about this blog



This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Monday, 24 October 2011

open garden weekend


It's over. The money's banked, signs taken down, plant labels removed.  In all nearly $600 was raised for Bush Heritage Australia.

I enjoyed the weekend immensely and think a good time was had by almost all the 241 visitors. One notable exception was the man who diligently walked round and round the garden looking for the garden. When he failed to find it, he returned to the entrance table and bitterly complained that he was conned.

One of the visitors was blogger and cyberfriend Faisal, from the wonderful, aesthetically quirky blog Gardener in the Distance. Faisal stepped outside of cyberspace especially in order to visit my garden. It was great to meet him in person.

The garden performed brilliantly, responding to the special occasion and to perfect garden weather - a bit of heat followed by good rain.  Dietes grandiflora metaphorically gave me the thumbs down by coming into flower today - too late for the visitors - but there were plenty of other flowers and it wasn't missed.


The group of Leptopsermums in front of the deck have never looked better and I should have known they would be a star attraction. Since I wasn't sure exactly what kind of tea trees they were, there was much debate about them. Some people thought they weren't a tea at all, but were a thryptomene. I said I thought they were tea tree flowers and thryptomene flowers were different. And I thought thryptomenes didn't grow so large.  But several visitors were unconvinced.


Then I learned something very interesting. Everyone believes the person who sounds most authoritative. One visitor said it was a definitely a New Zealand Manuka and we all bowed to her authority. It was the next day that I trawled the net and discovered that Manuka is the genus name in New Zealand, as is Leptospermum here in Australia. So we still didn't know the species name.

I decided it must be L. laevigatum and labelled it as such. Now I was the one who assumed authority and no one challenged me. After the last person left, the phone rang and it was a Saturday visitor who had taken a sprig, showed it to her sister, an Australian native plant expert, who said it was without doubt L. brevipes.  I'm inclined to believe her, so unless proved otherwise, that is what I shall call these graceful shrubs.


Many people wanted to know the names of plants, and mostly I could help.  There is one unusual fern, however, that has been in the garden for at least 28 years, and the only other place I have seen it is in the Botanical Gardens. I don't know its name, and hadn't put in the work to identify it. It is a little clump quite tucked away, but at least 3 people noticed it and asked me what it was. If anyone knows that will be great, otherwise I will get onto it soon - when I recover my voice and my energy.


18 comments:

  1. Wow I envy how people there appreciate this type of visits and they really join! I can't imagine how you were able to advertise the open garden as it is not a very populated place. I am also amused at our characteristic habits, to believe someone authoritative. LOL. During my first and only visit to Australia, i came on a Friday and the first thing i did that following Saturday was join a bushwalk with some elderly people. It was arranged by my Australian boss so I can do something that weekend. We were provided with magnifying lenses too. After some distance somehow there was a problem as nobody can identify a small plant find. I was the only non-Australian in the group, and the youngest. When i said "it is an orchid, look at the labelum, the petals, etc, etc, everyone believed, as if i am the authority on orchids. Next time they all asked me when they cant ID them. Of course, i am not familiar with their plants which are very unique in the area. But i appreciate that bushwalk and the camaraderie we had.

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  2. Your garden certainly looks like it was on its best behaviour and looking fantastic. I had a little chuckle about the man who was disappointed there was no 'garden'. What no flower beds? Oh dear! I'm so glad it was such a success for you. I didn't doubt it would be for a second. Congratulations. Can't help with the fern ID, sorry! But with an authoritative voice, I'll say it's "definitely a fern!"

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  3. Wow - you've done it - congratulations !
    Had to laugh when I read about the man who couldn't find the garden-there's always one isn't there!!
    So glad that you enjoyed the weekend in spite of all the work that it involves and that the garden performed on cue -so what is the date for next year!!!

