Dichelostemma Ida-Maia (Firecracker Lily) February 2017.

February 3, 2017

Bulbs For Yorke Peninsula

The firecracker lily, Dichelostemma Ida-Maia is a fantastic bulb for the Yorke Peninsula. The foliage grows from  late autumn through winter into spring before dying down then not long after that in late November or early December it starts sending up its flower spikes with many flowers at the top of each spike resembling and exploding sky rocket, where it gets its common name of Firecracker Lily from.

It is a great plant for a Christmas indoor vase display because it has all the seasonal colours; red, green and white. Flowers last in the vase for what seems ages and look beautiful throughout the Christmas-new year week.

Each spike is about 60cm long so a bunch of these make a nice centre piece.

In my garden these are in the dry garden bed which gets no extra irrigation over summer, and these don’t need any water at all. This summer…

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Wicking Barrels Construction.

February 3, 2017

I have become aware over recent years of the value of wicking beds but have not been in a position to establish any barrels or beds until this past year.

However, I have now completed my first barrel and it has been in operation successfully for the past year with no wilting despite some very high temperatures.

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For this project I am using some half wine barrels which had been used as large pots at my previous address for growing herbs.

When I emptied these barrels of their soil and moved them they very quickly dried out so they needed to be tightened up before using them again. To tighten them I sat them upside down on a flat concrete base. Using a flat punch I  gently tapped down each ring until they would go down no further starting with the smallest and working down to the largest ring. Once the barrel is again tight I set the rings with a small Tek screw through each ring on opposite sides of the barrel.

The barrel after the rings have been punched down. You can see the amount they have been punched down by the fresher look of the timber.

The barrel after the rings have been punched down. You can see the amount they have been punched down by the fresher look of the timber.

Once the barrels are tight the barrel can be lined with a waterproof material. Pond liner is best but in a pinch heavy builders plastic will do the job. Make sure the tek screws used were short so they did not break through to the inside and can puncture the plastic. If they do come through to the inside then grind them off with an angle grinder before installing the waterproof liner.

 

Barrel is lined with plastic pond liner and then the socked drainage pipe is installed on top of that followed by coarse sand to finish about 30mm above the side drainage hole.

Barrel is lined with plastic pond liner and then the socked drainage pipe is installed on top of that followed by coarse sand to finish about 30mm above the side drainage hole.

On top of the coarse sand use a dividing layer of some sort to separate the garden mix from the wicking sand. In this case I have used sugar cane mulch which transmits water well but others use various forms of weed matting.

Once the barrier is in place just top the remaining 30cm or so with good quality potting soil and you are set to go.

The wicking process is a natural process but only works to around 30cm in garden soils and mixes. Most garden plants and especially vegetables, for which this system is particularly suited in my climate, do very nicely in it.

I recommend that you mulch to surface to reduce evaporation. Once mulched fill the reservoir with water until it runs out of the overflow tube. From this point on you have to decide to wait for the wick to start which will take a few days or to prime the system by watering from above. Either way will work and after that it will keep working until you stop filling the reservoir and the soil dries out.

The best part of this method is that there is no need to water morning and night. Even with fully grown plants using their full water allocation you only need to fill once a week or so. The reason for this is simple. Instead of top watering and gravity dragging the water down and away from the roots leaving them dry, the water rises to the roots as needed keeping conditions ideal for the plant without any water-logging and no evaporation if well mulched.

UPDATE

I started this post a year ago and decided to delay publishing until I could show some results. With a year since the barrels were planted out everything has grown well and the following photo shows how well this lemon grass is doing.

Lemon grass one year after being planted in the wicking barrel. February 2017.

Lemon grass one year after being planted in the wicking barrel. February 2017.

2017 Bulb Delivery Number 2

January 30, 2017

The following bulbs arrived this month (January 2017) from Tesselaar in Silvan Victoria. The Tazetta is to establish yellow Jonquils as a variation from the many whites that flower prolifically in my garden while the Golden Lion Golden Trumpet Daffodil is an attempt to find a repeat flowering yellow trumpet daffodil. Many King Alfred types don’t flower in subsequent years because our winters here are too mild. Tesselaars suggest this one is suitable for wamer climates.

