Story telling from Australia
It’s mid winter, another six weeks until spring arrives and the plants in this challenging garden are growing. Broken Hill’s desert-cold nights might be dropping to a chilly three or four degrees but here in Sydney we haven’t seen single digits yet. Maybe we won’t?
I planted jonquils a few weeks ago, tucking the bulbs into a patch of ground where nothing else would grow. I’d already moved the hydrangea that had failed to thrive, so why I thought delicate, sweet smelling jonquils might bloom I don’t know.
Instinct is a funny thing. It turns out jonquils aren’t as delicate as they look. According to Burke’s Backyard, “…they’re the most indestructible and easy to grow of all garden bulbs, often surviving in abandoned gardens.”
Less than four weeks after planting they’ve punched their way through the hardened ground to produce a tiny forest of thick green stems; they may yet bloom before winter’s end. There are other surprises too; four native hardenbergia – spindly plants that failed to impress in the months after I put them in – have suddenly produced clouds of white and purple flowers.
The Eureka lemon tree is doing its best to fill in the empty patch of sky where next door’s windows overlook this otherwise private courtyard, and the potted sweet viburnum has thanked me for moving it into the sun. It tolerates shade, but grows so much faster in sun.
And in all my failed attempts to grow herbs and vegetables in the shaded back courtyard I overlooked a wall next to the drive at the front of the house – a wall that gets several hours of sunlight a day. The top of the wall was covered in weeds, so if weeds could grow there, why not herbs?
I cleared the weeds, filled the surprisingly deep depression with good quality soil, dug in blood and bone and planted mint. It took.
I added chives and rosemary. I grew bolder, added strawberries rescued from a stone pot where they were struggling and look –
– a tiny flower has appeared, heralding hope for a crop, however small, of the strawberries I so miss from Broken Hill. Even the blueberry bush, squeezed into a space where it barely gets enough sun to tell the difference between night and day, has produced a single flower.
This garden may be a long way from my ideal patch of paradise, but it’s growing on me, slowly and surely.