Friday, 7 October 2016

Springtime, Football, Planting Tomatoes and Rainbow Rights

Melbourne is my city yet I'm not remotely football-mad - but heck, it was good to see the underdogs, the Bulldogs, the team from the west suburbs - win against Sydney. (After 62 years!) I hate myself for it, but it seems I'm hopelessly parochial after all. Even the garden was barracking for my home team: amongst the white tulips and blue Anemone coronaria a red tulip popped up, unbidden, to bestow the right colours on the day (then the rogue was pulled out pretty darn quickly).
They made the sun shine (for a day)! Spring came roaring in the day after the AFL Grand Final: bright sunshine, warm gusty winds, temperatures above twenty degrees at last. And then again on Thursday. And maybe, who knows, this weekend too. Perfect for tomato planting.
We threw off the second doona and I'm out to check out the garden. The early bulbs are over but a few late daffodils are still softly lemon and white; tulips pink and darkest plum; hellebores gently green.

It's time to plant tomatoes, classically, in the Emerald city - Melbourne - between Grand Final Day and Melbourne Cup Day.

Call me crazy, but my new, fourth veg bed - dug over after moving the pretty little hens onto the next-door patch of Warrigal greens and spinach - is a chance for planting an edible patch in another colour scheme. (My first was pink, purple and green; the next orange and red with black kale; the most recent, and already quite colourful, is lemon, yellow, gold against (again) darkest kale. All these were winter (edible) flowers and vegetables. It's so much fun.)
This is my first summer bed since starting to experiment and play with colour in the culinary beds. I felt like having a rainbow; partly to fit in all my tomatoes, yellow, orange, red, purple-black, and purple beans; and partly because I want to toss rainbows everywhere, in a joyous show of solidarity with the LGBTI community as we - maybe - inch towards a plebiscite on marriage equality, and if so, unleash hate speech like never before. I'll be wearing rainbows, and planting them, and thinking them. I'll make rainbow flower chains. Rainbow cakes. (Maybe wearing rainbow hair. Hmmm.)

My rainbow veg bed is like refracted light, I like to think, and I am looking for dwarf white English lavender to have at the `start', on either side of the path. Next are some lemon-coloured French marigolds I've planted, while I've scattered seed of more. Behind the path edging of low edible flowers (marigolds, pansies, calendulas, nasturtiums) are taller plants, and vegetables, beginning with tomatoes `Wapsipinicon' (`Yellow Peach'), then orange `Sunrise Bumblebee', red `Periforme Albuzzo' and `Sweetbite' (J's favourite) culminating, at the end, with `Black Cherry' and `Black Russian' (my favourite). Yellow zucchini , red capsicum, purple eggplants - they'll fit into the rainbow. A rainbow for rainbow rights.

So I seem to have started with masculine football and ended somewhere different, and political (not for the first time, see posts 8/7/13; 27/9/15).

Just as the current fashion for edible garden is actually underpinned by a concern for carbon miles, so does much of my garden have underlying ideas. Only not, often, in the veg patch. Nor, too often, political. As garden critic and feminist Germaine Greer says, `Gardening can be – should be – conceptual, which is simply a way of saying that gardens should have ideas in them and the ideas should be perceptible.' I love gardens with themes and ideas, making the garden experience richer, like other art forms. Read more at

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 (

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