Thursday, September 29, 2011

My eldest daughter's reaction to my garden

It was lovely to have my eldest daughter visiting for a couple of weeks, and she wanted to write a guest post - so here it is :)
I was sitting drinking a lovely glass of wine, nibbling on salad fresh out of my mom’s garden and chatting when I noticed that the ground was alive.  This was rather disconcerting until I discovered that the movement was hundreds of “frogs” which my mother quickly corrected me were actually toads.  I was enthralled by the steady hop, hop, hop –somehow all in sync.  The remainder of the evening was spent happily watching the toads move, the sky darken and the flowers fall from the lychee tree.
Here is a cute frog...........


and here is an ugly toad...

As her blog follower’s you may not know my mother’s gardening history. For years and years my mother wanted a garden. And every time she got one and built it up just like she wanted, life got in the way and took it away. I’m not a gardener, but I get plenty of garden based emails and such. It all kind of bored me and I have to admit that I always thought my mom’s gardens weren’t that nice (she is going to be really angry when she reads this…).


But this latest trip, I got to see the garden that she blogs about. And this one really is her masterpiece. Even I liked it, and it takes a lot to impress me with flowers!

I was trying to explain to my mom why I liked this garden and I said that everything is all crammed in there. She was not particularly impressed with my word choice. After a little more explanation, I realized that it was like the rainforest that we had been wandering through. Rainforests aren’t orderly. Tall trees pop up everywhere with an entire ecosystem that you can’t even see. And down below? Well don’t think you will be able to walk through that. Bushes, flowers, vines, mud puddles -everything conspires to fight for survival and the end result is a new surprise everywhere you look.
Admittedly my mom’s garden is slightly more orderly than the rainforest, but it is by far the smallest garden she has worked in. And as she seems to still want the same quantity of plants, she has figured out how to make them all work together in a crazy jumble that is just full of surprises and life.

One example is the wind chimes. You can walk down the length of the house ringing a different wind chime at every step. Or for example the flowers. One day my step father was frustrated with all the flowers that were covering the pathway, chairs and table. He spent the entire day sweeping and hosing. But by evening, the soft blanket of lychee flowers was covering everything again.
Up in the tree tree lychee's were forming.....

 
One day my mother sent me out to see her pineapple. I searched high and low for it. I came back to report that there was no pineapple. She marched me back out there, dug through a pile of leaves which had decided to bury it and pointed to the funniest little thing (I had no idea pineapples grew like that)!



I know my mom shows you photos of all the things she likes about her garden, but I thought you should see a post about how many wonderful things are in her garden despite her best intentions. That garden is alive with toads, flowers and snakes (She isn’t going to like hearing that either) and somehow it all works together beautifully creating a peaceful space that really feels natural and calming.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moving furniture around

I used to love to move the furniture around, but our little unit is so small and everything is just where it has to be, so I had to take the urge outside. :)
After my lovely neighbor gave me a garden chair a couple of months ago I placed it snugly under the tree fern.  Nobody sat there, leaves fell all over it, and as the fern got bigger I wondered about where else the chair could go.....  (I put up these "bali" flags for my MIL's 80th birthday and quite like them there - they might stay).   Back to the point - that chair did look a little less than inviting didn't it?
So.... after giving the ponytail palm a  bit of a haircut and moving it over to share its space I found the perfect spot for the chair.
 It also means that the small heleconia plant can spread out a bit and be noticed - gosh you cant even see the space that the chair took up...
While I was checking out the chair in its new spot I began to think about the fact that the grass doesn't grow well, and I never really liked the way the path just ended.  I call this time sitting in the chair or the swing "contemplative landscaping"  and it normally ends with me jumping up to go and fetch some garden tools.  Oh what a good idea - the path will now have a logical ending - into the other garden path - why hadn't I thought about that before?  Just a few more rocks and pavers and it will be done.
 In other garden news I have a torch ginger coming up.  They say these flowers are edible, but I have never tasted one - hopefully I get enough that I can try them out - it has taken more than a year to start flowering, and this is my first flower. This is the light pink one - you also get them in red,  they look just like a waxy rose.
 I moved some of the eggplant out of the side pots into the now vacated tomato grow bag.   They are in a coir type of material to stop them getting soil borne virticulum wilt, but I will have to add some sort of fertilizer I am sure.
Slowly our lives are getting back to normal, with time to spend in the garden - that chair and a good book sounds like a great idea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

End of September update all around the garden

This weekend I got to spend a much needed day in the garden.  I put up our little shade cloth over the vegetable garden.  It works very well as it shades just part of the garden for part of the day.  The asparagus was cut right back and mulched and I intend to start harvesting it soon.  Lots of weeds were removed

