More rain! and spring is galloping by

Every moment snatched for the garden is spent grubbing out squillions of weeds, and my heavy soil  clutches firmly to their  roots so that most of the time weeding  involves removing the top layer of soil. it’s particularly troublesome where I’ve introduced not-yet-properly-composted compost that has formed a firm little crust on the soil surface. This crust clings determinedly to the plant being unceremoniously yanked out — definitely time for some more careful Rounding up.

The hybrid tree peonies are starting to open their enormously fat buds. My tree peonies (apart from a purchased Rockii that sadly never emerged from hibernation) have all arrived as layerings from another garden. Somehow I’ve managed to gather 5  variously sized plants of P ‘Vesuvium’, a gorgeous darky black-red double  with rich yolk yellow anthers, really lovely but five is 3 too many. I have two double yellows that seem to be happy,  they’re very similar but i’ll check more closely this year for subtle differences, maybe P. ‘Age of Gold’


My favourite is Marchioness, a happy fusion of a soft primrose base with apricot staining flaring  out from the cluster of red tipped stamens ams pinky toned petal edges.  Sadly she doesn’t seem to care for me, despite doses of composted manure and occasional drenching with  fungicide she  struggled this year to produce three blooms. I look hopefully for a little layerings to start a new plant but nothing so far.

Roses are opening,  I know they’ve been in full bloom for ages in warmer gardens where they don’t receive regular bouts of freezing air from the mountain, however my roses leave the mid spring display to the peonies and rhodos. R. Sparrieshoop  is the first to start  waving simple mid pink  blooms about (waving far too  much with the recent wind! ) and R. Archiduc Joseph is quick to  follow with his softly quartered blooms. He would offer flowers earlier but being located at the creek end of the garden places him in the path of hungry possums who feast  on the early leaves and buds. This plant originated as a cutting of a particularly strong clone in a previous garden.  Not my favourite colour,  love the soft creamy coral blush in the centre but not so keen on the  strong crimson toned cerise outer petals that,  typically for a tea, deepen with age . That deep brick/cerise  crimson can be a difficult colour to mix with rosier and lilac toned pinks but the whole effect works beautifully with Rosa mutabilis (currently languishing in the vegetable garden while i get around to digging  a hole)  actually I’m not going to mix them in this garden,  no space near the Archiduc and i have plans to plant the airy mutablis in front of the lower deck. Should be nice to look at the garden through her.

A welcome return this year is the variegated honesty, Lunaria annua ‘Alba Variegata’ .  The seed was sent to me after i admired it at Wychwood when the Plantsman and I visited several years ago and although it came up well the first season it has dwindled ever since, possibly out-thugged by Forget-me-nots. However this year a variegated white flowered plant popped  up, I’ll be careful to collect seed again.  Wychwood has been sold after a fair while on the market, I do wish we had managed to make another trip there in the last couple of years



The last of the species peonies to flower, Paeonia emodi, is building up to its big moment. There is so much to love about this plant, gorgeous fingered foliage that starts with spring bronze and finishes with soft autumn yellow, and soon we’ll  see the high point of deliciously carefree white blooms

Paeonia emodi buds

Paeonia emodi buds

Three Pacific Coast irises came my way after I admired them in a particularly special Dandenong garden. Two have thrived but  the third was badly placed under a robust photinia, moving it to a better position was one of those jobs frequently remembered when walking past then promptly forgotten.  Now the Photinia robusta itself has  been removed the third little iris has discovered a new zest for life

Another completely different little  iris with  its delicately textured petals and classic shape, Iris reichenbachii

Iris reichenbachii

Iris reichenbachii

Amsonia tabernaemontana was purchased years ago from Raithbys because it sounded interesting,  I’d never seen this plant in my gardening travels. At the time both Amsonia tabernaemontana and the more feathery Amsonia hubrechtii were available and I’ve often wished I’d bought one of each. It was a tiny plant initially and being fully winter dormant i watched anxiously each spring for the first few stems to come through. The first year that it produced those lovely delicate sky  blue flowers was a major cause for celebration. Beside it is the pink oriental poppy,  Raspberry Queen (another utterly uninspired  name) from Lambley, it’s actually rather a gorgeous rich watermelon pink, I gaze adoringly…

