As I write, the rain is gracing the earth again and the temperature has dropped to Autumn levels and at the nursery I am putting down cuttings in the cutting bed as fast as I possibly can. Autumn seems to have come early this year, (though I wonder if we will get a late hot snap), and the Correa in my garden agree with me. So many of them are in full flower. Beautiful bells of red, green, yellow, pink, white and combinations of the above.
Looking at garden pictures in lovely glossy magazines would lead one to believe that it is possible to always have a most magnificent garden which never looks a little scruffy, not ever. But I can assure you that even the most photogenic garden has its spots and blemishes at some time or other and photos do not necessarily tell the whole picture through all seasons and from every angle. I can certainly make my garden look a whole lot posher than it is by pointing the camera in certain directions.
Whilst one may not have a perfect garden there are certainly plant selections which will ensure that generally your garden is looking alive and well through the seasons. Call me a fuddy duddy if you must, but I am a little bit passionate about plant choice being largely what suits the climate and position with just a few added ‘can’t resist’ items sneaked in once the garden has matured a little.
Over the years I have had so many clients say I cant get this to grow and I cant get that to grow and my response usually is well I don’t try to get that to grow because its too much bother in this climate to which it is not suited. I really don’t have that much energy to mother plants constantly. Plants in the too hard basket might include those from higher or lower rainfall areas, areas which have sandy soil or no frosts. Australia has such a wide climatic variation from top to bottom and West to East it is super important to do your homework or talk to someone in the know, someone who is actually growing the plants they are selling. That is if you don’t want to be bothered with the challenge and want a garden that is relatively easy to care for.
Correas are generally just one of the mainstays of a hardy garden in this area but If you need a little help I am always up for a chat about mainstays for your garden.
Yesterday my fingernails were clean, my head was rested, yes even my body was rested. Today? yes, black fingernails and a buzzing head. Cant say that my body is tired after only one day back at work but I guess it won’t be long.
The great thing is that I have a weeks worth of lovely memories of my time at the coast (no not in a Covid hotspot thankfully) Although the weather was overcast almost all the time I managed a couple of refreshing swims and the rest of the time walked in scenic National Parks and on beautiful uncrowded beaches.
My heart is definitely coastally orientated; water, sand, sea, waves, rocks, windswept scenery are my thing. That is the legacy of a childhood spent on various coasts of various countries….but that is another story.
I was delighted, when I was down at the coast this time, to discover so many of the plants thriving in precarious situations were some of the very plants that I sell and which are also extremely hardy here in Murrumbateman and Canberra. How can that be? Partly because the plants I take cuttings and seed from are already growing here in my garden and are acclimatised to the climate here but also because these plants are just seriously hardy to a range of difficult conditions.
So every time I look at one of these plants in my garden I am going to remember my week at the coast and savour that memory of rest and relaxation.
Rarely is my garden a show piece; there is always some plant which decides to be unruly and spoil my aspirations to being somehow special or particularly clever in that respect. The fabulous amounts of rain that we have so recently had, despite being so very beneficial, also caused some disorderly behaviour in my garden.
One day, after particularly heavy rain, my Calothamnus quadrifidus, that pride and joy which I speak of so often, decided to split. A whole third of this 1 ½ meter, 5 years in the growing bush just snapped right off at ground level. What a shocker. I could have cried. Admittedly it was in a rather vulnerable position. It had grown so rapidly over the years that it stood out above other plants around it and so was far more susceptible to damage caused by rain followed by wind. We wired it up to a stake in the hopes that the rest will stay intact and that the plant will fill out the bare spot before too many years have passed.
Many of my shrubbery plants have enjoyed the additional water so much that they have decided to shoot soft sappy growth skywards. Next thing I know they will be leggy gangly teenagers without any substance lower down. So each day I have been patrolling the garden doing a little tip nip here and a bigger tip nip there. It is so important not to let plants grow to their full height in a gangly sort of way without bushing them up lower down (that is if you want bushy growth). This involves simply using your finger and thumb (or a sharp pair of secateurs if your really prefer) to nip out the growing tip from the end of sappy growth to promote side shoots. It depends on the plant but I tend to do this when the branch reaches a little more than a handspan in length.
In the perennial garden many of the plants have grown so unusually tall that they are now flopping around and lying about all over each other. What was a gorgeous riot of colour is now a rather bedraggled tangle which will need some stern pruning to bring it back under some semblance of control.
On my fruit trees, particularly the cherries, and the two peace roses on my pergola aphids have been feasting on the sappy new growth. The leaves which were so fresh and green are now gnarled and distorted with so many aphids they look black. The easiest fix for those infestations is to spray with soapy water (unless the ladybirds have beaten you to it…………….they eat aphids for breakfast lunch and dinner).
The grass too has taken the opportunity to run amok. The ride on lawn mower has had more outings this year already than in the last five years put together. Thank goodness for my resident bloke who enjoys trundling backwards and forwards through the garden and paddocks to keep it all in check.
But hey, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about not having a showpiece of a garden, but rather just exceptionally glad to still have full water tanks and reserves of moisture in the soil which will see the garden right for a little bit longer.
Life can change, for better or for worse, in the blink of an eye. The changes which have been happening at IDP Nursery have not been like that although the last week has felt like it has.
If you are reading this blog on the website it will because you have been redirected from the IDP Nursery website to the Farmgate Natives website and you will already sense that something has happened. If you are reading this blog on Facebook it may not be so obvious because the Facebook page has not yet had a name change, (anybody who knows how to go about this would be most welcome to contact me to help with this change).
Life changed for me when I met Iris at Murrumbateman Markets and she asked me to come to work for her under the banner of IDP Nursery. Fast forward three years and IDP Nursery became an equally shared partnership. A little less than a year ago Iris started to take a less active role in the nursery work. Now forward another year and we come to the announcement today that IDP Nursery has changed hands AND has had a name change. Iris has now fully retired from the nursery, I have bought out her share but will continue to run the nursery from her property at 1264 Murrumbateman Road under the new name FARMGATE NATIVES.
So from your point of view nothing much will change. I will continue to grow the plants, as I have done for the last five years, which you love and can rely on to be hardy.
Overall the changes made have been a most positive move for both of us. Iris has surprised herself by feeling very positive about letting go and moving forward. Sometime over the next month she will get a new personal email address. In the mean time you can still contact her for personal things on her old address. For me the advantages of staying on site have, for the time being, out weighed the advantages of moving to my own property; the facilities are already here for propagation, I have an assured water supply and of course a fabulous new driveway for customers. Cups of morning coffee with iris will continue to be a fixture too.
For Iris personal friends who have been with her forever please note she will still be here mostly tending to her garden. However I have also threatened to put a rocking chair in the nursery so you may also find her there. Please pop in to have a yarn from time to time.
So although you may be surprised at this change and feel that this has happened quickly, for us it has been a long process which is hopefully nearly complete when you read this.