Sunday, 27 May 2007

Autumn flowering plants

While most other plants and shrubs are more subdued this time of year, we have some lovely flowering surprises in our garden. A little dash of colour which picks up the autumn sun through the dappled light provided by our Japanese maples.

The sacred bamboo with its bright red berries:

The lovely small grevillea shrub with stylish flowers which bow and spread their 'wings':

The ever-hardy hardenbergia which is about to burst into what looks like flowers from a proliferation of buds:

Also, my rather humble zygocactus has just begun to burst its flower buds too! Gorgeous pink feathery flowers, lovely in the sunlight:

And we've yet to solve the mystery that is the lovely pink 'native'; what IS it???'s a close-up of the flowers and the rosemary-like leaves:

If you have an idea, please leave us a comment!

Friday, 18 May 2007

Happy Friday, it's raining!

21mm ...but we need more.

Our broad beans are loving it though :o) ...happy Friday!

Friday, 11 May 2007

Native plants and their origins

Simon posted earlier about the native plants we've planted in our garden and I've taken photos of those we purchased from the Aust Natl. Botanic garden plant sales. These are listed below with links to their botanical information, courtesy of the Botanic Gardens web page, a highly useful and accessible resource!


So far we have three Grevilleas, Grevillea Langiera, Grevillea 'Bedspread' (a wilkinsonii hybrid bought from the Yarralumla Native Plant Nursery) and Grevillea Victoriae (subsp. Nivalis, 'Murray Queen').

Grevillea Langiera (red-cream flowers)

Grevillea 'Bedspread' (a wilkinsonii hybrid) (burgundy 'toothbrush'-like flowers)

Grevillea Victoriae (golden flowers)

Native grasses

There are some existing native grasses in our garden and to these we added a flax lily (Dianella Revoluta), Libertia Paniculata and Enneapogon Nigricans.

Dianella Revoluta (flax lily with blue berries)

Libertia Paniculata (creamy flowers)

Enneapogon Nigricans (dark narrow flower spikes that turn to fluffy seeds)

Ground covers

We've got some other ground covers too, the Viola Hederacea (Native Violet), Scaevola Albida, and an Eustrephus Latifolius (Wombat berry), which looks a little like the well-established Hardenbergia we have growing.

Viola Hederacea (Native Violet)

Scaevola Albida (pink flowers)

Eustrephus Latifolius (a 'Wombat berry', with yellow berries)

Other native shrubs

There's a couple of native shrubs that look much like the bottlebrush, but we've yet to clarify exactly what they are. To o our collection, we have added a Callistemon 'Summer Days' (Nyallingensis 'Nowa Nowa'), a Banksia Marginata, a Melaleuca Squarrosa and a (somewhat struggling) Myoporum Insulare.

Callistemon 'Summer Days' (classic red brushes)

Banksia Marginata (large golden flower cones)

Melaleuca Squarrosa (creamy flower clusters, similar to a bottle brush but looser)

Myoporum Insulare

Kangaroo paws

We have planted a couple of varieties of kangaroo paw too; Anigozanthos 'Orange Cross' and Anigozanthos 'Bush Dawn', plus some small seedlings which aren't yet identified. We've never really had much luck with getting kangaroo paws established, but the ones we've planted are doing OK for the moment. I'm not certain they'll cope over winter with the frosts, but we'll just have to see I guess!

Anigozanthos 'Orange Cross' (possibly Flavidus variation or Flavidus-Preissii hybrid) (vivid orange flowers)

 Anigozanthos 'Bush Dawn' (possibly a hybrid from Pulcherrimus?) (yellow-lime coloured flowers)


Here's a couple we haven't quite identified yet (we lost the labels to some!)... Can you help us out?

What is it? (pink flowers almost like a Geraldton wax, but pointier; leaves that a slightly grey-green, small and pointed)

What is it? (looks like a coastal paperbark; silver trunk; very small leaves that seem horizontal and flat; new growth on tips is lime green!)