Amsonia tabernaemontana and oriental poppy

Amsonia tabernaemontana and oriental poppy

Lovely little cistus with  tissue paper crumpled petals from the Plantsman, I found the tag hidden under its skirts, Cistus parviflorus from seed sourced from Ikaria, possibly my favourite Greek island (of those I have visited, there may be a new favourite down the track)

A big cistus, Cistus ladanifer v. petiolaris ‘Bennetts white’ with its huge white saucers, stunning when in flower but rather average for the rest of the year

And still more white,  one of my favourite shrubs with its outstretched arms balancing filigree white saucers. unlike Bennetts cistus the Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’ offers elegant shape, autumn colour and berries,  although I have to admit the berries aren’t really up to much.  The location of  this shrub,  jammed into  an unattractive corner recently laid bare by the removal of an unattractive acacia,  is unfortunate. It was purchased and planted very early on before I had any idea what shape the garden would take, therefore everything was planted close to the fence.  Note the Paeonia daurica subsp. macrophylla in the foreground, it has flowered but brieflySadly, eventually Mariesii will be shaded out by the gingko.

Spring would not be complete without the last fabulous blossom hurrah from Malus ionensis, the scent is lovely, it hums with bees and last year it produced a huge crop of large green spherical crabapples.

Malus ionensis

Malus ionensis















and the last word from the bat-wing Spotted dog

No really, I'm perfectly comfortable thank you

No really, I’m perfectly comfortable, thank you




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Ark overloaded

The garden ark is increasingly showing signs of  plant overload, the gorgeously profligate growth of spring revealing both new treasures and armies of weeds every day. In my damp nook under the mountain it is is a little too damp, between regular showers from the mountain,  indispersed with bouts of steady rain, occasional gale force winds and water runoff from the hillside above, it’s very very wet.
Sadly lost one foolish planting in the Kentish cherry bordert that was waterlogged most of winter. It was a seedling from a scabiosa like plant  (I’ve forgotten its name but will follow up!) we had collected in the Peloponnese in 2010. Luckily the mother plant, a  big generous bushy dome baking in the warm dry heat by the lower deck, still looks healthy as it continually produces charming lilac blue scabious flowers.  Surprisingly, both the sparkling blue grass Helictotrichon  and Salvia dolomitica planted beside the ‘recently departed’ have survived the water logging. I’m very fond of this grass, nice clean blue blades,  handsome tall flowering stems, and very amenable to division but doesn’t show any sign of seeding itself all over the place.
The ‘Golden twig’ ash is passing from its spun gold stage to a soft limey green while the gledistia has barely woken up, the lacy leaves of the small Japanese maples  are opening, my favourite coral bark maple that has gleamed Chinese red stems for me all winter is sporting its soft bright leaves, the pears and the quince have finished flowering (very hopeful of a fully developed quince this year, although the rain and wind may have limited pollination)

Paeonia mascula ssp hellenica

Paeonia mascula ssp hellenica

Peonies are still flowering, the species peonies have been glorious, and I’ve realised that Paeonia ludlowii has a satisfyingly long season from first fatty buds in September to the last butter yellow blooms almost hidden by the new leaves now. Later beige-streaked-red  seed pods shaped like little cornish pasties  will hang down, providing another source of visual pleasure.

One of my favourites belowPaeonia cambessedesii. A little beauty with wonderful pewter leaves that form a perfect foil against the pink blooms

Paeonia cambedessii

Paeonia cambessidessii

And a new treat, this delightful little dwarf bearded iris, another one from the Plantsman, I think it’s  ‘Blue stitch


Spanish bluebells have been a pool of blue in the front, and do look lovely.  However they are toughing their way across more precious plants and the big juicy leaves simply don’t die back as subtly as one would like. It’s time to dig them out and move them to an obscure and difficult spot elsewhere, maybe outside the fence. Of course babies are always left behind to fight another day.

See below the wonderful new purple stems of Iris x robusta ‘Dark Aura’, they will fade as the growth ages but then come the elegant flowers. See also the Forget-me-not (no chance of that!)  and Nigella damascena seedlings with which  I constantly do battle.  I love the Nigella, but the other has become a curse.


