Notes from the Garden of Jury, September 30, 2018

The early spring bulbs are over and we are now into mid-season. We garden with many, many bulbs and probably find them a great deal more fascinating than most who are less enthusiastic. I could wow a few readers with the Phaedranassa cinerea or maybe the Cyrtanthus falcatus in bloom now, but to the casual eye, a simple planting of bluebells and Narcissus bulbocodium naturalised around the base of an old eucalyptus tree is likely to be far more charming. That eucalyptus dates back to around the 1870s when Mark’s great grandfather planted several around the property. They are messy trees because they shed bark and small twiggy growth all year but look at that interesting twist in the trunk that some varieties develop with age.

Camellia minutiflora – a charming and graceful species

The flowers are delightful and abundant but small – C. minutiflora again

I do a lot of flower and garden photography although I would only describe myself as a gardener and writer who takes photographs, not a photographer as such. And some flowers are really difficult to photograph. I feel I have got to grips with magnolia images but making a series of flower shots of some genus can be particularly challenging. It is mighty hard to make a whole lot of full trussed rhododendrons, japonica camellias or hybrid tea roses look interesting rather than a series of blobs. More on rhododendrons later in the season. But so too is it difficult to capture some of the smaller flowered shrubs, conveying their charm. I have taken many photographs of the dainty camellia species, C. minutiflora, and they remain a dismal failure in capturing the simple visual delight to the naked eye. It is such a delightful plant that we have used it in a number of places through the garden. In the end, I decided I just had to pick a few sprays and lay them on a plain background to try and show just how sweet this little camellia is when you can see the detail.

Daphne genkwa – the blue daphne

Daphne genkwa with its corylopis backdrop

So too with the less common blue daphne, D. genkwa. I photograph it every year and then delete almost all the photos as not doing justice to the plant at all. This may be because it is not a shrub with much to distinguish it other than its remarkable lilac blue flowers. And so too the corylopsis, often referred to as witch hazels. I think we only have two different forms of corylopsis. One flowers earlier and makes a charming haze of creamy yellow behind a Daphne genkwa. The other is flowering now and may be a form of C. pauciflora but we have never taken much interest in unravelling the family. They just occupy a space and remain relatively anonymous for most of year except for their splash of dainty blooms in the two weeks or so when it is their turn to shine. Colder, drier climates appear to get a more extended flowering season on a number of these deciduous shrubs whereas, in our mild conditions, they are more of a fleeting delight. But on their days, what a delight they are.


And the corylopsis in situ with Rhododendron spinuliferum to the right front and and the burgundy loropetalum behind

It was garden writer, Neil Ross, whom I first heard likening a garden to musical theatre. Don’t plan a garden full of stars only, he said. Those stars need the chorus to make them shine so don’t forget those plants filling the role of the chorus. That is how I see these plants which have a short season – chorus cast with a brief solo in the spotlight.

Just look at the lily border. It never looked like this last year when the rabbits won the battle on the emerging shoots. Mark is getting bored with his daily round of vigilance and looking forward to the time when the stems get tall enough to be out of the reach of the rabbits. But spraying the plant with water and sprinkling just a part teaspoon of blood and bone on each plant is working. The reason for doing it one by one is because it has to be reapplied after rain and we don’t want to be over fertilising the whole border by broadcasting the blood and bone freely and often. Besides, I was a bit shocked at the price last time we bought some. It would be easier to manage if we bought some liquid blood and bone so it could just be applied with one action but we will use up what we have first.

The price to pay for a lily display is clearly ongoing vigilance.

Yes, yes I know the advice is always given not to drive over hoses. Based on experience, it appears that you can get away with it when the hose is still relatively new but there comes a point in the age of the hose when one incident of driving over it can render it a very leaky hose. This of course means that over the course of the next weeks, any user of said hose gets wet legs until the right stage of being fed up is reached and the hose replaced. We haven’t quite got to this point but it is imminent. And I will try not to drive over the next hose length.

12 thoughts on “Notes from the Garden of Jury, September 30, 2018

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Unlikely. We have an agreement with the birds. They will keep the slugs and snails under control and we will maintain a safe and hospitable environment for them in return.

      1. Abbie Jury Post author

        Try laying liberal lines of baking bran. It doesn’t kill them but seem to forget on it and lie comatose, waiting for the birds to clean them up in the morning.

  1. tonytomeo

    Not many have good things to say about eucalyptus. They got a very bad reputation here from the blue gum. People do not seem to realize that several of the good common trees in large scale landscapes are some sort of eucalyptus. We plant some types as street trees in Los Angeles, but we do often tell people what they are.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      There are over 700 species of eucalypts so there must be one every occasion! There is some research going on in NZ, assessing them for durability as posts and supports as an alternative to tanalised pine which is not good for the environment. They appear to last for over 20 years in the ground without treatment. And our eucalypts date back, we think, to government trials back in the 1870s looking for suitable timber trees.

      1. tonytomeo

        Some of the most reliable trees in public places that no one notices (because they do not cause many problems) are eucalyptus! It is just such a bad word here. We really could use more of them out on the freeways. Instead, we got tiny microtrees like crape myrtle, because they make good ‘street’ trees. Seriously, we compare freeways to streets?

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        Sydney and Canberra in Australia set a model of ENORMOUS street trees which provide much needed shade and urban amenity. I so dislike the scaling down of everything so that all that is accepted are essentially just large shrubs.

      3. tonytomeo

        Crape myrtle is our default tree which is used by landscape ‘professionals’ who just don’t care. It fits some applications, but a ‘landscape’ company that I worked for planted it as shade trees on huge lawns that covered a few acres. It is ridiculously out of scale for some of the big freeway interchanges.

  2. Tim Dutton

    We recently had to replace a power pole on the edge of our property that had split at the top. I have the old pole lying on the drive at the moment. That is one of several Eucalyptus species that was being used for this purpose around the end of WWII, as this pole would have been put in when the old house was moved here just after the war. So, in the ground for 70+ years and the amount of rot at ground level and below was negligible, < 5 mms in from the surface. Masses of borer holes in the upper part of the pole too, but they only penetrated 10 mms at the most. I would say the timber of some species is therefore probably good for use in the ground for 200-300 years on that basis.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I have read of some research being undertaken at Lincoln on this. There are big issues with the accumulation of leachate from tanalised pine posts, let alone the safe disposal of damaged posts which can’t be incinerated. It is a major issue in vineyard-intense areas and also an issue for those who want organic certification. 70 years out of a eucalyptus power pole is good.

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