This is another test to find repeat flowering bulbs for South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula and other areas with a similar climate.

Narcissus Tazetta  Soleil D’Or

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Narcissus Tazetta Soleil D’Or (PHOTO: Tesselaar.net.au)

Sunny yellow petals with cute orange cups. Similar to Golden Dawn but flowers earlier. Excellent for picking.

Also known as Jonquils or Jonquil type daffodils, Scented Daffodil flowers `cluster` together along the straight stems forming an impressive display. These blooms have a strong, sweet fragrance that carries beautifully throughout the garden.

Scented Daffodils are easy, they like the simple things in life; plenty of sun and a well drained soil. It is this sunny disposition that is appealing to gardeners worldwide. We choose the best varieties for our Australian conditions so you are guaranteed success.

It is a good idea to prepare your soil by digging through some well rotted manure (or blood and bone) a few weeks prior to planting. This will improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil, giving your Butterfly Daffodils a good start.

Plant daffodil bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is high with the pointy end up. The depth will protect them from heat and soil erosion as well as providing strength for the stem. Space your daffodils 10-20cm apart, the end range is if you are leaving the bulbs in the ground to naturalise – that way they have room to multiply and you will have longer before you have to lift and divide them.

Once the flowering has finished you can remove the flower stem (this will focus the growth on the bulb rather than seed production). Allow the foliage to remain until it has yellowed. The daffodil bulb uses the foliage to gather energy and nutrients for next year’s blooms. Keep them relatively moist during this time, and add a little general purpose fertiliser. Daffodils like Potash and slow release fertiliser brands which are low in nitrogen (this means more flowers and less leaves).

Code
DAJSD
Botantical name      Narcissus tazetta
Height                         30-70cm
Width                          10-15cm
Flowers                       Early season
Climate                       Cool to Sub-Tropical
Availability                Australia wide
Aspect                         Full Sun to Light Shade
Supplied as                Bulbs
Water needs              1

Golden Trumpets Golden Lion

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Narcissus Pseudonarcissus Golden Trumpets Golden Lion (PHOTO: Tesselaar.net.au).

Golden blooms in the traditional Daffodil trumpet style. This variety performs quite well in warmer climates where daffodils do not usually perform. The flowers open mid season.

Daffodils are easy, they like the simple things in life; plenty of sun and a well drained soil. It is this sunny disposition that is appealing to gardeners worldwide. We choose the best varieties for our Australian conditions so you are guaranteed success.

It is a good idea to prepare your soil by digging through some well rotted manure (or blood and bone) a few weeks prior to planting. This will improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil, giving your Butterfly Daffodils a good start.

Plant daffodil bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is high with the pointy end up. The depth will protect them from heat and soil erosion as well as providing strength for the stem. Space your daffodils 10-20cm apart, the end range is if you are leaving the bulbs in the ground to naturalise – that way they have room to multiply and you will have longer before you have to lift and divide them.

Once the flowering has finished you can remove the flower stem (this will focus the growth on the bulb rather than seed production). Allow the foliage to remain until it has yellowed. The daffodil bulb uses the foliage to gather energy and nutrients for next year’s blooms. Keep them relatively moist during this time, and add a little general purpose fertiliser. Daffodils like potash and slow release fertilizer brands which are low in nitrogen (this means more flowers and less leaves).

Plant as many as space permits!

Code DAGGL
Botantical name Narcissus pseudonarcissus
Height 30-70cm
Width 10-15cm
Flowers Mid season
Climate Cool to Sub-Tropical
Availability Australia wide
Aspect Full Sun to Light Shade
Supplied as Bulbs
Water needs 1

Early Bulbs Order Summer 2016-17

January 30, 2017

My Lambley bulbs arrived and as usual was well packed and in perfect order. The following photo shows the bulbs as they were unpacked and I was amazed at the size of one of the Colchicum bulb sizes. It was of course called “The Giant” so it will be exciting to see if the flower is proportionately as large. Of more interest is whether it will repeat flower in our mild mediteranean winters and very hot summers.

