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.

Friday, 27 November 2015

the fig and the phlomis

It's summer. Already there have been terrible bushfires and some very hot days. I continue my practice of watching, mulching but not watering. If plants die, there's no decision to be made. They just couldn't cut it. Wrong plants for this particular ecosystem, for this particular climate.

Unimpressive Correa lawrenceana 

The problem is with plants that don't die but don't thrive either. I have to decide how long to wait before I ditch - or rather compost - them. Sometimes it's easy to get rid of them because I'm not particularly attached, but other times it's a wrench because I had great expectations for them.

For example, the fig tree. It's special, an old heritage variety called St. Dominique Violette. This fig has barely grown since I planted it about three years ago. I know it's not in a particularly sunny spot but I didn't think it would be so fussy. I think it's an extra dry spot because it's near tall plane trees with hard-to-imagine deep root systems that suck the soil dry. During a recent hot spell this puny fig tree even dropped its leaves. Wimp! Now the leaves are growing back but it's still not getting any bigger.

Pathetic Fig St Dominique Violette

Near the fig I planted Dodonea viscosa, a Hop Bush from New Zealand with burgundy leaves. Unlike the fig, thankfully they seem to be doing okay in this difficult spot and are growing larger by the day.

Dodonea viscosa - New Zealand Hop Bush

It's a very difficult spot. There's a mature wattle growing there. Wattles are not particularly long lived. When this one dies I'll leave it to provide habitat for wildlife. When its roots die maybe the soil will improve ...  yes, I know, such sentiments are wildly, naively optimistic...

Another disappointment is the Phlomis italica in the front garden. I fell madly in love with this plant and bought a couple, also about 3 years ago. I thought they would be tough. Admittedly they did not have an ideal start. They got moved around quite a few times before they were given a chance to establish themselves. Maybe they lost their trust and are paying me back. They are now barely larger than when they arrived and they're supposed to grow to a metre. They've never flowered. I'm getting impatient. I know us gardeners are supposed to be patient - so much for stereotypes!

Phlomis italica, a sad specimen

I'm linking this to Beth's Lessons Learned meme in her blog Plant Postings. At the end of each season gardeners all over the world share what they learned. So what did I learn during the last 3 months? I think I learned more about the challenges of garden time and transience. I'm not gardening for now. I'm not into instant gardens. I love it looking 'potential' and watching the vision evolve into the picture I envisaged, or into a different and unexpected picture. But when everything's low and there's not enough height and variety, it's easy to forget that it's all transient and ever changing and it's easy to get discouraged.

So the lesson is: don't forget that nothing lasts. When the garden's looking gorgeous, the gorgeousness soon fades and when it's looking crappy it's only a matter of time before it becomes gorgeous again. Except when it doesn't - as in the case of  the fig and the phlomis. 

Popular Posts