Sunday, December 20, 2009

A lazy Sunday afternoon

Here it is, the last weekend before Christmas. Where did the year go? I should be finishing off my Christmas shopping, but I severely lack the motivation to even get into the car. Mike has bought me a new computer for Christmas, well almost new and we are going to pick it up this evening at 5.00pm. How exciting!

We've actually had some rain in the last few days, and the forecast is for more this coming week including Christmas Day on Friday. That should make the binge eating that gets done on that day a little easier, nothing like hot roast turkey on a 40 degree day!

Some of the days last week reached up to the 40's and I have lost most of the murrayas that I bought online. They are quite pot bound and water I have put on them has mostly just run right through. Or around. I should have been much more diligent.

I am proving to myself the benefit of deadheading roses. Here is Lucetta's next flush of flowers, having been deadheaded after the first flush.

I do so love this rose! It was on my 'maybe' list when I was putting in my bareroot rose order with Mistydowns and only made the actual order when something else wasn't available.

Echinacea in the front garden. How brilliantly architectural are these flowers! I grew some more from seed this spring which are now planted in the birdbath bed and they are tough plants, they wilt somewhat with the hot sun and recover quickly with a drink or some cooler weather.

I had a visit from this wasp the other day - here it is on the INSIDE of the family room window screen. It's not one of the aggressive paper wasps, I think this one builds a mud nest. It was almost 3cm long and I didn't much appreciate it coming inside which it did again and again. I don't know if it was looking for somewhere to build a nest or if it was spider hunting. In the end, I got out the surface spray and it decided to go somewhere else!

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's a Bad Hair Day

Yesterday afternoon, being somewhat cooler than of late, I was able to be out on the back verandah and I gave the doggies a lovely summer hair cut!

Here's dear old Daisy a couple of weeks ago, looking all hairy like any good Westie should.

Here she is last night, looking like she's been caught under the lawn mower! She looks a little traumatised, doesn't she! But, as I have told her many times since the clippers came out, she will be much, much cooler.

Poor old thing, her thirteen and a quarter years seems to have caught up on her just recently. She is making no effort to come back up the back stairs, she can go down okay, but then barks and wails for me to come and carry her up. Hopefully it is just a temporary thing but I do have thoughts running through my head about how I can construct some sort of ramp for her.

I feel quite bad about being disrespectful yesterday to the Iceberg roses in the garden. They truly do flower forever and that should be enough, shouldn't it? Then I try to justify my apathy by saying 'but they've got NO perfume!' which really isn't entirely true. There's just something about their 'legs' I don't like. The lady who owned the house before us and who started the garden, had planted six standard white Icebergs along the front of the house.

She had also planted this rose, which I think is Angel Face, but I may very well be wrong. It has had a huge flush of flowers and now just has a few, and this is one of them. I love the wavy edge on the petals.

I wish there were more roses like this one and perhaps a few less white Icebergs.

Enough blogging - get working!

(ps - wasps are gone to God!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

So this is summer . . .

And my gardening mojo (if I ever pretended to have one!) has completely disappeared! We have had days in a row of 30+ degrees celsius and it absolutely, resolutely refuses to rain. I have been confined to the air conditioning and have gone ever so slightly deranged! :-<
So I gave myself a small slap and picked up the camera for a quick tour of the garden. Now, let's find some positive things to cheer ourselves up with!

Ambridge Rose at the front corner is being cheery with some nice blooms and the Christmas lily behind has put on quite a show. Sorry, lily, you're two weeks early! Will you still be blooming on Christmas Day - I would suspect not. So much for a vase of lilies on the Christmas table, but this is an expedition of positives so we won't go there!

Here is Crepuscule soldiering on bravely on the archway at the side gate. Some nights, when I'm sleeping fitfully, I hear in my head a voice from some other realm commanding "Deadhead! You must deadhead!" So I have tried with Crepuscule and maybe that explains why it is flowering on and others in the garden have very much gone on vacation!

Please note that whiz-bang new water feature! What a pity it isn't sitting level! Look, you can't have everything you want and this is a trip of positives.

