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News from the Moble Garden – Corellas and Creepers

November 29, 2019
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Corellas must surely be the human equivalent of adolescent graffiti artists on trains; or perhaps the ones that run along the street tipping all the rubbish bins over? I am not damning adolescents, rather it is the rakishness and joie de vis these birds have that reminds me of youthful exuberance bordering on devilment. They are endearing yet exasperating.

We’ve had Corellas here for months and it surprises me we have any trees left at all; such is their daily, random destruction. When I yell at them (difficult to be heard over their own constant arguments), they take no notice. Indeed, a warning shot does not ruffle a feather, so to speak. A few will sit in wait for me in the morning, where I feed the guineas, pigeons and Lord Dudley their breakfast. I sternly warn them that there is none for them and they simply tilt their heads sideways and peer at me with one taunting eye. If they had an eyebrow, it would most certainly be raised; just one. I am hardly through the gate before they have landed and marching over to the feed tin. On the ground they remind me of little soldiers, left right, left right. In the trees, they are careless children. A captivating combination to ponder.

A rather more exciting visitor to the Moble garden this week is the Purple Swamphen, my father in law always called it a Pukeko. I see my Simpson and Day would disagree, though neither name does her justice. We have not had one here for some years, probably a sign it is drying up out yonder, no surprises there. Such a dramatic bird with its waggling tail and blue back jacket, all piped in red. Perhaps decked out for a Military ball or similar?  It has joined forces with the four Wood ducks who seemed to have taken up permanent residence, much to the disgust of the Campbell Clan. There will be border skirmishes aplenty until it rains I fear.

I have been meaning to tell you about a splendid rambling creeper growing in the old garden here at Moble. The Quisqualis, Combretum indicum,has been flowering here this week and its scent is both heady, heavy and tropical. Too exotic for The Yates Garden Guide, this creeper hails from Asia, and is also known as the Rangoon Creeper. It grows against a trellis here but has the woody-stemmed habit of a bush honeysuckle, rather than the readily woven stems of a true climber; I daresay you could grow it as a shrub if you gave it some space.

 The flowers open as a cream cluster and deepen to red-pink as they go along; the scent will stop you dead in your tracks, as it did me this week. I have not seen this creeper growing anywhere else out here in the south-west, though imagine it would be popular north of here. Perhaps you will find it for sale in more coastal nurseries? Despite its tropical heritage, you could not hope to meet a tougher contender, this old girl has survived some of the worst out here and has always re-shot and thrived again. It grows in a northerly aspect though is protected from the wind and asks for no more than a drink of water, hold the ice. I don’t know how she would feel about mineral water but if fragrance is your thing in the garden, the Quisqualis will most certainly be worth a try.

I am currently trying to strike some cuttings of her though November is perhaps challenging enough without trying to grow roots as well. I do feel it will need some heat and humidity to strike though, so will see how we go. I have them in a foam esky under an old window, my own interpretation of the Tropics. I shall let you know how things proceed.

Another exciting garden task this week has been planting out a new and extending an old hedge of Clerodendrum heterophullum, the Pinkilla Hedge, as it is known out here. I know I have written about this hedge before; however, I cannot recommend it highly enough as a tough, all weather friend for our hot, dry conditions.

I find this plant hit and miss to propagate as well, however Bernadine at Jenny Wren Plants at Goondiwindi has had great success with it and now has good stocks available. If I was starting again with my garden, this would be my perimeter hedge and it copes with bore water (mineral water) as well. It does need a bit of room though, so don’t try and jam it in too much.

As always, there was a great deal of digging before the new plants could go in and I also had to grub out masses of old blue Plumbago where I was extending the hedge. Plumbago is loved only by me around here; rather like the Pepperina tree. My dear Mother would say Plumbago and Silky oak furniture, then roll her eyes. I cannot imagine how something so simple and charming could be so ostracised. Undemanding, self-propagating, tough and always flowering: honestly, come in and pop your bags down. The little leaf is a cool mid-green and it can be hedged, has no thorns…I even have it climbing over an old fence. Anyway, as I ended up with a good barrow load of well-rooted clumps, I promptly put down my spade and went in search of spare, bare spots. There is now a little hedge of them underneath a cloak of Antignon in the old garden, blue and pink to make you think. Waste not want not.

I hope you are enjoying some old with your new there as well this week,

The Moble Gardener