Friday, 23 January 2015

Summertime Blues

We’ve been enormously lucky with a bit of rain once or twice a week most weeks, it seems, until now, but the lawn is seriously browning off (a badge of honour) and the spring blooms are starting to fade away. Who can blame them? The soil is starting to get very dry indeed.
Penstemons are slowing down, along with some roses (although some roses are gearing up for the next show), while pink salvias are wispy-topped. They need a trim...but I love to watch the visiting honey-eaters so much. What to do?
Well, looking out a different window may do it. The pink-mauve (and a bit of) purple beds around my circular lawn are just outside the kitchen and we love to watch the honey-eaters and blue wrens whenever we wait for the kettle to boil. But we could look out the opposite way – to the south – where there is my sun and sky (blue and yellow) bed. Here the lemon Phygelius has just begun a new flush of flowering and honey-eaters sit on a sculpture – a rusty treble clef – then fly up to hover and sup the nectar.

Blue salvias, too, are flowering here and there. Pale Salvia `African Sky’ (above) is a nice little one that sits like a petticoat at the feet of the yellow roses while the row of Salvia `Anthony Parker’ is too tall and needs removing – or is it?; the roses, some of them, are starting to fling themselves above this limit. Elsewhere, tall Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica, Syn. S. ambigens, left) formed a wonderful patch with those deep blue flowers for many years until it overran the bed. It was a great cover for a wild blue-tongue lizard we called Russell (he rustled) for 2 years but the patch was too near the house and gave J claustrophobia. Salvia semiatrata (top) is an absolute beauty – deep blue and near-black – that doesn’t wander, is a good height, and might look great just here instead.
I love intimate gardens; I long for (shady) courtyards; J loves `wide open spaces’ as the Dixie Chicks sang. You can be married for 20 years before realising this. I also like symmetry...

Meanwhile almost the only rose that flowered through the dark years – when wallabies ate all my garden plants – is heavily infected with black spot and looking very sick (one plant is a scarecrow – not a good look at any time). A shame; the flowers of Rosa `Glamis Castle’ (left) look gorgeous, smell wonderful, and there’s that problem, too, that a rose planted where another rose has been, fails to thrive. So I ask my good friend Kay, who really introduced me to David Austin roses, and we discuss removing the rose, taking out a good amount of soil and adding lots of compost.
A nice replacement would be Rosa `Blanche Double de Coubert’ (left) which I love for its memories; it’s in the Garden of the 5 Senses in France, a wonderful jardin on the shore of Lake Geneva. This rugosa rose is hardy and perfumed with a pretty shape.

And sometimes one just has to be sensible.

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria ( 

No comments:

Post a Comment