Also note the brown-ness of the grass through the gate and on the far hill. The front lawn is completely brown and crisp, except of course for the weeds - why is that, that the grass dies but the weeds live on . . . and on . . . and on!

This is another lily I planted last year, called Triumphator. So pretty.

I must make a note to buy more of these. And maybe next year, I could get them flowering at the same time as the roses around them, Brother Cadfael, St Cecilia and Mme Isaac Periere, who have all had a flush of flowers and are now having a bit of a sleep.

Here is a flower on the Alliums I bought online this year. Look at that funny little flower bit on the top that grew longer than all the others - no glass ceiling for that girl, she was going to stand out if it was the last thing she did!

Okay, I know I've been derogatory to Iceberg roses in the past, especially white ones and even more especially standardised white ones - but this is a day of positives and I can truthfully say that neither hell nor high water (ooo, wouldn't that be nice!) nor hot, dry weather seems to halt the floriferousness of these roses. I've so wanted to use that word!

So, hooray for the positive attitude to floriferousness of the Iceberg! (That'll do now, you can't use 'floriferousness' in every sentence.)

Another shot of Ambridge Rose. At least, I think it's Ambridge - I'm just having a little moment of self doubt. I will have to check that out and make myself a label with the correct name.

In the meantime, whatever it is is looking very fler . . . . . . - it's got quite a lot of flowers on it, hasn't it?!

And lastly, Jean Galbraith. Just lovely flowers. It's growing right next to whatever that last one was which we will call Ambridge until such time as we find out differently, and between the two of them, there are flowers which range in colour from soft pink through all shades of apricot to almost clear yellow. What a clever gardener I am to think of that!

I'm so not - absolutely all of my gardening skills (??) were learned at the School of Plonk! And not the sort you drink either! It's where you buy a plant and you plonk it in the garden and hope for the best!

So I have somewhat cheered myself up with my little trip of positives. Now I am steeling myself for this evening when I must take a new can of Wasp Killer spray down to the swimming pool and use it on a wasps' nest which I discovered yesterday hanging on the underside of the pool edge. I discovered it when I found myself surrounded by a swarm of wasps all determined to give me a piece of their minds - or their tails! I had on a very bright pink dress and lucky for me, they seemed to be more attracted to the dress than to the end of my nose and I escaped without injury! So I have purchased the toxic spray which has a range of four metres - so I will have a four metre start when I spray and run like the clappers with the wasps in hot pursuit. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby bird!

Here's the baby swallow, sitting on the back verandah railing. I heard the grow-up birds chirping down the end of the verandah and snuck out with the camera, hardly focused, aimed and shot before streaking back inside for fear of my life, should the parents find me there! Only a few more days and things should settle down and I will once again be able to venture out onto my very own verandah!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The swallows that are nesting under the back verandah have a new addition to the family. And today is obviously the first flying lesson. I stepped outside a little while ago and was promptly attacked! They are dangerous birds. They fly at warp-speed, straight at your face, only deviating at the very last milli-second, to go past the side of your head so close, you can feel the breeze from their wings. I caught a very brief sight of the baby, all brown and fluffy, perched precariously on the edge of the guttering with frenzied parents zooming around, keeping one eye on baby and the other on me! I've retreated back inside - I've been totally out-braved by a tiny, fierce bird!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hotter . . . .


Okay, this is getting serious!

And I didn't last till 12 before I turned on the air conditioning. Then I'm wondering why the house isn't getting any cooler - nay, indeed, getting hotter. Better check the control panel. Oh good grief! The only vents open are the ones in the bedrooms which I have closed off - all the vents to the rooms I am presently occupying are all nicely shut - hence no cooled air is flowing out and cooling my sweaty brow. How frustrating!

I've just heard the rumble of distant thunder.

In the meantime, I have completed four more little star blocks. However, I think my concentration is severely compromised and I may give up sewing for today. Please observe this photo from a respectful distance - that way, the dodgy bits won't be so noticeable!

Hotter . . . .