What is it? (soft green foliage that arches; thin leaves)

Planting our natives

What did we do to get our natives into the ground? Well, Simon did the hard work of breaking into the clay!

  1. We were advised to make the planting hole quite wide (at least 50cms), given the clay soil, so that the roots could spread as well as grow deeper (depending on the plant itself).
  2. We didn't over-do the composting, just some friable, loose mulchy-type compost that we knew wasn't too rich (natives don't like too much nitrogen).
  3. Then set the plant in place, staked those that seemed to need it, then covered and didn't pack the soil too tightly.
  4. Watered and then kept the soil slightly moist (checking by digging our hands into the soil around the tree). It's good to not water too close to the trunk, to avoid the plant getting soggy roots (especially as the clay soils in Canberra hold the moist for longer!).

So, growing natives is not a difficult as it may seem and there's plenty of information around to give you a head-start. Gardening Australia has plenty of stories and fact sheets about growing natives, from potting and hedging natives, to propagation and managing trees.

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Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Garden layout and design: getting started

Since reading Companion Planting, we've been re-thinking the layout of our garden and how best to use the small space we have, and how to make the most of Canberra's four seasons, beginning with Autumn!

Below is the current layout of our backyard where we have planted vegies along with managing the existing shrubs and trees.

The northerly aspect provides a good deal of heat and light to bed #1, which backs up against the northern garage wall. We have red onion seedlings here (about 2 weeks in now). The opposite bed, #2 sits along our neighbour's fence and receives some late sun and is partially shaded by the fence for much of the day. Here we have spuds, garlic, broccolli, caulflower, silverbeet (all about 2 weeks old), and herbs (oregano, french tarragon, sage, crawling thyme), which sit under the bay tree (which sits in the northeast corner of the backyard).

In the northwest corner on the back fence sits our compost pile.

Beds #3 and #4 are pretty much the same bed, but we've separated them because bed #3 has more established plants like galangal, lemongrass, chillies (jalepeno and habanero), and a cherry capsicum.

Bed #4 sits under the shade of a huge native pine (the name of which escapes me right now) and has not had much use it seems, as the soil there is dry and water resistant. We've been building this bed up with pea straw, compost, worm castings, fish & seaweed emulsion, and mulch from other areas of our garden. We have planted some broad beans there (about 10 days ago), sowing them directly into the ground.

We weren't too sure what would work under the pine (southwest side of the backyard), so we'll see how the broad beans go. Even is they don't do too well, they should fix some nitrogen back into the soil! Beds #3 and #4 get late sun, before being shaded again later as the sun sets. these beds sit alongside our fenceline on the street-side of the block (southside).

We may try a 3-4 year planting cycle, so that the future crop benefits from the previous crop in what it leaves in the soil.

Next: ideas on companion plants for a 3-4 year planting cycle!

Gardening...with a good book

I've been dipping into our gardening books over the last couple of weeks, a lovely bedtime reading chore!

My favourite at present is Companion Planting, part of the Lothian series on successful organic gardening (1995). it's a bit hard to find now - Amazon don't have copies available, but I'm sure a local library or two would have it. I've been planning our planting cycles and companion plants as a result.

Another fav is The Canberra Gardener, published by the Horticultural Society of Canberra Inc. A must-have if you are planning on gardening in Canberra! You can read more via the link on the right of this page. :o)

Another weekend past-time we enjoy is listening to Saturday gardening with Genevieve Jacobs on ABC 666. Genevieve also put together a list of gardening books that would keep you occupied for weeks (a good winter activity!):

Gardening isn’t just about getting your hands dirty: it’s also about beauty and ideas, daydreams and inspirations. Winter is a great time to snuggle up with a book and make plans, or research plants and ideas which intrigue you. While gardening magazines are wonderful for quick bites of information and up to the minute news, there’s also a world of gardening history and culture to be explored.
I'd agree Genevieve, a wonderful past-time in which to indulge! Here are some other gardening stories from the program too.