SKIES OVER SOUTH AUSTRALIA

 

Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.                                                                                                                                                                                     For many years I have had a keen interest in observing the clouds, whatever the weather, especially when looking through the lens of a camera, and over that period have taken a series of photographs from the window  overlooking my back garden. When I moved to my current home 10 years ago there were 3 Alder trees in my small back yard and I enjoyed their fine foliage and the structure they brought to the garden even though they were not growing in a climate to which they were suited.  (Alder is the common name of a genus of flowering plants  belonging to the birch family).

Living in the driest State in Australia should determine the plant choice when establishing a garden.  The Alders had been here for many years but after a  year of serious drought (and possibly their age) they had to be removed.

I  planted three Manchurian Pears at my back fence and they now bring afternoon shade to the back windows, from which I take the photographs.

 Genesis 9:16 – Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

 

‘H’ IS FOR ……….

HELLEBORE  or Christmas rose

Botanical name: Helleborus niger

Native to the mountainous regions of Europe, Greece and Asia Minor, Helleborus niger is a member of the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup family. It has pure white blossoms which bloom at Christmas time in the northern hemisphere, hence the common name Christmas Rose. Niger, the species name, means black, and refers to its dark coloured roots.

Hellebores are ideal for planting in drifts under trees, in terraced gardens or in pots. They are interesting cut flowers if picked when mature (immature flowers will wilt in a vase) and excellent to float in bowls. They last for weeks, slowly fading and changing colour.  The flowers are attractive in winter when gardens often look bare.  They are long flowering, but are not always valued as the flowers hang down and cannot be appreciated when viewed from above. The simple, 5-petalled, bowl-shaped flowers occur in unusual shades of green, dusky pink, and maroon, as well as white. At the centre of the flower are prominent, green, nectar-containing sacs and a number of yellow stamens. The flowers are backed by long-lasting petal-like sepals which often continue to intensify in colour and persist well after the flower has died.

I have a special memory of an artistic spray consisting of a camellia and hellebores backed with fine fern, oft given to my mother by a good friend when she came to visit – a special gift from a dear friend – all chosen from her stunning garden.

This week my friend from Switzerland sent photographs taken at Easter as she walked along the shoreline of Lake Constance.  How did she know that this Post is about Hellebores? With her permission I include one of her photos.

HOYA   

Popularly known as wax flowers, the 200 species in this genus, a member of the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family, are mainly climbing evergreen plants which flower in the summer. They have dark green shiny foliage which forms an attractive backdrop for the exquisite waxy flowers. The blooms are usually white or pale shades of pink or red arranged in a star-upon-star formation of thick petals with a contrasting centre.  They have a sweet perfume and drip sticky nectar.  They resemble fine porcelain.

Hoyas can be propagated from cuttings.  Knowing this I planted tip cuttings into small pots and settled the pots into the ground under a large ficus where they are enjoying filtered light.  I have been rewarded with an expanse of twining lustrous leaves growing on my trellis.  During this summer I have been intrigued to watch flowers develop from a small stalk on the runners.    It is one flower best left to enjoy on the vine as next year’s flowering will come from the same place. By the way, the cuttings came from friends.

HIPPEASTRUM

Hippeastrums are bold and brassy and their strong colours work particularly well in our bright Australian light.  Blooms are large, flared trumpets in a dazzling range of colours. Clumped in the ground or in pots, a flamboyant display will bring cheer and happiness to the garden.  Flowers are available in singles, doubles and miniatures. They range in colour from deep red to salmon pink, rose-pink, lemon, lime and clear white and some have contrasting stripes, petal edges or throats. Dark green sword shaped leaves usually appear just after the flowers. Hippeastrums will grow anywhere in Australia.     My pot of Hippeastrums has special memories as it was a gift from a friend more than 10 years ago and it has moved with me to my present small cottage garden.

 

 

AUTUMN ASPECT

FRENCH PROVERB – Autumn is the hush before Winter.

