Garden Report May - August, 2021:

At the beginning of winter were planted two pink osteospernums and some jonquils in the front beds. A variety of geraniums have been planted in a dry sunny area west of the driveway near the front gate and another variegated version in the bed just east of the cottage. Annuals have been planted in the small front beds ready for spring: alyssum, stocks, pansies, larkspurs, antirrhinum, violas and cornflower should all make a wonderful display.

We were very lucky to have received a lot of rain through June, July and August, much needed after a very dry autumn. The wetter ground gave us the opportunity to dig and renovate many of the larger beds. Unfortunately rose pruning was delayed due to weather and Covid restrictions but we completed this chore by the first week in August.

Providing colour in the winter garden were quince, jonquils, daffodils, camellias, bergenia, clivias, winter iris, matchstick bromeliads, daphne and glorious hellebores. The Cootamundra wattle put on a wonderful display to remind us that spring is on the way.

Garden Report January - April, 2021:

Following the Spring display we were busy deadheading and tidying, removing weeds and plants which have spread too far. Helen gave the west side garden and the northeastern beds a very thorough tidying . A tree dahlia has been added to the western garden. The Bauhinia which was planted months ago near the Crab Apple in the north east is now sprouting. Ali has planted variegated plectranthus in the oval bed on the east side of the cottage, a sticky monkey flower (diplacus auraentiacus) in the birdbath bed, and a fern leaved geranium in the kitchen garden.

The viburnum hedges, flowering quince, guelder rose, and large spirea in the western bed, amongst others, have been pruned. In the nursery Vinka and Ali have been potting up plants including liriope, plectranthus, salvias, Japanese anemones and species geranium. Our Open Days have been very successful with good plant sales, the money from which has been used to purchase some new items of equipment.

At the end of autumn we had some rain, so we were busy planting. In the Oak Tree bed we have planted hydrangeas, kolkwitzia and hellebores, and a pomegranate transplanted from the western border. Two snowberry shrubs have been added to the bird bath bed, while brunsvigia and other bulbs as well as extra tulbaghia has been added to the Well bed.

We really appreciate the good rains we have had at the end of a dry autumn. Let's hope we get plenty more.

Garden Report April - December, 2020:

We were well into autumn and enjoying the cooler weather when the Corona Virus put a stop to all activity in the garden. Fortunately, we had 40mm of rain in early April which was very good for the parts of the garden not on the watering system, and good rain has continued into winter and spring.

Before gardening ceased we were able to complete a number of chores ready for winter. Echium and agapanthus were removed from under the pine tree on the south-east border to give more space to one of the apple trees in that area. Noelene donated bromeliads which were planted near the crab apple tree and on the eastern border, and Vinka took cuttings from a range of salvias.

We have placed a plaque on one of the garden seats to remember the remarkable work done by Edith Biggs during the original renovation in 1986, and her valiant effort to keep the garden going in the first few years afterwards.

We were very happy to be allowed back into the garden at the end of May after a couple of months away. There was much to do to get the garden back to it's normal high standard. The front beds were weeded and composted, and a variety of annuals and perennials planted in preparation for spring. The roses were pruned and fertilised in July when we also moved two smaller ones from the large front bed, where they were being swamped by the larger varieties, and moved into a bed near the shed where we hope they will recover. We also planted an old world rose 'Mutabilis' in the bed east of the cottage.

The hedges have been trimmed, and the driveway spread with a fresh load of gravel. The large climbing 'Lorraine Lea' rose over the archway to the cottage has been given a severe prune and the elderly standard 'Fairy' removed from the middle of the front garden. We hope to replace it in a few years. Helen and Ali have done a superb job cleaning out the beds on the western border which had become very overgrown and bedraggled.

Open Days resumed in September and much work was done in the nursery to ensure we had a good selection of plants for sale. As we moved into spring the garden was full of colour with the weeping cherries, crab apples and plenty more putting on a superb display.

