Very cold, very suddenly, snow on the mountain!, then just as suddenly, all gone and back to balmy 21 degree days. Was enough to remind me that this Indian summer won’t go on for  much longer, I have to slog through another winter before the botanical delights of spring return.


Snow already!

In the meantime whilst recovering from eye surgery I’m finding simple non-eye challenging/damaging garden jobs to do, like removing all the old foliage from the hellebores and dumping them straight in my beautiful shiny new green-lidded waste bin (pity it’s such a “jolly green giant” sort of green). HCC have finally realised that gardeners are rate payers too 🙂  No more sneaking of non-compostable bundles of hellebore leaves and rose prunings into the normal household rubbish bin.  So pleased — although I’ve just been reliably informed that $50 will be added to my annual rates to cover the cost of this service, good thing I’m a gardener, otherwise I’d be paying for a service I don’t need.

Daily checking of the bulbs planted a very short time ago shows nice little green shoots coming through amid the grass, nigella and opium poppy seedlings (where do they come from!), so quick dispatch of the interlopers is accomplished at the same time.

The pink crinums (Crinum x powellii ‘Roseum’) are collapsing in their usual disreputable manner all over Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. I do wonder about the wisdom of having them in a smallish garden, but the blooms are magnificent, have good vase life and a lovely scent.


Collapsing crinums

The willows and ash are slowly releasing their yellow leaves,  more on the ground now than in the trees, Malus ioenesis  and the two big(ger) birches are completely bare, but the Gingko  and Coral Bark (Acer ‘Sango Kaku’) maple continue to shine like happy little yellow beacons. In fact the coral bark (the one that I think is the real deal, not a suspect seedling) has done a strange combination of bright yellow older leaves topped with a  lid of bright green new shoots, pineapple-like.


Two-toned coral bark (Acer ‘Sango Kaku’)

The diminutive Acer ‘Esk flamingo’ is looking especially lovely with shiny red stems that will gleam all winter. Looking forward to a good growth spurt this spring!


Acer ‘Esk Flamingo’

First folded buds of the hellebore season are peeping through, plus narcissus leaves  and fat pointy pinky peony shoots, far too easy for the clumsy gardener to squash underfoot!


Paeonia mascula ssp. hellenica



Paeonia macrophylla

A week later the balmy days are finished, the last few days came straight out of September, howling gales day and night! As I write the garden is being pounded by horizontal  rain screaming down from the mountain. Most of the autumn colour has blown away, all the fallen leaves I so carefully raked into a mulch carpet under the fruit trees disappeared (next door I suspect, my neighbour has been very busy with the leaf blower, dustpan and broom), three of the four tree dahlia canes cracked and toppled over the lawn, no brave fluttering white blooms in June this year!, the scarlet runner vines heaved their supports sideways, primula pots rolled across the paving disgorging their contents, those steadfastly still flowering Nicotiana elatas are lurching sideways and next door’s walnut tree scattered the garden with dead branchlets. It’s all somewhat battered, bruised  and beaten down.


Broken tree dahlia canes

Delicate blooms of a potted camellia, non-reticulata hybrid ‘Yoimachi‘ blown down and resting charmingly amongst purple flowerd Lamium maculatum.


Windfall ‘Yoimachi’ blooms

I was happily anticipating the intense violet-blue flowers with purplish bracts of Salvia “Costa Rica Blue” opening over winter — sadly all the buds have since snapped off in the gales — I have a nasty feeling that something like that happened last year. Some pinching out to encourage a lower, less vulnerable shrub may be in order?


Buds of Salvia ‘Costa Rica Blue’


Copy bee on camellia bloom copy


When the rain and wind eased off and the sun came out the bees were still happily dabbling in those blooms left on the branches






Some time has been spent patching a worn grassy area under the purple leaf plum with oddly shaped turves of fresh grass and clover sourced from the small section of the left hand side path that is actually paved. The soil and debris washes down the path, forms humus atop the bricks and grows grass. I suppose that if I kept the path clear of debris then the mat of soil and subsequent grass and clover wouldn’t happen — but life’s too short!

The worn grassy patch was much disrupted when the lower deck paving was laid and further denuded by the Spotted dog’s choice of a suitable laying-about-in-the-dust space. I have optimistically inserted plugs of Viola riviniana Purpurea Group, hoping they will form tight ground cover . Also, maybe foolishly considering its potential for extreme thuggyness, runners of the  Ajuga reptans purpurea — and that reminds me that I should acquire the “silver carpet” version with the lovely variegated leaves.

The plan is for the current extremely sporadic grass and weeds to be replaced with a charming carpet of purple-ish leaves and violet flowers, with big pavers providing a stepping stone path.  A couple of Geranium x cantabrigiense have been included at the edge of the paving to help consolidate the soil there. This project was initiated by the realisation that the muddy dog paw marks  appearing all over my light sandstone coloured paving were resulting from the dust-become-mud bowl.

The native hens  were hoarsely heehawing a cacophony all Saturday night, rival land claims or rival clan leader claims we wondered? Early next morning I scooted out between storms after seeing a young hen rushing up and down on the inside of my neighbour’s creek fence, its companions clucking anxiously on the other side. So out I went through my gate, along the creek, opened his gate (with some difficulty), removed the empty compost bin that had blown up against it, then walked along the fence to shoosh the dammed thing back down and  out the gate. It scooted for its life out the gate and across the creek, I closed everything up and was heading back up my hill in the beginings of the next storm, then what did I hear?– thuck thuck! from next door — there was another one in there! So the whole procedure was repeated, this time in pouring rain.  Curiously when this one ran out he was met by an angry vigilante group and a major fight ensued, feathers flying even as I chased them across the creek and into the blackberry thicket opposite — an elopement gone wrong perhaps?

In case you’re wondering why I was so keen to release them from the neighbour’s garden back to the creek, I was concerned that the dammed peckity creatures would escape into my garden via the many gaps under our shared paling fence. I’m blaming them for the denudement  of several young rainbow chard plants, just getting to the picking for eating stage.


Zoro and Charlie

Supervisory posts were left untended as both Spotted Dog and deputy Charlie begged to come in out of the rain, Charlie cleverly perched on a box under the eaves!


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2 Responses to Cold

  1. wildcygnet says:

    Those pointy pink paeonia shoots really are a delight Susan. Considering how quickly we are racing into winter, your garden is almost disrespectfully lively – thumbing its nose at the seasons. The flamingo stems are a revelation. Very very colourful.


    • Susan says:

      The Esk flamingo colour is lovely, I’m hoping for some more height next season so I can actually see it from the house, but of course I also want the quince tree to fill out and then it will block the view. I’ve learnt to start looking carefully for the peonies, it’s so easy to forget exactly where they live after the foliage has dried off and tumbled away


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