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News from the Moble Garden – Spring

November 8, 2019
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I am closely watching my poppies still, guarding them against marauding ducks and dogs, the dreaded garden double. They finished flowering some weeks ago, floating pink ball gowns swaying in the breeze. Now I am waiting expectantly for the seed pods to dry out so I can carefully collect and store the seed for next year. A Moble squirrel. If you live somewhere where the climate is generally kinder, you might just leave them in-situ and let them spread themselves around, to pop up and surprise you next year. As the only thing that generally pops up and surprises me next year is my annual crop of thistles, I will take no chances with my Jo Brown poppies.

 As I mentioned last week, the dried pods are perfect for flower arrangements, once shaken out. I love seed heads and pods in my flowers; I use interesting sticks as well. I am a big fan of my Mother’s School of Anti-flora Flower Arranging: sticks and pods for winter, green leaves for summer. One day I may even graduate.

A brown paper bag tied over the pods is clever insurance against an unexpected blow-out, though will hardly survive the sprinkler in this weather. I am going to tie some paper bags over the scraps on the nectarine tree, we were too late this year with the netting alas, the Bower birds feasted on the fruit while quite green. We are now eating half nectarines instead, trying to salvage something from the great expectations. Between the Bowers and the Corellas, gardening can be a tough gig. Throw in a couple of hundred water hens and you might as well take up knitting.

To balance out the bird challenges, our roses are superb: clusters, sprays, stems, you name it, they are flowering on it. Prosperity (Angela’s Rose by any other name around here) is sublime and there are archways dripping with its scented cream florets. Generous and undemanding, with hardly even a thorn to catch you. Bloomfield Abundance is living up to its name as well, pale pink perfection in sprays of twenty to thirty buds. Perfect buds and perfect manners.

 Lamarque is another favourite rose; I no longer have it in the garden, a victim of 2014. However, its cream lemon-scented flowers are so perfect and so beautiful, I always wish for it at this time of year. It handled the heat well but not a complete lack of water alas. La Reine Victoria is missed as well; perfectly formed pink roses with a fragrance to fill your dreams. Goodness, I see I shall have to start a list for 2020. I hope you will as well.

I was distracted by a whiff of perfume yesterday and promptly went outside to investigate. Draped just above the kitchen window, the Stephanotis was flowering, climbing out from under the roof of the wood stove recess. Stephanotis floribunda grows here on the southern side of the house, in a large pot. Hailing from Madagascar (capital of which is Antananarivo, your geography fact for the day courtesy of Miss Boodles), it is deceivingly tougher than it looks. Waxy white flowers bloom from now and intermittently throughout the summer, their scent is a delicious hint of the tropics in western Queensland. As it is meant for the tropics, it does need some protection from the direct sun and heat, hence its southerly aspect here. A light frame to climb up and it is a pretty easy guest all in all.

 My father-in-law always viewed my Stephanotis with great suspicion, he thought it rather too like the dreaded rubber vine for comfort, that curse of North Queensland. Rubber vine had been planted here by his mother and at one stage, had escaped from the old garden and established itself in the creek channels. Vigilant poisoning has eradicated it; I see that both rubber vine and Stephanotis come from Madagascar, though with a different family name. Perhaps they were neighbours?

Later today I shall take to this garden with my weed sprayer and poison my edges. The last two weeks have been so perfect for garden growing; just like the Melbourne Cup, the garden is galloping, though the track is somewhat less groomed. I will poison the lawn edges and in and around some trees and beds so I can mulch up before the real heat is upon us. I would find it difficult to keep this garden in check without a poison regime. It may sound vaguely counter-intuitive I know however it is one of the few tasks I am diligent with. Constancy in some things, hit and miss with others.

There are three bales of mulch hay here and I plan to have it all out in the next couple of weeks, my summer insurance. Half of one will go into the back of the chook yard; the girls love scratching through it, and I love the turned over, manured mulch they happily provide me. This will sheet the vegetable beds over summer, to break down and prepare for next Autumn.

I do hope you have enjoyed some kinder weather and are preparing for your Summer Challenge,

The Moble Gardener.