about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Friday, 24 May 2013

flora and fauna in my un-trendy autumn garden


I'm definitely out of sync with trendy, fashionable gardeners. What's cool is to grow your own fruit and vegetables. It seems people just don't see the point of an ornamental garden. I constantly get unsolicited, well - meaning suggestions and advice on growing potatoes or lemons or lettuce. I acknowledge the suggestions politely, then keep on doing what I do - growing pittosporum, lavender, lomandra and whatever else adds to the garden picture and can do without supplementary watering.





Even cooler than growing your own fruit and vegetables in your own garden, is to do it with other people in a community garden. Again, I fail the fashion test. For me gardening means solitude. I love gardening alone. Don't get me wrong. I'm not always unsociable - but I am when I'm gardening.

Autumn is in free fall, with huge piles of leaves in the street. A Council truck picks them from time to time, but I get in first. I happily gather them up and bring them home to provide a cosy winter blanket for the whole garden.



 



There are lots of flowers in the autumn garden.

Borage
Valerian
Verbena rigida 'Polaris'
Acacia iteaphylla

Eucalyptus leucoxylon 

Correa pulchella 'Little Cate'
Heliotrope Cherry Pie
Dietes grandiflora
Loquat

And then there are the invertebrates - uninvited, mostly welcome contributors to the biodiversity of the little ecosystem that is my garden ...

The female Redback Spider is one of Australia's most dangerous venomous spiders, but it's not aggressive. There's one nesting in a bush in front of the deck. As long as I don't accidentally touch it, I feel safe.  Legendary Australian country music writer and singer Slim Dusty wrote a song called Redback on the Toilet Seat. In an outdoors lavatory ('dunny') you'd better watch out so you don't inadvertently sit on a redback!


The sticky fluffy substance on the bottom branches of the Crabapple looks like cotton wool. Inside and around the 'cotton wool' are tiny black insects. I think they may be woolly aphids, mealy bugs or another kind of scale insect. Aphids and scale insects are sap sucking insects that excrete a substance called honeydew. Honeydew attracts sooty mould, a fungus. I wonder whether this white substance is also a fungus. I didn't notice any eggs in it.


Another fascinating backyard nature puzzle is just what kind of creature made this large, loose, untidy web?


This European wasp hooked its back legs onto a leaf and proceeded to preen and clean itself. Either I need a better macro lens or I need to learn how to use it better. But you get the idea I think ...

45 comments:

  1. I've so enjoyed your lovely Autumn garden. I really adore that little Correa. The Red-Back is not so adorable though. You do have some truly gorgeous little flowers scattered through your garden at the moment.

    I'm afraid I'm also one of the un-trendy, unfashionable gardening brigade. I'm in love with ornamental gardens. There's just something about lots of gorgeous flowers and wonderful foliage plants. I've never really been tempted to grow a whole lot of vegies, or even herbs. Occasionally I try to grow a bit of basil, and I do have a little mulberry tree. But that's it!

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    1. dear bernie, red-back not adorable, but very photogenic and dramatic. I've always wanted a mulberry tree, but haven't planted one. White mulberry was one of Edna Walling's favouirte trees.

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  2. Yea, another gardener who happily grows ornamentals in the face of all of this edible gardening craze. Love the song!

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    1. hi og, thanks for the comment - we ornamental gardeners need to stick together! So pleased you loved the song - it's very very Aussie.

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  3. I'm with you all the way, Catmint.
    I'm tired of being nudged to get into production gardening with a team.
    Like you, the experience of gardening is, to me, one of space, a private space, a private interaction between myself and the planet. I like the aloneness there. And I like that it's one of the only places I can be my unimpeded self.
    I like that there's no particular plan when I garden, that I can follow instinct.
    I don't like being told what to do, and in the garden, no-one tells me what to do.
    I like the discoveries a gardener makes, such as you've illustrated here, but which can often not be reported or shared.
    I don't want to be productive when I garden. I don't want results. What I want is to know I'm a keeper of sorts, someone who tends. That is invaluable.
    There is a massive gulf between those whose purpose is utilitarian, and those whose purpose is abstract, felt. Fortunately, though we may feel outnumbered at times, there will always be others among us whose intention is also romantic.

