Garden ‘left to own devices’

A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.

By Beatrice Hawkins

As readers of this column will know I was away for a good many weeks and my garden was left to its own devices. You can imagine how delighted I was when I arrived home to find hippeastrums in full flower, red peony poppies absolutely flourishing and spaces filled by alyssum and white daisies. Some hardy petunias I had put in before I left were also flourishing and large clumps of Jacobean lilies were flowering beautifully. ‘Black and Bloom’ salvia, lavender and some vincas that had survived the winter all added colour.

The snail plant on the back fence is growing very rapidly and about the end of November it will get a tip prune to encourage flowering.

The peony poppies that I grew last year from seed my granddaughter sent me years ago from WA had self-seeded and once again they are all big, beautiful, vibrant, red ones! Not an original pink one to be seen!

I “Googled” them and have found that they are available in a wide range of colours – white, black, pinks of various shades, lilac through to deep purple and even yellow – so I have ordered some other colours ready for next year. They certainly put on a great show and are so easy to grow that they are an ideal plant for my garden! They are frost hardy and obviously do well on neglect! Red looks wonderful on its own but a variety of colours, especially the addition of white and black would look spectacular.

They are known by a variety of names – lettuce leaf poppies, bread seed poppies and opium poppies, but don’t panic, as they are a low morphine variety and quite legal I am told by the experts. If in doubt, ignorance is bliss. Just don’t harvest and sell the seed! They are an annual and need cold to germinate, so sowing in autumn or late winter directly where they are to flower seems to get the best results. I have found they don’t respond well to transplanting. I have also found that, unlike other poppies, if you dead-head them at the junction of the leaves below the spent flower, they will send up another flower. They are not good as a cut flower as they do not last but look spectacular for a short while. I have found that if you pick them very early in the morning as the bud just starts to split, they will last about two days.

It is a delight to go out early and see the number of bees that flock to each newly opened bloom. I have never seen so many bees on a single bloom. A truly magical sight.

I hope you were able to see some of the floral window displays that were evident over the Rodeo Weekend. Thank you to the many businesses that participated and provided additional colour to our town.

Now for a little garden philosophy that I have come across and which I find applies to me:

My garden is a bit like some children – a little wild, hard to contain and control, but it makes me smile! I spend days, weeks and money trying to grow plants and weeds do it all by themselves for free! If you come across something you don’t recognise in the garden and can’t decide whether it’s a weed or something valuable that has come up, I have found a sure fire way to help you make the decision. Grab it firmly by the top and pull – if it comes out easily you should have left it alone and it will not take well to replanting. If it resists all attempts to pull it out you can bet money on it that you really don’t want it to continue to grow!

Gardens are a thing of beauty and a job forever.

If you have some time to spare and really want to treat yourselves over the weekend of the 17th and 18th of November head to Killarney to visit two beautiful gardens.

The extensive Hoffman family garden will be open to the public as will be Annette Russell’s spectacular rose garden.

Sue’s garden won the “garden on acreage” section and Champion Garden in the recent Warwick Horticultural Society garden competition and, despite the recent hailstorm, has continued to flourish and will be a delight to all who take the time to visit. Both of these are on the Queen Mary Falls road from town and are well sign-posted.

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