Wednesday Vignette – Plaque and Jonquil

This plaque came from my old garden in inner-city Sydney.

Surrounded by 100 year old bricks, render and strict Victorian-era order, it worked well there….but in this garden….not quite so well.


Except for a month in spring….I rather like how the ruffles on the Jonquil reference the details of the garden plaque…perhaps I just haven’t found the right spot for the plaque yet.

It does, however have sentimental value. It came from a parapet atop the very first house I bought which, when I sold it, was to be raised for duplexes, so I salvaged some of the old architectural details and have kept this one ever since.

Linking in with Anna over at Flutter & Hum : do check out what has caught the eye of other bloggers around the globe

In the Garden This Week

Since the start of Spring most days have reached at least 12°C / 54°F.

Now while to many folks that doesn’t sound very warm, the garden certainly thinks otherwise. Add to that lots of intermittent rain showers and an absence of heavy frosts, and plants are really starting to wake up.

Here are some snippets from around the garden this week.

Papaver nudicaule lights up the entrance to the Secret Garden area (elsewhere in the garden, Poppies haven’t even begun to bud yet).


Hopefully I get some yellows and pinks to round out the mix…I seem to mostly end up with oranges and whites 🙂 Regardless, in my climate, these will go on spot-flowering for another year.

Despite the efforts of a single cockatoo who sneaks into the garden without the flock to eat white daffodils, many have lived to flower: WhiteDaffs

I think I may have finally caught the culprit in the act.


Luckily no two cockatoos look alike, so catching this killer should be easy (yeah right!)


I can’t exactly blame the Cockatoo…some of those daffodils have a striking resemblance to a fried egg 🙂

The yellow Narcissus have basically been left alone:


It’s also amazing how far ahead the sheltered ‘Secret Garden’ area is compared to the rest of the garden… and so many other bulbs are joining in the spring chorus, all weeks early thanks to the sheltered micro-climate:



Erysimum are starting to bloom:


Other temporary little sub-shrubs are also putting on a lovely show. While some were killed by winter weather, in the sheltered areas, Osteospermums put on seemingly impossible mass displays:


Assuming they have sufficient rainfall, these will go on blooming well into summer.

Other Asteraceæ flowers must surely be running out of puff after blooming almost constantly since autumn:


Limonium perezii is producing lovely new flowers: make sure you dead-head these as they are short-lived if allowed to go to seed. The Limonium will soon be surrounded by Freesia blooms.


In the Photinia hedgerow that runs along the Western boundary, a solitary Prunus cerasifera lights up the gloom with pretty pinkish-white flowers:


At this time of year in terms of shrubs with impact, the award would still go to the early-flowering Rhododendrons.

The first up is Rhododendron chrysodoron x burmanicum:


Often considered a little tender, this one did fine in its sheltered spot during the winter…however, late frosts can ruin the buds.

Rhododendron spinuliferum ‘Crossbill’, continues to shine and is slightly more hardy:


The first buds have opened on the largest of the Kurumes; more will continue until October, when it becomes a blinding mass of colour:


Rhododendron ‘Robyn’ is now close to its peak flowering. It will eventually reach about 1.2m / 4′ tall & wide and will really look pretty in this spot close to the porch.


The resident Magpie wants some food and will keep following me around until I relent. Magpies start nesting in June and they seldom abandon a nest…these two were caught out by a very cold July and August.

If June hadn’t been so mild, they probably would have created a nest lower down the mountain to guarantee food.

Here they were being fed during (what I hope will be) the last snow-fall a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve ever wondered what a cold, wet, pregnant magpie looks like, well wonder no more:


But back to the Early Rhododendrons.

A ruddy, intense magenta is the colour of choice for most of them.  The smallest of the existing ones is in the hedgerow:


But this is nothing to the ones below.

Planted well before my time it is stuffed in a 1m / 3′ wide space between the fence and my garage. No wonder it is leggy, but still pretty when in bloom. If it had the space, it would have grown to the proportions of my next door neighbours one:


I know some people aren’t fans of Rhododendrons, but regardless, they light up the garden at a time of year normally reserved for looking down to get any colour. And they do it unabashedly.

Happy Gardening 🙂

Is it Spring Already?

Not quite.

It’s snowing again and more is forecast this afternoon.

Thankfully it’s not heavy like two weeks ago and is only settling in tiny, icy drifts as it is just too windy for anything substantial to stay on the ground.

The bitter wind-chill is -18°C / -1°F, and, coupled with the actual air temperature still below freezing at midday, it is particularly unpleasant outside.


Icy snow crystals. I’m sure the Inuit have a word for this wind-blown stuff. I have to post this to prove it is still winter as the following pictures look like mid-spring!

But try telling that to some parts of the garden!

In the little sheltered microclimates I have created with fences, under tall evergreens and by enclosing spaces around outbuildings – and mulching all garden beds –  has meant that spring has started in a few select spots in the garden.

