In the deep mid-winter

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

Ah yes, good old mystic Billy has a point if you take his proverb literally, because I for one, love and enjoy winter gardening!  What with native flowering plants and protea’s in bloom, and skies often filled with rainbows and fluffy-fast moving clouds,  it’s a colourful and exciting time.

King Protea, lord of winter colour.
King Protea, lord of winter colour.

I’ve now sloooowly started working on the front garden, at a good old snails pace just because of time limitations really. Sometimes gardening can be disillusioning as you often see fast transformation on television and wish you could be an agent of that fast change on your own projects. However, nature has a much more chillaxed approached and I for one, am starting to take a leaf out of nature’s…er…tree. Ahem.

So, although I might have an overall design and dream, it has to be phased, as in, one or two plants at a time. I do a lot of imaginary gardening.

The front garden is mostly native, mostly inherited from the previous owners. We’ve been here two years and are just starting with removing some inappropriately planted/neglected things. It’s hard work getting them out of clay. So my focus is mainly soil improvement  as it’s heavy clay.  Soil improvement has been the area I’ve come to learn a lot about.  I started gardening properly after moving to the UK, and the soil was incredible. Anything grew in it’s deep always-damp extremely fertile soil. It was glorious. Coming home to Australia,  my biggest learning curve has been  – be patient enough to get the soil loved up first. When I dig in the back garden now, in the areas I worked on, I get a huge sense of achievement at finding lots of worms and rich lovely soil.  It’s such a cool sense of doing something worthy.  I need to do that on an even bigger scale with the front though.

I started things off  last year with some gypsum in Spring, and this year I’ve improved one bed by bringing in sand and compost. That’s really labour (needed help) and fairly cost intensive to tackle the whole garden with addition.  I saw a tip on Gardening Australia from another gardener in Adelaide who said lucerne is the key to improving clay. Having already seen that in action in my vege beds in the backyard, I know it does work. So, my plan is to use lucerne for an undermulch, and then use a leaf mulch on top and let nature hopefully slowly heal the clay soil without bringing anything in. Patience required, but I have a lot of that.

I managed to plant some native grass tubestocks into the front this week.  My ultimate goal  for the front garden is making this a butterfly friendly garden.  The only thing really missing  is the lower canopy; the grasses and sedges, so that’s what I’m working on (in terms of research, planning and planting) through to Spring. That’s the plan anyway….

Meanwhile, the veg patch is thriving with winter greens including tuscan kale (I just used the last batch of kale that I froze from the garden harvest in September 2012), heirloom beetroots, romanesco broccoli, pak choi, brussel sprouts and lettuce. We had a bizarre warm start to winter which means my pak choi immediately bolted and flowered, but I’ve left those as beneficial flowers for the bees, rather than ripping them out. Macadamia’s are growing well and the mandarin tree grew orange orbs of deliciousness. Thinking about a lemon tree, thinking about a chocolate pudding fruit (black sapote) and a blood orange as additions, but might have to save up and wait until next Autumn realistically. Patience.

Greens galore!
Greens galore!
Back garden bed, stunning candles of blue salvia in mid-winter
Back garden bed, stunning candles of blue salvia in mid-winter

Leafy stuff

Leafy stuff

Apart from that…the more secretive residents of the garden do tend to come out to play more…

photo 9 photo 8

photo 6

photo 7


One thought on “In the deep mid-winter”

  1. You’re right. Winter gardening has a lot going for it (at least in a temperate zone, where I am). I love the freedom of gardening when the mood takes you, rather than being forced to do it in the cool of summer mornings or late on summer evenings. I love your secretive residents, by the way!

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