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.

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.