Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Autumn garden

I have been busy renovating my front garden as it is autumn and our weather is becoming more gentle, but still no rain, and its nice to be working outside again. There are 2 circular garden beds in the centre of my front garden which have been neglected for years as most of my garden is out the back. I removed the yarrow and took up the bulbs in this bed and re sorted and divided them. Nan (my mum) sorted the bulbs and Pete helped me dig them. There were over 200 blue bells and a similar amount of spraxia bulbs as well as some babiana and ixia bulbs. I re planted the blue bells in a circle around the outside, then the spraxias inside that and the others in a small circle around the centre. Then the red and white yarrow back in over the top. I treated the soil with charlie carp, blood & bone and soil wetter. Should be good. The blue bells flower in late winter and the other bulbs flower in spring, the yarrow will form a mat over the top of them and help to conserve moisture in the soil. Yarrow flowers here in the heat of summer when not much else is out. The centre bed is heart shaped and has a good sized book leaf pine which I use to decorate as a Christmas tree each year. Along the front fence is a row of blue and white Agapanthus which Ali, one of my workmates has been eyeing off. She keeps reminding me that when I am ready to divide them she wants to help so she can get the left overs, so we will do that soon. Along the side fence is a snowball bush, a double white may bush and a Gymea lily. Here is a site with pics of it.
Gymea lilies are not supposed to grow here and I am quite proud that I have it. It has never flowered for me and I don't know if it will here out of its natural area but I have had it for about 10 years and nursed it through our frosty winters while it was little. I got it at the Canberra show. You are supposed to be able to get it to flower by placing a round pebble down inside the centre of it but I think I will leave it alone because I don't know if mine is big enough to support the huge flower spikes they get. They are known to be temperamental outside their natural area too so I am lucky to have it at all. I have not seen another one around here so if it ever does flower it will be a real event. I don't usually bother trying to grow plants that I don't think will do well here, it is stupid and self defeating and expensive but this plant is one of my favourite natives and spectacular, so I thought it worth a try.
We have quite a few very sick palliative cancer care patients at work at the moment, not nice in a small town where people know each other for most of their lives.
Today I want to clean out the chooks pen, they are moulting and look pretty sad at the moment. Later today we will take my daughter Annie in to Wagga. She is going to a responsible service of alcohol and gambling course. You need these certificates to work in a pub or club here, which is what she has decided she is going to try while waiting to get into uni as a mature aged student. I don't really believe she is tough enough or experienced enough to put up with working with drunks, but she wants to try it so, go figure. Put it down to experience or what ever. I want to buy a new digital camera this afternoon. Our old one died and I want one to take to the Melbourne flower show with me at the end of this month. We have booked a serviced apartment closer to the C.B.D. than the caravan park was, for 3 nights. It turns out it is only about a km from the flower show so we did well. Pete found out there is also a caravan and camping show on in Melbourne at the same time so we can go to that too. I don't know Melbourne well so will depend on Pete to get us around or catch a taxi. Melbourne is a scary place to drive for me because it has trams going down the centre of the road, so Pete can drive in the city too! I also want to check out their art gallery which is supposed to be very good. I'm looking forward to to the trip.
I also need to get into my shed to do some pottery as I have been calling myself a potter under false pretenses lately, and if I don't get back to it soon I'm sure will have forgotten all the skills and techniques I have learned over the years. The more gentle autumn weather will make my shed a much more pleasant place to spend some time.
Pete is sitting in front of the T.V. at the moment laughing at the disco clothes on a advert of 70's music. Pretty funny stuff.
O.k that's enough time wasted here for today.Bye Linda.


Brad said...

What's the stuff you add to the soil to conserve water made of? I haven't heard of a product like it in the US.
It's great you have a garden of native Aust. plants...

linda may said...

Its commercial name is soil wetta I looked for a msds and it said the chemical is poloxypropylene polyoxythelene ether, I dont know if that means anything to you? All the bottle says is surfactant which is something that makes the soil able to absorb more water instead of it running straight through when you water because the soil has become hydrophobic. Surfactant is also in detergents, but I'm not sure I could use them instead as they contain salts and other things that are harmful and can build up in the soil. You can also get water crystals to add to soil that aborb water and are supposed to hold the water for the root systems to take in for longer.I have used these too but I cant see they are so great as they still depend on you watering and the crystals having the time to absorb the water before it runs through. The crystals are good in terracotta pots though where water is absorbed by the pot as well. I don't have a lot of natives in my garden as some of them don't mix with the fertilizer needs of the veges and non natives. Many natives are very sensitive to phosphorus which the others need, and will die. Also the phosphorus can build up in the soil over many years and make it unsuitable for them. This happened with a Banksia I planted recently. I have probably 10 percent natives in my yard. I have the Melaluca trees, a couple of casurina or she oak trees and a Cootamundra wattle, a lilly pilly you would probably know it as a syzgium, a nice pink vine I don't know the name of,a geralton wax shrub which is great because once it is established will flower for about 5 months of the year, some brachyscome daises and some callistemons on the footpath, you might know them as bottle brushes. The Lilly Pilly is great though. It has crunch red edible berries that people reckon tastes a bit like watermelon. They are ripe when the weather changes from autumn to winter. I have washed and de seeded them and then put them in a blender and squeezed the juice out in a jelly bag, measured the liquid then set it with the right amount of gelatine, and put it in a mould. It doesn't need sugar. It makes a good jelly served cold with a bit of whipped cream. All the vitamins stay intact as the liquid isn't heated. A 4 litre ice cream bucket of fruit gives you a serve for about 6 people. The wattle tree is cool too because its a local. Cootamundra is the next town north of here. It's proper name is acacia baileyana but it is known to be a nuisance tree in other areas as it self seeds a little too easily. Very pretty in flower as it gets covered in golden yellow fluffy flowers in late winter.