Thursday, May 17, 2018

We have a fernery!

Here we are in the middle of autumn and the summer has finally passed, although it put up a hell of a fight this year, not wanting to end. We've experienced a very warm April indeed, making autumn a lot shorter, and now we're in May, still getting lots of sunny warm days, but at least the mornings and evenings are nice and chilly. 

And I am pleased to report that our fern garden out the front of the house has become nicely established. All inmates are healthy and happy, and to celebrate the successful completion of Phase One of the fern garden project, this afternoon we introduced two caretaker gnomes to oversee the coming winter. (Hopefully, if you click on the photo it will come up a lot bigger).

Hard to see, are they? Of course they're hard to see, because we've put them well into the centre of the front garden, where there are lots of spider webs to deter cowardly thieves.

Now, I don't want to be too snobby about gnomes, because we love all our gnomes equally in our little Utopian democracy here in Amateur-Land, but not to put too fine a point on it ... these are our two most expendable gnomes. Or if you prefer, our worst gnomes, but I really don't like that kind of ugly language.

The gnome on the right, with the bright red hat, is Stumpy. He suffered a nasty accident in the garden shed a while back, while being repainted. Stumpy fell about three feet off the painting table onto the shed's hard concrete floor, shattering his left hand and his left foot into so many tiny little fragments that there was no hope of gluing anything back on. So I have buried Stumpy deep into the mulch, where his missing limbs can't be seen. Should a thief ever crawl through the spider webs to nick Stumpy, I hope the sight of his ghastly handless & footless condition gives them a fright.

The gnome on the left, Spruiky, is a very humble plastic one, an advertising press release handout from Seasol, with the inscription "Don't Forget the Seasol" plastered on the rock that he's sitting on. He might lack the class of a true concrete gnome, but he seems to like his work and I hope he has a long career as a fern caretaker.

Now, all the fern garden has to do is survive winter, get seriously bigger next spring, and I think I can call our little fern garden project a success. Thank you Pammy for suggesting it in the first place!


Phil in Newy said...

Well Jamie, good to see you having a fun in that posting. There's an essayist lurking in there and garden gnomes certainly are a fine subject.

Odd to contemplate, but decades can pass without theft in the average suburban front yard. Besides garden hoses, gnomes are the most famously stolen items. Makes you think maybe they're not being taken at all and something else is going on, something we'd rather not consider. For example, did Stumpy fall by accident, was he pushed, or, worse, did he jump? Are missing gnomes unhappy with their cohabitants or do they simply dislike their gardens? Do they take the hoses with them?

If these two sentinels go awol, to test the theft theory you might paint the next team in camouflage. Stumpy's red hat is certainly inviting. What's the street address of your fernery, exactly?

Hello, my Windaz browser (Firefox) just threw a spelling error for "fernery." The computer's spell-checker (WordWeb - wonderful software) confirms the word is of course fine. It even reminds me that "ferneries" is plural for fernery - which only makes you wonder who could manage more than one.

Now to hijacking.

On my home front the sole chrysanthemum has flowered magnificently for Mothers Day. And right on cue the wind and rain arrived to attack it. I mentioned earlier I grew chrysanthemums commercially for a few years, which is the only reason I can spell them. But I was young, learning, and grew them in the open. So the quality was poor. Every year the traditional autumn cyclonic rain depression would arrive off the NSW coast and flatten the blooms. They had to be grown through staked pig wire to survive upright. Prolonged moisture brought on crown rot in the doubles.

I came to love their herby scent and this lone sample is the first I've grown in over 30 years. Plunging into the sea of yellow-centered pink flowers and breathing deeply takes me to some garden-like paradise.

It's quite hard to find chrysanth cuttings for sale nowadays. A Dutch grower in Victoria, Mantles, used to fly the cuttings to us by the hundred, and their catalogue contained dozens of beauties. But he and his competitors have gone missing. I found only one home seller on eBay and theirs is the specimen I have blooming right now. Others sold seeds that produced wildly primitive plants. It's as though these glorious flowers exist now only in my imagination. Gems were a delightful small pink single, and Crimson Ford were a large red and gold double. Sadly, they're all gone.

Only this week I ordered some online - in desperation, as the local suburbs are devoid, and even if I found a sample it would be a traditional white. The seller had but a few varieties listed, most "out of stock," and all I could get was a set of four different plants - in pots. They sent them Australia Post parcel and suggested I "allow 7 to 10 days for delivery" - which should ensure a beautiful display when I open the carton in a fortnight or two. Good grief.

Next year I shall peruse the local Woolworths and pay exorbitantly for potted ones, if any appear at all. That seems the only way to enlarge my collection of these exquisite plants (suggestions, anyone?).

Anyhow, all the best to Pammy, Stumpy, and Spruiky. Any "ferny" - you did name the fernery, surely.

Jamie said...

Gee Phil, your comment is longer than my posting! Is that a record?

No, we haven't named the fernery, but to be fair, no other parts of the front or rear gardens have their own names, either. At least we're consistent.

I know what you mean about your specialist chrysanthemum supplier no longer existing. It's one of the tragedies of modern gardening that so many specialist nurseries have disappeared. It must mean that hundreds of cultivars of hundreds of species are probably lost forever.

And finally, thinking of stolen garden gnomes, that reminds me of a story from my University days, when during orientation week they staged a scavenger hunt and they awarded points for anyone who found a garden gnome. Of course what happened was that every last garden gnome in the district was stolen, and horrified homeowners contacted the police to report the thefts. It didn't take the coppers very long to discover what happened to them, so all the gnomes were collected up and held in the cells at the local police station. Home owners then came down to the cop shop, identified "their" gnome and took him home. Apparently the sight of hundreds of little gnomes gathered in large groups in the police cells was rather wonderful.

Should Stumpy or Spruiky go missing, I don't think I'll call the cops. I'll just lose my faith in humanity instead.

Phil in Newy said...

Well, Jamie, it's a record I shall try to repeatedly break. With your permission. Anyhow, a rule of SEO is that comments are food for search engines!

I recall those fabulous tales of the great garden gnome theft. So much fun goes on & we obsess over the bad news.

I was sorting old photos & memorabilia last week and found a Christmas card from Portsea Nursery and Flower Farm who once sold me carnation cuttings. There's a photo of their acres of greenhouses set amid grassed rolling hills. When I looked via Google Earth trying to locate them all I found was rolling streets full of McMansions.

If you search for "Bla.. Nursery" it brings up child care centres. Times have changed.

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