Instead of writing my blog last Friday I left off writing it till it was officially spring. I’m telling myself that just to be kind to myself because actually I didn’t get round to it a week ago and am struggling this week too. That aside what I wanted to talk about today was windows, windows of opportunity. The window we have before us we need to throw open wide, be bold and go out through (perhaps we should call it a door) because before we know it we will need to close it again. That window is the wonderful weather we call spring. It is warm enough to want to be outside but not too warm to want to be inside. It is cool enough to work hard in the garden but not too cool to want to sit by the fire and vegetate.
Markets are about to start again in earnest and the best thing about that is that I get to look at all the plant offerings out there and hopefully buy new plants for my ever enlarging garden. I am like a kid in a lolly shop when it comes to plants. We had two markets the weekend before last and the plants were flying out the door to their forever homes. Last week we had notice from the Australian Native Plant Society that shortly we will be asked to put in our plant nominations for the ANPS spring plant sale at the botanic gardens on Saturday 19th October.
(https://parksaustralia.gov.au/botanic-gardens/do/whats-on/native-plant-sale-presented-by-the-australian-native-plant-society/) Coming up this weekend is the first local growers market for spring 2019 at Cool Country Natives in Pialligo and we will be there.
At IDP Nursery we are also involved with the Weed swap program in Canberra in spring. (https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/plants-and-animals/Biosecurity/invasive-plants) This is a program supported by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service in conjunction with the Australian Native Plants Society. Canberrans can bring in the invasive plants they have dug out of their gardens and swap them for free Australian native plants supplied by us and other local growers of native plants.
With the spring come big changes for me personally. I am cutting back all bar one of my gardening jobs to focus more time at the nursery. I have been gardening for a number of clients in both Canberra and Murrumbateman for a number of years now. Just as we started to experience the early spring weather I realised that this year I did not feel I could continue on gardening like a young person any more. I am looking forward to more time in my own garden (already getting the neglected vege garden into shape) and more time up at the nursery (much lighter work than gardening for other people). Iris is looking forward to me being up at the nursery more often too as she has less energy for the rigours of the work involved as production continues to increase and more people are beginning to realise that our natives are so very reliable.
May you have a happy and productive spring season in the garden. Iris and I hope to catch up with many of you in the coming weeks at one or other of the market events we are involved with.
After a long cold winter what are you looking forward to most? Aah silly question, undoubtedly it would be a week in the sun at the beach. For me a caravan on my sisters property in the little village of Matapouri in new Zealand, swimming every day and enjoying the warmth. But no, what I mean is what do you look forward to most in the garden this spring? Which plants, which flowers, what smells and sounds, and what tastes too if you are looking forward to our tomatoes?
I have so many really great reliable plants in my garden. They simply perform all year round in that greenish sort of way that shrubs should do. I am so grateful for the dependability of these plants, many of which flower through winter….think Grevillea, Correa, and Senna to name a few.
But there is another group of plants, the perennials, which I look forward to in spring. Even though they have not graced me with their best over winter (many of them actual die back to ground level over winter) I can forgive them because of their happy faces to jazz things up just when I think summer will never come again.
Look up perennial borders on the internet and, if your search engine is like mine, it will likely throw up pictures of the most gorgeous English perennial borders. Who could not love them but honestly they mostly need far more water than we are accustomed to, not to mention a more gentle sun. So at the nursery we have been working toward producing some truly gorgeous Australian perennial plants which will handle the hot, the cold and the dry, in other words the good the bad and the ugly!
These plants will be ideally suited for grasslands, rockeries, edging of pathways, and true Aussie cottage garden styles or perennial borders.
They are adaptable to most soils as long as they are not wet and they dont mind frost. This year I am going to start adding some to my grassland garden to float amongst the Poa grasses and Bulbine plants.
Leucochrysum albicans are tough as old boots as long as you treat them to harsh conditions. We have had them in the nursery in previous years but not recently. This local plant can be found growing along road sides in the gravel. Another paper daisy this time in white with a yellow centre in spring. It prefers full sun and dry conditions so don’t molly coddle it or it will turn up its toes at you.
