Things fall

I used to be bemused by the American term “Fall” for Autumn.  I don’t like having to substitute American for Australian terminology (cattle ranches!)  at work, using descriptive terms for which  I’m convinced no self-respecting Australian would dream of searching (although perhaps those born since 1980 would surprise me). Now however I find “Fall” beautifully apt for the season it describes, evocative of the physical manifestation of the onset of dormancy, and just a little melancholic as we drift toward winter. Descriptive of the northern hemisphere forests of deciduous trees, maybe not so for the Australian bush but relevant to my garden of exotics. Strange how individual leaves suddenly reveal autumn colours while their companions remain green.


Nashi pear leaving turning

Things I’ve noticed falling this week are the ripe black fruit of the Viburnum x burkwoodii that grows at the end of the lower deck. I’ve never noticed them before, presumably because I’ve never had pale sandstone coloured pavers for them to fall on before!

When they’re dry and unsquashed all is well, but when wet, and/or squashed they reveal powerful staining ability, so now I’m out there regularly like a mad house proud housewife sweeping the garden path. This shrub is one of the very few that came with the house, was rudely cut to the ground when the sunroom was built and ever since I’ve been coaxing it to reach the upper deck to share its fragrance in spring — now I’m in a quandary wondering whether I really need it, I certainly don’t need the housework!


Tasmanian pepper berries

Other things falling, or about to, the beautiful satiny black pepper berries. I must have two shrubs of Tasmannia lanceolata because (shh, don’t speak too soon) every year there is a bumper crop. The original plant(s) was gently prised off a moss covered log on Mount Mangana, back when Nova the best of dogs could still accompany us on mountain walks. Just wish I could give them to somebody who would make pepper berry gin and give me a bottle in return for the free organically grown berries of most superior provenance.

Some things have been achieved this week, starting with the tidying up of the Mulberry garden. This is a semi circular garden that will eventually be dominated by a

Young Mulberry

Young Mulberry

suitably gnarled and weepy black mulberry that produces bucket loads of delicious fruit each year. Currently it’s home to a five foot stick with a fright of twigs at the top shooting skywards like a terrified dish mop — I’m hoping the transformation will take place in my lifetime.

In front of the mulberry stick are several struggling Iris pallida argentea, although why they struggle is a complete mystery to me. They have been lovingly planted in a freshly created, well prepared, composted (horse manured) garden receiving all day sun with excellent drainage. Other plants from the same clone are doing well in dampish shady habitats that should be totally unsuitable, although admittedly they’re very shy of flowering.









In front of the pallida, near to the stone edge, I’ve planted Iris albicans (or maybe florentina?) grown from seed originating in the Peloponnese that has so far only produced one stem of delicate white flowers (I love provenance!). Frankly this garden bed hasn’t been a huge success, the first lovingly planted mulberry  grew magnificently, until it revealed itself as a white mulberry and that dreaded decision for gardeners —  to remove a most attractive tree, lose five years growth and replace it with a stick — had to be made.

Back to yesterday’s achievement; the removal of a large accidental, (ie., dug out of somewhere and dumped until it took root), planting of a Dietes grandiflora infiltrated with various weedy grasses, completion of the wee stone retaining wall, (that involved trundling down to the creek and hunting around for suitable stones, the spotted dog cooled down in the biggest pool while studiously ignoring the native hens’ ‘twok twok!’ alarm calls) plus,  a last minute inclusion of a little mat forming campanula. Sounds easy when I write it down.


Other major works have been the Great Potting of the Narcissus. The Plantsman gave me an extremely generous bundle of miniature narcissus bulbs to replace those with which I had been unaccountably careless. After cooling their heels for two months in their little white packets they have finally been placed in their new homes (tasteful pale green plastic pots from the reject shop) and set out to adorn a sunny spot in the Lower driveway where no one drives. Why not in the ground? because my garden largely comprises thuggish perennials and I have a horror of the bare ground necessary for their happiness.

The list of little darlings follows;  Smarple, Nylon, Kojak, Olumbo, Poirot, Cedrics, Snipe, Sudhusser, N. romieuxii, Julia Jane, Joy Bishop, N. Cordubeusis hybrid, X bulbiconium Solveigs Song, Keira Bulbs hybrid KB 164/91/1/, Russell Falls, Angels breath, Angels whisper, Angels tears, Snug Falls, Hillview Triquilla, N. cyclamineus hybrid

Not content with this great potting exercise there is an order waiting on the table for more tiny delights from Glenbrook.


Crocus banaticus

Another tiny delight, Crocus banaticus, just popped its pretty head up. C. banaticus is one of the rarer woodland crocuses from central Europe and at one point out was not considered to be part of the crocus genus because of its iris like flowers



Interesting to notice the subtle differences in the blooms of the 10,000 nicotiana plants I squeezed into the garden this year, this one has a russet tinted reverse, another has brown shaded backs contrasting with the bright lime faces, initially I thought the plant was dying. Another has larger and paler blooms.

Rosa speragina has been rescued from the overwhelming Nimbus and potted. This exercise worryingly revealed a total lack of new root development since the rose was received in winter 2015, all other new plants in this extended part of the lower border have grown like crazy, she may not survive 😦  . Nimbus is my latest favourite plant, it’s grown rapidly into a great mound of fresh green leaves dotted with large blue-purple blooms that have appeared constantly since spring. Rozanne, aka Jolly bee, was my favourite but she has dwindled despite being spread aground the garden, has a more beautiful flower but is obscurely unhappy with me.
While carrying out the rescue of Speragina I kept sniffing suspiciously and asking myself “Where is the pig farm?”, then cursing the bio-digester plant recently set up by Cascade.  Then guess who I discovered lurking near the back of the border!

Arum pictum

Arum pictum

I’m feeling very proud of my ‘grown from personally collected seed’ clivias (Franklin Square – did I mention I love provenance?) and NZ rock lilies, Arthropodium cirratum (a house in Bathurst street) , the pricking out of the Rock lilies could be a challenge though.


Clivia seedlings


Spotted dog, overseeing


Master of all he sees

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