Monday, June 14, 2010

An Early Winter Gardening Weekend Downunder - it's the Queen's Birthday long weekend!

Yes ... I know it's seems strange but downunder we do have a day off work to celebrate the birth of the Monarch!!!

We Aussies love our long weekends ... what can I say!  There is, in fact, a bit of history behind the observation of the Monarch's birthday ... way back to 1788 when our first Governor declared a holiday to mark the birth of King George 111.  It's an Aussie tradition that's lasted and lasted ... so thanks Liz for the lovely extra long weekend!

Anyhoo ... back to gardening.  What else is there to do on a long weekend?  Hubbie went off on a two-day ride with the Old Fart's Club ... sorry, the Restored Motorcycle Club (the origin of the name 'Old Fart's Club' is a whole other story!!)  So I had the whole wonderful weekend to myself ... and lots of glorious winter weather out here in the bush.

So, where to start?  First, the Pentas bed had a severe trim ... then, the new outdoor garden beds had a dressing of compost and fertiliser with a few plants being removed or moved (there will be some who know all about the 'l'enfant terrible' from a post on my other blog  My Wilful Younger Child post.). 

I don't spend much time or effort on any of the other large outdoor garden beds here ... this whole property is on a difficult site located on the side of a rocky granite hill.   There is, in fact, no fertile soil anywhere around the property except for built-up beds in the courtyard and the greenhouse.  Everywhere else there is only a very, very thin layer of decomposed granite soil atop granite bedrock ... the soil that was bought in many years ago to build up the large outdoor garden beds is now completely compacted.  My gardening efforts only go into the two garden spaces where I can add plants and change things around ... my Courtyard Garden and my Greenhouse / Shadehouse Garden.

So it was onto the courtyard garden ... the pots are now all set ready for a great winter-spring-early summer display.  Some have already started blooming ... and while they've had a late start, due to the continual rainy weather during Autumn, it's lovely to see the flowers beginning to appear at last.

Here's a few of the plants that have started blooming:

While I was out in the courtyard garden positioning the pots for the right light conditions, I spotted a few garden visitors.

It was also time to start the 'great bulb experiment'.  I bought some bulbs on special a while back ... and whilst I've never ever grown these plants before, I've always wanted to try!  This was the collection I got way back at the beginning of March ... sold as the 'hot climate pack' (we'll see about that!!):

They've been sitting in the fridge ever since ... waiting for the temps. to drop and the humidity levels to plummet.  Well, finally we now have days when the maximum temp. is well below 30 deg C (86 F) ... usually around 26 deg (78 F) C at the moment ... and our night time temps drop way down to around 15 deg C (59F).

So it was time to pot up.  Some had already started sprouting in the fridge.  I'm excited to see exactly what does grow and bloom.

(You can see from the photo that I needed instructions on exactly what to do!  Having had no experience with planting bulbs like these before ... I had to check out depths etc.)

I then got stuck into the Greenhouse Garden and did some trimming.  The hanging pots of Impatiens which I added in January last year were getting very, very leggy as can be seen in the next photo.  Look carefully at the two pots hanging off the beam at the top of the photo ... there's a pot of Impatiens to the left and a pot of Evolvulus to the right.  Definitely time for a trim!

The poor Impatiens look very unattractive with their little sticks poking out of the hanging pots now, but they'll come back pretty quickly.

Just like the pots of Dragon Wing Begonias I trimmed up just two weeks ago on the other side of the Greenhouse Garden ... doesn't take long for them to start coming back.

I also put in a few potted plants to add colours other than green to the greenhouse garden beds.  These beds are completely root bound from the Giant Sword Fern now, so it's impossible to actually plant anything in the ground.  Still ... adding pots seems to be working well.

I added some pots of Dragon Wing Begonia and Inky Fingers Coleus ...

as well as pots of Cordyline 'Red Wings', Calathea and variegated Alpinia vittata.

There are also pots of other Coleus plants in there as well ... but they've all had a haircut and are rather hard to spot right now.

Finally, today I planted a few more things those new outdoor garden beds ... you remember, 'l'enfant terrible' beds!  Still needs lots more work ... so I'll be busy throughout this Winter.  Right now it's Monday arvo ... and time to plant myself on the rocking chair out on the verandah and enjoy a well-earned caffeine break!!!


  1. Wow! Your garden is gorgeous!

  2. Thanks Aaron ... it certainly provides hours of joy!

  3. You've got such a lot of blooming going on - looks like early winter is a very nice time for the trooping of the colors downunder!

  4. Bernie: Your garden looks so lush and beautiful. I love the way that you stuck the pots into the bed to create the interests. Dragon wing begonia is my favorite, it just keeps blooming in my garden. I especially love the combination of Cordyline 'Red Wings', Calathea and variegated Alpinia vittata. Very tropical, and pretty foliage!

    I am very interested in all those bulbs you are planting. It is very hard to find bulbs suitable for Florida weather, but I love them. Keep us posted.

  5. You have a beautiful tropical garden filled with lush foliage and lovely blooms. The garden visitors are a joy to photograph.

  6. Bernie - you are my hero! You were like a garden machine ... did you sneak in some sleep over the weekend?!! (I ditched work early yesterday to pull weeds and lay some mulch - but it was just a tiny bit of what needs to get done.) <It cracks me up to see your temperatures getting "down" to 86F/30C ... that's pretty "toasty" here in the Midwest! :o) -Shyrlene

  7. gosh you have been busy...the photo of the first butterfly is gorgeous...and planting unknown bulbs is so exciting...enjoy the rocking chair!


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