Tuesday, 9 April 2019

This Autumn in the Garden

It was a long, dry and very hot Summer here but we've had rain. There is just nothing like heavy, soaking rain! Everything is lush and green again. I lost a few plants over this past Summer; even a tough and hardy salvia. My avocado tree didn't make it either but it was looking sickly even before the Summer began so we made the decision not to waste any more water trying to get it to "perk up".  I won't replant another avo but will reinvigorate the soil with our compost and worm tea and then try a second citrus tree in that same spot. While a few plants didn't survive the Summer and have been duly composted, there are some, like my pineapple sage, that are showing signs of new life after pruning and rain. 

New leaves on the pineapple sage.

The pots of Portulaca that I planted, to cheer up that oppressive Summer and thus myself, are blooming beautifully. I have not grown these before but I am loving their gorgeous colours. I have a creamy yellow, a sunny yellow and a deep pink one. 

Pretty Portulaca in a pot.

Our little native bees carried on with their work while we carried on with ours. They love the Portulaca flowers too!

A little native bee on a Portulaca flower.

Our hive of native bees withstood the Summer heat; its position under the shade of the back deck keeping the hive cooler. Native bee hives can perish in high temperatures.  The entrance to their hive has been a busy one at particular times of day and, as always, they remain fascinating to watch. I often get distracted from my gardening chores and find myself resting on my shovel watching them!

 A salvia popular with all kinds of bees.

We've also been watching all the different bees that have been attracted, like bees to a honeypot (Sorry...couldn't help putting that in!), to this vigorous flowering salvia. It's been very popular with our tiny native bees, visiting honeybees and even a single teddy bear bee. What surprised us though, as we've never observed it before, were the dozens and dozens of native blue-banded bees that have been foraging in its flowers. These native bees are solitary so seeing so many on the same plant at the same time sent me off to research why. It seems that, while they are solitary, they will build their little nests very close to one another, sometimes in the same spot, burrowing into clay beside one another. There's always something new to learn from observing the garden! 

I plan to take cuttings and plant more of this salvia around the garden. It grew vigorously during our hot, dry Summer so its hardy and it provided lots of flowers for lots of different bees to forage in. It's a great plant!

A honeybee clings to one of this salvia's many little flowers.

While most of the salvias did well in our garden, our veg patch produced next to nothing all Summer. That's because I didn't plant anything much in the heat and neglected it as I seemed to lose my enthusiasm when I found, all bar one, of the Lebanese Cucumbers I was looking forward to munching on had been munched on by something else first. A gardener's heartbreak!

Leftovers in our veg patch.

Yesterday, before the sun was too high in the sky, I cleared out what was left in the veg patch and was pleased to see that the rain has left the soil crumbly and moist. I will prepare our little patch, the same way I always do, and plant soon. Better late than never! I want to grow what is tried and true here. Some silverbeet, lettuce, Tuscan Kale, beetroot, perpetual spinach and leeks. I will start with seedlings and I will put in some sweet peas too. I always have to have flowers!

Yesterday too, I was reading (because when I'm not gardening, I am dreaming about gardening) about urban flower farming in this Planthunter article and then read Dahlias at Dusk, over on Kate's blog, Foxs Lane. Oh, my! I would love my own little urban flower farm and I've never grown Dahlias and now think I must one day.  I have also enjoyed reading what some of you are growing in your gardens and what your veg patch plans are. Inspiration everywhere! 

Better get on with the turning of garden dreams into reality! 
Meg







24 comments:

  1. Kate's flowers are amazing....how beautiful to walk out into your yard and see all those flowers.

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    1. I keep imagining picking flowers by the armful, Kathy. I think I'd be in heaven...and completely forget all the work that would need to happen for them to bloom:D
      MegXx

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  2. Hi Meg, What a wonderful post. Portaluca does so well in the intense heat. I planted some of those here when I first moved into my cottage. I love how colorful and sweet the little flowers are. Lantana does well, too. It was fun reading about your bees and gardening. I'm glad that things are cooling off for you.

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    1. I adore the little Portulaca flowers too, Stephenie. I was glad to find something that flowered happily in the heat and added that bit of colour and joy to what was a very long Summer. Meg:)

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  3. I am a terrible gardener. Really, REALLY terrible. I received two tomato plants in pots today, and a basil plant. Now I have to try to keep them alive.

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    1. Good luck, Kath! My tips are not to overwater your plants in pots and water at the base of the tomato plant rather than on the leaves. Happy gardening! Meg:)

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  4. You've got a wonderfully bee friendly garden Meg. Glad to hear your rain arrived. Still none in sight for us just yet. X

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    1. I hope some of that liquid gold falls down your way soon, Sally.
      MegXx

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  5. I've been out in the garden too Meg, marveling at how well the weeds have done in the dry and the heat, while things I planted have died! I've been readying my veggie gardens too, waiting for some cooler weather....still low to mid-30s here.....before I plant. And yes, sweet peas too, the trellis is up along the front fence and I have seds from last year. I love autumn.