January 2017 early bulbs delivery from Lambley Gardens and Nursery. On the far right is a Sternbergia Lutea (autumn crocus), to the left is the Colchicum"The Giant" followed by Colchicum Byzantinum and Acis Autumnale on the far left. Bulbs are shown for comparison.

January 2017 early bulbs delivery from Lambley Gardens and Nursery. On the far right is a Sternbergia Lutea (autumn crocus), to the left is the Colchicum”The Giant”(2 bulbs) followed by Colchicum Byzantinum (packs of 10) and Acis Autumnale on the far left. Bulbs are shown for comparison.

The following bulbs are early flowering bulbs and well suited to South Australia’s dry climate and mild winters, especially of you are in a frost-free area on the coast. Many bulbs need a good winter and spring chilling to flower effectively but these have been proven to be happy with our mild winters.

The thing about getting hold of these is that you need to get in early and that means the Christmas/New Year period when the focus is on things other than gardens unless you are a very keen gardener. I buy these bulbs from a reputable Australian grower David Glenn at Lambley Nursery and Gardens in Ascot near Ballarat in Victoria. Early autumn bulbs are usually delivered at the end of January or early February while the spring-flowering bulbs can be expected around April.

COLCHICUM BYZANTINUM

Byzantine Autumn Crocus

From a genus of tough autumn flowering bulbs (and a few miffy spring-flowering species) which suit our climate very well. They flower, make their leaf growth and retire into dormancy during autumn, winter and spring. Colchicum byzantinum has several large, pink almost tulip like flowers and half a dozen bulbs will make a great display. 30cm x 30cm. Sun or light shade.

Colchicum Byzantinum

Colchicum Byzantinum

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Colchicum Byzantinum Autumn Crocus Massed.

Colchicum ‘The Giant’

Giant Autumn Crocus

 Pinkish lavender flowers are produced on very tall stems in autumn. The Giant is good increaser which will soon make a good display in the garden. A spacing of 40 cm would not be too much. Sun or light shade will suit it.

colchicum_the_giant

Colchicum Autumn Giant

Acis autumnale

Autumn Snowflake

Found wild in Spain, Portugal, Corsica, Sardinia and North Africa this precious little bulb has thrived here at Lambley in a rough overgrown paddock for 18 years. Each autumn I have large drifts of these white fairy bells hanging on thin 15cm tall stems. A well-drained spot in the sun or light shade which gets a fair baking in the summer suits it. Plant from 5 to 10 centimetres apart and this bulb will soon build up its numbers.

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Acis Autumnale – Autumn snowflake from Lambley Nursery and Garden.

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Acis Autumnale – Autumn Snowflake from Lambley Nursery & Gardens.

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Autumn Snowflake from Lambley Nursery & Gardens.

Nerine “Winter Cheer” In Flower Now 2016

May 28, 2016

This week heralds the start of flowering for Nerine “Winter Cheer”. It is a true pink and stands up to blustery, rainy conditions throughout June without any sign of damage or sagging. I purchased these bulbs from David Glenn and Criss Canning at Lambley Nursery.

Nerine "Winter Cheer" 27th May 2016. Wallaroo Mines, South Australia.

Nerine “Winter Cheer” 27th May 2016. Wallaroo Mines, South Australia.

Nerine ‘Winter Cheer’

‘Winter Cheer’ is a very late flowering variety which flowers here at Lambley through much of June and into July. A good cut flower, its rose-pink flowers are held on 50cm tall stiff stems and are cheerful addition to a winter vase.

I buy most of my bulbs from specialist growers and Lambley would be one of the best nurseries anywhere in the country. Bulbs are strong and well-grown and shipped at the right time of the year. If you are anywhere near Ballarat on any day of the year it is worth a visit. They are dry climate specialists in the truest definition without focusing only on succulents. If you want flowers every week of the year check out their website or visit their nursery, you will not be disappointed.