 Paths widened and cleared and the ginger planted.  Still more to do, but it is now looking a bit better cared for.  I am letting some things go to seed which always looks a bit messy.
 My neighbor gifted me with a  couple of her volunteer caladiums - doesn't the foliage look stunning next to the rex begonia?   I would love to have swathes of caladiums like Meems in Florida, but I don't have the room and they seem hard to find around here.
 The anthirium just go on and on - one of the backbones of my garden, and I am so glad that the little purple one is starting to create volunteers as well.  My aim is to have more of those as a lower edging to the bigger pink ones.
 My favorite at the moment though has to be the amaryllis - more and more bulbs have opened up.  I have cut the leaves off some of the others hoping to force them to bloom.  they are in a  more shaded area and if they don't bloom then I will move them since they have not flowered for two years.  That is a long time in my estimation to look at green leaves and no flowers.   These ones are such a welcome sight.
 So are the orchids!  The buds have opened up to reveal a lovely dark center.
It is so good to be back in the garden again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The veggie garden needs some work!

I could say that my overgrown veggie garden looks rather permaculturish!   I do need to warn all those dear friends that I sent cosmos seeds to that if they don't harvest the seeds they might find themselves with more cosmos than they need! I let quite a few of mine die off in situ scattering seeds far and wide, and now I see the results.... - oh dear, now where was that path again?

 
 I started to move the other path over a while back - to widen the bed next to the fence and make the central bed easier to reach into the middle from either side. The bed next to the fence is for the ginger and I plan to grow even more this year. We have been walking down this very narrow path for awhile now....



 The chia seem to be doing well - the leaves are a bit prickly, but I have been adding a few of the young leaves to salads. I have no idea how high this plant grows, what season it should be grown in and when I can expect seeds.... here it is interspersed with baby cosmos.




Look at my black beans - they sure grew fast, and it looks as though the beans are drying out and ready to be harvested... that sure was a fast crop.

 Cherry tomatoes are all over, and I have been harvesting them daily, they are a great fuss free crop for this climate.

I have a baby pineapple too :)  (I will post a photo soon) I keep saying I am not going to grow pineapples as they take up so much room, and take so long to bear fruit.  (we also have a pineapple farm down the road) Then when I get a new little baby I get so excited and start thinking about where else I can put one of these really large prickly plants - no! not again!

The asparagus with the seeds (is that the female?) really does not seem to bear many shoots, and I am wondering if in fact I should rip it out and get another in its place.  Since the fern does not die down here I am also thinking of cutting it right back before the harvesting season starts.  I saw a photo of a commercial asparagus farm and they did not have any ferns - just the shoots which would make harvesting easy.

I cut back a bunch of comfrey leaves and have them sitting and dripping their lovely juice into the collection bucket below.  Yum I can hear my veggie garden saying..... in the meantime I am pulling weeds and getting it back into more respectable shape.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

While I wasn't looking

Life has taken precedence lately, and the garden has had to muddle on all by itself.  Valiantly fighting weeds and struggling "gasp" to find some liquid nourishment.   This week we have had a bit of rain, and when I found a few moments I wandered outside to find........Amaryllis  buds :)  How cool - I had said that if they didn't flower this year they would have to go.  I guess they thought they better show some action...
 so far one flower set has opened up, but there are lots more buds waiting their turn for the spotlight.

Yes little lovely you were worth the wait.....

Soon this amaryllis and bromeliad bed will have lots of flowers.


 
One of the amazon lilies is also flowering, and I think once the wet starts we will have more.
 I even have some orchid buds!  I had no idea what type of orchids they were, but just shoved the whole lot into an old wire waste paper basket and hung it up on the fence.  Every now and then I remember to water it, so forgiving - look how it rewards me :)  This is what makes having a garden worthwhile.


Even though I have done no gardening for over a month the garden has continued on valiantly on its own.     But I am back and ready to take on the world - well the garden at least!  Where to start?
The bouganvilla needs a huge trim........... I never realized how much work this would take in order to look good.

I have been blessed with little gifts...  seeds from Ros at Missy's garden - a pink flowering plant that I will plant along the back fence.  She says it flowers all year long so that will be lovely.

Another gift was from Tracy at Sunny Corner Farm.  A fat quarter - I have never had a fat quarter :0   I am looking at different bags you can make with them.  Also the softest loveliest dishcloth - I doubt I will use that for my dishes.  I wonder what yarn she used?

I also got a whole envelope of different seeds from kebun malay kadazan girl..

How blessed I am - they all arrived at a time when I needed a lift.  Thank you!

So I am back and raring to go - weekends hanging out in the garden are in my future again, I can see it :)

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