"The visitation: part 2"

Autumn is a good time to visit Sydney gardens!
Sunday, 29 March 2015     

Japanese windflower in bloom in autumn - Bowles Pink cultivar

Some readers may recall an occasion a few years ago when I seriously contemplated plying the entire membership of the local garden club with champagne so that they wouldn't care how horribly bare my garden was in spring on the day of their visit for their Spring Ramble. After that experience, I suggested to the club that maybe they could have an Autumn Ramble and come to my garden then, because that was when my garden was at its best. Because I mainly grow warm-climate plants, the most floriferous time in my garden is from November until June, rather than the more usual peak in September and October.

Well, a few years on, the club did decide to have a garden crawl in autumn, and this Sunday was the day that I and two others opened our gardens to the members. I did feel under more than a little pressure to deliver the goods, having been so vocal about the joys of autumn flowers, and the lead-up to the day has been a strict regime of garden sprucing. A deadline such as this does certainly focus the mind and provides a fabulous incentive to do all those garden chores that have been on the to-do list for longer than I care to mention. I weeded like one possessed. I trimmed the overgrown and the rampant. I forced myself to contemplate where borders were weak and needed improvement - such as where gaps existed. Some gaps were hastily replanted - others were filled by placing an existing pot plant from near the house into the spot, pot and all: and hoping no one would smell a rat!

I even found myself clearing what are usually the 'no man's land' of my garden - such as the patch of Clivia miniata near the back fence, normally a thicket of wandering jew and oxalis that I just never get around to weeding. I suddenly noticed that our whole house was festooned with cobwebs as if already in readiness for Halloween! I discovered that the cute cubby, put up for our children 20 years ago, is now actually an unsafe site, with bits falling off.

I also looked upon the ramble as a cut-off date to plant out a new garden bed created when an old dead oak tree was removed in January. However, all my weeding, deadheading and decobwebbing meant that the planting out of the bed was delayed - and delayed - until I found myself planting it out at 8 pm the night before the ramble!

Even though this is the peak time of year for my flowers, autumn is not without its hazards. A very heavy thunderstorm last week had me looking anxiously to see whether the windflowers had been smashed to smithereens by the rain or other plants flattened. A flock of rainbow lorikeets that showed a sudden keen interest in all my Salvia plants and seemed intent on breaking every last flowering stem before Sunday had me screaming at them to find another garden to plunder - and I usually love having birds around! I also worried about the prospect of rain on the day.

In the end, Sunday turned out to be one of those quintessential autumn days when the humidity has gone from the air, the sun was shining (at least some of the time) and the temperature was perfect - reminding me all over again as to why I think this is the very best time of the year. The fantastic thing about having visitors is that things DO get done before the big day. And it is in fact a great pleasure to share the garden with interested gardeners. And if just one person went away from my garden being inspired about autumn, it will all have been worthwhile!

 Reader Comments

1/13  Ian - 2506 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

Hi Deirdre, What a lovely story. Birds are going crazy over Salvia flowers at the moment and breaking branches as they fight amongst the flowers. Regards Ian Thanks, Ian. It is a bit annoying to see the branches snap off! But there are still lots of flowers and I do like having birds in the garden! Deirdre

2/13  Evelyn - 2117 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

I was disappointed to miss the Garden Ramble and to see your garden Deidre. I" m sure it was all lovely and I hope you can be persuaded to open it again another year, in spite of the anguish it may have caused you! Despite the hard work, it is nice to share the garden so I may do it again another time! Deirdre

3/13  Densey - 2446 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

Couldn"t agree mpre. I had my Mid NorthCoast garden open in April last year and it was at its best. Today you could only describe my garden as LUSH with salvia, pentas, lantana cultivars etc , all beautifully overgrown - have to use a brush-cutter to get along the paths. But the Mosquitos are fierce this year - I used not to have them -so think the next open garden might have to be a little later when so much of the flowering will be partly over. Always look forward to your blog! Densey Thanks, Densey. Do let us know when your garden will be open. I am sure it is looking gorgeous! Deirdre

4/13  Vu - 2151 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

Can anybody help me ? I have several magnolia trees and chiness lantern bushes at home. They are lusty with green leaves, and very healthy but have very little flowers. What can I do for them to have more flowers ? The magnolia trees also have a few large seed pods (I think), should I leave them until they drop or cut them off. Thanks, Vu You could remove the seed pods from the magnolia. The evergreen magnolia flowers in summer but the deciduous ones flower in spring. The Chinese lanterns are only just starting to flower again now. You could perhaps lightly fertilise them with a high-potassium feed, watered in well. Deirdre

