Not far into my gardening journey, Mother gave me a white Banksia Rose, Rosa banksiae, which we planted together on the corner of our little cottage. There was no alluring photographic label on plants in those days, perhaps just an engraved tag; luckily there were a few flowers on the young stems, and I could imagine the rest.
The Banksia rose grew at an encouraging rate for a new gardener, I would compare it to radishes in the vegetable garden. Most satisfying indeed. This was enough to inspire me to plant more, which in theory is an excellent was to go forth in a garden: if it grows well, duplicate. So, I duly planted about four along the little front verandah, and they too grew at an impressive rate.
Every spring, for weeks on end, we lived in a haze of white blossom and the house was filled with the scent of violets. The Banksia heralded in the spring and stayed on to taunt the early summer heat. They were tough, energetic and spectacular. Some years they were prize winners for the Flowering Creeper at the Wool and Flower Show. They also completely took over the house, Mr. Moble said their Latin name was Creepusall-aroundus. He would also tell people that one day we would go out for lunch and would not be able to find our way back in again.
In my enthusiasm I had planted too many, too close and whilst it was all wonderful while the picnic lasted, we knew we had to act when we required lights to stay on in the house all day. Interestingly, I have planted other Banksia roses since, and none have thrived like those first ones. I planted another only last week and hope it is ready to romp as I miss their sheer exuberance. My mother-in-law had a superb yellow one in her garden, so both are well suited to the Quilpie climate and obviously enjoy having their feet in clay.
Now we have Ornamental Grape, Vitis vinifera along the front verandah, they have their splash out in Autumn so the Chinese Star Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, the scent of my childhood, can take centre stage on our deck. I have planted just the one this time, with age comes a certain restraint, surely? In a few short years it is up and over the little pergola, the perfect spot to sit in the late afternoon quiet and allow yourself to be embalmed in scent. This creeper drips fragrance and my bees would agree, so we are looking forward to trying our jasmine infused honey. I am not actually certain the particular flower translates to the honey, however the overall floral tones must bring joy to the hive, so I imagine this must benefit your toast as well.
I have also planted this jasmine on our little gazebo by the creek; anywhere you sit in the evening deserves some fragrance, indeed anywhere you sit is a great spot for some. Even a pot of lavender or thyme nearby would do, who can resist crushing a few leaves and putting them in your pocket for the day? Great in the washing machine as well! If you don’t have an anti-rosemary activist in your household, I would suggest Rosemary as well, also great for bees. I am told it is a fly deterrent so maybe a pot near the door, though I feel the return of the dung beetle would be a better long- term solution.
As we are discussing creepers, and even though I am a great admirer of all things Wisteria, it has a disappointingly short run here in our often blustery and warm September weather. Might I suggest a Petrea, Petrea volubilis, as a tough alternative? It will flower on through the spring and intermittently through the summer as well. It is not deciduous and does come with a rather scrambly growth habit, so not as readily trained as the more domesticated Wisteria. However, its sand papery leaves are a cool and refreshing green in our heat and the flowers are the same iridescent blue of the jacaranda. My niece wore a crown of them around her head for her late-October wedding here, lovingly entwined by her Grandmother. They were almost as beautiful as she was, both ethereal and enduring. I would recommend you try one at your front gate, such a welcome should anyone use it.
I am attacking the vegetable garden, rather belatedly, pulling out the winter vegetables that have bolted and popping in the summer beans, zucchini and squash. I tend to leave the mesclun et al flowering as the bees love them and as they seed so well, the next crop is never far behind. The same for the rocket, it will keep on for a while yet. The old snake beans are a great stalwart for our summer heat and if you pick them young enough, are great chopped up in a stir-fry; you will need a high trellis for them, my sister-in-law grows them along her tennis court fence. Snake beans, chokos and very large squash remind me of my Grandmother’s cooking. She stirred without the fry.
The cosmos are splashing colour around and I have been carefully spreading the white flowering seeds amongst my Iceberg roses. My plans for this garden are for another day, so in the meantime, don’t forget your zinnias and cleome seeds for the summer as well.
Oh, and just before I go, I have two gardenias flowering; I could smell them from here and just walked out to see what it was. Kylie is readily distracted in class; they weren’t far off the mark there. I am sending you fragrance and flowers this week with an entrée of vegetables,
The Moble Gardener