We are just heading into another run of frosty mornings….perhaps a sign that winter has finally set in? Leuchochrysum albicans and Xerochrysum viscosum have continued to flower profusely in my garden until now. I wonder if they will finally pack a sad and slink away until warmer days arrive. Surely they will! In the garden and at the nursery we have had aphids being a nuisance too. Hopefully they too will freeze and drop dead this week.
Although we have just had some good rain fall this last week, don’t forget to check soil moisture around your young plants at this time of year. The soil most often looks moist on the surface but is often dry in the root zone because of so little rain and because frost can draw moisture from the soil. Whilst your plants will not need nearly as much water in winter as they do in summer some of your young plants will still need a little extra water. People often think their plants have died of the cold, Im sure I would if I had to survive out there, but so often it is another factor all together such as being too dry when they are already stressed by the cold.
As I said in my last blog there will be no Australian Native Plant Society plant sale at the Botanic Gardens this spring and it is also unlikely that the Markets, normally held at Cool Country Natives in Pialligo from Spring through to Autumn, will be able to go ahead this year so we will be selling plants from the nursery again. For the whole of August we are having an early bird special of 10% off the total price of your purchase of plants. You are more than welcome to put in an order via email. We require a 50% deposit for the plants but are then happy to hold till beginning of spring for you if you would like.
There have been three changes at the nursery in the last couple of weeks. We know that sometimes the nursery is a little hard to find along the Murrumbateman road, especially for first time visitors, so these last few weeks I have been busy in my garage painting a new sign for the nursery. This sign will help to direct traffic coming from the Gundaroo/Sutton direction to the location of the nursery.
You may have noticed my advertisement on Facebook, some weeks ago, for second hand gazebos. 9 of these have been set up and covered with wire mesh to provide a larger more easily negotiated outdoor selling area for plants which is safe from marauding possums and parrots and satisfies Covid 19 safety guidelines.
And finally, and a big hurrah for this, we have a new driveway in the making. Not quite finished yet but already so much easier to navigate.
As usual we have seedlings popping up all over the show, and cuttings rooting at a rate of knots too. If they are not ready for spring they will be ready for Autumn as we strive to provide a selection of plants to complete any garden.
Changes in the garden can happen so surreptitiously one is barely aware of them especially in our harsh climate. This season Cape weed is the exception to this and don’t we have an inundation of that everywhere at the moment?!
Every day I walk around my garden talking to my plants, pulling a weed here or there, looking for leaf growth or flower buds, and keeping an eye on bugs to make sure they don’t think they have free reign. In the last couple of weeks I have had several surprises, free gifts, pop up unexpectedly in little clusters. The excitement of seeing the miracle of new plants pushing through the soil never palls for me.
This week I found seedlings of Derwentia arenaria blue emerging where a plant had died, and further along masses of Xerochrysum viscosum pushing up firmly and briskly to fill every last bit of space under one of my plum trees. I’m also hoping that some of the seedlings I have seen are clones of my Ammobium alatum because I have found it nigh on impossible to get this plant to produce babies. In the pebble path I have Leuchochrysum albicans making itself at home and Craspedia variabilis naturalising. The wonderful thing about all this is that whilst I place plants ever so carefully how I think they should look, nature seems to have a way of making it all look so much more happily casual.
Bulbine glauca, Solanum linearifolium, Poa labillardieri, Swainsonia galegifolia have all sent seedlings up recently, despite the bitter cold nights. These wonderful gifts can be seen as weediness, and definitely one needs to pull a few out where they are going to encroach on other plants, but I like to see them as the free gift that they are to fill in those empty spots and make the garden lush and full.
Up at the nursery, production of plants is going full steam ahead too. There are seeds of all sorts sprouting, and cuttings growing roots quietly unseen. There are trays and trays of tiny new plants enjoying the warmth, for now, of the green house.
