GARDENS HAVE BAD HAIR DAYS, TOO

White bougainvillea flourishing on front fence

IF the health credo ” we are what we eat” applies to gardens, too, then mine will be a super power this spring.

I have spent the past week feeding it every kind of goodness I can scrape out of the compost, mushroom tea bin, leaf mulch heap and local manure-strewn paddocks. That’s apart from the bags of fertiliser products stamped with words like boost, reinforcer,  gro, release, dynamic, blood and bone, that have been emptied into its hungry beds.  With all the rich fodder it has ingested, I can almost hear it burping.

Parsley, mint and perennial coriander beefing up

August is the month before the big show happens here in the coastal sub-tropics, when  cocky premature bloomers are likely to get a whipping  and sound de-flowering if they rush to blossom before the fierce westerly winds blow in. It’s the month, rather,  to “get ready”,  for gardeners to pour in the boost juice and stand back for the performance dazzle,  because warm weather starts on the dot of September and with none of the subtlety of the temperate zones, our flora bursts into life.

So I have fed the citrus, papaw and banana trees, cut back  the leggy shrubs and shaggy grasses, trimmed the passionfruit vine, pruned the hibiscus, poinsettia, white May bush, ( confusing because it blooms in September here,  but in May in the northern hemisphere) plumbago  and grevilleas, divided the irises,  day lillies, agapanthus, bromeliads, cordylines and red hot pokers and have repotted the ferns  and hanging baskets,  adding peat coir and wetting agents.  The  beetroot, broccoli, silverbeet and zucchini plants have gone in, after the raised tank garden was fed three bags of mushroom compost,three new lettuces were sunk and the parsley, perennial coriander ( a different one to my nemesis mentioned in previous  blogs) also known as sawtooth coriander,  mint and oregano are firing up with a splash of fish emulsion. The lemongrass has been cut down to size and the stalk trimmings chopped and fed to the compost, along with a with a swatch of comfrey leaves, so that will stimulate and activate it nicely. 

Red hot pokers divided from mother plant, ready for transplant

 But while the preparation is done for a stunning spring here, in this “waiting mode” the garden’s appearance is like a bad hair day. You can see that the cut and colour are good, but with bare and shorn limbs, spindly new plantings and lumpy mulched bits, it’s  not sitting quite right, despite all the product and hot air coming its way.  In a month or two, all will be blended, with lush growth, dashing highlights and smoothed edges, returned to its crowning glory, but right now, it’s a bit flat and plain.

The exception are the splendid bougainvillea on the distant front fence line. Like kids who have left home, we don’t see each other often, and they set their own feeding and grooming agenda. And it’s heartening to see they flourish without me hovering, except for a very occasional haircut and a home-cooked meal.

I am on tenterhooks watching the spikey little green fruit on the mulberry tree change in color. When they turn pinkish red, the birds will probably be on them and steal the lot like they did last year.   I am also on the lookout for pests and critters like caterpillars, mites and all manner of wasps and grubs.  They must be close because you can hear in the dawn chorus some new and different bird calls piercing the early morning air. They have flown in  looking for new and juicy bugs emerging from winter slumber.

There’s a sense of pleasing expectation in the air and while this patch may not be looking its best right now, I do think this advice helps:

if you can’t see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Brooke said,

    Julie, I am very keen to hear more about the perennial coriander. Have you cooked with it? I love coriander, but the normal type seems to go to seed about two minutes after I plant it in my garden. Cheers! Brooke

    • 2

      I have cooked with the perennial coriander, Brooke. It is a stronger flavour than the other coriander, still nice, though, and preparing it is a bit fiddly, because you have to chop up the leaves beforehand as they are tougher. I even cut off the saw edge of the leaves with a pair of kitchen scissors. But it will go well in stews and stir frys and withstand a bit more cooking than the other delicate type of coriander. I too have repeated failures with the other coriander, but this year, one plant of the problem variety did survive and I have just today picked it and used most of it in a chilli prawn fettucine dish. Yum.

  2. 4

    fstopfun said,

    Hi cool blog : ) I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award For more details view this post http://fstopfun.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/versatile-blogger-award/ , and post the image award on your blog. Take care!


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