Garden Report July - September, 2017:

A massive clean up has been taking place as weeds have proliferated now that the rains have come at last.

The front beds have been cleaned of aged alyssum, perennials cut back and unwanted bulbs removed. Also some perennials such as centranthus and erigeron have been reduced in number as these proliferate and smother other plants. An old, woody abelia has been removed from near the western gate and replaced with a lower growing, variegated version.

New annuals and perennials planted include abelia, lobelia, a camelia sasanqua, phlox, alyssum, pansy, and primula. In memory of her son, Wendy Duffy gave us a dark leaved crab apple which was planted with the fruit trees in the orchard area.

On Saturday, 15th July we pruned the roses which have since been fertilised. Our reward for working on Saturday was lunch at nearby Joan's Pantry the following Tuesday instead of gardening.

Let's hope the rain continues for some time yet.

Garden Report April - June, 2017:

Autumn has been rather dry with sunny days throughout and with very cold nights for the beginning of winter.
Maintenance jobs keeping us busy include
1) Removing spider plants from under the Arbutus and erigeron in the northeastern beds where it was overgrowing other plants.
2) Iris in the bed near the south eastern fence have been dug up and replanted and treated with gypsum, soil wetter and fertilizer.
3) The fruit trees have had weeds removed from around their base and the circles around them enlarged.
4) In the nursery and the beds in front of the cottage plants are being cut back ready for spring.

We have planted daffodils in the front beds where the top soil is deep and they will get plenty of sun. It the garden around the underground tank acquilegias, nicotiana and hollyhocks have been added to the established roses.

The new nursery fence in eye-catching silver will let visitors know from afar that the nursery is there. The propagating area inside the fence is now much roomier, making it easier for our dedicated team of propagators to work. The climbing roses, already shooting after being cut back for the building of the fence, will make an attractive display as they grow.

Also eye catching are the persimmon and arbutus with masses of fruit, and the dombeyas with their pink flowers. Earlier, in April, the 'matchstick' bromeliads under the pine tree on the eastern fence had beautiful sprays of pink and blue flowers.

Garden Report January to March, 2017:

We have had a comparatively wet summer with 108mm of rain recorded in January and February, but only 32 mm in March. As a result everything has been growing luxuriantly and we have not seen the normal summer deprivations.

Along the western fence between the nursery and the side gate, beds have been renovated and given a good feed of compost. Hippeastrum, tree daisy (Montanoa leucentha), a Cecile Brunner Rose, white and pink species geranium, iris, tulbaghia, viola, hellebore, bergenia, thalictrum, and ginger lily have been replaced or added. We can now enjoy the Gelder Rose (Viburnum.opulus) and mauve crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) which had been hidden in a jungle of overgrown and too close planting for many years.

An Escallonia and a Bauhinia have been added near the pine tree on the eastern fence. The Haemanthus bulbs in the Arbutus bed have been divided and some planted near the persimmon tree.The unusually dark pink nerines growing near the persimmon have also been divided and spread around the area.
The bed around the well has been also given a layer of compost, and ceratostigma, hollyhock and aquiligia added at the rear of the roses.

In the orchard the pomegranate, orange, walnut and chestnut trees are bearing fruit, while the new bay laurel is thriving.

Cutting back, weeding, dead heading and watering always go on, so we are never at a loss for something to do, keeping active and healthy in the process.

Garden Report July to December, 2016:

Right now the garden is looking the best it can with all the rain we've had this winter and spring. The rain gauge has recorded 112mm for 2016 which is much more than usual.

Many plants have been added to the garden in the last months. In the beds east of the house and in the front we have planted blue, yellow, pink and orange nemesia, daisies, red and white abutilon, cosmos, mini agapanthus, violet, multihued osteospermums, alyssium, lobelia, convolvulus, geranium, acquilega and heuchera.

Renovation has begun in the beds along the western fence and the viburnum hedge has been pruned to reduce its height and width.

The weeds have loved the rain too, so keep us busy hand weeding. Those in the paths have been poisoned. Any resistant ones we keep an eye on and dig them out if necessary.

We have fertilized and mulched with pea straw in preparation for the hot months ahead.

Garden Report April to June, 2016:

With the wonderful rain totaling 158mm which we received early in the year, the garden came to life with alyssum, daisies, salvias, penstemon, pelagoniums, nepeta, campanula, California poppy, nemesia, Japanese anemones and roses flowering. More soaking rain fell in May in June making it easier for us to dig over a number of the gardens

Changes in the garden include the removal of branches from the Irish Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) in the front garden. The gradual removal of dying branches has resulted in significant new growth on this beautiful old survivor. We have dug over this area as it had become overgrown with unwanted plants such as perennial aster and nandina. Compost has been added and some of the plants, such as bergenia and spring bulbs, replanted. New varieties of salvia and other perennials, as well as two new roses will be added during the winter.

A load of Red Gum mulch was delivered and this has been spread along paths throughout the garden to prevent mud during the winter months.

Bill has put some of the compost he makes from our garden refuse onto garden beds on the eastern side of the cottage, while Iris has extended a bed just east of the house where we plan to plant hardy plants requiring little water as the watering system doesn't reach this area.

Ali has been very busy potting plants in the nursery while Vinka enjoys a well earned holiday. Plants have sold well on open days; these having been well advertised on Ashley Walsh's program on the ABC and elsewhere. Sam Duluk, SA parliamentary member for the seat of Davenport, who visited us last November, included information and a lovely photo of us in his Autumn newsletter.