Okay, I have retreated to the relative cool of the sewing room. I remembered a few minutes ago that the Murraya plants I picked up last week were still sitting out the back in maybe situ and in the full sun. Ran out and moved them in under the back verandah, the black plastic pots were almost soft!

I'm wondering if I'll make it till noon before I turn on the air conditioning.

Hot . . . .


And it's already hot enough outside to not want to go out there!

The forecast is for a top temperature of 41 degrees celsius. And not cooling down a whole lot until after the weekend. And it's not even summer yet. We had mid-30s temperature yesterday and things is the garden are starting to show a little stress. The Hagleys Hybrid clematis outside the kitchen window was very distinctly droopy yesterday afternoon but revived well after a good drink.

Here is the yellow rose in the birdbath bed, showing off its sunburn from yesterday. All the white Iceberg standards along the front of the house are similarly burnt.

Last night, the outside lights on the back verandah attracted a vast swarm of Christmas beetles. They were dive-bombing the lights and the screens on the windows and bouncing off the glass doors. When I went out to feed the dogs, I could see that the frenzied activity was also with a view to perpetuating the species!!

And like every party, there are always those who take things too far! And here they are - floating in the dogs' water bowl, partying days over and cut off in the prime of their youth with no chance of having children of their own and watching those children grow up to be responsible members of the Christmas beetle society. Let this be a lesson to all you young people out there!

It's 30 minutes since I took the photo of family room thermometer and a quick check has just revealed that the outside temperature is now 31.5 degrees. So far, I've only got the overhead fans going inside and with the doors and windows all closed and the blinds all down, it's not too bad inside but no doubt, shortly, the air conditioning will be on.

My poor garden outside - how I hate these dreadful hot days! Hang in there, little plants - think cool thoughts - does that work for plants, do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


My very first Kurrajong Geranium Johnson's Blue! I'm in absolute gardener's heaven! I so wish I had a snazzy camera with a big zooming-in lens instead of a little flat pocket size digital. Then I could capture close-up the beauty of this little flower, the gorgeous colour, the wonderful contrast between the petal colour and the colour of the veins, it is truly delightful.

Long may it bloom in my garden! If it feels the need to spread and multiply, I will be even more happy.

Thank you, Johnson, whoever you are, for making me one very happy gardener today!

And thank you, David Austin, for something as lovely as a little rose bush called Anne Boleyn which was only planted on 15th September 2009 (I know that 'cos my Coca Cola label says so!) and which is happily blooming near the front steps, despite being chewed by the green caterpillars.

On Remembrance Day 2009, I'm a very thankful person for the little things that give me huge happiness. And Happy Birthday to my brother, who thinks we're great for having a special day just for him!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another lovely day!

We've just had a lovely rainy weekend. Not that the rain gauge would say we've had heaps volume wise, but just one little shower after another. Enough to make everything look so much greener and enough to keep us indoors for a good part of the weekend, although Mike did find enough time between showers to whizz around on the mower and get the grass cut.

It's such a good sound, the sound of rain on the iron roof, sometimes when it's raining, I stand on the back verandah and listen to the water running down the downpipe on its way to the tank.

But we didn't waste the weekend at all. My son's girlfriend came to stay as he was working all weekend and we finished the quilting and binding on a quilt she is making for her dad's birthday. It's her first full sized quilt. This year was the first time she came with me on my annual quilting weekend away, called Stitch 'n Bitch, and a lot of the piecing of the quilt was done on that weekend. And a lot of laughing and a lot of drinking red wine! It's amazing how much faster you can sew something when you are mellowed by a glass of good red!

Anyway, the quilt turned out beautifully and it is certainly a credit to her crafty skills!

So today the sun is shining again and the forecast is for a week of increasing temperatures! Oh no, I don't like the summer heat coming.

The tall irises in front of the verandah are putting on a lovely show. They were originally in the garden at Winston Hills where my mum and dad used to live and Mum dug them out and gave them to me when she moved to the retirement village. So they were in our previous garden at Castle Hill and I brought them with me when we moved. She couldn't remember the name of them, she thought they were something 'Imperial'.

