This week in the Garden

In a word: changeable!

A day of searing heat of 30°C/86°F gave way to some pretty dramatic storm clouds as a cold change blew in:


Lightning dramatically illuminates the inside of storm clouds

The lightning for this storm seemed to stay within the clouds, occasionally arcing between the towering cumulonimbus clouds and sucking in bands of fog from the coast but seldom striking the ground.

After the change, the following day reached just 9°C/49°F!

Late into the growing season most summer perennials start to look bedraggled; many autumn flowering plants are only just coming into flower and the deciduous trees haven’t really started to change hue.

In such a transitional time, there is often little available for wildlife to feed. I’ve tried to incorporate as many plants as possible that flower between March and May to keep not only the visual interest but also keep something for wildlife.

The Callistemon viminalis (which always struggles with the cold) has put on some new flowers which have attract all sorts of critters. Here a few butterflies line up for nectar:


Callistemon viminalis and butterflies

A rarer visitor to the garden, the beautiful Crimson Rosella enjoys the seed pods:


Crimson Rosella

Despite needing pruning every year from frost damage, it certainly is a lovely small tree to have right outside the lounge-room window!

With many of the native nectar-producing plants dormant at this time of year, my resident Wattlebirds have been enjoying the larger Salvias:


Wattlebird enjoying Salvia ‘Waverley’

But, unlike dainty hummingbirds that typically sup from the salvia cup, these clumsy brutes snap off each of the stems as they fly away 😐

This border still looks passable (just – the Achillea are starting to look ratty) despite the fact that it was at its peak a few months ago.



Front border in early summer

Late March:


Front bed late March – really must cut the grass…

The Agastaches & smaller tubular salvias that are flowering attract much smaller birds which do far less damage. This one is a VERY special visitor which I’ve never seen before and it’s VERY, VERY, VERY far from home.

It is a female Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) and it is mostly comes from the Philippines, but is also inhabits a small corner in the far northern tropics of Australia, some 3,000km/1,900mi away. It has taken to the Agastaches & tubular salvias.


 IMG_1367IMG_1372IMG_1375IMG_1376IMG_1378This is a close relative of the hummingbird with which Northern gardeners are familiar. It loves the Agastache, but I can’t get a decent shot of the two together, however…


Agastache aurantiaca ‘Salmon Pink’

….I really like the curls that these tubular flowers get as they age.

In a part of the garden that I haven’t made a start clearing yet, a neglected Hebe is flowering:


Unknown Hebe cultivar

This one is leggy and will be removed with all the Ivy and Firethorn that is growing around it. I’ve already struck cuttings, so it will certainly keep going on in the garden.

The variable little cosmos are still powering along; no two flowers even remotely similar or close to the pictures on the seed packet. Bless ’em:


Cosmos Candy Stripe

In other areas of the garden, I’m preparing for a late spring display with Aquilegia – these did so well last spring – flowering from early October to late December – that I’ve decided to add a number more (about 100 actually, the amount in the seed packet) to fill in gaps while the shrubs establish. They are so easy to germinate:


Aquilegia seedlings (with Brachyscome)

I’ve put them into a few beds in the back garden in large drifts and should look quite lovely come spring and will provide a nice linking effect as we head into summer 2016 after the azaleas and bulbs have finished.


More Aquilegia seedlings


And some more Aquilegia seedlings

Autumn has its own beautiful flowers and many of them now start to shine. Anemone x hybrida (Japanese Windflower) lights up the shade under the Japanese Maple:


Japanese Windflower

These are quite slow to get going, but be sure to place it correctly. Once it is established, it is almost impossible to remove if you change your mind!

A little Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ that I purchased in summer has given a couple of spot flowers. It’s near the back porch and hints at the scent that is to come this spring:


Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’

The Helenium ‘Riverton Beauty’ which keeps getting bashed about by the storms (despite being tied to a wire supports) is flowering prolifically:


Helenium ‘Riverton Beauty’

Where would the autumn garden be without roses? My favourite, ‘Blushing Pierre de Ronsard’ is flowering again:


Rosa ‘Blushing Pierre de Ronsard’ with salvia seed-heads

I’m amazed the leaves haven’t been affected by black spot after all the endless rain this summer. I love the contrast between the freshness of the rose and the decay of the Salvia seed-heads.