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    1. hi dear Faisal, you so understand what I feel, and have put it in eloquent elegant language. I do like sharing the garden via the blog, though, can't imagine what I'd do with all the garden thoughts and photos otherwise.

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  4. You have some very pretty blooms. I, too, love ornamental gardening the best. I do have a vegetable garden, but I only enjoy the eating part of it, not the growing part. Funny how vegetable gardening to me is a chore, but flower gardening is a joy. You would think they would be the same, but they're not. I enjoyed seeing all your critters, too.

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    1. thanks Holley. Interesting how you differentiate growing veg and flowers. i would love to grow veg, but can't get motivated even though i love picking and eating fresh from the garden.

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  5. The video was so fun! Ha!! Too cute!

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    1. so glad you enjoyed the video Tina.

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  6. HI, I agree with a lot of what you say, I think a garden is a personal thing. I feel it's my space, and although I share it on my blog, and with others who visit, I garden alone (I don't think the yard could fit another person out there with me anyway :) ). If I had the space though I would be the same. I think a garden is a subjective space, you plant and decorate the space according to how it makes you feel. That's my opinion anyway.

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    1. Hi Gra, I agree - our gardens are like our blogs, all very personal and all very different.

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  7. It's so funny. You have autumn and we here in Finland have spring. I also prefer ornamental plants. I grow vegetables, this year more than ever before, but I prefer flowers.

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    1. hi satu, it is funny how we have opposite seasons. I often think also how funny it is that out of all my cyberfriends, no one lives as far away as you do.

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  8. I used to feel I wasn't a proper gardener unless I grew some sort of fruit or veg, this trend has been going on for a while in Sydney, and I don't usually pay too much attention to them. So I don't grow any fruit or veg at all and never really have.

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    1. hi karen, thanks for the comment. I try to grow edible stuff if it's capable of looking after itself and not being demanding. So often parsley self seeds in the garden. And at the moment I have olives, so i guess i should pick them.

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  9. Dear Catmint,
    Ooops I am one of the fruit and vegetable growing crowd - at least I was when we had a garden and I will be when we have one again. My father and my grandfather loved to grow F&V and i inherited it from them I guess. But there is a difference I think in growing F&V because you like to; and growing them because it is the 'in' thing.
    I like seeing a row of cos lettuces, standing like little green soldiers at attention. I also love the smell of the tomato plants when you move in to pick some of their red juicy offerings. Watching peaches or apples swelling, growing, on the tree, is exciting for me...
    Fruit and Vegetables and flowers - all have their place in my dream garden.

    PS
    I love corea and 'little cate' looks rather beautiful.

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    1. dear kirk, I love the idea of a dream garden. Mine is wild and romantic, no rows of anything. It's interesting to think how we got our dream gardens. You inherited yours. My parents grew radishes and tomatoes, but I rebelled against them ... I think I was influenced by Arthur Rackham's tree drawings instead.

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    2. Arthur Rackham's tree drawings - there is nothing quite like them! In winter, the trees on this avenue where we live look very Rackham-ish...

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    3. where you are living now looks divine, very different from the Australian landscape I think.

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  10. I agree Catmint, first and foremost I'm a flower gardener, then fruit, they just do their own thing and I don't have to fuss over them but last of all, vegetables. We just grow a few of what we like, but I can't whip up enthusiasm for growing them, nice to eat them though!
    You have plenty of flowers still while you are winding down to your winter and your garden looks very snug under its duvet of leaves.

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    1. dear Pauline, What a lovely way of putting it - now when i look out at the garden I think of you and how snug it looks under its leafy duvet.

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  11. We have a few herbs I chose to plant. Lavender and basil, always in flower, and always humming with bees. A row of inherited fruit trees, shared with the birds. The starlings always claim the first figs. For the rest it leans away from commmonorgarden towards indigenous. We have planted commercial olives, and there are a few self-sown wild olives.

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    1. Hi Diana, Basil always dies in my garden. Lavender works, and I have had lavender ice cream and lavender tea, but I wasn't crazy about either of them. Olive trees are great, they just do their own thing, and I'm wondering when my tiny teeny fig tree will give me, or the birds, a fig.