Below is a list of a few other delightful plants (some of which are new to the nursery) which will fit well amongst the plants profiled above; Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Clusters’, Convolvulus erubescens, Goodenia glabra, Xerochrysum viscosum, Rhodanthe anthemoides, Bulbine glauca, bulbosa bulbosa, Craspedia variabilis, Linum marginale, Wahlenbergia sp. Lotus australis in pink or white. Check out our website for details of these plants and others (too many to mention here)
So if you are lucky enough to score a week at the beach good for you. I'm planning to plant a few hundred of these plants in my grasslands and then I shall take a deck chair out to the dam, put on my sunglasses and just pretend I am on vacation by the sea.
Talking about tomatoes makes my mouth water with anticipation and my skin prickle with the thought of hot summer days. We hardly seem to have had a winter but I suppose just as we are thinking we wont get one at all the arctic blast will hit us. Nevertheless we do need to talk about tomatoes right now because at the nursery this is when we start to gather what it takes to produce some lovely tomato plants for you at just the right time (we hope). Iris has had the catalogues out and has drooled over the seed choices. I stayed right out of that one, being happy to have what comes along. Iris has such a lot of experience choosing and growing the heritage tomatoes that I’m happy to leave it all up to her.
We realised a couple of weeks ago that we had produced so very many lovely native plants for spring that we didn’t have enough pots or pot racks for the tomatoes. Pots and racks duly ordered in and received last week along with the ingredients for potting mix which were also running low. Iris has put me on notice to free up the hot bed from cuttings which has caused me a bit of angst. There is a little bit of tension created between us between the needs of the natives and the needs of the tomatoes. So ‘’only at the last minute’’ I tell Iris….’’the cuttings are important too’’. Somehow we will work it out.
But the gist of the matter is we don’t have the capacity for growing as many tomato seedlings in the nursery as we have in the past because it is so full of native plants. Consequently we have decided to largely grow to order. The list is up on our website, take a look at it and make a decision and get back to us ASAP so we can get those seeds down for your order. First in definitely best dressed.
Iris has added a new tomato to the list, Tommy Toes yellow, while Tomato Yellow Current Drop has been removed. Apart from that you have the same delicious choices. Happy choosing!!
What is a successful garden? Do you have a successful garden? I find myself wondering if I have a successful garden. I really love reading gardening magazines, especially those which feature native gardens and talk about birds, ecosystems and regenerative practices. I also enjoy watching ‘Escape To The Country’ which is an English programme featuring not only gorgeous houses but also ‘to die for’ gardens. Maybe this is why I wonder if I have a successful garden………….because I measure up my garden against these designer offerings. Not only are they designer gardens but you can be sure that the shrub which is dying will not feature in the glossy photographs. The plant with the munching caterpillars won’t be there either and nor will the tree blown over in the wind. The garden help are likely not to get a mention and what’s more rain will fall at just the right time to keep everything looking fresh.
The definition of success is ‘the achievement of something that you have been trying to do’. So what is a successful garden? It is a garden that is unique to you and uniquely suited to your purposes. It is a garden that is pleasing to your eyes and to heck with everyone else. If that purpose is to show it off in ‘House and Garden’ or ‘Country Style’ magazine then so be it. You will need to have designer tendencies or employ someone who does and everything will need to be ‘just so’ at all times. If you can do this you will have a successful garden. However if you desire a garden as a place for relaxation, the kids to run and play, birds and bees to find food, and where you can smell the roses, and it serves its purpose then it is a successful garden too.
That is not to say that there are not ways and means of building a garden which is more likely to be pleasing to your eye. Balance, shape, form, colour, repetition, and a cohesive plan are all good things, but if you like a casual collection of plants, or you like neat rows then this is what you should have. Is it pleasing to your eye? Then that is what matters. You don’t need grand statements if you are not a grand statement person and you don’t need to feel you have to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (or the horticulturist at your local nursery for that matter) in your garden patch.
That being the case the only important decision we each need to make is which plant to choose to fit that spot we have waiting, convince ourselves not to compare ourselves to others, and we’ll all have successful gardens.