There is another bloom on DA Charlotte. Such a lovely soft colour, contrasting with the self-sown cosmos behind! The cosmos has come up mixed up in the little patch of alliums I bought online this year. And I have noticed that there are buds on the allium. Exciting!

I love the pictures that plants in the garden make. In the bed at the western end of the house, the acanthus are flowering, all tall and spiky in front of a sea of self-sown pink gaura. I threaten the gaura as I see it coming up, but when it starts to flower, the bees just swarm all over it and I feel guilty about being less than enthusiastic about it. But its softness here is a lovely contrast to the hardness of the acanthus.

And there are buds on the DA Anne Boleyn. Hang on, I thought this was a soft pink colour - it is coming out quite a strong apricot! Something has been eating it severely - I'm thinking it is the dreaded green caterpillars that fall from the dreaded yellow broom shrub at the front of the house. At this time of the year, they rain down on your head as you walk around it. The broom's day are very numbered - I have already started removing it branch by branch and have planted a replacement dissected leaf Japanese maple on one side and a white spirea on the other. I wonder if it feels threatened. It is an ugly thing and rewards me with a gazillion seedlings in the front garden each year. I can hear my Dad saying "I've told you a million times not to exaggerate!" No exaggeration, Dad!

At the bottom of Anne Boleyn, you can see one of my very professional plant labels - made from a Coca Cola can! I cut a piece of can and write on it the name of the rose and when I planted it. The writing presses into the soft aluminium which I then try to tie onto the plant with enough tie to slightly bury the label in the soil. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't!!

The lilies in the front garden are getting buds on them. For the life of me, I can't remember that this one was this colour last year but I guess it was! There is also a Siberian Iris bud here and something behind - what is the name of that? I think it's a Veronica. Don't tell me I'm going to have to start labeling everything in the garden!

So exciting! There are buds on the Johnson's Blue. How I love this plant! I had it at Castle Hill and it was one of the things I wanted to take with me, but I kind of ran out of time to find it in the garden there, particularly as it was winter when we moved and things weren't visible in the garden. It's another recent eBay find - that and Campanula Glomerata Superba! Two of my favourites and totally unable to be found at nurseries. Hooray for dedicated gardeners who list such treasures online!

My cheap terracotta pots with their cheap hardware-shop-bought pelargoniums are doing well along the front verandah. Later this week, I'm off to collect 10 Murrayas bought online from a nursery selling out surplus stock. I'm intending to extend the Murraya hedge at the back of the house, with a view to enclosing the poor old mulberry and the persimmon trees and give them a little more shelter from the wind, hopefully.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Every garden needs a water feature!

And this garden is no exception! But no ornate multi-level creation with overflows and little peeing boys for us! No, our first water feature is to be the most simple possible. It's an old set of concrete laundry tubs, conveniently left at the side of the front verandah by the previous owners of the house. At one stage, I thought that the tubs would be handy as containers for herbs on the other side of the house, close to the kitchen door. Then I tried to move them and decided they were just fine where they were!

I have bought myself an iris which loves to grow in water and some goo to waterproof the tubs so that the water doesn't seep away, but my first job is to put an opening between the two tubs so that the pump will circulate all the water. Still water means mosquito wrigglers and we don't want that. I'm still undecided if I'll buy some goldfish or will I hope that the frogs in the garden come and live in the pond? I'd much rather a frogpond than a fishpond! Speaking of frogs, I took this shot a week or so ago, when I joyously went out on the verandah to watch the rain falling for the first time in ages. This little green frog was also looking up at the sky from a Leander bloom, he was obviously enjoying the shower!

I'm sure there would be people who would think that putting a hole in the dividing wall between the two tubs is not a good thing to do. It's certainly not an easy thing to do - the concrete is tough as and is calling for some industrial strength gadgets to do the job. I have just had my first go at using an angle grinder - maybe my angle wasn't right and that's why I didn't do a whole lot of grinding! I have decided that the new hammer drill I gave Mike for his birthday a month ago (with precisely this job in mind!) is perhaps a better option, but I will need to go and buy some super strong drill bits to do the job.

