GBFD September – Foliage Returns

With spring flowers stealing the spotlight, it’s nice to see some of the deciduous trees and shrubs leafing out early this year (the dry, sunny weather means they are about 3 weeks ahead of shedule).

The first leaves are fresh and perfect, and this year, after a very cold winter, I don’t have to contend with an onslaught of aphids keen to get a jump on sucking sap before the ladybugs arrive to feast on them 🙂

Here is a selection of some of the foliage that has opened in the last week or so:


L:R Betula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’; Hydrangea quercifolia; Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’


Clockwise, L:R Spiraea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’; Picea glauca v. albertiana ‘Conica’ & Santolina chamaecyparissus; Rosa ‘Climbing Iceberg’; Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Japanese Maples are particularly effortless in the upper Blue Mountains.

I was able to purchase a few bare-rooted, cut-leaf, weeping varieties at a very good price during winter…so I couldn’t resist.

Once these start to mature, they lend an amazing sculptural quality to a garden; especially one that is steeply sloping like mine. For now, they are just little sticks, but they will fill out over the next few years!


L:R Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Ever Red’ ; Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’; Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Orangeola’

Linking up with Christina at My Hesperides Garden. Do take a look at the foliage that has captured bloggers attention this month!

Happy Gardening 🙂

This Week in the Garden: Starting the Terraces

The winter weather has returned to more normal conditions (meaning daytime temperatures of about 5°C / 40°F) but the three week mild spell, which saw temperatures consistently hitting about 12°C / 53°F, has caused many plants to start to bud.

However, there is snowfall and very cold weather forecast this weekend and into next week, so hopefully this won’t cause too much damage to the new growth….

That hasn’t stopped the garden. Here, Primula auricula ‘Alice Haysom’ has opened about 14 weeks too soon.


Primula auricula ‘Alice Haysom’

It is quite an old cultivar, from the 1930s, and I picked it up a couple of months ago at a garage sale of all places!

It’s not the only early Primula – here P. vulgaris ‘Drumcliffe’ is budding next to a Kurume azalea in bloom:


Primula vulgaris ‘Drumcliffe’ and Azalea

Another of the mixed bag of Jonquils has bloomed next to the Indica azalea which has been flowering since late June. Thankfully it isn’t a repeat of that paper-white from my last post:


Narcissus & Azalea

The overgrown Hebe that I hacked back has started to flower:


Unknown Hebe cultivar

And, wait for it…..roses!


Rosa ‘Climbing Iceberg’

The middle of winter is a great time to do some of the heavier landscaping tasks, and with the soil not frozen this year, I’ve made a start on terracing part of the back-yard.

I have also set myself a challenge of doing my garden in the most environmentally sustainable way possible: that means severely limiting the materials brought on site and any waste sent off site. As you can imagine, digging the materials needed out of the ground well and truly takes its time :-).

Here is the progress shot of one of the smaller terraces:


Dry-stone retaining wall

There are another couple of beds to add before this area is finished – a bed in front and two terraces behind, as you can see, I’ve already impatiently started transferring plants from my pot ghetto (but that’s for another post)….

My Chiropractor will be very rich once all of the terraces are done!

Happy Gardening 🙂

This Week in the Garden….I can see clearly now (!)

With apologies to Jimmy Cliff, but after weeks of heavy rain, wind and storms, this week’s forecast is for fine weather. We have had over 500mm / 20″ of rain since the second week of April with only about 3 or 4 days without rain in-between.

So what a difference a bit of sun makes to the spirits.


Acer palmatum and morning sunlight

As you can see, water is still draining out of my yard: everything is slushy underfoot.


Water, water, everywhere

My little pine forest that I look out at from the study, is still in tact – so far – they took about 10 trees from within this area, and I certainly hope they have finished. Compare above (after the trees have been felled) and below – not too much difference, thankfully, but the rain may merely have delayed the operation.


Same view about a month ago

After a lot of chilly weather (which isn’t going to get any warmer), most of the bigger floral displays have well and truly finished, anything that would still be flowering is a mushy, hail damaged, frost-bitten mess, so it is a case of enjoying subtle beauty.

The Camellia sasanqua ‘Mine No Yuki’ has been beautiful, although its blooms have suffered in the storms with a lot of brown spots:


Camellia sasanqua ‘Mine No Yuki’

I love how the shrub holds its delicate double blooms back-to-back. Quite stunning!

During the weeks of inclement weather, Rosellas sought refuge in the bottle brush (Callistemon viminalis) tree: eating the seed pods that form along the branches. This made for excellent bird-watching on otherwise grey days:


If only I weren’t an indoor cat?!

Like the Grevillea, these Australian natives bloom when most others stop and are great to ensure visitors to the garden:


….Raindrops on Roses Grevilleas….

The rain has also flushed out some interesting bugs. Here is a rather unusual wingless fly (Boreoides subulatus) native to Australia: only the female is wingless. She uses that pointy tip to lay rows of eggs in damp crevices:


Even the damp-loving insects need a break from the rain

Salvias continue to be the mainstay of the bloomers, bravely enduring the rubbish weather, although these, too are looking like they need a rest after flowering since December:


Salvias are now starting to slow down for winter

Of course, there are still some other stragglers from late summer:


Clockwise: Achellia, Osteospermum, Cosmos, Verbena, Bellis perennis, Papaver nudicale, Argyranthemum, Rosa ‘Iceberg’, Felicia ameloides, Penstemon, Sisyrinchium and Brachyscome

Then of course, there are the confused spring bloomers. In the warm shelter of the front veranda, these little pansies have started to bloom well ahead of schedule. Outside, they haven’t even started:


Pansies and Bamboo…don’t ever plant this type of Bamboo in the yard unless you want the world’s worst headache!

