Garden Report April - June, 2018:

The dry continued well into May, so cooler and wetter weather in late autumn and early winter has been very welcome. The garden looked beautiful in the early autumn with pink and white japanese anemones, roses, salvia, abelia, crepe myrtle, hebe and perennial asters putting on a great show. Later in the autumn the Dombeyas, with their soft, velvety leaves and pink flowers put on a wonderful display, as did the clivia, bergenia, blue winter iris stylosa, lavender, jonquil, and red and bright blue salvia. And, of course the autumn leaves were beautiful.

While the weather remained dry, we concentrated on watering, pruning, weeding and preparing beds for replanting. Beds next to the garden shed have been cleared and replanted with osteospermum cultivars, which were moved from the front of the cottage, and aquilegia. Further planting will take place later. The bed south of the nursery which had become very overgrown has been completely cleared of agapanthus, acanthus and iris stylosa and viburnum. It will be well mulched before being replanted.

We have received much appreciated donations of yellow clivia and lily of the valley (convallaria).
Good sales at our monthly "Open Days" has meant that our propagators have been kept busy preparing a new selection for next summer.

After a group visit to Tupelo Nursery in Mylor we returned triumphantly with agastache, pink statice, nepeta (snowflake), white coreopsis (Congo), incarvillea arguta, scabiosa columbaria (Samantha's pink), ceratostigma plumbaginoides, erodium, heliotrope (Plum Pie), urginia maratima (Sea Squill), dahlia (Bishop of Llandaff) and various salvia - splendens, muirii, angel's wings, little limelight and oxyphora. Some have been planted while the rest are waiting for good rain.

Garden Report January - March, 2018:

We have experienced very hot days this summer with anything requiring energy needing to be done early in the morning or in the evening.
Before the hot weather arrived we planted ajuga and bergenia along the border of the rejuvenated bed opposite the nursery. This bed was mulched with pea straw and the exacting and time consuming job of edging with rocks was completed by Iris, one of our hard working volunteers who put in many extra hours to complete the work.

Betty has been maintaining the orchard, keeping it well watered and fertilised. She keeps the kikuyu well away from the fruit trees by creating a saucer around each one. These get enlarged as the tree grows. This is a never ending task as, of course, the kikuyu loves water. The fruit trees are thriving, even the orange which people said wouldn't live in our conditions.
The agapanthus bordering the orchard along Keith and Main Road's put on a wonderful display before the really hot weather. The echium and magnolia also flowered well.

Propagation continues in the nursery and, despite the heat, some people come to buy. Dead heading, cutting back and weeding keeps us busy. We are very lucky to have a good water allocation as rain has not occurred for some months and the prediction is for more hot weather.

Garden Report October - December, 2017:

With spring the garden has put on a beautiful display; grape hyacinths, osteospernum cultivars, and plyanthus in a great variety of colours, felicia, daffodils, camelias, petunias, irises, aquilegias and salvias to mention a few. And of course the roses. We have such a variety of plants including lesser known ones like tulipa saxatile, heuchera americana and Cuban lilly (Scilla peruviana). Gwen, with her great knowledge, is able to identify these.

Renovation of garden beds continues: in the beds along the western fence we have removed euphorbia, ceanothus, privet, large bulbs and abelia, all tired and overgrown, and in their place planted bergenias and a varigated abelia near the western entrance, and moved a clump of dierama (fairy fishing flowers) so they can be better seen when they are in flower.

In the front beds Japanese anemones have been removed from under the weeping cherry tree to reveal aquilegias which are now flowering beautifully. We have planted geum, helianthemum, petunias, nemesia and verbena in other front beds after removing campanula and other spreading invasive plants. East of the cottage, mini agapanthus have been planted under the plum tree and the Bromeliad border has been extended.

Opposite the nursery leggy abutilons and a yellow jasmine have been replaced with camellias, a magnolia, a Kolkwitzia amabilis (Chinese beauty bush), solomon seal and spirea. The existing Philadelphus make an attractive backdrop to these new plantings.Two old Verburnum tinus have been removed, one from under the oak tree and one from the garden around the well.
So jungles are now replaced with harmonious beds where individual plants can be seen and thrive.

We have had expert help to prune a number of trees around the garden and the hedge on the western side of the nursery. More rocks have been acquired for the renovated beds and new sawdust was spread on the front paths.

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.