On another note………..just when we thought COVID was nearly over and things might get back to some semblance of normality we have new outbreaks of infection in some communities. For some people this means back into lockdown and for the rest of us a general unease of not knowing what is coming next. What we do already know is that the Australian Native Plant Society spring plant sale at the Australian National Botanic Gardens has been regretfully cancelled again. Although we thought this was a distinct possibility we had been gearing up toward it anyway. So, as we did in autumn, we will have a plant sale at the nursery of all the plants we would have taken to the Botanic garden sale and more. We will let you know details of this sale closer to the time. Until then keep an eye on the plant lists on our website. I update these as new plants become ready for sale.
This last week Iris and I have decided to commit to being ‘open’ at regular times. For now, Tuesday and Friday between 9am and 3pm I will be in attendance at the nursery. On Saturday and Sunday between 9am and 3pm Iris will be available to sell plants. Outside of these hours it is likely that we will be available too but best to call first before coming out just to make sure. And be aware that these hours are likely to change as we come into spring but I will advertise any changes on Facebook or Google maps and/or you are always welcome to call me on my mobile or Iris on her landline to make sure.
And now that all that Autumn planting is done, done, done it is time for me to be slowing down. My poor old arthritic hands have taken such a beating in the last couple of months as I have frantically improved my soil, planted, and mulched. Most nights I have fallen into bed almost too tired to sleep but I tell you what, every minute of it was worth it. The garden is looking fuller than it was and I know that these lovely plants will settle their roots in over winter and be more likely to survive next summer because of it.
No doubt I will find a few more plants to pop in over winter because I never actually stop but now is the time to dream and scheme about spring planting. It is time to stand back to view the garden with a quieter eye trying to imagine how that plant would look amassed in a swirl or would that area look better with something taller as a backdrop, is this plant in the right place, is that plant past its best and need to come out.
With plenty of time over the cold months to dream and scheme it is no wonder we are all raring to go at the first sign of warm weather. I for one will be waiting!
These fabulous plants (below) are all flowering in my garden at the moment. I cant get enough of the glorious colours.
The sites were all out in the open, all had the same amount of rain but such different outcomes. So why would that soil still be dry?
In sandy soils the water may drain through the soil profile so quickly that it could be dry after a very short time but sandy soils are not normal around this neck of the woods and for this reason I know it was not a case of the water draining away but rather one where the water didn’t sink in in the first place.
There are several reasons why water may not sink into soil. If the rain is very heavy it may simply run off before it has time to sink in. But our rain last week was gentle and steady so there has to be another reason. In my paddock there are two other reasons. The first is that in places there has been vehicle traffic and/or horse traffic. Any sort of repeated traffic over an area can compact soil very quickly. The previous owners of my property had a horse and the horse quite clearly had very specific routes he took round the paddock. After five years without a horse in residence those pathways are still as clear as day and that is because the ground has been compacted leaving no air spaces between the soil particles making it hard for water to sink in and therefore hard for plants to grow. The second reason I don’t get water running into the soil is that in places the soil in the paddock is dusty and hydrophobic. Hydrophobic soil (soil which repels rather than soaks up water) is caused by excessive hot dry weather of which we had plenty over summer and/or the coating of soil particles with waxy organic compounds from the breakdown of waxy leaves such as Eucalyptus leaves. There is a very clear and informative article in the ABC Organic Gardener magazine if you are needing some help to fix a problem like mine.
Finally another problem you may have which stops moisture entering the soil in your garden is the compaction of mulch which you will have added to the soil surface in good faith to help retain moisture. Again this can happen for two reasons. Frequent foot traffic over a garden bed will compact your mulch regardless of its particle size but a mulch with a fine particle size will compact easily no matter how careful you are not to tramp over it. A good chunky mulch (mulch made up of particles over 5 mm in size) with no more than 5% fine material is vital to help prevent compaction issues. Chunky mulches allow water to freely flow through to the ground below and at the same time reduces evaporation form the soil to the air. Mulches with fine particles (particles of less than 5 mm in size) capture water before it gets to the soil so the soil remains dry and they also then allow that water to evaporate into the air.
So if your plants continue not to grow despite a wonderful four days of rain I suggest you pop out and have a little dig around your plants and check if the water has actually soaked in.