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.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

influence of cyberfriends and new mulching method


I used to like agapanthus. I preferred the softer smaller ones, and I liked the ones with darker blue flowers. I knew some of them were noxious weeds but I wasn’t sure which ones were which, so I continued to grow them. It was so easy to divide them to fill gaps, and they were totally reliable.

Then, suddenly, a couple of weeks back, I stopped liking them. They just looked wrong. Why the sudden shift? I wondered.  The answer is: the influence of two of my cyberfriends.  Phoebe, whose blog is called Ballynoe Cottage, gardens in my home town of Melbourne, and Diana, of Elephant's Eye fame, gardens in South Africa. 

In a recent post Phoebe indicated that she hated agapanthus. I was startled. I started to look at aggies differently. It’s the time of the year where they’re flowering and I see them everywhere.    
                                                                                                                                  
Round about the same time that Phoebe made her comment, Diana featured some of her native plants in her blog, including agapanthus. They looked great in her context. I’m not going to run away and join one of the Indigenous Plants Only cults.  It’s just that I’ve gone off Agapanthus. So they have to go – well, most of them anyway.

The other thing that irritated me, for a different reason, were the Canary Island wormwoods. Like aggies, they're great when you want something reliable to fill a space. But they grew too big. They hid their neighbours and spoiled the flow and serenity of the overall garden picture.

I prefer temporary gaps in the garden to plants that upset the overall harmony of the design.  Today was the first day in over a week that I had time to garden. The temperature soared to over 30°. You had to be obsessional or an idiot to make garden changes today. I was both.

The plants wilted at me accusingly. The lovely rich soil was suddenly exposed to hot sun, and I imagined lots of earthworms diving for cover. Hot and tired, I invented a new method of mulching.  It’s called Mulching for Lazy Gardeners, or MLG for short. You just chuck the cuttings and uprooted plants straight onto the bare earth. I can't say it looks lovely. But it looks better than plants that look out of place, and it looks heaps better than bare earth soaking up the heat. And it meant I could go inside and fall in a hot heap.

13 comments:

  1. Poor Agapanthus, love them, love them, love them! Wouldn't want to be without mine at all, they bring a real wow to my border by the drive in the summer. I know, in some parts of the worls, that they are considered weeds, but definitely not here, we can continue to enjoy them in our part of the world.

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  2. Catmint, I've hated Agapanthus as long as I've known it. That's an exaggeration. What I've hated is the laziness of gardeners who've used it EVERYWHERE simply because it fills in space. There are zillions of other plants.
    Two other points: Agapanthus CAN look really good. Australian light does not lend itself to a multitude of plants that are used extensively, and to me, Agapanthus can be one of them.

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  3. Oh catmint, I hope your dislike for this fantastic plant hasn't just come from peer pressure. Here in the UK you would be hard pushed to find an enemy of Agapanthus, I have certainly sung its praises in the past. Intrigued by your new found mulching method.

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  4. My Agapanthus, some grown from seed, have only agreed to flower nicely this year. Now I've learnt the hard way that they are from the other summer rainfall side of our country.

    I share your mulching method but - the secret is to clip it into hand sized pieces. That quickly settles and rots to an unnoticed mulch. Yes, absolutely anything is better than bare baked earth. Someone said it makes them think of third degree burns, or flayed alive. And our neighbours call it clean and tidy!

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  5. Hi Catmint, I do love the Agapanthus flowers and like you, once grew them in our garden. They made it through two summers in our driveway border before I removed them. The leaves just looked wrong in our mostly indigenous garden, our sometimes scorching heat burned the leaf tips and they couldn't get by on just rainfall as our other plants do. As with many other plants, I can admire them, without wanting them.

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  6. I am doing the same mulching method as you are at the moment. The bare earth is too hot and I have plants dying one by one by the sudden increase temperature that we had.

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  7. Dear Pauline, enjoy them, we share a lot, but also differ on some things.

    Dear Faisal, Agapanthus can look good. It's partly I think that I just want a change.

    Dear Alastair, you are welcome to use my mulching method, I decided not to copyright it.

    Dear Diana, I didn't realize that they are not from your part of SA. We should talk about plants being indigenous to a particular area, shouldn't we. Cutting the mulch in small bits is of course desirable, depending how hot and tired you are at the time!

    Hi Re, I can admire them but mostly they look uninspiring.

    Dear Diana, great minds think alike!

    cheers, catmint

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  8. Thank you for the lovely cards. Rayyan and Ilhan like the pictures. Ilhan even try drawing it.

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  9. Ah the fickleness of our realtionship with plants! I know what you mean Catmint, today I am flirting with Thuja plicata - last week I would have crossed the streeet to avoid it.

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  10. Hi Catmint, i laughed at your MLG, sounds cute but still unsightly, i guess! What you feel for agapanthus is just like my verdict for our yellow cosmos last year. Now I am looking for cosmos again but cannot find any.

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  11. Hi Catmint! Aggies are tough plants but like gardener in the distance said - there are plenty of other plants!
    I hope the new space provides an exciting opportunity for you!

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  12. Hello! I'm anti-Agapanthus too but only because they're such a weed...

    What are you going to do with your new space? Hooray for more space! So many opportunities (eyes gleaming)

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  13. dear diana, I'm so pleased the boys liked the picture.

    dear catherine, it's very interesting how we change, I never tolerated orange and yellow, now I love those colours. I'm not keen on that cedar, but that's only today ...

    Dear andrea, I wish you a happy new year, with yellow cosmos found!

    dear Phoebe, every space provides an exciting opportunity ... keep you posted.

    Dear Mrs B, so far it's still a space ... yes eyes are gleaming, I could salivate too but that wouldn't be so socially acceptable ...

    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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