Day 3 of lock down and a minor mystery is solved

As we adjust to lock down and our personal worlds become so much smaller, I did at least solve a small mystery yesterday. I saw a lovely combination of vibrant pinks when we visited Cloudehill Gardens in the Dandenongs outside Melbourne last year. I can repeat that in my new perennial meadow, I thought.

Nerine bowdenii flowering in late May here 

My perennial meadow planting with hidden N. bowdenii

In my mind, I had it as a combination of the deep pink Japanese anemone and Nerine bowdenii. As the anemone came into flower, I found myself wondering where the nerine was before realising that of course it flowers much later here. I considered the possibility that Cloudehill had a selection that flowered much earlier in the season and kicked myself for not checking the flowering times here – easily done in these days of digital photo files that give dates. There seemed to be a story in there about not assuming that combinations seen in different climates will also work at home. I found my photos.

Belladonnas at Cloudehill! Of course. Not N. bowdenii. But then the Japanese anemone actually comes from China. The world is looking more confusing by the day.

Eagle-eyed readers will have already spotted my mistake. It was my memory. Not Nerine bowdenii at all. Those are belladonnas. That explains it. I am not sure that I want to bring big, thuggish belladonnas into the garden. We have them in abundance on the roadside and on our margins but they aren’t the best garden candidates. In fact we already have both on our roadside and all I need to do is shuffle some of the right pink tones closer to the anemone there.

I just need to relocate some pink belladonnas in the right tones on our roadside and I will have that combination.

As Mark and I had a leisured start to our morning on day two of lock down, he quipped that half the houses around the nation were currently undergoing paint jobs. Lloyd, our garden staffer, had gone in to a Mitre10 Mega on Tuesday and reported that everybody else was in there buying paint and they had sold out entirely of his preferred brand.

We are in the garden so there is no major change for us, except the absence of Lloyd during the week. I have found, however, that my focus and concentration are scattered all over the place. I am telling myself that there is plenty of time – a whole month at least – and it is fine to allow myself a few days to mentally settle into the peculiar new reality we are all facing. Friends have noted the same phenomenon. It doesn’t matter if major tasks get left for a little while.

Fiddly faddling on the Magnolia laevifolia. But where is Lloyd when I need him? He is always most obliging about dealing to my piles of prunings.

This is why I spent yesterday entirely distracted by a very small garden with an untidy Magnolia laevifolia draping itself over the garage roof, leading to a build-up of leaf litter composting on the corrugated iron roof. It is a smaller, defined project that I can complete before my scattered brain gets distracted elsewhere. Fiddly-faddling, I call it. Mark describes it as montying – a reference anybody who watches BBC Gardeners’ World will understand. May you all fiddly-faddle or monty in tranquil safety wherever you are.

Belladonnas we have a-plenty in a variety of hues but their flowering season is brief and their season is full, smothering leaf is very long


16 thoughts on “Day 3 of lock down and a minor mystery is solved

  1. Susan Oliver

    aaw thanks for the bonus posting Abbie. Love the belladonna/japanese anemone combination and excited to know that some of the nerines flower as late as May (had assumed they share the same flowering times as the belladonnas)

  2. Annamieke

    Love reading your blog and gaining info about gardening. Ahmm day 3 I agree we have to pace ourselves with DIY and gardening. We have a long way to go. Stay strong stay safe Kai Kaha
    From Kawerau

  3. Angela

    Funny how all through the hot, dry Puhoi summer we kept saying “when Autumn comes we’ll tackle the (insert task here) first”, and now with no temperature excuse we’re in the same phase too. Today’s first task is actually gathering the multitude of old, half completed, lists and re assigning priority and who’s doing what in our two person bubble.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      That is very funny. Best wishes from our two person bubble to yours. The rest of the world is probably puzzled by all the talk of bubbles coming out from NZ at this time.

  4. tonytomeo

    I just got in from the ‘new’ vegetable garden, where I dug up two fat Belladona bulbs to move to the roadside. I can not bear to discard them. They are foliating no, so are probably none too happy about the relocation.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Indestructible, I think, Tony. When we first started putting them on our road verge, we didn’t even plant the bulbs. Just nestled them in the long grass.

      1. tonytomeo

        Actually, some of mine came from the compost pile, where a neighbor had dumped them in his trash. They just rooted there on top of the ground. Regardless, I still feel like I should be gentler with them. I do not want to offend them.

  5. perrie read

    a real lift to the mind reading todays post.things get worse here,daughter in ausy self employed and clients cancelling,no welfare help,,time to come home but noteasy to organise flight and isolation..nice rain here .plenty of garden sights to look at..

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh Perrie! My heart goes out to you. We have three children over there and they are in very close touch with stress and anxiety levels sky high with the astonishingly incompetent leadership and mixed messages. Two are in secure employment and now working from home in self-determined lock down. The third is more vulnerable in employment but has now been told he will be put on leave without pay (but up to him to decide when he no longer goes in to work!) but not made redundant, because there is NO support for businesses. The realisation that he is too late to come home was disturbing but there is no way to get him down to Taranaki from Auckland where he would land. When his savings run out, we will chip in if necessary. The plight of unemployed NZers stuck in Australia is dire. So many of them.
      I hope things work out for your daughter.

  6. Tim Dutton

    I’m so glad to hear that my feeling that I have just as much to do in the garden as normal, but now can’t seem to summon up any urgency to get on with doing it, is shared by others! At least today I have another excuse: at long last we have drought-breaking rain, 50 mm since midnight and still going.
    My heart goes out to you and others who have children and grandchildren in Australia (and other overseas countries) to worry about.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      That is good news about the rain. I think we need to give ourselves time to adjust mentally to this extraordinary new daily reality we are all experiencing. And yes, I would have liked our children back in the comparative safety of NZ but there are so many others in much worse situations. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  7. newgarden513766902

    I scattered the copious seed I had removed from the garden belladonas to stop them spreading onto a dry bank on the dive. There is now a great clump of them flowering each year including cream on a spot nothing else would grow.

  8. Paddy Tobin

    Belladonnas as a weed (almost!) would be a dream for us! How fabulous to have them on the roadside. Such beautiful flowers.
    One gate and two windows painted here!

    We are also into an official national lockdown which continues our fortnight of self-imposed isolation. The over-70s are told they are now being “cocooned” – not going out under any circumstances.

  9. Cathy Trewby

    Yes I have found it difficult to spring into action but am comforted by a friend who has had a longer period of isolation than I have…..she said after a while a sense of calm comes. I guess we have to unlearn hearing, in my case the sounds of the city. I do live in a quiet suburb but sometimes planes are diverted to run up our big valley if landing from the north. No planes. Rain. A garden and sewing awaits. Meantime i am feasting my eyes on your garden. Also looking at seed catalogues, bulb catalogues, a book on pruning and dipping into my old book about the Chelsea Physick Garden.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      This sounds a constructive way to manage the social interregnum. I, too, am adjusting to the lack of traffic and planes, even here in the country. It takes time to process and understand this bizarre situation.

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