Monday, April 28, 2014

The Constant Gardener

Coming back here to live presented me with a challenge - namely 89 pot plants from large to small on the balcony, many of which were destined to be planted out in the garden.

Before they could be planted, garden beds needed to be created.

I am proud to say that one has been (with two to go). G and I worked over the Easter break to dig a bed one metre wide and 22 metres long along one boundary of the property. It curves in front of two existing mature camellias, one of which is the same age as I. G was in the throes of a head cold and the hard work just about did him in (thank heavens for life insurance in case it did!).

We had to clear a couple of metres wide and deep full of fishbone fern on the left hand end. Well, I did, while G ripped out some Morning Glory. Mistress of the Mattock, me. Fishbone fern leaves horrible little balls behind it, the seeds for more to come up, so I had to mattock it out chunk by chunk then sift through the soil to get the seeds. In short it took eight hours to weed that patch over about three days.

In the middle of my mattocking I got 'bitten' by the neighbouring palm. Cutting a long story short, two of my fingers swelled like sausages, I had to have a ring cut off, I was on antibiotics for ten days and a week after the event I pulled a 7mm thorn out of one knuckle after it had festered satisfactorily. I was so pissed off about the whole thing I got the tree fellers to get rid of the bastard.

The tree fellers also took out two japonicas which had grown into an ugly mound (covered in Morning Glory too), an under performing wisteria which had flowered maybe ten years out of the last fifty, and a Carissa which was doing OK but frankly I had other plants I'd sooner put in there.

After the tree fellers had done their stuff and Sam the Stumpy had ground the stumps, we got stuck in with mattock and shovel, digging up turf for the beds. Our lawn used to be all buffalo but over the years some crap grass has started to take over. We threw the crap grass in the green bin and reused the buffalo turf on other parts of the lawn.

In the meantime I'd been to a plant collectors' fair and bought seven hydrangeas, six salvias and a collection of other useful, pretty or edible plants such as Cordyalis, Cat's Whiskers, Campanula, Omphalodes, Liliums, Broccoli and Cauliflower, all for the new garden bed. You see, I may have 89 pots on the balcony but they aren't all destined for this particular garden bed. The six roses will have their own bed, the four or five pots of bearded Iris will be in a third bed, and my orchid collection will be staying on the balcony.

I was able to move a number of pots from the balcony down to the new bed:

  • 2 miniature fruit trees, a peach and a nectarine
  • 1 Camellia Sasanqua Paradise Vanessa
  • 1 Camellia Japonica Black Magic (red flower)
  • 1 Hibiscus
  • 1 pot of Melissa (lemon balm) which divided into a number of smaller plants
  • 1 Brazilian Cherry. This was quite large and we lowered it over the balcony with thick rope. Digging the hole for it nearly toppled G.
  • 1 Tibouchina Jules
  • 2 Hydrangeas - Ayesha and Endless Summer. Ayesha was in a big tub too.
  • 1 Nellie Kelly Blueberry bush
  • 1 pot of Patchouli
  • 6 pelargoniums, some scented, some just with pretty flowers
  • 1 Deutzia
  • 1 Japanese Windflower


Because I'm too lazy to photo stitch a panorama together, here are three images showing the new garden beds.
Left hand side

Centre, with my two mature Camellias and the two fruit trees in front of them. Lots of veggies planted here!

Right hand side. The Brazilian Cherry is the biggest of the plants in the new garden and stands nearly 1.5 metres.

The overall colour scheme is white, red, blue and some existing pale pink (i.e. the mature camellias). I love strong colours and the red and blue salvias should look truly striking when they grow and are in full bloom.

This afternoon I planted some dwarf peas in the right hand side of the bed. All the salvias etc planted there won't grow enormous overnight but I'm hoping for good things by springtime, by which time the peas will all be harvested. And I can plant tomatoes there then.

This is exciting for me. I love gardening. I love growing things. We are hampered as the garden is built on sandstone; parts of the lawn only have about 20cm of soil under them before you hit bedrock. Mum never wanted big garden beds, even though she was a keen gardener too. She had some shrubs along here, but I think the whole area will look fab when the taller plants grow at the back and the salvias and metre high plants grow in front of them, with annuals, veggies and smaller perennials at the front.

So now I'll be a constant gardener. Having created this lot it's my job to keep the weeds out of it. I need to mulch it. I also need to build a little wall to ward the grass off and stop it encroaching, but that will happen when we build the second garden bed in another part of the garden, as it will be a raised bed with a retaining wall. Until then it'll be me and my trusty lawn shears. I don't trust G with the whipper snipper, he's just as likely to behead the broccoli. 

Stay tuned for close up pics when we get a nice sunny day. It's been raining on and off since we planted out, which is a good thing for the young plants and those older ones who are probably shuddering in shock at being transplanted.

My gardening jeans are standing up by themselves with the dirt in them, my gardening gloves stink. Stink, I say! I'll have to wash them too. During the week it took to dig and create this garden I worked an average three or so hours a day, some days more, and it wasn't girly stuff with a trowel, it was mattocking or pulling out Morning Glory (bastard of a thing) and poisoning it. I was hauling pots and tubs down from the house and being happily, exhaustingly active. After the second or third day my muscles stopped complaining and I reckon that mattock did wonders for the bingo wings. Beats working at a computer any day!


  1. Wow! That looks great. I am frankly jealous of some of the plants and trees you are able to grow there. Nectarine! Patchouli!
    Your Morning Glory must be quite different from our Morning Glory. Ours is not invasive. Of course, it can only grow during warm weather and then reseed for the next year.
    I hope your infection clears up well. I'm looking forward to the rest of your 'adventures'.

    1. Sox, our Morning Glory is an absolute pest, and unlike you we don't get the cold winters to kill it off ;-).
      Many more gardening adventures to come - yeehah!