Monday, 31 March 2014

Planting 101

Finally, over the last couple of days, the weather has cooled off and we have even had a bit of rain. The forecast is for milder temperatures, for a while at least, so on Sunday I decided to plant one of the trees I bought a few weeks ago from Guildford Town Garden Centre.

Today’s plant is a Chinese crab apple ‘Plena’ which I am planting to give extra shade to a spot that gets badly scorched in summer. It will make for a crowded area but I intend to prune it to keep it fairly small. All this makes it sound like it was a planned buy but it was actually a spur of the moment purchase, one where you think to yourself “I’ll buy it and I’ll make it fit”, well I darn well will. The garden centre has one planted as a display and I saw it in flower last spring – beautiful. Plus my Gardening Neighbour has a pile of crab apple trees and he swears by their drought tolerance.

So I’m now going to pass on my tips and techniques for planting:

1.    Run the gauntlet past the paper wasps who have built a nest in the shed to get the spade out.

2.    Dig the hole and put aside sand for later use to build castle.

3.    Drop in dead rat kindly gifted by anonymous benefactor and left on the back lawn overnight.

4.    Add mushroom compost and tree. Mushroom compost is my soil improver of choice. Eventually the plant has to be able to survive in sand but this gives it a booming start. You can use it to plant or mulch and I have slathered it all over the planted areas including under the lawn. Plus there’s the added bonus of the occasional mushroom.

5.    Remember that you have forgotten to add slow release fertiliser and scrape bits out so you can put it in as an afterthought.

6.    Water well and add more mushroom compost as required when it compacts.

7.    Shoo small lizard out of bucket of woodchips and use them to mulch.

Aaah, gardening…it’s the feeling of harmony with nature I love. Happy planting!

Friday, 21 March 2014

My Most Photogenic Roses

Today, while I’m waiting for the weather to finally cool off and autumn to kick in, I’m going to show you some of my most eye-catching roses.
 From the breeders of Pierre de Ronsard (Eden) rose, this is Red Pierre.

This is Julia’s Rose. Those colours, those stamens…

The beautiful English rose, Belle Story. I’m a sucker for exposed stamens.

 And this one is prolific old garden climber, Lamarque.

And last but not least. These are the autumn colours of David Austin rose, Jubilee Celebration.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Snowflake Hibiscus

This is one great plant. It has variegated leaves that light up this spot when it’s shaded and they’re not variegated like normal, in that yellow and green way. They’re white and green so they really shine.

I had two of these that I bought when I was selling my previous home. What was supposed to happen was that they would be planted in the ground to fill the space where my big birds nest fern had been. I dug the birds nest fern up for two reasons, one, so I could bring it with me, and two, because it was difficult to open the back door because it was so big. After looking at the plants for a couple of days I decided I was going to keep them as well, so they didn’t ever get planted. Hey, the house sold eventually.

The other one died, not because it’s too delicate, it’s a hibiscus so it’s tough. I originally had it planted in a spot that was too shaded and so I decided to move it into a better spot, and *hey presto!* it up and died over the summer in spite of my best efforts. I’ve seen them around in nurseries and bought another one a couple of years ago under a slightly different name.

It has red hibiscus flowers that last only one day. And being a hibiscus it’s deciduous as well, dropping its leaves in late winter. It’s supposed to grow to about 1.5 metres (5 feet) high but it’s been pretty slow and after 7 years it’s about 1.2 metres (4 feet) high.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Welcome to my blog!

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear. “ - Winnie the Pooh

Hello and welcome to my gardening blog!

This blog is about my garden and gardening experiences in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, near the Swan Valley.

I’ve been on this property since mid-2007. The block is just under 600 m2 (that’s just over 1/8 acre) and an oddly shaped polygon – 15 metres (50 feet) along the front, just over 30 (100 feet) across the back and 25 metres (83 feet) deep.

The soil here is… well… sand. Summers are hot, dry and, in this part of Perth, spectacularly windy with easterly winds that blow in from the Bight*, across the Nullarbor and down the hills most nights and into the mornings in summer.  Winters are mild and often worryingly dry.

I grow a range of native and exotic plants, fruit trees and roses. As with all gardens, it is a continuing work in progress. Plants are moved and replaced, and every spare space is examined for its planting potential.

My intention is to fill this blog with the answers to the questions I was asking 6 years ago, the gardening ones anyway: how big does that tree grow; can I prune it; will it survive in my backyard; photo’s lie, what colour is that rose really; will it perform well; how do I beat those darn fruit fly?  Hopefully you will find something in it that you can relate to or gain something from – that’s my aim. Oh, yes, time for a disclaimer: I am in no way a professional gardener and any recommendations I make are based on my own experience and not on anything that resembles real science.  

I’m also not a brilliant photographer or stylist. Please excuse the general lack of tidiness in the scenes. It’s a little late for New Year’s resolutions but I hereby resolve to be a tidier gardener.

*Great Australian Bight