Iris Dark Aura

Dicentra have spread their ferny silvery carpet across their allotted bed, happily stifling the three new K&D white azaleas as they go. The azaleas are looking rather lovely with their generous white flowers so I’ll encourage them with some TLC.

Each spring I renew my rather late-in-life love affair with rhododendrons, not all rhododendrons mind, not those with screeching puce,washy mauve or flagrant coral colouring, or weird splotchy speckled throats (yes Sappho, I’m looking at you) ,  but the cool yellow Saffron queen,  exquisite little Blue diamond,  rich red Babiani, (grown for that reassuring lift of rich colour in late winter) Kallista with huge fragrant trumpets like creamy matte satin, and most of all the gorgeous scented Princess Alice

Rhododendron 'Kallista'

Rhododendron ‘Kallista’

Rhododendron 'Bibiani'

Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’

I’ve been really pleased, and surprised, to see the lime green nicotianas survive winter and bushing up again, I’ve already picked flowers from the most advanced plant. I had assumed they were annuals and the frosts would see them out.

And as usual, the last word from the Spotted Dog himself

I'm waiting for my walk, and I'm not letting you out of my sight

I’m waiting for my walk, and I’m not letting you out of my sight


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Having rambled on at inordinate length in the last post about my inherited japonica camellias, I realised that I failed to include a single picture of any of them.  So below there are three lovely flowers and one unlovely one illustrating the effect after rain, wind or just a day or so in the world after opening.


Spring is coming in a rush now, the baby quince tree has popped a sprinkling of soft downy leaves together with subtle pink hints of the gorgeous blossom to come, the pear has formed a glowing spire of creamy blossom, already suffused with green, half the narcissus are finished already, and Clematis armandii is flowering its socks off in its second spring in my garden.

I even have a scattering of tulips, eye-burning Tulipa greigii are dotted rather awkwardly about, I forget they’re there each year so fail to co-locate them inwith better neighbours. Also been enjoying a successful flowering of the gorgeous Tulipa “Flaming purissima” , here surrounded by 20,000 nigella seedlings

Tulipa 'Flaming Purissima'

Tulipa ‘Flaming Purissima’

Nashi, plum and nectarine blossom is opening. I cannot like the rather harsh pink blossom of my baby nectarine tree, it’s subject to curly leaf and the birds get the (so far very small amount) of fruit anyway so it’s probably not a keeper. But home grown nectarines are so good, a completely different fruit to the tasteless commercial varieties.

And these charming  little fellows are making their presence felt

Fairy wren busy harrassing his rivals

Fairy wren busy harassing his rivals

Finally the unimpaired view of the large  bottom-of-the-garden shed that I endure over winter is being broken up by foliage

Here’s a happy dog

More joy of spring

More joy of spring


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The days are getting longer

Spring is finally sprung, even the view of the mountain is veiled with the spring blossom of the flowering dark leaved prunus that grows up in front of the bedroom window. Each morning I look out to see the wee silvereyes flitting amongst the branches finding breakfast morsels

Mountain spring blossom

The camellia japonicas are in full flower. I inherited a bulky shiny green hedge of four plants along the front of the bedroom windows, one huge red semi-double, one ethereally simple white ( I suspect it’s a seedling), one lovely very formal pale pink and one single coral (another likely seedling). They have to be clipped away from the house wall and windows to avoid damp but I’ve never quite been able to bring myself to remove them as their profusion of flowers is rather satisfying and they provide privacy from the street. They are massively vigorous and promiscuous with seedlings popping up all along their skirts, plenty of material for a Camellia hedge!

Another healthy happy camellia grows on the other side of the path to the front door which produces loads of double white blooms spattered pale pink. These unfortunately turn to bruised brown mush puppies and refuse to leave their perch, not such a pretty sight!  I did plant a row of lovely single white sasanquas to break the view of my parked car from the living room window but they have never thrived the way the inherited japonicas do, in fact they have been an abject failure, a constant disappointment, I can still see my car quite clearly!

I blame this partly on the limey washout from the concrete driveway that was installed some time before my tenure. I have since infilled with a smaller row of Sarcococca confusa cuttings — very successful, glorious scent in winter but won’t achieve the required height — and a single Choisya ternata.