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    1. Around 30C here today, Nanette. I am just working on nourishing the soil at the moment and then, when I'm ready to plant, I'll go into the little city farm nursery and choose some seedlings. I always plant sweet peas later, because I forget usually, but I think this actually works better than the traditional St. Patrick's Day planting. Meg:)

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  6. Lovely to read what your up to in the garden. I'm itching to plant soon, we need to bring in some soil once the yurt is set up and I'm hoping it wont be too late. It begins to get cold up in our hills, though the days are still warm. We will need to protect things from the frosts I think.

    xx

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    1. It must be so exciting setting up your yurt and dreaming of your gardens, Emma. So much to look forward to. Meg:)

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  7. Meg, we normally have dozens of dahlias but, due to the drought, they didn't do as well this year although some have enjoyed the recent rain and are flowering. I was the same regarding the vegetables. It was just too hot and dry to bother so I bought mine at the farmers market each Saturday.

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    1. If this Summer just gone is our "new normal" with weeks and weeks on end of temps above 30C and no rain, I won't plant for a Summer harvest again either, Chel. Just too hot and takes so much water for very minimal return here. I hardly picked anything from the garden all Summer. MegXx

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  8. Hi! Your chocolate oat cookies look good! Pretty flowers. I'm hoping we get a good soaking rain to bring up our plants. Your Autumn is more fruitful then ours normally is! Andrea

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    1. Our Autumn is pretty mild, Andrea. It is the most productive time for growing food in our garden. The chocolate and oat cookies are delicious and very chocolatey too. Meg:)

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  9. I'm sure your garden will thrive again with rain.
    I never knew there was purple salvia. :) I have red ones because the lady at the nearby gardening store told me it would attract hummingbirds. :)

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    1. Salvias come in a wide range of colours, Nil. I have two different purples, three pinks, white, red and a pinky-red and white one too. They are one of my favourite plants becasue they are typically very hardy in the heat. Meg:)

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  10. the weather has been hot all over, although we had the rain along with it. I do notice a change lately though, and hope i have timed it right to plant a few seeds. Oh I would love a flower farm!

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    1. I tend to wait until I have felt that "turn" of the season changing to help me know when to plant. I loved your seed tape idea! Meg:)

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  11. I'm back Meg, catching up with all my favourite blogs again. Glad to see you pottering in the garden, and discovering all those wonderful bees. I noticed the ones you have in your garden, also frequent here. The blue-banded bees, are so interesting, with such a high-pitch buzz - compared to the European bees.

    Maybe you mentioned it before, and I've forgotten, but I didn't realise you had native bees of your own. Do you ever get to harvest the honey? I know it's only once a year, because they are so small. I remember talking with a casual acquaintance, about their native honey bee hives, in their garden. They were just smitten with them, because they don't sting!

    Anyway, I finally wrote a reply, to your comment on my blog too. Sorry for leaving you hanging. I know it probably wasn't bothering you, but it was bothering me, lol. The day after the Easter holidays, it was going to be blog day, for me. I hope you enjoyed your holidays. The weather is so much nicer, for being outside with family. :)

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    1. April melted into May here, Chris, without me reading or typing a single word on this blog for weeks. My apologies for not seeing and posting this comment much earlier than now..

      Onto our little native bees ... We've had our native bees for quite a while now and their hive is healthy and heavy! I haven't harvested the honey though the hive is of a weight where we could split it. Just yesterday, I was listening to this ABC Conversations radio interview with native bee expert Toby Smith:

      https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/toby-smith/11075320

      I learnt that there's so much still that I don't know about our little native bees, that experts don't know even. I find them just fascinating!
      The honey from native bees has such a distinct and different taste to usual honey and I learnt, from listening to Toby yesterday, that this is due to the intermingling of flavour from the resin that these little bees build their "cups", which hold their honey, from. I also found out that only 11 species of those known so far actually make honey. I could go on...but hopefully you'll have time to listen to the interview with Toby.

      I've had a peek at your new website. It looks great. I love the kangaroo graphics, synonymous with your Gully Grove.

      Meg:)

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    2. Oh, I'll definitely take a look at that link. Thanks Meg. Always up for learning more about our native bees. Thanks for the feedback re: the website. It's been a challenge, and still ongoing, as I try and get my hosting company to fix something that's broken. Fortunately it only effects, one small area. With winter approaching, maybe the months will start slowing down? :)

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  12. Very pretty flowers. I've had a couple of them in the past. Bees are so nice to see! Andrea

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