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  4. 241 visitors, well done, you always get one silly sod. Oh, just read Pauline already said that. Don't know your fern, looks interesting though.
    I see when you leave a comment the link to your blog doesn't open, I think you need to change it to slowgardener. alistair

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  5. It's an honour to enter someone else's garden when auch care's been put into it. You seemed quite relaxed, Catmint - a good sign!
    Do you think you'll do it again?
    Hope you get your voice back soon!

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  6. Congratulatioins! 241 is a LOT of visitors. It sounds like fun and so good to have raised money for a good cause.

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  7. Lovely, Sue,

    So wish I could have been one of your visitors.
    Thanks for the chuckle, too. Was he expecting English box parterres?
    Maybe one day I really will have a chance to be one of your garden guests;-)

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  8. The Dietes would like to apologize, we were offended by The Man Looking for THE Garden. We saved our flowers for the Gardener. If I could have been there, I would have loved to walk round and round your garden!

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  9. Was the disappointed visitor looking for a vegetable garden? It sounds wonderful and amazing, 241 visitors. Congratulations! It looks beautiful.

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  10. I'm so glad you had a good open garden experience. And one day I will get there, I'm determined. I'm really excited because there are lots of open gardens near here on the next 3 weekends. Yippee! There will be no gardening done but lots of enjoyment and hopefully inspiration and ideas.

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  11. HI Catmint sooooooo sorry I couldnt make it but it looks like you had a great turn out! and a beautiful weekend for it too even if Saturday was a bit on the cool side. Your pictures are gorgesous. Congratulations on your fund raising. I had a fundraiser of my own on Sunday too I think October must be the month for it!

    cheers for now~ Serena.

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  12. BTW i think that fern is a Foxtail Fern or Protasparagus aethiopicus Cultivar a cultivar of Asparagus fern. Hope thats of assistance. cheers

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  13. Congrats on being able to identify plants! Many plants look alike and they are so many botanical names. It's always hard for me to get the ID right. Btw, that's an unusual but gorgeous fern!

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  14. Hi Catmint.
    Congratulations on such a great fundraising effort, and for having the courage to open your garden.
    Loved the story of the Bloke who kept looking for "the Garden".
    There's "one" in every group.
    Made me laugh.
    Denis

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  15. Congratulation! I am helpless on identifying plants. But always eager to know. You have amazing collection of plants.

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  16. How wonderful to open your gardens for everyone to enjoy! It looks as though you had an awesome day and sorry you lost your voice but to be expected with so much chatting.

    Your Gardens are spectacular and how wonderful to collect such funds!

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  17. Dear Andrea, the nonprofit organization Open Gardens Australia organizes the advertising, insurance, etc., other wise it would be too difficult. How wonderful that you have experienced an Australian bushwalk.

    Dear Bernie, thanks for the comment.

    Dear Pauline, I don't know about doing it again. but you should never say never ...

    Hi Alastair, lovely to hear from you.

    Dear Faisal, it was an honour for me that you came, and thx for the euphorbia. Will I open another time? Possibly yes, possibly no - I can't decide between possibilities ... it was a new and interesting experience, possibly enough for once.

    Hi Tina, yes it was a good cause. I actually wanted to raise money for refugees but it is a bit controversial politically and Bush Heritage was more directly related to the garden theme.

    Hi Alice, I hope one day you'll come visit, and /or I hope one day to do some tours with you.

    Dear Diana, the apology is accepted. Of all my cyberfriends, you being SA means you are most qualified to speak on behalf the Dietes.

    Dear CJ, thanks for the visit and comment.

    Dear Lyn, enjoy the open gardens, it is a lovely activity having a break from our own and checking out other people's gardens.

    Hi Serena, sorry you couldn't make it. Sounds like you made very important use of Sunday. Thx for the fern id.

    Hi steph, yes plant id is confusing and challenging, but satisfying as well.

    Thanks Denis, it was very funny.

    Thanks for the comments, Diana and Skeeter.

    cheers, catmint

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I love to get feedback and comments, and getting to know other bloggers. I also appreciate corrections if you detect an error, because I'm not an expert, but a self taught enthusiastic amateur on a steep learning curve.

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