I was envying all the scented Spring flowers that are flowering now in the Northern hemisphere, with the Calianthus finished the Autumn flowers are lovely but not so strongly scented. And then after 210 mm (8 inches) of rain in the last 2 weeks, up popped the newly planted ‘Grand Monarch’ narcissus and one or two others of the ‘Paper White’ type narcissi. These were only planted less than a month ago. Weird having Spring bulbs while the Dahlia and Salvia and Chrysanthemums are still going strong.
Well, I ran out of light tonight, which I thought might happen so I took a few photos in the bright morning sun before leaving the coast. After years of carrying flowers back in jars and buckets and milk bottles, I finally realised the chilly bin (esky) is an obvious solution to keep them cool and prevent spills in the car. So I emptied all the feijoas and peppers into a box and packed in the flowers.
It has been a beautiful Autumn weekend. We slept well in the cool night, enjoyed the first Sugar Baby watermelon with grapes and zucchini fritters for lunch, and felt very lucky to be here. Monarch butterflies are floating around and the bees are enjoying the late summer flowers. The vegetable garden is doing as well as can be expected, so I concentrated on planting the first of my bulb orders in this perfect sunny weather.
Continue reading “Bulbs and bionics”
Akita is definitely badly behaved, even more so than last year. In the torrential rain this weekend I did find that the flopping upside down flowers provide an exotic rain shelter for bumble bees. By contrast, even after 4 inches of rain last week the Chat Noir Dahlias looked pretty good – just a few spots on some of the petals.
I was surprised the other morning as I walked around the garden listening and looking to see what the bees were enjoying most this week. Hundreds of bees were leaving and returning to the hive, ignoring the blazing mass of goldenrod, dahlias, coreopsis, and heleniums I have planted, not to mention the masses of wild carrot and thistles which have edged in to take advantage of the new compost.
The blue mist and the sedums down the driveway were happily filled with bumble bees, but not many honeys. When I arrived at the Louisa plum trees the reason was clear, fruit was the breakfast choice. On the tree and on the ground, the overripe and bird-pecked plums were full of bees. Not a wasp in sight, only bees.
I haven’t seen this before, but several things are different this year. We have had unusual cold weather – it’s now been now confirmed that it has been 1 degree colder than the norm this summer. We also have seen none of the Vespula wasps which often infest the area at this time of year. And it’s the first year that the Louisas have had a good crop of fruit.
Later in the day, as C was cooking second breakfast, the bees were having lunch in the asters.
I’ve got myself in a state where I don’t like my photos any more, so I’m using C’s photos until that changes.
The long hot days of summer have not really materialised this year, and a flock of baby crickets in the bed last night signal the end wIll be starting soon. The weather has been patchy and cool for what should have been the warmest months. We have had mists and rains, while the East coast has been verging on drought. Never-the-less it was a treat to have enough water to water plants that needed it, and there is always something that likes the weather.
Many of our fruit trees are just starting to really produce, including the grape vine, and the cool weather doesn’t seem to have worried them. The plums have been fantastic this year, and I made a beautiful jelly yesterday from the Louisa plums which had fallen off the tree or cracked in the rain. The Satsuma plums have produced heavily and don’t seem to crack. They are delicious dried so we have had the driers running flat out. I’ve made verjuice with the grapes, and it’s lovely.
The misty weather caught us out in a couple of shortcuts we thought we could get away with in our frantic haste this spring. One was to to plant an early Agria potato crop using potatoes left from last year, the other was to re-use last year’s tomato frames without moving them. All spring and early summer we had lots of yummy chips, but a couple weeks ago the potatoes all got blight and had to be dug up, including the Red Fantasy (strange name but a beautiful potato) which could have produced more.
Everything is late, with our first pick of enough tomatoes for sauce only 2 weeks ago, and chillies and peppers just starting to flower. The tomatoes are showing signs of blight, but if we can only have a stretch of warm dryish weather we can still get a crop I think. The parsnips are only small still, however they can last well into winter.
Kumara and Zucchini are doing well, and the watermelons in the greenhouse are getting good sized melons, but our most successful crop this year has been micro/mini greens. We started growing these in the greenhouse in raised beds last Autumn , and it worked so well that we built some more outside. In the photo you can see a newly planted bed and an older one.
We have had fabulous salads all summer with baby amaranth, radish, beetroot, chicory, lettuce, basil, corn salad, coriander, mustard, sorrel, purple cabbage, and pea ‘feathers’. It would be nice to cut them every day, but a big container full lasts all week if kept in the fridge. It does use a lot of seed, so I have been rescuing some of the mini greens when they are finished harvesting and growing them on for seed. This looks a bit messy in the garden, and I have to fight the birds for the brassica seeds, but I have been successful so far with mustard, cabbage, radish, coriander, ruby chard, and beetroot.
The full moon rose as orange and round as one of these calendulas last night, although I was thinking of sunshine as I picked them and the California Poppies at the end of the day. California Poppies, Calendula, Cynoglossum, and Dill sow themselves around the garden if they can find a nice place. I sometimes take them for granted, but I’m very grateful for them.
The Early Cheer and Tazetta type Narcissi are starting to flower and the Hellebores are out as well. It’s amazing that they look so fresh and unblemished when the howling gales and hail have torn half the leaves off the lime trees. The Michelia ‘Bubbles’ is covered with sweet scented flowers which are being torn up as they open so I picked a few buds in the hope they might open indoors. (not yet)