The front garden is an awkward space that I’ve never felt happy with, and having to accommodate two vehicles  limits the possibilities. Early on I developed a nice little shady area in front of the mature wall hugging camellias for  specially favoured hellebores (optimistically ignoring the differing acid requirements) . They have failed to thrive, martyring themselves to black spot type afflictions, and since then the area has been colonised with three eagerly spreading Dicentra formosa / eximia /peregrina (or hybrids).  I recall that I bought one as Bacchanal,  another as Percy Picton, and the other, a lovely white flowered grey leafed one was dug up for me after I admired it in a someone else’s garden. These make a charming ferny groundcover over summer but disappear in winter, so I have added a trio of el cheapo white azaleas, and finally a nice big Daphne odora, currently being harvested for indoor scent. Unfortunately two of the azaleas also seem to consider the area too dank for their liking ….

As August has rolled on into September with alarming speed each stroll down the garden path offers little chunks of joy, like this pristine fellow supporting himself with the bare branches of a tree peony.

Fritillaria meleagris alba

More delightful bulbs are popping up with their sunny yellow smiles, Nanty, Spoirot, Fenben, Snipe, Angels whisper, Tete a Tete. Of those only Tete a Tete has been set free to romp in the grass, the others are carefully cosseted in pots. The hellebores are in full swing — it happens so quickly! —  together with the little creamy wildling freesias that seed themselves about.


Special joy promoted by the unexpected flowering of this gorgeous ghostly Iris tuberosa, (previously known by the wonderfully evocative moniker Hermodactylus tuberosus), the little bulbs were only planted last spring. I love the default olive green colouring but this uncommon silvery grey version is especially charming.

Iris tuberosa

Major chopping has been achieved with the help of a strong young man and a chainsaw, a bare stemmed and prickly Acacia derwentiana was removed from the far creek end of the garden, an ageing and mostly dead Weigela florida ‘Aureovariegata’ was dug out ready for replacement with a screening Lilly pilly, (specifically the inelegantly named Syzygium ‘Big Red’, because it was the only one at the nursery and I want to maximise spring growth), limbs were removed from the burgeoning tea tree hedge in the front before they knocked the top layer of bricks off the front wall and, with much anguished hand wringing (from me, not the young man), the top removed from another  unidentified Lilly pilly.  This lovely tree , a seedling from a tree in a previous garden,  screened my view of the neighbour’s clothes line. However it had been damaged by a bullying branch of an inherited Photinia (very) robusta, leaving three feet of bare Lilly pilly trunk two thirds of the way up its height.

I had hoped that removal of the Photinia branch last year would encourage side shoots from the Lilly pilly but so far nothing. Hence the dramatic lopping to encourage new growth from below the bare trunk level. Lastly same young man dug three deep holes by the creek and plopped in three mature Dicksonia antarctica that had been thinned out from a relative’s garden. I’m hoping they will recover from spending the last month lying in my driveway elegantly draped with an old horse rug to retain moisture. All in all a very satisfactory morning.

Species peonies are pushing ahead, the gorgeous  rotund buds of Paeonia ludlowii and the delicate pale pink Paeonia kesrouanensis blooms

Paeonia lutea and P. kesrouanensis

Another winter/spring iris, the simple Iris lazica,  starting into flower a little later than Iris unguicularis but equally charming with the bonus of shorter, neater foliage

Iris lazica

The last month has seen all the anticipatory fun of swelling buds and now tiny unfurlings of the freshest new leaves. I’ve been regretting the dearth of evergreens in the garden over winter, too many bare sticks, but now I’m happily  watching the deciduous shrubs and trees wake up

The Spotted dog coming out of hiberationzoro-stretching-copy




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40 days

If this rain goes on for much longer I’ll be expecting to see the big wooden boat come floating past.  However last weekend was delightfully sunny and spring like, I had to keep reminding myself it was not quite mid August.

It's cold today

It’s cold today


Here’s the mountain, not so long ago,  in its extreme winter garb






Hellebores and galanthus are coming on in a rush now, I compulsively check each plant regularly, lifting the hellebore faces to admire their interior decoration —  you can see that I rather like the blacks!

