We’re set fair to get two good days, weather-wise, for our two afternoon openings this weekend. I’m not a great fan of hot weather, which for me means anything over 25°C. We make life difficult for ourselves by growing so many plants in pots but in spite of regularly resolving to cut the numbers down we do the opposite and grow more each year.
The garden is very colourful at the moment but the colourful plants are not necessarily the most interesting ones, or the ones that give the gardener the most satisfaction. I’m spoiled for choice really.
Eucryphia milliganii. This is the less widely grown of the two Tasmanian species of Eucryphia. It is known as Dwarf Leatherwood, reflecting its relatively small stature compared to E. lucida. My plant was grown from a cutting I managed to salvage from a plant that had been planted at my ex nursery employers as a stock plant. The parent plant expired shortly thereafter. I must have had it in the garden for nearly ten years, planted originally in shade, I dug it up and moved it a couple of years back. Finally, it seems happy and has rewarded me with a few flowers. I’m hoping it will grow into a tall, narrow, evergreen shrub and flower freely. For some reason it is not even in my “Flowers & Plants of Tasmania” book.
If the Eucryphia was a bit subdued for your taste, be prepared to be disappointed further. Digitalis parviflora has produced a single flower spike from the three or four plants I have remaining from at least twice that number planted at least three years ago. Tiny brown flowers above a rosette of evergreen leaves. Just over a metre tall and looking like it will do a bit more yet.
Right, some colour at last; Alstroemeria ‘Little Laura’. Smaller flowers than most but intense yellow with red markings. Supposedly scented but I couldn’t detect anything. Medium height, nice.
Where we grew Malva sylvestris ‘Bibor Felho’ last year, a rash of self sowers appeared before the winter. By spring they’d all vanished and I’m not sure whether what subsequently grew were spring germinated seeds or small dormant over-wintered plants. I know that a month ago they were sporting masses of huge coarse leaves and just a few small flowers, then they got a bad dose of rust, so I cut off a lot of the worst affected leaves. They are now 2.5m tall and a mass of bloom. Being so tall they catch both morning and evening light to great effect.
Aloysia triphylla, the shrubby lemon verbena, is a plant we wouldn’t like to be without. The leaves have a powerful lemon scent but mainly if touched; the flowers have an altogether different scent and for all their diminutive size it is readily detected from feet away. We have a plant at each end of the bench at the top of the garden.
Wine weasels. There still being a few things around that are being troubled by slugs, I have kept up my evening slug patrols, necessitating venturing out with a torch sometime after 10pm. Most times I find a few vine weevil adults as well as the slugs. Thursday night I went looking for them a bit more carefully. The haul was 24 plus a few similar pale brown ones. Given that they are all female and all capable of laying around a thousand eggs and that I’ve probably averaged about five a night for the last two months and if I’d been looking harder it might well have been double or treble that, it puts the maths beyond my failing capabilities. A lot.
It really does seem pretty amazing that there is anything left alive out there sometimes. There are quite a few things fail to come up every year and we’re never sure what killed them. One of our Asters was being plagued by weevils last year and I checked it very regularly, removing two or three most evenings. It seems to have been effective, I’ve only found one or two on it this year and there is no obvious damage. So it seems to work if you can keep it up long enough but it’s quite a chore. Thursday’s haul were dropped into a jar, I wanted to count them and to take their mugshot before I despatched them. I really don’t like slugs, vine weevils I utterly loathe.
I don’t like to end on a low point so I’ll put a picture as a footer. You can amuse yourself identifying it and award yourself points. Those of us raised on ISIHAC will know what points mean. Those of you raised on SoS will know to go to Mr Prop for the global linkfest.