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:
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
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.
This 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:
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:
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 😦
Happy gardening 🙂