The visitation: part 2

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.

Potted Xanthosoma Lime Zinger popped into a garden bed to fill a gap

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!

Cubby in our garden, with Salvia madrensis in bloom

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.

Newly planted garden bed!

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!

Salvia Embers Wish in autumn

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.

Plectranthus, Aster and windflowers in the autumn garden

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!