Spring forward.

group of camellias

Hi again from my upside-down garden. I’m actually in Sydney as I’m posting this, en route to Los Angeles. My happy place might be drinks on our deck, not 14 hours sitting bolt upright in a cramped tin can, but I’m excited to go home home for a few weeks.

Lots of plants in my garden were looking great this spring and I thought it was a shame if I didn’t document some of that beauty. Yeah, sorry, my blog has officially been consumed by the garden. I do enjoy it, though. Gardens are great if you’re visually-oriented, enjoy being outdoors without being “outdoorsy” and a little bit restless. For me it’s half design challenge, half therapy.

Most of my new plantings have been Aus/Tas natives, but I wanted to give them their own post, so, here’s everything else. There’s remnants of what was an English-style cottage garden, as well as other classics: camellias, fruit trees, euphorbia, Japanese maple, hebe. (There’s also the wisteria vine, which brightened up our colorbond wall nicely.)

hot pink camellia
hot pink camellia
bruised camellia

Early spring: Camellia.

Our garden came with two established Japanese camellias, which we’re fortunate to have inherited. They work well in a woodland garden, especially in shaded, sheltered areas. Even under a eucalyptus tree, the most Australian of Australian plants, they don’t look out of place. They flower in late winter and keep pumping out flowers for a good three months.

These perfectly-formed flowers, however, crumple immediately whenever it’s cold, wet, or windy out, which is constantly in early spring. You can see the purple bruising caused by strong gusts. The buds and flowers take months to form and then they turn into shriveled brown husks within hours. Sigh. I want to love you, but you make it so hard.

fruit tree blossoms

Early spring: Fruit trees (apricot, cherry, apple).

I’ve mentioned that Jamie is primarily interested in plants that we can eat. Not only do we have the veggie garden and the passionfruit vine, we now have three dwarf fruit trees in our yard: apricot, cherry and apple. (There’s also the olive tree and potted fig as well.)

We planted these trees nearly a year ago when a local nursery had a New Year’s sale. They’ll take some time to get going, since they’re currently little more than twigs jutting out of the ground with a few leaves here and there, but it was still heartening to spot a few flowers on them in August/September.

The fruit trees are kind of a pain: they get hit by pests and fungus that don’t touch my natives. It’ll be worth it when they start cropping, though. My very own black cherries and fresh apricots? Yes please. There are five tiny green cherries on the tree right now and if I don’t get to savour them, at least the birds will.

euphorbia

Mid-spring: Euphorbia.

These guys came with the garden and they’re great. They look like some kind of freaky prehistoric jungle plant, especially when they’re surrounded by ivy and overgrowth. Robust as anything, too. I’ve seen them in cottage gardens and modern drought-tolerant gardens and they’re striking in both.

Japanese maple leaf
Japanese maple sapling
Japanese maple flowers

Mid-spring: Japanese maple.

I don’t have many deciduous plants in the garden, much less ones that I planted myself, but this is one of them. Japanese maples are beautiful in all seasons. The delicate leaves, the graceful branches, the bright greens and reds through spring, summer and autumn. Even in winter, this tree has a bright green trunk. There’s a ton of cultivars and I don’t know how to describe mine, other than “green.” I think it’s the most basic of the cultivars.

This tree was an advanced sapling when I planted it last year, so it had a tough time establishing itself. Even with regular watering and a couple applications of Droughtshield (polymer spray for sun/wind protection) the tree was struggling. Happily, so far this year it’s been looking after itself all right. It’s filling in further with lots of lovely green leaves and little red samaras.

Hebe purple bloom
Hebe Waireka bloom

Mid-late spring: Hebe

These guys are perhaps a little cottagey for my taste, but I have a soft spot for them because they’re New Zealand natives with weird leaves. The symmetrical sets of four let you know that you’re looking at hebes. The big green shrub above is actually a transplant from the front yard to the back, which I still can’t believe was successful. And when I saw it burst into purple blooms last November I got it a cousin, this variegated ‘Waireka’ variety.

Mt Nelson lookout
syd 11/14

So that’s my garden, Spring 2014. Here’s another shot that I took last month, at the Mt Nelson signal station lookout. And here’s a shot of where I am this evening: the international terminal at Sydney airport. Farewell, spring.

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