Thursday, 9 January 2014

Spring in mid-summer (and goodbye - at last - to Skippy?)

Spring’s enduring rains combined with the new garden fencing (goodbye Skippy – so far) have lent a spring quality to the garden. Each day a new type of flower blooms, often bringing with it appreciative honeyeaters – although that doesn’t explain the grooming of the prolific, and – surely not still reproducing? – superb blue wrens. But it feels cool, green and moist here in the foothills so maybe they are following instinct as I did when I sowed pea seeds in spring – foolishly, I afterwards thought – only to be rewarded now with slim sweet pods. Instinct not intellect was spot on.
Honeyeaters love the Salvias of course but a new treat for them here is the large patch of moonlight Phygelius, handily by a sculpture from which to launch their nectar quests. This is in my sun and sky bed, filling with salvias azure and cobalt; Coreopsis bright-primrose and guinea gold; Anthemis lemon (yolk-centred) and white (gold-centred `Sauce Hollandaise’); deep amber Trollius chinensis, blue Siberian Iris and palest yellow Achillea or Yarrow. Gold Bidens weaves up through midnight blue buds of Salvia `Anthony Parker’ with sunny Gaillardia `Mesa’ (above) and soft blue Lobelia triconocaulis (below) at its feet.

In the sun and sky bed I try to keep the blues true; no purple to muddy the picture. Johan von Goethe wrote in Theory of Colours (1810) `As yellow is always accompanied with light, so it may be said that blue still brings a principle of darkness with it. This colour has a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye. As a hue it is powerful, but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose.’
More on blue flowers soon.

The newly replaced garden fence, less porous to the hungry herbivores, those wandering wallabies, is just a week old. Already effective elsewhere (excitedly I watch delicious pink roses weave through raspberry salvias, white campion, valerian, burgundy-budded Campanula and purple wallflowers), the yellow roses here are less forgiving, or too brow beaten. Expecting flowers immediately is probably unrealistic if not outrageously optimistic but do I need to wait until next – true – spring for yellow roses? (I hasten to add that wallabies are very welcome throughout our bushland; it’s just in my small country garden that they are unwanted.)
These are David Austin roses (such as `Graham Thomas’, below) so I am feeling quite hopeful for some summer roses here now that the munching marsupials have moved on. Let me know what you think of my chances. 

Jill Weatherhead  is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead  Garden Design (

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