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I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP…

16 Comments

…  from my friends. And from my garden.

When I started gardening here (ten years ago.Ten years? Waappen?) I made some pretty silly mistakes. Mainly because it was my first experience of tropical, as opposed to sub-tropical, planting. And also because I thought, smarty-pants that I am, that 50+ years of gardening in other places made me something of an expert. Wrong!

Anyway, one of the plants I bought, trusting my own judgement and believing the label that it would perform brilliantly was a Viburnum odoratissimum

Bloody thing has been growing here for, what, 8,9 years and never shown any inclination to flower. I left it there since it filled an ugly gap. But I’ve been in a ruthless mood and have consigned armloads of stuff from the closet, the studio, the pantry to the various bins and yesterday I headed across the drive with my heavy-duty ratchet loppers and a determined mind-set.

Hacked a fair bit of branchy stuff off and was about to go in low when something caught my eye…

Buds! Flower buds on the recalcitrant Viburnum! And I’d done such a hatchet job the poor thing was ill-balanced! Never mind, a short session with secateurs and I’ve restored some shape and discovered more emergent buds. I also stank. People, if you want to plant this, take my advice and do NOT plant it where anyone will brush against the foliage. Horrible foetid pong.

Of course, spring in these latitudes is not what most of us think of. If I’m in the mood for daffs I wander around the blogs. Elephant’s Child is a good place to start.

But I do have a few stalwarts, beginning with the Hippeastrums. The dark reds are always first, with pink-and-white closing out the season. One had its stem snapped, but that was no problem – The Man had obligingly finished a bottle of port and the tall, black bottle was just the ticket!

And because I’m a sucker for blue-purple flowers I picked some Angelonia, some Duranta and Petrea. Angelonia very obligingly roots in the vase, but the others sulk and drop their petals after a few hours. Never mind. They are pretty when fresh.

And right now, pretties are scarce around here. I have picture frames all over the place as I sort work for a small exhibition. Yes, I will tell you more about that next time. Right now, I am threatened with mutiny by two cats if I don’t throw them bone…A bone each, that is.

Trachelospermum jasminoides(web picture) is in bud and another of the jasmine tribe ( whose name I forget, but may be J.nitidum) is halfway up the tamarind…

and probably needs to be pulled into line. One day. And the one by the front stairs  …

…is slugging it out with a rubbish common fern. Both ideal in this position as they are about the only things that can stand up to rain storms and look or smell good.

And a final word on flowers…the banner is a picture of wallflowers. Can you smell them? I can! Memory is a powerful thing.

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Author: dinahmow

A New Zealander, currently living in tropical Queensland,Australia (with 2 cats and one Main Man).Old enough to remember George VI, white tennis balls and life-before-television.You want more? Read the blog!

16 thoughts on “I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP…

  1. I LOVE wallflowers but haven’t seen them for years. Still remember the perfume. I want to grow Petrea. Do you think it will grow down here? Now I’m off to water the garden, put down some mulch and get ready to go puppy sitting for the weekend – at the beach.

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    • Well, if hard frosts are not a problem I should think Petrea will grow.There are a lot of entries in Wiki, but some info is really wacky!Find a reliable local gardener and ask. Ignore anyone who calls it a cactus! 🙂

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  2. Whenever I read tropical I think large BUGS, of the generic variety but mainly spiders (I know they’re not tech-nilly bugs) but they fall far too often into the creepy crawly genus of unwanted (by me)! So, so many dangerous poisonous things with an over or under abundance of legs that are out to getcha – you’re a braver man than me Livingston.

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    • Brave? Hmmm…I just had to learn to live with some things. Live and let live, when possible. This does not necessarily apply to midges, sandflies and mozzies.
      The wallflowers,by the way, are John’s.You should tell him thank you for me!You might get a kiss! 😉

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  3. Canberra is cool (some would say chilly) but it does do bulbs well. I don’t do ordered garden beds well, but the bulbs are happy in my version of a jungle.
    However your cllimate grows things which I cannot. Compromise, compromise.
    I am looking forward to hearing about your exhibition.

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    • Indeed. Some people here are sucked in by the pretty pictures and buy things like hyacinths and tulips, but they’re disappointed. I did, in Brisbane, grown some Appeldoorn tulips once, in a fit of nostalgia. I kept them in the fridge for weeks before planting. Yes, they flowered – on one-inch stems!

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  4. I’m still getting used to tropical gardening ….and have to remember that if things take theygrow at a rate of knots, so I’m busy digging out invaders and sending Danilo up to the cafetal to plant them on the roadside…I’ll worry about their takeover bid for the coffee plants later.
    Yes, memory allows me to smell the wallflowers…I had them in the walls of the house in France.

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    • I love things that strike or self-seed easily, but admit to allowing a lot of plants far too much independance – like undisciplined children, the little beggars now ignore parental admonishment!

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  5. And as you begin, my garden ends. I’ll pull up the sad daylilies which are not getting any sun since the redbud has grown so big. I’m eyeing clethra, a dwarf oak leaf hydrangea and perhaps Japanese beautyberry or a smaller viburnum. They are predicting a much colder than normal winter for us due to the melting of those icebergs near Greenland? Iceland? Somewhere up in the northern part of the Atlantic. So must get those in before the ground freezes.

    The joys of gardening in a temperate clime. . .

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  6. Wonderful Dinah…I make nothing BUT mistakes in my garden…I feel a little helpless actually. Every year I hope I’ll learn something, but I think I’m a much slower learner than you. Thanks for your nice comment on my blog too.

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  7. “Horrible foetid pong” may become my insult of choice. It just rolls off the tongue! Congratulatios on learning the new gardening skills…. i think if i lived in the tropics, i’d just paint colorful murals on a concrete lawn.

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    • Ooh! Sounds like a rich, rounded insult.And plenty of political opportunity coming your(our) way to try it out. As to the painted concrete – down near Surfers Paradise there’s a house with a rocks stuck along the front and painted like cacti!

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  8. I do enjoy your tales of taming your tropical jungle… and the things that spout special stinks, presumably out of revenge for malevolent pruning.

    And, yes, Elephant’s Child is a good place to start…

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