Or the azaleas:


Spring and Autumn….just look at that Hydrangea….!

The Hydrangea has been in glorious leaf for about a month now. I am definitely going to take more cuttings from this one, and probably sell it via a friend at the plant markets as it’s just so unusual to have such beautiful autumn colour on a basic hydrangea: it really makes for a superior type of shrub!

This is one of the ‘Mai-Ko’ types, on a shrub that I took  a cutting from two summers ago.

Of course, autumn colour isn’t unusual on Hydrangea quercifolia and this has also been going for quite some time as well:


Hydrangea quercifolia

For those of you in the Spring, it’s not too late to rejuvenate old evergreen shrubs.

I cut this old Hebe back hard last September and it has really bounced back. It was about 2m / 8′ and probably 30 years old.

It is as tall as the railing in this year-old photo, and although it is difficult to see, it was very leggy and only gave a few flowers despite its size. It is to the right of the stairs:


From a year ago: the Hebe is next to the stairs and the house is still only half-renovated

It was cut within 20cm / 6″ of the ground last spring – this is about a month afterwards:


Recovering from a hard-prune

And here it is now:


Healthy, and even a little flower 🙂

At least now, I can keep it bushy and start to re-shape it.

And speaking of Spring, it’s nice to have that snow-drop look in Autumn: Leucojum autumnale is a dainty little bulb at this time of year, but it is tough:


Leucojum autumnale

Of course, there is still a lot of autumn foliage around:


Clockwise: Enkianthus, Acer palmatum near the secret garden, Acer palmatum over the garage, Quercus rubra showing fantastic patterns

Even though the colour isn’t brilliant (it’s still in a pot waiting to be planted out) the Quercus rubra certainly has wonderful patterns!).

Lastly, the little Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’ has given some nice colour. It goes well with the larger maple behind it:


Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’ dissolves into the larger Acer in a fiery display

Happy Gardening 🙂

Rose & Marguerite

I rather like the combination of the Blue Marguerite and the pearly white Miniature Rose together in bloom.


Felicia amelloides and unknown Rosa

This is the same rose that I hacked to pieces (roots, stems and all) and then transplanted back in early winter. Of course, that was technically the wrong time to do this, but I took a bit of a risk….it’s paid off, as the bush has started to give a riot of blooms and buds.

Does anyone know the variety? I’m thinking it could be Avon or Ivory Palace.

The bush was one of the few things planted in the garden before the house fell into disrepair, so the rose variety would have been popular around the 1980s…..

Happy Gardening 🙂

Climbing Iceberg Rose

The bare-rooted rose climber that I planted in the foundation bed in July has come along nicely giving its first spray of spring blooms:


Rosa ‘Iceberg’

The plan will be to have this rose climb up, and fill out, the corner of the basement wall and up the veranda support post.

I know that due to their popularity, Iceberg roses are often considered over-used in the garden, but I do love the pearly white blooms and, of course they are generally trouble free, which fits in with my belief of not using chemicals in the garden.


Pearly White Blooms


 Similarly, the white blooms contrast with the dark grey painted bricks (and lighter grey siding) of the house perfectly!

I shall have to get cracking with adding support wires to give these roses something to climb up and along.

Happy Gardening 🙂


Marguerites and Climbing Roses

I thought that something a little more ‘genteel’ after last weeks’ post would be in order.


Argyranthemum frutescens “Crazy Daisy”

The Marguerite has started blooming and provides a nice contrast to the more saturated colours of the Osteospermums dotted around the garden.

With the warmer weather, the Iceland Poppies are now starting to put on a better display: the little Muscari bulbs have been flowering since late July.


Iceland Poppies

I took advantage of the nice weather on the weekend and dug a new foundation bed. This bed is on the shady, eastern side of the house underneath many established trees, including a large Japanese Maple which has burst into leaf and flower. I just love the translucent green of new spring growth:


Acer palmatum in flower

Given the summer shade, the new bed will have azaleas and hydrangeas (all of these were just grown from cuttings), primroses, tiarellas and other woodland lovers.


New garden bed – mostly just tubestock and cuttings

At the sunny end of the bed, I have planted a Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ shrub – this will pick up the golden hues of the Pencil Pine at the front of the house. Also a couple of other new Japanese Maple seedlings dotted along the beds on either side of the path will make this a very tranquil space, even though at just 8m/24′ wide, it is somewhat narrow.

At the other end of the opposite bed and a suitable distance from the house I planted a Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides – last summer . Even though the soil here is sandy and rocky which will act as a natural growth inhibitor (the dawn redwood likes deep alluvial soils if it is to reach its full potential), this will still be a big tree in my lifetime: it should grow approximately 1m/3′ each year for the next 20 years, so it will be interesting to track its progress from chest height sapling to forest giant 🙂


Dawn Redwood bursts into leaf

In the food garden, the evergreen blueberries that I planted in July are laden with flowers turning into fruit. The deciduous ones are just coming into bud, so it will be fantastic to be able to pick blueberries from as early as next month until late autumn from just seven little plants


Evergreen blueberry

The strawberries are in flower. One of them, Fragaria ananassa ‘fragoo’ even sports the most delicate pink blossom which is just delightful:


Pretty strawberry blossom

And lastly, one the climbing roses that I planted as bare root stock have started to flower. It sure is a beauty – this one is ‘Blushing Pierre de Ronsard’:


Climbing ‘Pierre de Ronsard’

The idea is to train these up the basement wall, staircase and veranda railings at the front of the house (the other side of the house has climbing Iceberg roses). The old fashioned blooms on this one are very pretty and fragrant.

As always, happy gardening 🙂