In the meantime, a coffee and a walk around the garden seemed to be a good plan. Yesterday, I planted out some seedlings I grew from seed collected, some white aquilegia, some blue salvia and some echinacea went in around the roses and in the birdbath garden in front of the kitchen window.

Here is David Austin Summer Song. What a colour! This is in the garden bed on the western end of the house, now known as the Snake garden! It is planted with blue salvia, yellow irises, a yellow daylily and some pink aquilegia that have come up from seed from somewhere else in the garden. Next to Summer Song is a clump of old fashioned Tiger Lilies, the old orange ones with little black spots. Now if I can just get them both flowering at the same time, I will be more than tickled pink! Or orange!

And I discovered on my stroll around the garden that my Siberian Iris is starting to flower. It is one of the plants that I had in our previous garden which made the journey in the removalist truck. It didn't flower last summer, I guess it was cross at being moved, but I have three buds opening at the minute, all of them the most beautiful blue. What a joy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a glorious day!

This is the sort of day where you just feel like sitting outside in the fresh air and sunshine and drinking champagne! Cheers to delightful spring weather! And cheers to roses blooming in the garden!

Earlier this year (28 February), my gorgeous daughter married her longtime partner in a little church amongst the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. She wore around her neck a string of crystals given to my 83 year old mother when she was 3 and which she wore to her wedding in 1948. And my daughter carried a bouquet of beautiful old fashioned roses as perfectly cupped as you would ever see! Which got us wondering if we could find roses to grow that would look the same and remind us of the wonderful day we had at the happiest wedding ever!

Of course, David Austin roses have been favourites of mine for quite a few years. And I have quite a few in the garden. So when my daughter sent me a message telling me that a flower shop in the city had a bunch of roses for sale that reminded her of her wedding bouquet, I thought I would take the camera out and see what was blooming in the garden.

So here is this morning's tour!

This is Jean Galbraith. Not exactly a David Austin, but nearly. It is a sport of Abraham Darby, developed I think by John Nieuwesteeg in Victoria. It is glorious, with apricot to yellow blooms. This particular flower had two bees inside who were laden with pollen and in a frenzy of ecstasy.

This is David Austin Lucetta. I planted this early in 2008 at the front of the house in an area that was originally gravel driveway. The earth was completely compacted and as hard as concrete to dig and this rose and Jean Galbraith above were planted into the desperately sad clay soil. Last year, Jean Galbraith very bravely put on quite a show, but Lucetta really struggled. This year, she is covered in these huge, blousey pink blooms. Such a delight, at the moment nearly my favourite rose in the whole garden. She has been quite beaten around by the wind lately but flowers on.

Here's Leander on the verandah!

I take back what I've said previously about him being stingy with blooms! However, they still do fade disappointingly after only a few days.

Another gorgeous bloom on Peace!

The yellow banksia rose has gone! Last Monday, we had such a windstorm late in the day and when I walked out the front door, I was greeted with the sight of the archway leaning at a very dangerous angle. It had been blown over by the wind, lifting the concrete footings right out of the ground. I have cut back the banksia to a stump and my job today will be to dig new footing holes. Peace was not badly affected on its side of the arch and flowers on. In fact, it is probably enjoying the extra sunlight, now that the rampant banksia is not there. Will I let the banksia grow back again? Hmm . . . haven't decided yet, but maybe not.

Now getting back to the wedding bouquet! This is a rose that I planted this year in late July. It is a David Austin called Charlotte and I bought it for its cupped creamy blooms, very like my daughter carried. It was a bare-rooted stick when I planted it and is still not even up to my knees, but it's flowering! And I can absolutely forgive it for its smallish blooms, being its first ones but I'm delighted with the colour and they are certainly cupped!! Look at this - hmm . . . maybe more balled than cupped!!

Next on my garden tour came one of my favourites! It's my namesake, Sweet Juliet. David Austin must know me! Such lovely cupped blooms, but a little more apricot than the pinks my daughter carried. I have recently planted Abraham Darby close by Sweet Juliet so I'm anticipating an apricot extravaganza in the garden soon. I just love these flowers!