We had an enjoyable morning on May 31st at the Watchman's Cottage in Coromandel Valley, an old property recently taken over by the Coromandel Valley Branch of the National Trust. We planted dianella, prostrate rosemary, tulbaghia, dietes, liriope, salvias, erigeron, clivia and pelargonium, all of which we hope will survive on the small amount of water available at the site.

Garden Report January to March, 2016:

December was very hot with seven days in the 40's. Fortunately January had no such days and we received a lot of very much needed rain after a dry spring and early summer. So far this year we have received 91mm which is more than usual.

Of course we have been busy watering areas where the watering system is inadequate, and the fruit trees which are not on the watering system at all. We have Betty Griffiths to thank for looking after the fruit trees and Bill Ellenbroek too, when he's not called away to chop down trees and dig up roots.

Tidying and dead heading have kept the rest of us occupied but we have been careful to leave much of any dried or scorched leaves which will protect any new shoots that might venture forth. The garden is surviving and will bloom again in spring.

Garden Report October to December, 2015:

Spring was very busy. We added a range of new plants, many of which we bought when a number of members visited Tupelo Grove Nursery at Mylor on the 15th September. Most of these were added to the renovated bed east of the house where the tecoma was removed or to the small front beds to fill gaps. These include arctotis, cistus, spirea, heliotrope, forsythia, salvia hemorosa, geranium, helichrysum, weigelia, viburnum, ceanothus, geum, teucrium scorodonia, bergenia, linaria, catmint (Nepeta), ageratum, tree daisy (Montanoa), helleborus orientalis and euonymus alatus. The tecoma bed has been edged with rocks and a stone path leads to a bird bath rescued from under the oak tree.
A Chinese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) and a Lisbon Lemon (Citrus limon) were added to our orchard in the back lawn area, and nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) added to the dry beds on the south eastern side. Another crepe myrtle has been added to the north east bed after a large cotoneaster was removed.

Despite the very hot October long weekend, the new plants are settling well and the garden looked beautiful for a fashion parade held in the garden on the 16th October as well as for the open days on the 18th October and 15th November. The fashion parade, held by a local store was a great success for the organisers and was a wonderful advertisement for the garden with articles appearing in two local newspapers. With the paths weeded and raked, the front drive regravelled and the roses at their peak the garden looked superb.

Garden Report July to September, 2015:

July brought us some lovely, well needed rain after the driest June since 2006. While August brought frosts which severely damaged ageratum, echium, and spider plants.

The fruit trees had weeds removed from around their base and compost dug in.
New plants include dianthus (D. plumarius hybrid) in one of the front beds and and a camelia (C. lutchuensis) in a bed on the east side of the house. Large clumps of dietes (D.bicolor) have been transplanted from the east side of the cottage where they were undermining the cottage foundations to the eastern fence. A range of succulents with less invasive roots have replaced them. Two large Cotoneaster bushes have been removed, one from the north-eastern garden and one from the orchard area.

Of course weeding and pruning continue. A major chore was the pruning of the roses which was undertaken by some of the Friends on Saturday 18th July. Luckily it was a sunny day, much welcomed in what has been a very cold winter.

We now have an attractive, eye-catching sign at the front of the cottage. The sign, which was constructed and erected by the Mitcham Council gives contact details for the Council, the National Trust and the Friends. We hope it will attract attention from passers-by and entice them to visit the garden and cottage.

Garden Report April to June, 2015:

Autumn is a time for pruning, weeding, transplanting and renovating.

The bed where we cleared the large tecoma has had mushroom compost dug in and has been replanted with a range of new plants, including a pink and a white crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), pink and white gaurus (G. lindheimeri), prostrate abelia, and a number of different salvia species. A lilac (Syringia) from the bed to the north, which was not receiving enough sunlight, has also been moved into this area, as has a Bauhinia from one of the front beds. Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) which formed part of the original edge have now been planted right round to complete the border.

Other plantings elsewhere in the garden include cleome (C. spinosa) and escallonia (E. laevis). A number of dwarf bougainvilleas as well as buddleias and more agapanthus have been planted on the eastern fence line where we hope they will survive with minimum water in the summer.

It has been an unusually dry autumn so we are hoping for good rains during the winter.

Garden Report January to March, 2015:

A major project during this period has been the removal of a large Tecoma (T. garrocha) from the eastern side of the cottage. The shrub had become very large and was occupying an area which we are planning to redevelop. After the branches were cut off, the stump was ground out and the roots removed. We also removed the winter iris ( I. stylosa) which had formed part of the border around this bed, and other tired and leggy plants. Once the depleted soil has been improved with a load of mushroom compost, we are planning plantings of crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), tulbaghia (T. fragrans), nepeta ( N. cataria), varieties of rock rose (Cistus), and other hardy perennials which will survive with little water during the summer. We also plan to plant a new (yellow) Tecoma to remind us of the original planting. Thanks in particular to Bill, George and Iris for their hard work.

Pruning, weeding and dead-heading continue throughout the garden and of course some hand watering where the watering system doesn’t reach. Lin has been moving plants to more suitable areas in the section behind the cottage. The orchard area is looking healthy, thanks to hand watering by Betty and Bill.

Vinka and Di have been busy in the nursery in preparation for the Open Days in March, April and May. New equipment including a some hoes have been added to the tool shed, while George continues to repair some of the wheelbarrows.
The only rain for the period was in the second week of January when we received 60mm, but we were lucky that it was a relatively mild summer.

We are looking forward to autumn with it’s glorious weather and (hopefully) lots of rain. It is a wonderful time for planting while the soil is still warm.