A Ross Garden Tours visit in November was most enjoyable. Walking around, looking and talking about plants was a refreshing change from our usual focus on weeding and tidying

Garden Report January - March, 2020:

During our hot summer we have been busy watering, weeding and dead-heading. The watering system failed at one stage but was soon fixed by Mitcham Council workmen. Robyn, Chris and Barbara have been tidying the front beds which have become very overgrown, espacially with linaria which invades the plants around it and the paths as well. We have pulled out a lot but will never get rid of it. Everyone else has been busy tidying up the rest of the garden.

Wendy Duffy has donated a milkweed plant (Asclepias) to attract the Wanderer butterfly. Buttercup and other invasive plants have bee removed from the bed opposite the nursery and have been replaced with hardy arthropodium, liriope and bergenia.

Under the weeping cherry tree a Francoa (bridal wreath) is flowering. Ali bought it at the Uraidla market and placed it where it gets the morning sun.

Thanks to lovely rain we had in February, we are looking forward to autumn when plans discussed on hot summer days can be put into action.

Garden Report September - December, 2019:

Spring brought a wonderful display, particularly in the front garden where the roses were particularly spectacular. The hard pruning they received during the winter has certainly had an effect. Other colour was provided by bluebells, rock tulips, grape hyacinths, dutch iris, ajuga, cuban lily, wallflower, Californian poppy and many others. The weeping cherry, indian hawthorn and spirea added a backdrop to the spectacle.

Some additions to the garden include: a Pinkie rose; armeria and ibiris in the bed with the small weeping cherry; 3 roses (Sunlit, Hermosa and Regensberg) in the northeast border; and blue flag iris in the bed east of the cottage.
The paths in the front of the cottage have been weeded and mulch applied to the gardens.

Now that the dry weather is upon us the watering system is prepared. Testing revealed several leaks resulting from hoses being damaged during garden renovations. Thanks to George who repaired them all.

Garden Report July - August, 2019:

Renovation continues.
In the bed in front of the shed a second oleander and three convolvulus have been planted.The path along the side of the Arbutus unedo bed which was widened has been edged with rocks and bergenias have been put back to make a border. This bed suffered badly during last summer's heat and we lost a number of plants. These have been replaced with pink salvia and white cistus.

Agapanthus have been removed from the northeastern edge of the property with Viburnum tinus planted in their place to extend the hedge thereby screening the garden from the road and make a pleasing backdrop to the garden.
Immediately north of the nursery, a large privet has been removed to give the Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) more room; senecio has been cut back to give more light to the Oleander, with the Viburnum tinus at the back pruned to encourage it to form a protective hedge along Dorham Road.

On the 16th July we pruned the roses and the following week they were fertilised. We are looking forward to a beautiful display in spring and early summer.

Garden Report April - June, 2019:

Now the cooler weather is here and May and June have brought very welcome rain, we have been very busy planting and pruning.

A professional arborist pruned a number of Viburnum tinus along the northern and eastern borders. We are hoping to create a hedge which will block out some of the noise from busy Main Road. The Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) near the back entrance has been removed as it had become rotten, and a large lilly pilly (Syzygium smithii) has also gone as it was encroaching on the nearby Medlar (Mespilus germanica).

A section under the Oak tree has been cleared and composted. It has been planted with gardenias, camellias, an oak leaf hydrangea, liliums, crinum and hellebore, with nepeta and bergenia around the edge.

In the front of the cottage, annuals including lobelia, primula, viola, foxglove and wallflower have been planted. Salvias have been added to the beds along the front wall of the verandah. Two cistus, too large for their position were removed. One was kept and replanted near the Rosa Gigantea which has received an extensive prune as it had become very woody and overgrown. A Bauhinia has been planted in the north east corner bed.

All this activity has resulted in many plants being dug out and needing to be potted up for the nursery. It is wonderful to have respite from the heat and problems with the watering system. So good to have lots to do as we need to keep moving to keep warm.

Garden Report January - March, 2019:

We have now finished a hot dry summer with the beginning of autumn also dry. The watering system failed and needed repairs so the garden suffered with some salvias and other perennials dying. Not all salvias are tough. A wonderful salvia that is hardy and flowers prolifically for months is salvia microphylla "Hot Lips". The Eastern Spinebills and other birds love it.

