Garden Report - End of Winter 2010

From little things big things grow

Here in southern Australia, winter brings cooler temperatures and more precipitation to an otherwise sunburnt country. It also provides an ideal opportunity to repair, maintain, and enhance one's garden. For more than a year, Aurora team member Rebecca Trump has led an effort to improve the grounds of Aurora's workshop. With the highest winter rainfall in a decade, the team garden now flourishes.

The two garden beds started off as bare soil 15 months ago. Soil, in this case also included the remnants of previous plastic mulches and a large quantity of scoria. The first job was to pull out all of the weeds and dig through some organic matter to help store moisture in the harsh Melbourne summer. Almost all of the plants in the garden were bought as very small plugs, or donated as seeds or rooted cuttings. It has been gratifying to see them grow and fill in the gaps in such a short time.

The main bed has been planted with a variety of tough plants, requiring little maintenance. We had a mass of butterfly bush over summer, which was heavily pruned at the beginning of winter - we are waiting to see how well it has survived the season. The stand out plant for this season has been the architectural euphorbias, with their unusual green green flowers.

The colour at this time of year is mainly confined to the burnt orange gazanias - we have removed some of the pinks, bright oranges and raspberry ripple striped gazanias, for greater coherence and consistency in the colour scheme. The variegated vinca is throwing up its pale purple flowers wherever the stems have taken root providing a contrast against the orange of the gazanias.

The second, smaller, bed is waiting for spring to come fully into its own. The diosmas are starting to flower - the pinks have started before the whites and the seaside daisies echo their pale colouring. The star jasmine is in full bud, and the very first flowers are starting to open, and there should be a full crop of heady flowers in the next few weeks. Spring and summer will see this bed in full flower, and some planned planting will add some height where is is needed until the diosmas and jasmine grow larger.

The most recent planting has been along the blue stone wall along the car parking spots. Lambs ears, more of the burnt orange gazanias and echiums have been planted. This is a very difficult section for plants, as the soil is almost pure sand, and gets a regular blasting with loose material from the garden supplies store next door. We will report on the success of these new plantings in the next garden update.