Here's another of my newest David Austins, Comte de Champagne. Once again, I can forgive smallish, not terrifically petalled blooms on a plant that is hardly bigger than a seedling. And drowning in gaura about to come into flower. What a thug, nice for the bees and butterflies but it comes up everywhere!

Here's David Austin Brother Cadfael. Huge flowers with the most delicious perfume. This is growing in perhaps the most exposed corner of the garden when it comes to the winds we've had lately. And it is flowering its head off! We're getting close to the colour of the wedding bouquet roses, but these are much, much bigger!

And lastly, my Graham Thomas. Also very exposed to the wind, in fact its lattice support has all but fallen down, but it flowers and flowers and flowers.

And on a glorious day like today, looking out towards the Blue Mountains, who could blame it!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today I weeded the garden by the pool.

Well, it actually wasn't the first thing I did, firstly I went around the trees that I recently planted and again hammered in the stakes holding the tree guards. Everything looks okay, with the exception of the pin oak in the far corner near the gate and it looks like it may not have survived the move.

Then I collected up the piles of cuttings and weeds that have been accumulating and had myself a small fire. How satisfying! I swear there is a pyromaniac inside us all. THEN I started weeding the bank by the pool. My goodness, the buddleja that I planted there last year have grown so much! They were tiny little tubestock when I got them. And the acanthus are coming into flower. The bank faces the south and isn't particularly sunny, especially in winter. It is my most unfavourite place to weed, I keep thinking that I'm sure to meet a snake. And because it is so steep, as I pull out the weeds, little bits of dirt and rocks roll down towards my feet all the time and continually startled me. Then every place that a weed has come from looks like a hole, an entrance to some sort of burrow and I get even more paranoid! Of course, it's a vicious circle - the less I weed because of the fear of a snake, the more likely there is to be one there. And I have to keep reminding myself that that wasn't where I met my first Kurrajong snake in March this year - not on the pool bank away from the house but indeed in the garden bed right beside the steps down from the verandah outside the family room! And not some scaredy-cat red bellied black snake but a mean and deadly eastern brown. I saw it again in the same place a week later and on my third sighting when I was bucketing water onto the plants, I decided that action had to be taken! Brave words, indeed! I just so happened to have my trusty longhandled hoe in my hand and I went hoe, hoe, hoe and I wasn't laughing at the time! When the deed was done, the adrenalin and fear and joy all kicked in and I danced the most ridiculous victory dance on the verandah with my heart pounding. Apart from cockroaches and spiders and flies, I have never to my knowledge despatched any living creature to the other side. And it was only afterwards that I read and realised that the brown snake is regarded as the second most deadly snake in the world! Ouch! I justify my actions by the knowledge that right outside the door is way too close for such a snake, particularly with the two dogs being crazy terriers and all. Here's a picture of one borrowed from cyberspace - did I take the time to go and get my camera? Oh no, I certainly did not!

The 'experts' say that this type of snake will aggressively attack if they feel that they are being cornered or threatened, and the same people will tell you that for every snake you actually see, there are probably four more that you don't see! So my question is, if you don't see the snake, how can you know that you are cornering it? As much as I hate the thought of killing living things, this one had to go! And I put him (i.e. the bits of him!) into the compost bin - guess who hasn't been getting any compost out of the bin lately!!

Anyway, back to the weeding of the pool bank. On the right hand side of the bank, just on the flat area at the bottom, is a stump. A tree stump that used to be a black wattle, which was sawn down not long after we moved in. Leaving a stump perhaps an inch or an inch and a half high. I found it in the grass this morning when I kicked my foot into it. Ouch! Later I stepped onto the side of it. Ouch again! It got to the point where I would say to myself 'watch out for the st . . . . - Ouch!' After falling over it about ten times, even when I was warning myself about it being there, I gave up my weeding for the day and came in for a coffee.

Yum! I love my mulbery tree, poor broken thing that it is. Now, where are some good jars for jam making?