Did any of you guys watch The Secret Garden as kids? It ends with this rather weird magic/dream-like sequence where all the kids try to summon the dad/uncle character by dancing around a campfire, which somehow causes his (dead) wife to come to him in dream form and whisper ‘I’m in the Garden’.
Which is my way of sayin, in a long-winded manner, that this post is about the garden.
Not really my garden, but the garden of my parents’ affectionately-named ‘Wilson Swamp House’.
Summer in Australia can pretty much be described with the word ‘Oversaturated’. Which my spell check wants to tell me is not one word, but actually two.
Oversaturated heat (I arrived to 40 degrees; thanks Perth).
The leaves of Aussie plants, genetically bleached by eons of evolution in this crazy dust bowl, aren’t really oversaturated.
In fact, instead of being a proper lush european green, they’re a kind of dingy pale, grey-green.
Coping with an overabundance of sunlight and heat, and a sparsity of everything else a plant needs (water, nitrogen, phosphate), they tend to be spiny and spiky and miserly, filled with oils and covered in waxes (and various natural sunscreen compounds).
My parents’ garden is a kind of wilderness, dominated primarily by a variety of Australian native plants.
If you want to come with us for an explore, you’ll have to follow that angry looking kitty…
As you step out of the side door, to your right is a patio area, which leads up the side of the house to the front driveway.
Wisteria, which makes a pale blue carpet in the spring, protects the less West-Aussie of the plants, the ferns from a too-harsh sun….
Looking left, you pass a raised herb garden, and can follow the pavement through to the back.
There, you’ll fine an area centred on an Australian not-quite-green coloured lawn, which also features a cacti garden, lots of hoyas, a couple of giant hibiscus trees, bougainvillias, and various bee-attracting monstrosities. ^Double flowered Geraldton Wax.
If, when exiting the side door, you don’t turn left or right, but instead are brave enough to face the fierce guardcat…
… you’ll find yourself in the bulk of the garden.
In among the overgrowth, you’ll find a pond or two. They’re filled to the brim with lilies and reeds and pond weed, and spotted with frogs that scream in the night, but disappear the second you get within rustle distance…
^Look German Friends! Green Cabbage! (or something related I guess).
Delicious, sure, and pretty perfect in mulberry season (and also pomegranate season and locut season).
But right about now, the front of the garden, and the area at the fenceline that abuts a small creek, is my favourite stretch.
Mostly because it currently holds that magnificent of all the trees (although not an Aussie native), the Jacaranda:
Every year, usually in late October to early November, tiny spots of blue pop up all over the city.
My sister and I once managed to glimpse more than 200 trees in the 10 minute ride to our school.
This year, I was kind of crazy-lucky, because winter hung around late, and the blooms have stayed put.
They’ll stay a few more weeks, then transform the ground into a blue-purple carpet, and then be gone again for another 11 months.
But for now, SPLENDOR!
My father, who is deathly allergic to bees, decided to equip the Jacaranda with an ‘Owl box’.
The Owls did not comply, but the bees came in swarms.
If you can tear your eyes away from the beautiful Jacaranda, you might happen to notice an assortment of Gums (eucalypts).
Here’s (right) a giant lemon-scented gum, which habitually drops whole branches, and may be one of those reasons that Aussies invented drop-bears (to encourage strangers to keep an eye above them). Next to him (left) is a black-barked fuschia gum, and in front is the silvery book-leaf gum.
Despite what the song might tell you, these gums are occupied most commonly by the equally musical Australian magpies (if you haven’t heard a magpie sing you should definitely follow that link, they’re noisy as anything, but really quite magical).
Pretty eh? Australian plants might spend a large amount of their lives looking miserly, but when they bloom, they can really go All Out!
Speaking of natives, here’s an aptly-named Kangaroo Paw…
…a fluffly little melaleuca…
… and out of season red-capped yellow flowering gum (which leaves vicious little red caps-of-steel all over the driveway, ripe for the stepping on)…
… plus, my favourite of all the gums, the Silver Princess, which has beautiful silver-dusted branches, and little silver beret-ed nuts that suddenly pop their lids to reveal bright bushy pink-red flowers.
Anyway, that’s all with the garden and the Aussie plants for now.
Got time for a couple of zoom outs?