Camellia Bloom is Spectacular 2016

May 19, 2016
Camellia Japonica Flower. The first for the 2016 season.

Camellia Japonica Flower. The first for the 2016 season.

In my teenage years I came across a flower I then thought was the most spectacular flower I had ever seen. It was a pink Camellia Japonica and although at the time I did nothing further I have felt the same ever since.

Like many others I purchased a plant, when I was in my twenties and planted it without any thought to its special needs, eg acid soil. It gradually died and I thought it was just too difficult.

In my thirties I again had the opportunity to buy one but this time I researched its needs and planted one in a pot with acid potting mix and it thrived for several years, blooming beautifully. Unfortunately a divorce saw that one come to grief.

It took me several more years before I was again in a position to devote some care to a Camellia and now I again have a plant in full flower with just the same effect on me that I felt in my youth. Today that Camellia Japonica is in bloom and it looks just lovely.

I think it is the formal shape of the flower, perfection in shape and depth of colour that inspires me!

Dwarf Orchard

March 22, 2016

Despite having only a limited amount of space I still want to have a small orchard. My needs have changed and being a single person with grown children means I only need small quantities of a range of fruits. In an attempt to satisfy the desire for fresh fruit I am establishing an orchard of dwarfed fruit trees.

Dwarf Orchard

This is the area devoted to the Dwarf Orchard. In the background is an established orange tree while to the right is a wood fired pizza oven.

This area was initially overgrown with various shrubs and creepers making a green massed jungle. I want to have as many areas productive as possible so the rabble was removed and this is the area I will plant. Before planting I will install the edge boards and the irrigation system ready for planting when we get a cool patch of weather. May have to wait a couple of months before that happens.

Well the weather remains warm to hot but the nights are cooler now and with work progressing every morning and night we eventually have something to show for it.

Garden Edging installed around the dwarf orchard on the southern side.

Garden Edging installed around the dwarf orchard on the southern side.

Edging installed around the orchard on the eastern side.

Edging installed around the orchard on the eastern side.

The edging is to help keep the paths clear because the blackbirds scratch any mulch onto the paths. These borders should stop them and help with any drainage.

After the edging I top dressed the area with premium compost that I purchased from Peninsula Nursery. I then set about sorting the rest of the soil and spent many hours digging out dead roots from plants that had been taken out over the past few weeks. With compost incorporated into the topsoil it only remained to plant the trees I had saved for this area.

Potted trees in position for final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for the final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for the final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Each hole for these trees were dug to the depth of the pot but twice as wide. Into the soil removed I incorporated some premium compost into the soil and back filled then watered each tree in well.

Still to come is the irrigation system which will be a micro spray system that will water the entire zone so that planned inter-plantings of flowering bulbs will be watered at the same time. Trees will be kept small and this will ensure the roots don’t compete too much.

After the irrigation is completed and bulbs planted the entire area will be mulched with bark or chips to help with weed control and moisture conservation. I will post the remaining work as an update to this post rather than holding this article back.

 

Wicking Beds for Kitchen Garden

February 29, 2016

This article is to describe the process I went through to build my first two wicking beds near the kitchen.

The frame of the first of two beds near the kitchen. Each bed is 2.4m x 90cm. The colourful base is just a protector before putting in the pond liner. This affords extra protection from puncture through the bottom.

The frame of the first of two beds near the kitchen. Each bed is 2.4m x 90cm. The colourful base is just a protector before putting in the pond liner. This affords extra protection from puncture through the bottom.

The frame is made from permapine timber each piece 200mm x 50mm H4. Length is 2.4m x width 90cm. I made two similar frames and placed one on top of the other to give an overall depth of 400mm then tied them together with 70mm x 45mm soldiers in the corner and screwed them together with tek screws. This gives you a pretty solid box which open at the top and bottom.

