Perfect bells, bandit birds and wild weather

Middle of winter, perennials reduced to broken stalks and browning seedpods, sodden squelchy ground after recent rain, pretty little wrens pop popping around and home grown blackbirds hopping and flitting about — just as though they own the place!  I’ve been away on other business for a couple of weeks, the Spotted Dog was kept in fine style (probably better than that to which he is accustomed) by a couple of his admirers  so the garden has been unsupervised.

I mutter about the damage done to fruit over summer by the blackbirds, and cockies, however at least I don’t have to contend with these gorgeous King parrots pecking off magnolia buds and catkins (apologies for the blur, was taken through the kitchen window!)

King parrots at breakfast

King parrots beakfasting on magnolia buds

or a possum problem that requires this medieval armoury– yet

Medieval possum spikes

Medieval possum spikes

Things are happening underground of course, peony noses poking through, hellebores pushing up buds and leaves, millions of opium poppy, nigella and lunaria seedlings preparing to follow their older siblings through the ground, more galanthus and narcissus burrowing their way upwards — note to self, must clear some space and sow the double black opium poppy seeds I gathered in autumn.

Oh, and the sublime bells of Clematis napaulensis hanging in garlands along the fence, such a perfect combination of creamy petals and purple/pink stamens. This delight, another gift from the Plantsman, is summer dormant. The second summer after I planted it (it was too small the first summer and I forgot it was there) I muttered darkly about neighbours who carelessly used Round-up along the fence line that must have seeped through onto my clematis, causing plant death. I was thrilled when it sprang back into life the following autumn, Oh good, I thought, it’s survived being Rounded up, then the penny dropped.

Clematis cirrhosa

Clematis napaulensis.

Such a thrill to come back after a couple of weeks and see the changes, although in all honesty it is just a count of the galanthus, early narcissus and hellebores that have emerged, and continuing admiration of the brilliant chinese red bark of Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’

While walking the streets of North Melbourne  recently  I was constantly delighted by the layerings of shiny wet Plane tree leaves on the dark  pavements, their complex shape and shiny raw sienna tonings occasionally enlivened by the soft yellow simply shaped elm leaves.  They pile up everywhere, making lovely little russet patches up against the tree trunks and grass tufts.

The last couple of days back home have given us the most appalling weather with wind gusts up to 165 mph, power blackouts everywhere, road closures, snowy mountain slopes and even little snowflakes fluttering past my windows. After enduring the first night with no power in a dark freezing all electric house we decamped to a friend’s house and yesterday I drove around two road closures to check my house had held onto its roof — and I’m only 10 minutes from the GPO!

The last tree dahlia left standing,has been completely smashed by the wind, Salvia karwinskii is bravely hanging on but definitely looking ragged, and I had to do an emergency beheading of a fastigiate pittosporum, originally planted to shield my bedroom window from my neighbour’s deck, to avoid it being blown over. Of course it will sprout with pittosporum vigour, and possibly should have been beheaded a while ago to encourage general bushiness, but I had waited so long for that height!  The rivulet willows have jettisoned a large branch and twenty million small ones, I’m actually surprised that there isn’t more damage.

Very tall kale

Very tall kale

The bird netting had blown off the tree kale so the small vegetable-eating birds had been enjoying a feast from the couple that remained after their pre-netting feasting episodes.

Actually I realised I had been rather stupid (what? — Moi?). This is the first time my winter greens have been stripped by some creature other than caterpillars so I carefully made little enclosures circling my tiny patches of chard and baby kale out of stiff plastic netting with bird netting draped over the top. Somehow I omitted to notice that the really useful stiff plastic netting had holes large enough for your average vegetable thieving garden sparrow to hop through.

Struggling chard

Struggling chard

The garden continues to look pretty desolate, dead sticks etc., with just  few moments of joy from more and more hellebores and galanthus popping up to say ‘Hello, don’t you just love us’?   I suspect the next post will be overflowing with hellebore and galanthus pics but for now this Cornus sibirica will have to suffice.

Red stemmed dogwood, with miscanthus and the neighbouring croquet lawn behind

Red stemmed dogwood, with miscanthus and the neighbouring croquet lawn behind


And here’s the Lounge Lizard  Spotted Dog

What? me? go outside in this weather?

What? me? go outside in this weather?







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2 Responses to Perfect bells, bandit birds and wild weather

  1. wildcygnet says:

    beautiful clematis Susan – can scarcely imagine the icy weather amid blackouts. I’m sending you a non blurry photo of the gang of 5 (parrots) from that same morning.


  2. Susan says:

    I imagine you have lots more pretty bulby things popping up now, I rather like the possum spikes, theycould be condsidered tree sculptures


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