Adelaide, South Australia, has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and moderate rainfall.  It has hot, dry summers.  Adelaide is the driest of the Australian capital cities.  The average daily autumn temperatures are max. 22.4°C, min. 12.5ºC.  Autumn 2014 (March to May) was the fourth warmest on record in South Australia, and included a record run of 16 consecutive days in May with maximum temperatures over 20ºC within the city and metropolitan area, making it Adelaide’s hottest autumn ever.  During the autumn months the Adelaide weather is particularly pleasant and the experience of a walk in the Adelaide hills is most enjoyable for locals and tourists alike.  Stirling is one of the prettiest towns in the hills area.  Founded in 1888, Stirling grew rapidly as a result of the expansion of apple growing and market gardening to satisfy the demand of the expanding city of Adelaide, whose centre is only 16 kilometres away.  Owing to the mild climate, many deciduous trees, particularly the maple, have been imported from Europe and these, with leaves in vibrant tones, are a major tourist attraction in the autumn.

 

 

Forming a centrepiece in my Past Garden was a flowering CRABAPPLE .  I have memories of the day I purchased it from a specialist tree nursery in the Adelaide hills.  It took a degree of manoeuvering to load it into my small car.  Apples and crabapples are in the rose family (Rosaceae) in the genus Malus.  A crabapple is an apple with fruit smaller than two inches (10 cm) in diameter.  The fruit of some species is too sour to eat but is still useful for making jelly and preserves.  The crabapple tree creates visual impact during all four seasons.  In spring the delicate pastel colours from both the new leaf growth and the emerging buds are a joy to the eye.  Unopened buds can be of a much deeper hue than the dainty open flowers.  During autumn months, the brilliant rich rustic foliage colours provide a complete change to the landscape.  Falling leaves reveal the glorious red or yellow colour of the fruit remaining like jewels after the leaves have fallen. These trees are worthy of the oft-given description ‘jewels of the landscape’.

ORNAMENTAL PEAR (Pyrus calleryana ‘Capital’)  – Three of these trees create a very worthwhile shade screen (in summer months) for the back of my cottage.  Their upright structure makes for an excellent group feature.  The trees have a narrow growth habit with shiny green leaves that hang vertically from the branches.  The leaves have an attractive curl.  The glossy dark green summer foliage changes in autumn to vibrant tones of orange, red and burgundy.  As with many other ornamental pears, the Capital flowers heavily in spring.  The flowers are white.  They are usually the last of the ornamental pears to blossom, but are also usually the last to lose their leaves in autumn.

GLORY VINE  – This is featured on a latticed barrier between my cottage and that of my next door neighbour.  It is a hardy, essentially non-fruiting vine that has become popular in South Australian gardens as an ornamental over the last 50 years.  It is sold under a number of names but is often simply called ‘Glory Vine’.  As the leaves change in autumn from green to many shades of red it certainly lives up to its name and is glorious to behold.

There is a harmony in Autumn and a lustre in its sky which through the Summer is not heard or seen

As if it could not be, as if it had not been!       Percy Bysshe Shelley          

COLORADO COLUMBINE

AQUILEGIA – When a friend from Colorado, U.S.A. recently visited family and friends in Adelaide, South Australia, she kindly gave me a magnet picturing the Colorado Columbine.  Aquilegias sit high on my list of favourite flowers and I have them growing in my front garden plot. I first planted them in 2005  after my middle daughter had inserted a seed packet into my Christmas bon-bon. On moving to my present home I planted seed gathered from my Past Garden and they flourish to this day. The magnet gift has prompted me to research this captivating flower.

Aquilegia (common names: Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine) is a genus of plants found in the wild in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The COLORADO BLUE COLUMBINE is the official State flower of Colorado and is native to the Rocky Mountains.

The white and lavender Rocky Mountain Columbine was designated the official State Flower of Colorado in 1899 after winning the vote of Colorado’s school children.  Discovered in 1820 on Pike’s Peak by mountain climber Edwin James (Botanist), the Rocky Mountain Columbine (Columbine Aquilegia coerulea) is a lovely flower with a rich aroma attracting bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to its nectar. The white and lavender Columbine has blue-violet petals and spurs, a white cup and yellow centre.  Blue is a symbol of the sky, white represents snow, and yellow symbolizes Colorado’s gold mining history. The original Colorado State Song is Where the Columbines Grow –  ‘Written and composed by A.J. Fynn, Where the Columbines Grow was adopted on May 8, 1915 as the official State Song of Colorado by an act of the General Assembly.  While travelling by horse and wagon to visit Indian tribes in the San Luis Valley in 1896, Fynn received inspiration to pen the song after he came across a Colorado Mountain meadow blanketed with Columbine flowers. He dedicated the song to the Colorado pioneers’.  ( Some Botanists have recorded  “Coerulea” and others  “Caerulea”, but they are apparently one and the same).

