Recently we went away on an interstate trip for the first time in more than two years, to attend a family wedding. It was a delightful holiday. But I had forgotten how exciting it is to get home from such a journey and to do the 'tour' of the garden to see how it had got on during our absence. This is something I have always done, sometimes conducting the tour by torchlight if we arrive home at night. I like to peer at every garden bed in detail as I walk slowly round my garden, deep in thought. It always amazes me how much can happen in a garden in the space of a week or so. In this case, our trip coincided with lots of rain in Sydney, which accelerated the changes.
I had departed from a late spring garden, but I returned to one that was well and truly in early summer mode. There was an abundance of lush, green growth - especially on the lawn! The dainty-flowered annuals, perennials and shrubs had gracefully bowed out and in their place were the dramatic rounded heads of Hydrangea macrophylla and Agapanthus. Probably due to all the rain and generally cooler weather, the Hydrangea seem the best they have been for years - with numerous heads so full and plump. The Agapanthus also seem particularly floriferous this year and it's satisfying to see the kewpie doll-shaped buds open into blue or white starbursts.
Warm-climate perennials such as Dahlia and Canna had begun to bloom in earnest. I love seeing the fresh, new foliage of Dahlia as they emerge and fill in, and then watching the buds unfurl. I found quite a few flowers as I did the tour. This year I have a couple of new ones, courtesy of a friend, which added to the thrill. Dahlia and Canna make such a statement in the garden all through summer and come in such an enormous range of hues to suit every colour scheme.
Bold, self-seeding summer annuals have also taken centre stage: most noticeably the tall Amaranthus species and Cleome hassleriana. I also have many self-seeded plants of Salvia splendens in colours of pink, red and purple, and though treated as annuals, they form sturdy soft-wooded shrubs that bloom all summer and into autumn. The gorgeous blue-flowered Browallia americana are also starting to flower. It self-seeds throughout my garden and will flower until winter.
Warm-climate foliage plants are also in full swing now. Before I left on the trip, they were just starting to get going again - they tend to sulk in the cooler months - but now they are robust and healthy, and providing rich shapes, colours and textures to the garden. Some of my favourites are coleus, Iresine, Strobilanthes dyerana, Plectranthus argentatus and Alternanthera. They provide interest for months on end and give many possibilities to create 'colour echoes' in the garden.
My little veggie garden had also romped away over the week, with the beans climbing to dizzying heights, and zucchinis and cucumbers covered in baby fruit and many flowers. The plants themselves seemed to have doubled in size! I find myself more and more intrigued with growing edibles as each year passes and sometimes dream of converting the whole garden to them!
I was also curious to see whether the various plants I had hastily planted at the last minute had got on. I had tried to reduce the number of potted plants in my propagating area prior to our departure and in the end was just shoving them in any old space I could find. Normally, I agonise for ages wondering where is the absolute best spot for them. The more spontaneous approach can result in some unexpected successes, though it always makes me vow not to strike so many cuttings in the first place to have to find homes for before going away on a trip!
There are usually some less pleasant discoveries in the garden tour - places where the brush turkeys have dug up the soil (and often plants); the growth of huge weeds, due to all the rain; and a proliferation of hideous black stink bugs on our lemon tree. Also, sometimes seeing the garden with new eyes after being away makes you realise some plants are definitely in the wrong place and need moving - if not now, then next autumn or winter - or else they are not really thriving at all and maybe should be removed altogether. It's worth doing the tour with a notepad in hand to record your thoughts.
Reconnecting with our gardens after being away is one of the joys of gardening, and makes us realise how much our gardens mean to us!
November pruning and snipping
26 Nov 23
We can do a lot of trimming this month!
The reappearance of Lizzie
19 Nov 23
Busy Lizzies seem to be back!
12 Nov 23
There are some interesting and unusual bulbs that flower this month.
Thank you, Brazil!
05 Nov 23
Many of the plants that thrive in Sydney come from Brazil.
29 Oct 23
Pelargonium types provide a bright splash of colour almost all year round in our Sydney gardens.