The compost heaps have been receiving some attention. Iris has been bringing coffee grounds from the Baptist Church to add to the compost and Carolyn has planted comfrey near the heaps as the leaves are beneficial in the composting process.

The hot dry weather has kept us busy doing extra watering.Some cutting back has been done but care has to be taken as we haven't wanted to encourage new shoots only to have them scorched in the fierce sun. Weeding keeps us busy - plenty to do there. Since the last garden report, Mitcham Council workers have pruned or removed a number of trees and shrubs, the hedges have been trimmed and wood chips spread on the footpaths.

Gwen and Robyn have gathered information on our roses and on original and new plantings in our garden beds and this is now recorded in folders and digitally.

Much of our time in the very hot summer months this year has been spent weeding, dead heading and watering. Sadly we have lost a number of more sensitive plants as they could not withstand the fierceness of high 30 and 40 degree days. The orchard has to be watered by hand every week no matter how hot the weather. We are very lucky to have this done by Betty who also works to keep the kikuyu away from the trees and adds compost to each tree while maintaining a saucer around each to hold water.

Garden Report September - December, 2018:

In November Ross Garden Tours enjoyed a visit to our garden which put on a beautiful display in spring and early summer.

We enjoyed a visit to Rob and David's formal garden in Eden Hills. After a most interesting walk through their immaculate garden they gave us a beautiful morning tea: two large cakes they had made the night before and tea and coffee.

Again the nursery was broken into to get some free gifts for Christmas.

A major task during September and October was the planting of annuals and some perennials in the front garden beds. Much weeding, pruning and removal of excess plants took place. Vinka potted 90 of this excess in one day as she cannot bear to see good plants go to the scrap heap. Compost was added to the beds before planting snapdragons, petunias, dianthus, heuchera, sisyrinchium, diascia, lobelia, mini cosmos, white marigold, geum, Californian iris innominata, and Johnny jump-ups (viola) from Kelvin's garden.

Once the front beds were done, we moved on to the north-eastern bed where a concerted effort removed large clumps of weeds and plants which had spread too far. Some Bishop of Llandaff dahlias have been added to the range of roses and perennials which flourish there.

Carolyn and Kelvin have continued their good work in the far part of the north-east corner of the property; planting hollyhocks, erodium (Marchent's purple), and urginia maritima (Sea Squill); digging up iris stylosa and replanting them; and planting shasta daisies dug up from around the well. It will be interesting to see how they all prosper as that area receives very little water during the summer.

November and December have been devoted to weeding, pruning and deadheading to ensure the garden looks its best for the Open Days and numerous visits of garden enthusiasts from near and far.

Garden Report July - September, 2018:

A lot of renovation has taken place over the winter: in the beds by the garden sheds we have added deep blue agapanthus and irises, and a rose has been moved here from under the oak tree.
The cleared bed between the nursery and the shed has been mulched with compost and replanted with Cuban lilies, a border of lamb's ears (stachys lantana), snowdrops, pale pink and white Japanese anemones, velthenium and another pink hydrangea. By the nursery gate we have planted a Geulder rose (Viburnum opulus).

A white nepeta (Snowflake) has been added to the bed under the Irish Strawberry tree ( Arbutus unedo).
Bill has divided the arthropodium, with some for the path from the small gate, and some for under the plum tree on the eastern side of the cottage. A heliotrope (Plum Pie) is now in the renovated bed opposite the nursery.
In the vicinity of a large pine tree near the eastern fence, Carolyn and Kelvyn have been pruning the cotoneaster; dividing and replanting bromeliads; removing acanthus, and planting perennial lobelia, incarvillea arguta, nepeta, and salvias (Van Houttii, oxyphora and Little Limelight).

In the nursery cuttings of berberis, abelia, and salvia have been potted.
Maintenance has included weeding, and rose pruning.
We have had wonderful displays from camellias in white, light pink and red; nandinas with their red berries and leaves; and japonica, snowdrops, jonquils, bergenias, iris stylosa, lavender, hebes and clivia.

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.