Rounding out the autumn flowers is a sasanqua camellia. This was one of the few plants in the garden when I bought the house.


Camellia sasanqua ‘Mine No Yuki’

I’m pretty sure this is Camellia sasanqua ‘Mine No Yuki’. In a few weeks it should be covered in blooms.

And of course, the first of the proper autumn foliage is starting as well. The Horse Chestnut was yellow until the hot day turned it brown:


Horse Chestnut

The blueberries are starting to put on a lovely display:



As are the Hydrangeas, which are not normally associated with glorious autumn tones so early:



But the star of the show at this early stage is the Witch Hazel:


Hammelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

This one is near a pathway and should be good for providing a bit of winter interest and a light fragrance.

And, as I started the post with a picture of storm clouds gathering, I might as well finish with one of storm clouds clearing.

This view may change permanently – every day there are cranes and chainsaws and about a dozen of the large Radiata Pine on the closest hill have already been felled. I certainly hope they don’t cut down the whole lot as I love seeing the deep green of this little pine forest. But I suspect it will soon be gone 😦


Storm Clouds

Happy gardening 🙂


46 thoughts on “This week in the Garden

  1. You’ve got to wonder what kind of toll such wild temperature fluctuations take on the garden – we’ve been experiencing a similar phenomenon. Early fall may have arrived but your garden still looks good – I can’t say we have as much color left in our gardens here after summer’s done. I love the bird photos! Australia has much more colorful birds than we generally see (discounting my one visit from a juvenile peacock) – how I’d love to see a Rosella sitting outside my window!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris – the 86F day was very unexpected – it was the second hottest march day on record for us and after weeks of temperatures never getting above 70F, it was a rude shock! There are so many different birds here, the challenge is being able to capture them all!


  2. Your bird visitors are all new to me so thank you for including them; it is lovely to have an all round plants, animals and birds etc. view of your garden. Your temperature variations are frightening but it does happen here too; I smiled at searing 30°C as in summer than would be pleasantly warm for me where temperatures usually are closer to 40°c although rarely (thank goodness) actually reaching it. Your plants are thriving and a lot of your summer bloomers are still giving a very good performance. Filling in with home grown seedlings is the perfect way to fill the spaces while the shrubs fill out, it will look fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have a lot going on in your garden and seeing the little hummingbird relative must of been extremely exciting. Your temperature changes are something we do not have over here – mainly damp rain or chilly for March currently. Temperature changes that extreme must be trying for you and your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The little hummingbird was quite a surprise, as I had to do a bit of research to ID it! Thankfully the wild temperature variations are quite rare (mostly in early autumn the days are around 18C) but it’s tough working outside in either of those extremes!


  4. Transitional seasons are always the most exciting to me. Odd to think, though, that spring is just taking hold here and you are just into fall. Your garden is still full of life and colorful for so late in the season. I’m sure it must give you, as well as the birds and butterflies, daily satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I love having plants in bloom from late spring to autumn; especially (to my mind) seeing how I spend so much time working in the garden at this time of year, I might as well be surrounded by lots of plants in bloom!


    • Thanks 🙂 I love of the quality of light during autumn, it seems to take on that blurred turner-esque umber hue that makes even my poor photography attempts acceptable!


    • I love seeing the wildlife in gardens – to me that’s how nature gives you a small pat on the back and that you are doing the right thing. Thankfully the wild temperature changes are quite rare and are only confined to spring and autumn. It has now mostly settled back to normal with days in the mid 60s, which is much more enjoyable!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It looks like that cosmos churns out some beautiful little flowers despite its whims. Your sunbird photos are a lot better than my yesterday’s attempt with a hummingbird – and encouraging, too, as I’ve just gotten my first couple of Agastaches in the ground (gotta try to keep those birds happy in the garden ;). And I will now do a search on “Blushing Pierre de Ronsard”… what a lovely combination of form and substance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amy, I was amazed the photos turned out as I only use an ipad which is bit cumbersome at the best of times! I hope the agastaches work for you as they are drought tolerant and certainly bring me a lot of joy! From what I’ve seen, the blushing pierre de Ronsard rose seems to do better in drier climates (certainly in terms of flowering) with a bit of supplemental watering, so I’m hoping that it will thrive in your location too 🙂


