The back garden at Bennett St is now well and truly established and looking good. When talking about it I always say my and then correct myself! I would spend on average an hour or two a day pottering here and there. I like to go out every morning to check what’s happening and planning improvements in my mind’s eye. Joe does the heavy lifting and carrying. We both enjoy looking at it; especially from our back table as we have our breakfast. [Click on the images to get a full picture.]
This is the view along the right hand side where our Chinese pistachio tree reigns supreme. Instead of pistachio nuts it has a profusion of red berries in autumn that birds love to eat. I once saw a whole flock of what I think were Black Currawongs feasting.
This is a view of the back garden with its two camellias; now that the middle one has been cut down, the lemon tree dominates. There are a growing number of hydrangeas taking root here, including an oak leaf variety which produced the cream flower you can see on the right. Here it is up close; past its prime but you can see how big it was.
There are two mirrors in the garden; this one, on the left down the back comes from a bathroom that was being remodelled around the corner. The leaves are from a lemon tree that didn’t do any good in a pot and is now where a ballerina apple used to be. There are five lemon trees in this very small garden! I’m not very good at selfies; but you get the picture.
My neighbour, Dookie, put this lovely mirror out to be re-housed. Its really too good for outdoors, but expands my little garden a bit. The plant in the pot is a finger lime which I’m hoping will produce fruit.
I am particularly happy that my standard peony rose bloomed this year – for the first time in ages. Thanks to the removal of a quince tree and severe pruning of the camellia beside it. This is the last thing my mother ever gave me. It’s beautiful. As yet it’s only produced a single bloom per season; but what a pretty flower it is.
The next best thing that happened in the garden in 2019 was this camellia blooming. I have grown it from seed and had virtually given up on it ever having a flower. It’s been about twelve years in the making. It started in a small pot, then bigger pot, then into the garden. For a while I thought buds were forming but they always turned into leaves. This was taken on the day I discovered it. The flower is not fully formed. Here it is the next day, now fully in bloom. It is pure white which makes it quite distinct from its parent plant’s pale pink blooms. Here it is on the plant; the single bloom looks quite lonely! The question now is will I get more blooms in 2020? I hope so.
One of the most dramatic plants in the garden is this standard azalea which I’ve had now for years, re-potting it once and now trimming the roots every year or two. It continues to produce a mass of blooms that look lovely against the garage’s lavender coloured wall.
Here it is, early on in its flowering; I now have two of these in hanging baskets, having successfully struck the plant that I bought at the Melbourne International Flower show a couple of years ago. They’ve both flowered for ages this year making two very pretty displays under the Japanese maples close to the house.
This red and white one is pretty; but it hasn’t been profuse yet. I’ve come late to fuschias; Joe’s Mum always loved them and had lots. All of mine are in pots, mostly hanging baskets. They come in such a variety of shapes and colours.
Roses have been good this year. I moved three of them from the front to the back where they are much happier – more sun and water. I’ve had this deep cerise coloured one for ages but it hasn’t bloomed often. It has a beautiful perfume. As does this pale pink one. I choose them for their perfume as much as appearance.
I love striking things and did so with some mop headed hydrangeas I was given. Seen here in a vase with my own variety. I used to not like this variety of hydrangea which I put down to them being in the front garden at Mary’s Mount. I’ve preferred varieties like this one; purchased years ago from the Garden of St Erth. It’s always had abundant flowers that look great in the garden.
Here’s Otto plonking himself down directly in the sunshine, on a very hot day! Note the hose snaking down to the back – my strategy for keeping things alive in the heat. My other strategy is to bring my hanging pots into the bathroom on forty plus degree days.
I’ve enjoyed nurturing a couple of begonias – successfully getting them to re-emerge after their winter hibernation. They remind me of Ballarat and the Begonia Festival. I bought this orange one to put on the garden table but its now in a hanging basket.
I’ve enjoyed my many hanging baskets – bought post retirement at Ballarat Trash ‘N Treasure one day. You need to be attentive to keep them thriving; something I can do now I’m not working. You can move your colour around. This one was originally under the camellia down the back where it helped hide the compost bins, but I’ve moved it up the front. I’ve also got a yellow one that I’m waiting to see emerge.
I give some cut flowers to Joe’s Mum every week. At the same time I arrange some for home. I’ve had plenty of small vases of roses because I pick them so they don’t get ruined by the sun. I particularly love them when they are fully opened up. You can’t buy them like this. I can’t’ remember where the red one comes from; it’s not mine. The others are.
The yellow wallflowers under the camellia have been profuse since we cut down the quince and halved the camellia. They smell wonderful inside and last a long time. Here they are with the leaves from a variety of pieris japonica which are colourful and provide a nice backdrop.
Vases of gardenias provide the most exquisite perfume to sleep by. Unfortunately they don’t last long when cut. I should leave them on the plants but I can’t resist bringing them in for their scent. I’ve been very successful in striking the plants and now have about six; one in a pot, the rest spread around the garden. I think they look like tissues.
This green vase – a present from Joe a long time ago – is one of my favourites. It looks wonderful with the right cut flowers. You need long stems – kangaroo paws are always good. The painting on the wall is by my brother-in-law Ross; it’s a view of Mary’s Mount. You can just see the roof if you look closely.
The cause of this dearth of camellia flowers – also quinces and apples – was possum(s). My preventive action in April this year didn’t work (as I was warned). I only got a single bloom from this bush. In May I met the culprit – or one of them – up close. Kind of cute. I managed to shoo her back up into the tree.
Which is where we had a possum box – we were giving very mixed messages to the possums! Joe and I were startled when we came upon this horrible sight when I came home from hospital in July. We have no idea how this came about.
Possum was as stiff as a board and had to be prodded down with a broomstick. I was pleased, later in the year, when neighbours John & Sharyn, with help from Patrick & Eleanor, took the box down. It seemed to be uninhabited.
So no more possums – I hope. But another disaster is unfolding. In December we noticed the leaves on the pistachio were dry and droopy just when they should have been bursting out after winter. We tried intensive watering to no avail and the tree expert when he came told us to stop. He thinks it’s suffering from a fungus infection! We can only wait and see whether it will survive. When the bark starts falling off we will know it hasn’t.
Finally, here’s a video, taken from the back door, on a a rainy day (finally) of our lovely Garden