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  12. That is a cute photo of the wasp. Veggies are cool here if they are planted in amongst the perennials. It is becoming more common to do so, keeping the ornamental look and improving the appearance of the vegetable plants.

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    1. dear donna, I'm so pleased you like the wasp photo. I would have preferred to had it bigger and clearer though. I've planted artichokes like that, among the perennials.

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  13. I agree with you about ornamental vs. food gardening. We have a perfectly good farmers' market for fresh produce, why should I devote scarce space and sun to food plants that do not excite me? I do grow a few tomatoes and herbs to make Judy happy (also to attract swallowtail butterflies). Great pictures! Love the close up of the borage and your venemous spider.

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    1. hi Jason, thanks for the comment - choosing what to grow based on what excites us, and /or what makes our partners happy makes perfect sense to me.

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  14. Thank you for allowing me into your 'real' garden.

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    1. it's a pleasure Bill, thanks for visiting.

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  15. I love the aloneness of my garden and its solitude so I am not wanting to garden with someone usually. I grow my own veggies and fruits due to wanting organic ones as they are not easy to find where I live...and my parents always had a huge veg garden. I grow my own veggies in beds amongst the back ornamental gardens as my soil is too heavy with clay to garden just on the soil even with amendment...following our own path as a gardener is the main reason I think we do garden...it is ours and we control what we want...good for you.

    And I love your garden in fall...mine feels a bit like that currently but not for long I hear.

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    1. thanks for the comment Donna. Gardens here don't change so dramatically with the seasons like yours do, so to an extent they probably resemble your spring garden all the year round.

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  16. Your photos are so pretty. It's fun to see autumn gardens when it's springtime here--such a joy to compare notes with gardeners in the southern hemisphere and 'round the world. I tend to be a solitary gardener, too. Although I recently started helping with a community garden that supplies fresh veggies to a charity--lots of people chip in to help plant, weed, and harvest. But I also love time to myself in the garden. This is a thought-provoking post.

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    1. thanks beth, I'm so pleased you like the photos and the post. It must be very rewarding to do that voluntary work.

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  17. I guess I wouldn't win any prizes as a trendsetter either. Lovely post and the .Heliotrope reminds me of a time when we used this as a dot plant in our Summer bedding display, sometimes it worked great other years it struggled when the temp was too low.

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    1. hi Alastair, the heliotropes really like the postion they're in. They've reliably flowered and thrived there for over 10 years.

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  18. I love looking at your autumn flowers! I do have a small vegetable plot, but I definitely prefer and spend most of my time on ornamentals. Trendsetter? I only recently discovered that certain plants go in and out of fashion, just like clothes. That makes no sense to me!

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    1. hi Deb, I guess the reason for that is money - commercial interests want us to change our plants and our clothes. Come to think of it, it would be great, wouldn't it, if we could propagate our clothes or if they self seeded?

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  19. Catmint, It's your garden, that's the beauty of the whole thing. You get to grow what you like. Enjoy.

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  20. thanks, Joy, your comment makes me think we are all very fortunate to have our own gardens to do our own thing in, and enjoy.

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  21. I've never been one to follow trends... I grow what I want to grow and how I want to grow it. For me, gardening is a very personal thing...what do I like, where do I like it? I love wildlife in my gardens so I often take into account what is best for them, what attracts them to my gardens. It's a very happy arrangement, do what I want to do... with suggestions and help from my honeyman of course.

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    1. I can relate to everything you wrote carolyn, except the last bit about your honeyman. My honeyman is encouraging and loves the garden, but his role is mainly to bring me cups of tea.

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  22. Who cares about current fashion or trends? I sure don't. Every garden should reflect the gardener and yours mirrors your love and respect for nature. If it were fussy and trendy, it wouldn't be yours. :o) LOVE the pix of the leaves carpeting the ground. It looks warm and cozy.

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    1. thanks Tammy. I love the look of the carpet of leaves too. Although I imagine underneath it's not warm, but cool and damp just as worms and fungi like it.

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  23. I do the veggie thing and the flower thing but I consider the veggie thing a lot more hard work because of the unrelenting WEEDS. This year we had such funky weather that, for all my work, the veggie garden didn't produce that much. Heartbreaking. My flowers, on the other hand, have been fabulous.

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