5/13  Chris - 4034 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 30 March 2015

Hi Deirdre, We gardeners are all the same, love our gardening and panic when someone comes to inspect our gardens. From the pictures above, you can feel very proud of what you have achieved. Just one question - in the last photo, you have a purple flowering plant, is that an aster. It is lovely, thank you and enjoy Easter break. Thanks, Chris. Yes the purple flower is an aster - it is a very tall one, about 1.5 m or so - makes a lovely show in autumn. I do not know its name, unfortunately. Deirdre

6/13  Kerry - 2119 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

Hi Deirdre, I am one who came away inspired and I know there are others. It was a lovely day, all three gardens were inspirational but from yours particularly I came away dreaming about colour combinations as a key to planning. It is wonderful to see from these rambles just what will grow and how. Thank you. Kerry Thanks so much, Kerry. I am very glad you were able to come along. Deirdre

7/13  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

I"m sure all your hard work paid off Deirdre, and your garden would have looked spectacular. It is always a worry preparing your garden to a "standard" you have set for yourself, but visitors would have been delighted. Thanks, Margaret. It is a good incentive to do more than I would normally get round to doing! Deirdre

8/13  Robin - 2121 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 30 March 2015

From very recent experience may I suggest you repair and keep the cubby. Before you know it there will be grandchildren using it and exploring the delights of your beautiful garden. Thanks, Robin! I have realised the poor cubby needs major renovations! Deirdre

9/13  Maureen - 2118 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A lovely day spent at three totally different gardens all of which I thoroughly enjoyed as a new club member, with their concepts. Found out name of a few plants I had long forgotten. Very jealous of your Windflowers Deidre, said to be unkillable and can become somewhat of a pest!! Well a pest I would be happy to control but three times have failed with them - am inspired now to try again. Must get that lovely showy Aster too. Thanks to the owners for sharing their gardens. Cheers. Thanks, Maureen. Glad you have joined our club. The windflowers are growing on quite heavy soil - I think they do like some moisture at least in their early years. Some years they flower better than others. This year was one of their better years! Deirdre

10/13  Gillian - 2119 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 01 April 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed the ramble through your garden and was extremely envious of your lovely white Japanese windflowers, I would love to have a show like that in my garden, white is the ultimate colour in a garden especially grown en-masse as they were. Also loved the blue "Easter" daisies they looked gorgeous with the other colour combinations around them. I will have to plant more of those plants in my autumn garden. I have lots of beautiful sasanqua camellias flowering in my autumn garden. Thanks so much, Gillian. I think the windflowers and the tall aster would look gorgeous with your beautiful sasanquas. The sasanquas are such a highlight of autumn in Sydney and are so prolific right now. Deirdre

11/13  Marcelle - 2064 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 01 April 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed the photos of the gardens and appreciate the hard work that goes into making them look so beautiful. As I"m a new member I was so disappointed that I missed out on visiting the gardens, hopefully next year. I also have white windflowers and the blue aster daisy which spread so quickly from last year and gave me a great show. Thank you again Deirdre for a wonderful garden blog. Thanks for your kind words, Marcelle. Your autumn garden sounds delightful! Deirdre

12/13  Virginia - 2125 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 06 April 2015

Hi Diedre,I really enyoyed looking round your garden. It was inspirational.I found it a relaxing place to be and having opened my garden in the spring I appreciate all the hard work that you must have done to get it looking so weed free. I think my garden has more colour now than in spring. i have 2 beatiful sansaq1ua trees out, lots of begonias and plectranthas not to mention my striking blue ginger which look great next to white wind flowers and iricene. Thanks, Virginia. I so much enjoyed seeing your garden last spring. Having a group come to visit is certainly a good incentive to get the garden into shape! Your autumn garden sounds lovely. Deirdre

13/13  Susan - 2324 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 06 April 2015

Your garden is utterly delightful..I stumbled upon this site when researching the pink may bush I"ve just purchased on ebay as this particular genre of the may bush was unknown to me. I"ve been a besotted gardener for many years. Thanks, Susan. Hope you enjoy that pink may bush. Mine flowers for such a long time. I trim off the spent flowers every so often, and more appear! It is a good-sized bush too - not too big. Deirdre

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