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!