The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for “eagle”(aquila), referring to the claw-like spurs at the base of the flower petals.  The common name Columbine comes from the Latin for “dove”(columbus), due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together. It seems strange that two birds as different as the eagle and the dove should both give their name to the same flower – the Aquilegia, or Columbine.  The petals are supposed to resemble the outspread wings of these birds, and the spurs their arched necks and heads.  Whichever name is used, they offer some of the most garden-worthy and decorative of plants.  The leaves are divided into small fan-shaped sections, often resembling maidenhair fern fronds in shape with the flowering stems reaching above the foliage carrying bell-shaped nodding flowers.  The elegant lacy fern-like leaves are an unusual blue-green colour and the foliage starts growing in early Spring, very much at home in a cottage style garden. Aquilegias are hardy herbaceous perennial plants. They are not necessarily difficult to maintain – many have a remarkable tolerance. In a hot, dry climate they thrive best in rich, moist, well-drained soil in partial shade while in a cooler area they are more sun-tolerant.

Reginald John Farrer (1880-1920) was a traveller and plant collector.  He described Aquilegia viridi-flora as ‘a glaucous pale-jade colour with fluff of golden stamens standing out. I put my nose to the flower – the columbine was emanating its message – a charm of scent as consciously coquettish and elusive as the charm of its restrained beauty’.

RADIANT ROSES

I knew that I wanted to use roses as the backbone to my tiny front plot so I contacted a South Australian rose grower for assistance with my choice.  I have learned over the years that it is not a good idea to choose just from the heart, as I have done that before and failed dismally.  She asked me such questions as size of the area, facing which direction, and importantly, colour of bricks (red/orange) and paintwork (cream).    Two scenarios were suggested – one pink and the other apricot.   On choosing apricot, the plan was set and the order placed for five Just Joey Standards and one Weeping Crepescule to be delivered bare-rooted ready for planting.

JUST JOEY  This extremely beautiful, uniquely coloured, sweetly scented rose was voted The World’s Favourite Rose in 1994 at the Rose World Convention in New Zealand and inducted into the Rose Hall of Fame.   It is a classic Hybrid Tea shape with large blooms (35 petals) of deep, rich coppery orange/salmon to buff hues shading and lightening toward the waved and frilled edges.   It is a continual blooming rose on a plant with deep-green strong foliage.                                                      Just Joey was bred by Cants of Colchester, United Kingdom, in 1972.         It was named for the wife of the Managing Director of Cants of Colchester, Joey Pawsey.  The Company, in Essex, was established in 1765 and is the U.K’s oldest firm of commercial rose growers with over 245 years of experience.

     

FADED BEAUTY

FADED BEAUTY

 

CREPESCULE (WEEPING STANDARD)

Crepescule is a reliable, strong rose bred by Francis Dubreuil in France in 1904.   It is classified as a Noisette, one of the Old Garden Rose categories.   It is orange, fading to apricot-cream;  the name is French for ‘twilight’, very apt given its colour is reminiscent of sunset.  It has softly fragrant blooms, flowers over a long period (is a repeat flowerer) and is almost thornless.   It is very disease resistant and its combined attributes ensure that it is a favourite in many gardens, both private and public, around the world.                                               On more than one occasion, on explaining to strangers where I live, the comment is “Oh, you’re in the cottage with THE rose”.   It certainly has an identity all of its own.   Recently, when visiting the Sydney Botanic Gardens, I saw a bed of six (sadly not in flower) but with the potential for a wonderful display.

         

JOYFULNESS

Joyfulness, a Hybrid Tea, is fragrant, very strong and has healthy growth.   The long solitary stems bear large blooms in pastel shades of apricot, cream and pink which change form and colour based on the heat of the season.   It is a moderately fragrant rose excellent for cutting and is a repeat bloomer.                                                                                                                         When a dear friend passed away (her name was Joy) a mutual friend had Joyfulness delivered to my doorstep.  Joy had been a friend and work colleague for many years so it brings fond memories of her and also of the friend who was so thoughtful at that sad time.   Joyfulness is in a terracotta pot and came with me from my PAST Garden.   It is now producing beautiful blooms from a sun-filled corner of my PRESENT garden.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln