The year of the vegetable garden?

August - the month when the garden starts giving out little hints - seeds are sown and plans for new exciting summer gardens are germinating too. Perhaps this will be the year of the vegetable garden!

 Sowing seeds and dreaming about summer colour...
Spring in the Glass-House

Friday 1st August

I've had a day off work today and have spent it mooching around the house (then dozing off in front of a Harry Potter video). Outside it's been drizzly, misty and generally grey - nothing has been lost, as I've had no energy to do anything out in the garden anyway. I have had fun writing lists from the seed catalogue which arrived in the post a few days ago. The plan is to do this several times over the next few days and then compare the lists. A form of rationalising then takes place and a trimmed down cheque can be written out. I love looking at all the lettuces and the tomatoes (my annual dreams of growing heirloom varieties have resurfaced). This year I have a lot of burnt orange flowers on the list - could this be a sign?

Tricolor Flax :
I love the yellow spring flowers - particularly daffodils.

I have also taken a brisk walk in the gathering gloom and drizzle, and picked a small posy of the first spring flowers. Now their beautiful perfume is filling the downstairs of the house. This makes me smile and think of a life after teaching. Hmm... I know I could be very, very happy...

Saturday 2nd August

Today has been great - mild, slightly sunny, very gently productive. I've pricked out my lettuce seeds - I have been sensible and have just four pottles of each variety (to allow for possible death by fungus, or other nasties). Lots of my seeds are showing, and I have sown new batches. I have also posted my seed order from the catalogue (oops - $128 worth).

 In the Wattle Woods.
Winter Gardener

A Proper Vegetable Garden!

And that doesn't totally include the vegetable ones - yes, once again I have grandiose plans for a PROPER vege garden, with beans that get proper stakes and tomatoes that get proper watering and feeding. Spring onions that grow, and parsnips for later, and I've even ordered some parsley seeds (for some reason there has never been any parsley here).

After my Glass-House Work...

I decided to clear out more of the Japanese Iris from the Apple Tree Border. Poor things - I have suddenly decided that I don't like them. I also weeded the Elm Tree Border opposite, pruned the hydrangeas, and chopped down the Pseudopanax which was crowding out the cool Miscanthus Zebrinus. As a result, the rose Moonlight which climbs through one of the apple trees will get more light. The Pseudopanax will bush out again from its base - I last gave it the chop about three years ago I think.

I'm excited by the thinning out I've done in the gardens. I'm looking forward to seeing more spring bulbs, and being able to see the flowering spring shrubs like the rhododendrons from both sides of a border. But I am zealously exterminating only Pittosporums and swathes of Japanese Iris - have I turned into an unbalanced gardener on a horticultural cleansing mission? I used to favour those well meaning bright green Irises which would transplant for me whatever the time of year, and grow for me whatever the neglect. And there was a time when the self-sown Pittosporums were nurtured gratefully. I even designed and dug gardens around them. How times have changed!

There are strange splashes of flower colour around the garden at this strange time of year - the white hellebores in the Wattle Tree Garden, the old ballet tutu pink Camellia, the acidic yellow of the Wattles in bloom. The flaxes, though, for me are the stars, with their subtly shaded strappy leaves. They have to be the ultimate foliage plant in existence.

 A beautiful striped flax leaf with early morning dew.
Red Flax

I wonder what I should do first tomorrow. There are still bits of tree to burn, and I still have that half-hearted plan to dig up all the dahlias. There are fences to be repainted, too, but it probably won't be warm enough. My friend has donated a Magnolia tree to the new plantings in the Hazelnut orchard, and it might be nice to go get it tomorrow - give it time to settle before it flowers here. My one dollar Magnolia Stellata (which was planted in an axe-made hole in the woody roots of a gum tree) has lots and lots of buds on it and is taller than I am.

Sunday 3rd August

I am about to go outside - it's only 8.30am, no frost, sun's up, pale blue sky. Today I will organise the trimming/pruning of the rest of the roses, possibly with Stephen's help. I bought some copper cleanup spray yesterday - every winter I've meant to use it on the roses, to stop the fungal spores from over-wintering - and every winter I've completely forgotten. This, as my last winter before retiring to become a responsible full-time gardener (hee hee), is a trial run.

I also may pull out more Japanese Iris. For some inexplicable reason they are offending me in the flower borders - perhaps I planted just a few too many patches, keen and eager in my younger budding-gardener days? Have I finally learnt some sense of discretion in my gardening style? I may also dig out the Bishop Llandaff dahlia tubers, to prove that I can think ahead and be a responsible planner. So the garden awaits... the weather looks calm and mild, the bellbirds are singing, the pond bachelor duck (sadly only one) is pottering on the Pond Paddock grass...

 Already flowering.
Blue Muscari

Later, apres gardening...

Moosey the legendary gardener is ready to speak. I've had another great day in the garden, this time clearing and weeding down the driveway. I've pruned a lot more roses and cut out all the prunus suckers from the driveway border. Two spindly Icebergs are replanted in a better position, and a new rose has been planted to adorn the fence-line recently vacated by that naughty Clematis Montana. All the rubbish is burnt. A large grass has been removed, and two rather nice hebes have been uncovered and trimmed.

We went to check out the Magnolia which is coming to live here - it's evergreen, and looks like a Grandiflora - still quite small, even a little stunted in growth. It can move in next weekend. My friend has also told me to take all her polianthes, which I have gladly accepted for a bit of tub colour. I also have to confess that I have ordered another $39 worth of flower seeds from a mail order online catalogue. Oh dear! Am I really going back to the full-scale production of trays and trays of summer annuals? Looks like it!


Hee Hee! My internet seeds have arrived and I am most excited (I have read and re-read all the packets). I am also hugely looking forward to digging out my friend's polyanthus plants. Sometimes I think I have no life!

Friday Night...

Even more excitement - my other seeds have arrived! I have over 30 packets of colourful summer promises to start off in the glass-house tomorrow. I have put them all into appropriate piles, and I am determined to be better organised in my sowing and nurturing habits. I might even keep a log of dates etc. and make sure I know exactly where they are going to be planted. I am definitely going to seriously label everything. I am really looking forward to working hard in the garden all weekend.

 The end of the journey for my friend's Magnolia, soon to be planted in Middle border.
The New Magnolia Tree

Saturday 9th August

I am up far too early - oops. We are off to get the Magnolia tree, an unwanted Iceberg rose and a whole lot of purple white and yellow Polyanthes. I will return with seed-raising mix (I will need a truck-load) and then the great seeding will begin!

Much later...

I am apres gardening in soft green (even my socks - it is important to have high standards) after a day of solid work. I've potted up all the new Polianthes, cleared leaves from the driveway and rose prunings from under the archways (they are all burnt). The new Magnolia has been planted in Middle Border near my one dollar Magnolia Stellata (which has huge numbers of buds). I've pricked out seedlings and sown about ten pottles of my new seeds, including a lettuce named  Drunken Woman Fringed Head . I have labeled absolutely everything. The glass-house is cleared and better organised, and I have even resurrected a fine mist sprayer for watering the seeds sensibly.