Even on a frigid day like today, stepping into these parts of the garden is noticeably warmer; the howling gale is reduced to a noisy breeze and the wind-blown snow hasn’t settled…here I can actually take my gloves off to press the I-pad camera button.

While the rest of the garden is still grey, brown and still stuck in winter, these little micro-climates really lift the spirits and extend the spring blooming season ahead for months!

So here it is….pictures from the most sheltered parts of the garden, that make a liar of my assertions that it is still cold :-).

First up, little dwarf Narcissi ‘Little Gem’ :


Narcissus ‘Little Gem’ near an emerging Spanish Bluebell

Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’:


Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’

The brilliant yellows certainly brighten any dreary day.

Muscari armeniacum in this area have also punched through the chill with their precious little jewel-like grapes:


Muscari armeniacum

 Primulas are starting to put on a great display; first is the annual candelabra variety:


Primula malacoides

The more traditional, Primula vulgaris also joins in. This cultivar is ‘High Tea Drumcliff’ it has fabulous deep green leaves:


Primula vulgaris ‘High Tea Drumcliff’

Ipheon uniflorum – which started flowering over a month ago, is really doing well in this part of the garden. Other clumps elsewhere have not even begun to stir, so it will be great to get months of these delicate blue beauties:


Ipheon uniflorum

A little Nemesia aromatica plug that I planted in autumn has started to perform; it normally smells lovely, but the air is too cold to enjoy the perfume today:


Nemesia aromatica

The same goes for the Daphne odora in this sheltered, warm part of the garden. Even though its first flowers have opened, the chill makes it impossible to smell anything:


Daphne odora

Helleborus are heralding the end of winter. These were all put in as tiny plugs last year, so it is really heartening to see them start to flower so soon:


Helleborus niger


Helleborus niger

But some warm microclimates weren’t created by me. I’ve just taken advantage of them. The front of the house faces due North and gets all-day sun.

Unlike the siding of the rest of the house, the basement wall is brick, and I’ve painted it a dark colour to ensure as much heat as possible is retained.

It works a treat, and I get roses blooming in mid-winter on bare branches:


Climbing Iceberg Roses and Osteospermums love this warm, sheltered spot

It’s quite an odd thing to see, but I’m rather warming to it 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Aromas

Spring bulbs bring some truly heady scents to the garden on a mild day. Like the overwhelming sweetness of Erlicheer Jonquils:


Sweet Jonquils

Or the vanilla tones of Freesias:


Freesia refracta

I love the mix of cream and lemon colours, and being right by the gate to the garage, I am always greeted by a lovely smell.

Picking up the yellow and white mix on the other side of the garden, many of the daffodils have a sweet perfume. The smallest daffodils seem to be the most pungent.

IMG_0425 IMG_0423

Drawn by the warmer weather and abundance of flowers, bees return to the garden. I watched this little fellow make short work of every Primula flower:


Bees and Primula

Even though the season has just begun, I am always looking to the next season….here is a little seedling tray of English Daisies (Bellis perenis) which should be ready to go into the ground in a few weeks’ time:


English Daisy seedlings emerge

Happy gardening!

Primulas and other Spring Beauties

With showers every day since the middle of August, the early spring garden is certainly making the most of the extra moisture.

Below is one of my favourite little annuals, Primula malacoides, putting on a show:


Primula malacoides

A flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) has put on its first show since I planted it last autumn, very pretty too:


Flowering currant

The Ipheion/Tritelia uniflorum continues to impress. The variegated dogwood is even starting to loose it’s red winter twigs:


Spring Star

On the white side of the colour spectrum, the jonquils have started to open:



As have the sweetly perfumed freesias:



And of course, the daffodil patch is coming along nicely:



Most of the early ones have opened….the mid/late flowering ones are still quite small, but for a $4 investment, I’d say this is well worth it! Once these finish, hopefully the Lupins and the Asiatic lilies will start to fill the gaps until the slower shrubs (Rhododendrons, azaleas, viburnums and deutzias) fill the gaps.

As always, happy gardening!

The blustery weather continues


More blustery weather last night with sustained 100kmh (60mph) winds and hail!

The poor old shed, previously liberated from the clutches of jasmine and ivy took the full brunt of the wind and lost one of its wall panels….I suspect that the vines, having been there for so long, may have been structural 🙂


Here is the damage this morning….another job for the to do list!

But, as always, the garden reminds me that even in winter spring is around the corner: the first of the daffodils and jonquils that I planted in March are starting to pop up in the upper garden which I have been planting out since February.


I’m curious to see what they turn out to be as I bought these bulbs at the very end of autumn as a lucky dip – 50 bulbs for $4.00. Just too cheap to pass up.

Apparently they are a mixture of classic yellows, whites, pinks, doubles and singles….so we’ll see: I may have planted a visual masterpiece of a jarring combination of gaudy colours!