variety of ground cover herbs to take over. That will be our "meadow."

All the best. Only another month of non-gardening weather to go.


Shrimp said...

Jamie, I stumbled on your blog when I looked up a plant called Breynia or Coffee Bush. It seems it had started invading Sydney in 2012 and has now reached me in Ryde. I found a small one in a pot and potted it up to see what it was. I now have six plants all about to go in the green bin after reading your blog! Thank you. Lorna

Jamie said...

Hi Lorna

Terrible stuff, coffee bush. This Saturday afternoon I will not be surprised if I pull about 100 of them out of my garden. They're even colonising the cracks in the concrete pathways down the side of the house.

In your case, I hope early intervention does the trick.