It is important to have the structure level so use a spirit level to set them up before going any further. Once level make sure there are no sharp objects on the floor such as stones and twigs that could pierce the pond liner once it is filled with soil. In this photo you will see a colourful material that is actually a failed blow up pool which I cut up to lay flat and give that extra bit of security.

Once this stage is finished it is time for the overflow and pond liner. I used only good quality pond liner instead of black builders plastic because it is thicker and stronger and will last longer. In my smaller barrels I have used black plastic because they are much easier to empty and replace but these beds hold about 1 tonne of soil mix and I want them to last as long as possible. The only area that is important to keep watertight is the bottom and sides up to the overflow.

Pond liner installed in frame and socked agricultural drainage pipe in place.

Pond liner installed in frame and socked agricultural drainage pipe in place.

Before locking in the liner drill a hole about 25mm in diameter that you can use to fit the overflow. In this bed I used tank fittings which are 25mm in diameter and come with back nuts and rubber washers to make it waterproof. Position the bottom of these just above the reservoir which is made of 100mm socked agricultural drainage pipe. Make sure that the overflow fitting goes snugly through the pond liner and tighten the lot to make it watertight. There is no water pressure involved in this so firm is good enough on a nice flat surface.

In the next stage I used a staple gun to hold the liner in place while the rest of the process was carried out. Once pegged to the wall make sure there is plenty of slack in the bottom so that the weight of water and soil does not tear the liner as it settles.

Next you need to install the reservoir. I used socked 100mm agricultural drainage pipe. This is slotted drainage pipe you can buy from agricultural suppliers or plumbing outlets. It comes either bare or socked with geotextile. I prefer the geotextile socked type because the roots will not grow into it and clog up the reservoir but if you want to save money then others use weed mat above the reservoir to hold back the roots. This layer needs to allow the tracking of water but hopefully keep the roots above it and keep the garden soil apart from the wicking sand.

To install the reservoir pipe you will need about 10 metres of this pipe for a bed such as this. Pull the sock over each end and seal with a string or cable tie.Install the fill pipe which will come up the inside of the box above the top so you can fill the reservoir. Cut the bottom of the filler at 45 degree angle then cut a small slot in the ag pipe and pull the sock over the junction and cable tie in place. I also secured the filler at the top to the inside of the frame to prevent it getting accidentally pulled out of the pipe which would mean digging it all out again.

Once done some of the pipe will want to sit up a bit but you need it level on the bottom to get the most water holding capacity. No need for anything drastic but it is time to fill the gaps and loops with building sand or similar with no organic matter that can break down. When adding the sand use shovel loads of it to hold the pipe in place then continue filling until all spaces filled and you have covered the pipe and overflow to a depth of at least 30mm all over.

At this point you can test the system by filling the reservoir through the fill pipe until water runs out of the overflow. At this stage, if you have levelled the wicking sand evenly you will see a small film of water  above the sand and the overflow running. Stop filling and go to the next step.

Wicking frame with reservoir installed and sand put in and levelled. You can see the filler pipe in the front left corner coming above the top of the bed.

Wicking frame with reservoir installed and sand put in and levelled. You can see the filler pipe in the front left corner coming above the top of the bed.

You need to put some sort of barrier between the wicking sand and the garden or potting mix. I use sugar can mulch which is very effective but others have used weed matting, either way it must let the water through effectively.

Garden soil filled to the top of the bed. Excess pond liner trimmed to the top of the bed and this will prevent any wood preservative from leaching into the bed.

Garden soil filled to the top of the bed. Excess pond liner trimmed to the top of the bed and this will prevent any wood preservative from leaching into the bed.

On top of the barrier put about 30cm of potting mix or soil followed by a layer of mulch and job done.

The top of each side is capped with board to tidy up the job. These are recycled boards and give a ledge tp sit on or put tools and things. Still to be repainted. Filler tube can be seen above this cap.

The top of each side is capped with board to tidy up the job. These are recycled boards and give a ledge to sit on or put tools and things. Still to be repainted. Filler tube can be seen above this cap.

