Isn't spring just the most glorious season? The first flush of daffodils and cherry blossom heralds a cavalcade of colour from now until late autumn. Right now all the roses have just burst into bloom and are simply stunning. I have my favourites all around the neighbourhood - the lilac blooms climbing up the verandah posts of a charming Victorian, as well as a huge apricot rose "tree", an enormous ball of blooms. Next I have my eye on all the stone fruit trees that artfully overhang fences. No need to take snacks on a walk when we can gorge ourself on fallen nectarines and peaches, ever so slightly fermented in the summer heat. Gardening and nature is my twin passion along with food and cooking so I hope you will let me indulge myself and share a little of my second love with you.
This is my favourite rose in my garden - it's an old English style. I love its soft ruffles and the scent is superb, intensely "rose" with hints of lemon. Did you know that the rosehip with which you make rosehip tea is actually the fruit of the rose? Like all fruits, they emerge from the base of the flower after it has died, although many modern cultivars of roses are too tightly petalled to allow the bees access to the stamen at their centre to allow pollination.
Irises!! I am very attached to my irises. Their colour is so striking and the ruffles so beautiful. These grow from a bulb. I had to stop getting the paper delivered as the delivery driver kept throwing them into the irises and breaking their stems, and I felt like too much of an old biddy to keep ringing up and complaining about "my irises, my irises!"
Rainbow silverbeet. This is such a wonderful vegetable, both practical and ornamental. It comes in stems that are cream, yellow, red and lolly pink. The red ones in particular have such a wonderful contrast between the huge, shiny, fleshy leaves and the red veins underneath. It grows like a weed and you can continually remove the outer leaves as it grows and it will just keep producing more. Did you know that silverbeet and beetroot are very closely related - silverbeet has been bred for its leaves while beetroot for its bulbous root? Next time you buy a beetroot with its leaves still attached, make sure you keep them - you can use them just like spinach.
I am trying my hand this year at garlic as the discrepancy between real, fresh, heritage garlic and cheap Chinese garlic is worlds apart. I have planted these lettuces in between the garlic - when the lettuces are fully grown, the garlic will be ready to be harvested. Always choose loose-leafed varieties of lettuce and you will have lettuce for a whole season as you can just keep removing the outside leaves and more will grow. They are also surprisingly pretty with their leaves in all different shades of green and red, and look gorgeous in a feature pot.
Spuds! Also the first year for these - two heritage varieties, one blue and one cream. They are just going nuts. You simply plant a seed potato that has "chitted" or sprouted from its eyes (if there are multiple sprouts on the same tater, you can cut it in half and plant both pieces to make two separate plants). I am looking forward to the first baby new potatoes of the season... yum!
I have found that I have good luck with some things while other gardeners have better luck with others. My tomatoes are always successful. Here we have some heritage tommies bought from the local primary school's stall at the recent neighbourhood Diwali Festival. This is a heritage variety called Rouge de Marmande which is good for colder areas. I have not had much luck with root crops such as carrots, nor parsley which apparently you have to be a witch to grow well. Explains why my sister's previous parsley patches have been INSANE...
Ah, that great Australian backyard fixture, the lemon tree! We are never without lemons for hummus, salad dressing, marinades or hot lemon and honey drinks for sore throats. Did you know you can use lemon leaves to impart a citrus flavour, just as you would use lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves? You can't eat them but you can just tear them and throw them in the oil before making a curry a la whole bruised sticks of lemongrass.
By far my favourite place to shop for all things garden is Poyntons in Essendon. It perches high above the Maribyrnong River and is such a delightful place full of every plant you could ever desire. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and everything I have bought from here has been top quality and worth the higher price tag than, say, Bunnings.
There's a cafe here which has a (somewhat pricey) menu as well as a case of enormous cakes. The coffee wasn't very good at all, having that disembodied froth that half-dissipates upon stirring. But then again, you know me and my coffee.
There is an awesome kids' playground here that is open to everyone yet totally secure. Love it!! And love husbands that watch the kids while I can browse. Poyntons is on a hillside and has multiple levels and nooks and crannies of everything from roses, shade-loving plants, groundcovers, natives, succulents, indoor plants, vegies and herbs...
This variety of mint smelled just like after-dinner mints, rich and chocolatey. Gorgeous! It would be lovely infused in home-made icecream or pannacotta. Be careful when planting mint - it's better in a pot or it will take over your whole garden bed. Or plant the pot in the ground which will prevent it from spreading yet give it the "look" of being in the garden bed.
Thanks for coming on this walk through the garden with me. Enjoy spring and all the beautiful rain we are having!
Cnr Vida St and the Boulevard, Essendon (map)
Phone: 9337 8111
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am - 5.30 pm, Sunday 9 am - 5.30 pm (cafe shuts 30 minutes earlier)