Hellebore ring

But there are others like this dramatically veined charmer,

Red veined hellebore

and this little beautifully stippled fat bell

Cerise stippled hellebore

I compulsively read the  faded names on the galanthus labels, trying to lock the charming details of the particular snowdrop in front of me together with the name on the label in my mind. Some of the snowdrops are delightfully individual while others merge together in a crowd of very similar pretty pendant white petals, see the small sample from the garden below;

G. alpinus bortkewitschianus, ‘Galatea’,  ‘Essie Huxley’ and ‘Imbolc’

Alpinus, Galatea, Essie, Imbolc 1

G. ‘John Gray’, ‘Brenda Troyle’, ‘Trymlet’ and ‘Warham’

John Gray, Brenda T, Trymlet, Warham 5

G. ‘Maidwell’, ‘Megan’, ‘Sam Arnott’ and ‘Sibbertoft White

Maidwell, Megan, Sam Arnott, Sibbertoft 1

And of course they look perfectly charming in the garden, especially accompanied by that pinkly perfect little cyclamen





Roses are waving their long armoured branches at me while I consider it remarkable that after 40 years of gardening I still approach the rose pruning process with a slight lack of confidence, which branch to cut, how much off etc.  Some like the lovely single Mrs. Oakley Fisher are still contributing a welcome  pop of colour with gleaming hips, they will be left til last!

In the meantime I have decided that the birds have had ample time to forage in the perennial seed heads and spent a productive afternoon making huge piles of sedum, salvia and sibirica iris stalks. A small (two foot high) tree was moved and suitable growth-inducing incantations muttered over its head while a much taller, (8 foot) so-called damson  that proved to be a thorny cherry plum after 5 years of growth was sliced down with the big loppers.

Clematis have been carefully pruned back with their delicate shoots corralled in the right direction and I have tried to cut the hydrangeas back to the first two fat buds. That always sounds so simple but so rarely do my plants display two fat buds together. So I umm and ah and probably cut away too much stalk before forcing myself to discard all that promising cutting material — there is a limit to how many hydrangeas I can fit in. Since then I’ve actually done some research and realised I may well have just finished pruning off the next seasons blooms!

Narcissus 'Glenbrook Ta-Julia Group'

Narcissus ‘Glenbrook Ta-Julia Group’

While trying to keep track of snowdrops and hellebores, there have also been the tiny bulbous delights to watch for, the bulbocodiums from the  ‘Glenbrook Ta-Julia Group

Narcissus 'The Dansant'

Glenbrook’s Narcissus ‘The Dansant’





The sparky little Narcissus ‘The Dansant’







Narcissus 'Canaliculatus'

Narcissus ‘Canaliculatus’

Not the greatest photo , but one of my favourites, the diminutive, delightfully scented and tongue-twistingly named Narcissus Canaliculatus.






Finally, the Spotted dog doing what he does best in winter

Wake me up in Spring

Wake me up in Spring please


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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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The muscovy and the black ducks

There are a few interesting walks close by that the Spotted Dog likes to take us on, however the reliable ‘quickie’, especially when dusk is falling (too too early these days) is down through the Cascade gardens beside the rivulet , down past the Female Factory and back up the road.

The Gardens are old with a mix of mature evergreen and deciduous trees to enjoy; birches, maples, conifers, crabapples, plus a bank of (mostly) winter / spring flowering shrubs; camellias, virburnums, hydrangeas, dogwoods, daphnes, rhododendrons. The Gardens are well used for picnics, barbeques and wedding photos but never appear to be crowded. So we stroll along the path through the gardens, and come out where the rivulet is ushered into a large concrete sided pond by a long concrete spillway. At the furthest end is a boulder trap that forms an eight foot weir over which the Hobart rivulet drops and goes on its merry way. In spring we were entranced several times by a large family of wood ducks returning to the spillway pond after breakfasting on the new grass in the gardens. The wood ducks have long since departed but the pond is still home to a small flock of black ducks and a rather large and portly muscovy.

Copy muscovy 5 copy

We first encountered the pied muscovy, magnificently black and white with bright red caruncles further down the rivulet, however over summer she (default gender) has made her way upstream to the spillway, how she got up there past the 8 foot weir is a mystery. The pond is surrounded with child safe fencing that extends up the creek about 20 feet, it would have been a long waddle up through the car park, on through the rhododendron garden and along the fence until she gained access to the creek, muscovies can fly but this girl looks way too fat and heavy, she swims on an angle with her front end deep in the water.