  6. I love your garden. It’s the garden that I would have loved to grow here and I am living vicariously through your posts. Hope you don’t mind. Do your aquilegia get powdery mildew at all? They are amazing plants. There is one growing in a tiny bit of soil between the wall and the concrete right outside our back door. It has survived there for a few years now despite it being the very first port of call for our male dogs every morning. It flowers, it grows and it gets no water whatsoever aside from when the concrete gets a bit wet after it rains. The perfect plant for a water wise garden. LOVE those salvias (also excellent for water wise gardens) and that little visitor appears to be escaping from Queensland and all of its cyclones and loving your garden to the max. Another excellent post. You have a lustworthy garden 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m surprised you have any time left at all for gardening (or anything else for that matter!) Some aquilegia got a bit of mildew this summer, but they were in slightly shadier, flat areas. This new batch has all been planted in beds that have a slope, so they should drain well. They are tough little plants…especially taking a daily dose of dog pee 🙂 With the doubles I bought when I moved in and just the mixed packet of seeds that I have sown, I might be able to get quite a few unusual crosses (aquilegia are happily promiscuous). I adore salvias – from the smell of the foliage to the almost never ending summer flowers. But, like you, I love the fact that they don’t require any extra water….I hate dragging a hose around!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, I hope they preserve at least a part of your pine forest. But your avian visitor certainly is dramatic! And those are great hummingbird shots. Nice Heleniums – I like the yellow but also the red and orange varieties. Speaking of which the red tubular Salvia is very nice, and certainly popular with the hummingbirds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks – the red salvia is pineapple sage. It won’t make it through the winter, but it’s leaves are quite tasty in salads and clearly the bird loves it too!


    • Thanks Annette! I think once I cut the weedy grass that everything will look a little better…the winter to spring/summer to autumn can be tricky times to get the garden looking its best


  8. That first picture with the lightning is fantastic! What a fierce storm front that must have been to cause such a temperature change. The birds don’t seem to mind though, they seem quite content in your garden, and to have that sunbird drop in is quite the surprise!
    You really do have a lot of late summer color, but it’s all those aquilegia seedlings which I suspect will steal the show some day. Nice job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks – the hot day was a record breaker, so it caught everyone by surprise. The storm was quite amazing and long lived – there was a lot of hail nearby, but thankfully it missed most of the towns


  9. The weather has been so variable here, too that I had to cover a bunch of plants with a thick sleeping bag to keep them from freezing when our temps dipped extra low for a night. I’m surprised at how many of the same plants we have in our garden. I thought Australia was really tropical but I’m in a temperate zone (7A). Your rose is such a beauty. With our humidity/heat, black spot is a huge problem here and I’ve had to remove several roses I loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Many parts of Australia are tropical, but the South East where I live is temperate. We are zone 8 in terms of winter cold, but we have very cool summers (most days under 75F) so the climate is more English. I hate black spot….there’s not much you can do about blackspot once it’s in the garden except remove the diseased leaves and keep up the air flow!


  10. OH MY!!! You live in paradise:-) The birds are out of this world where you live-look like something from a magical place-all those colors-WOW.
    The depth of your collection of plants is so vast:-) I feel my garden is a bit more limiting:-(
    Have you noticed, I never have been able to catch a humming bird. By the time I get set up it has moved on and I have all the wrong settings-I am still trying. I get close at times, but more misses than hits-LOL
    I love your tours…May is our spring-so weird to read about it being your season end….enjoy your rest coming up-my work is picking up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I think it’s an amazing part of the world! It was tricky to get the shot of the hummingbird – I managed with the ipad, but that device struggles with motion. I’ve never seen a bird like that in Australia before, most of the hummingbird relatives here just sit on the stem (apparently that’s a distinguishing trait between old and new world hummingbirds) so to see this little fellow from the tropics was quite wonderful 🙂 I love seeing the gardens at the opposite ends of the world as they unfurl….so much easier and cheaper than a plane ride!


  11. patsquared2 says:

    Beautiful garden and flowers. I love your climate and the variety you get. We are just warming up over here in the Mid-Atlantic states – all I have out are lettuce..spinach, onions and beets. Thanks for taking the time to share your backyard with all of us. It is beautiful and hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

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