Because this is a kitchen garden I want to be able to go out to the garden and not get dirty picking herbs and such. Therefore I dug down 80mm around the beds, put in weed mat and back filled with 50mm white marble. On the right side I will putting some extra wicking barrels to use the space well but no walking over and muddy paths.

Because this is a kitchen garden I want to be able to go out to the garden and not get dirty picking herbs and such. Therefore I dug down 80mm around the beds, put in weed mat and back filled with 50mm white marble. On the right side I will putting some extra wicking barrels to use the space well but no walking over any muddy paths.

The same treatment between the twin beds as on the outside.

The same treatment between the twin beds as on the outside.

 

Gravel laid down and caps painted. Just a matter of mulching and planting up over the next couple of weeks. The 50mm gravel seemed it could be difficult to walk on but it is great and no problem with the added advantage over small gravel that get stuck in boot treads and carried indoors.

Gravel laid down and caps painted. Just a matter of mulching and planting up over the next couple of weeks. The 50mm gravel seemed it could be difficult to walk on but it is great and no problem with the added advantage over small gravel that get stuck in boot treads and carried indoors.

Bed mulched and planted with some test seedlings. In this bed there is lettuce, broccoli green dragon and afro parsley. Don't forget to water these in at the start to remove air around the roots. I watered morning and night for the first day then the following morning and let the wicking take care of them after that. Working great after 4 days andsome very high temperatures around 39c.

Bed mulched and planted with some test seedlings. In this bed there is lettuce, broccoli green dragon and afro parsley. Don’t forget to water these in at the start to remove air around the roots. I watered morning and night for the first day then the following morning and let the wicking take care of them after that. Working great after 4 days and some very high temperatures around 39c.

Hot weather continuing so needed to arrange some sort of protection for the seedlings. This is insect proof netting which stops butterflies laying eggs on broccoli etc and also gives 15% protection. This is an interim measure only because it is affected by the wind so will be changed after this heatwave to something more robust.

Hot weather continuing so needed to arrange some sort of protection for the seedlings. This is insect proof netting which stops butterflies laying eggs on broccoli etc and gives 15% protection. This is an interim measure only because it is affected by the wind so will be changed after this heat wave to something more robust.

 

Deconstruct Laundry Tub Planter

February 24, 2016

This morning I emptied the Concrete Laundry Twin Tub Planter so that I could get a wheelbarrow between the aviary and the taps. In this tub I had some bulbs planted, some of which has already begun to move and three had green tops. I dug all these out and repotted them in smaller pots of 3 or 4 bulbs. I will plant these out once they finally die down and I have a planting space for them.

Aviary showing the corner of the Double laundry tub blocking access to the back section.

Aviary showing the corner of the Double laundry tub blocking access to the back section.

I will keep hold of the laundry tub and use it again in a different place. Perhaps it will become a herb planter, especially for mint which can become invasive if left to its own devices in the ground.

Nerine Fothergillii in flower after being potted on from the emptied laundry tub.

Nerine Fothergillii in flower after being potted on from the emptied laundry tub.

Finch Aviary Report 23rd February 2016

February 23, 2016

Just a short update to my earlier post on the finch aviary. The zebra finches have started to hatch and the Cut Throat Finches have three eggs.

Recently hatched Zebra Finch. There are at least 2 more chicks in the nest but they would not co-operate to get a photo. Cannot photograph from above because the zebras have built such a tight nest with a tight roof and I didn't want to disturb them any more than necessary.

Recently hatched Zebra Finch. There are at least 2 more chicks in the nest but they would not co-operate to get a photo. Cannot photograph from above because the zebras have built such a tight nest with a tight roof and I didn’t want to disturb them any more than necessary.

This is the nest of the Cut Throat Finches. Very spartan when compared with the zebras whose nest appears impregnable. This photo taken through the open lid.

This is the nest of the Cut Throat Finches. Very spartan when compared with the zebras whose nest appears impregnable. This photo taken through the open lid.


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