We took the Spotted Dog for a lateish constitutional when half the state was under flood water a short while ago. The rivulet had transformed into a raging torrent and the spillway was submerged under a turbulent rolling and foaming rush of water racing into the swirling pond. We were gazing, fascinated, as one is when nature suddenly flexes muscle,  when down came the muscovy, shooting along on top of the torrent like a cork out of a bottle of bubbles. She angled off the current before being shot Whoops! over the weir and then paddled around in a desultory sort of fashion, confined to one side of the pond with no dry embankment by the powerful current in the centre. We  were a bit concerned that the duck was stuck,  her fair weather companions had clearly flown off.  A week later I was relieved to see her still happily paddling around her now quiet pond, and the thought did occur to me that what we saw was not a stricken duck but just one of many deliberate joy rides down the current.

Typical June month, cold, warm-ish, frost, rain, floods, freezing horizontal rain straight off the mountain, aagh!

Hobart Rivulet very excited after heavy rain

Hobart Rivulet very excited after heavy rain

Then a series of lovely clear crisp sunny days, the mountain still wearing its cloudy cap in the early mornings



Golden twig


The garden has transformed to bogland and I’m starting to worry about losing my lovely young Mosswhites to drowning, I suspect that is what killed off two of the initial planting of 3 expensive Betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Jermyns’.

The Golden ash is doing its winter bark thing and I’m able to admire it from the house, nice when the plan works.




More beautiful cyclamen flowering, I particularly love this palest pink and silver combination

Cyclamen coum Silver leaf

Cyclamen coum Silver leaf



More pink from the flamboyant Salvia karwinskii, waving gaily to me as it resists wind, frost and rain






Cheery orange and yellow Galdiolus dallenii, at least that’s what it looks like, this was another Flower Room Co-op purchase,  simply labelled “Gladilus”




The helleborus hybridus are following the Sterniis, this double is rather an uninteresting pink but is vigorously healthy and amongst the first to flower


There are some leaves still hanging on the Oak leaf hydrangea gleaming with their autumn colour. I keep meaning to take some cuttings and distribute it around the garden more widely, it has wonderful leaves and great voluptuous cones of double white flowers.


A satisfyingly resilient fuschia, simple and pretty as the leaves develop pink tonings to match the flowers in a last hurrah for the season.


One thing has been achieved from the list — the Stipa arundinacea has been moved to a small bed that surrounds a double grafted apple tree, a tree that has resolutely refused to grow! This small bed forms part of the edge of the Quince circle, a patch of grass and buttercups surrounding a young Quince tree. However when I slung the pick axe into the 6 inches of blue metal that forms the second layer under the 2 inch deep loam on the lower lawns the resulting hole immediately filled with water. Maybe not the ideal location for a grass that claims to be successful in drought conditions.

I’m also concerned for the delightful Salvia dolomitica, newly planted last winter, it grew beautifully all summer but is now drinking way too much.

Worried that some marauding creature would beat me to it, I dug my annual crop of Oxalis tuberosa, aka Oka, those tubers much beloved of the New Zealanders. Note the rather sad difference between the two properly sized tubers on top with the rest, a disappointing result as, despite resembling pink witchetty grubs, these are rather good to eat.  Note also the delightful soft coral rocks on the side, brought home some years ago in yours truly’s luggage from Alice Springs. Pity about the grubby old ice cream container, the oka are now sun baking in a fetching cane basket on the floor of the sunroom. Apparently leaving them in the sun for a while after digging sweetens the flavour.



This unidentified deciduous euphorbia (Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon?)  is a brilliant autumn performer with these rich pink leaves, pity though it’s an appalling thug, really best kept in a pot, or surrounded by concrete



Galanthus 'Three Ships'

Galanthus ‘Three Ships’


Galanthus ‘Three Ships’ now opening and charmingly splashed with raindrops








I love the way the last leaves on this variegated hydrangea make a star burst pattern against the darker backdrop of the pittosporum hedge. This plant came from cuttings taken from plants edging the Cascade Gardens carpark, the originals have now disappeared



No, you can't have the spade, it's my dinner time

No, you can’t have the spade, it’s my walk time


The Spotted Dog gently making a point about his preferred activity



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