Story telling from Australia
The past week has seen soft rain, filtered sunlight and quiet enjoyment. Yes, quiet. Birds instead of building work. What a waste to have filled the minutes leading up to this week with dread of what it might hold.
The unexpected reprieve has brought crimson rosellas and wood pigeons into this tiny back yard, while I’ve been taking stock of some hard decisions that lie ahead.
Flowers still fall from the outstretched limbs of the frangipani but the tree has grown so large and so lopsided that I fear its weighty branches might one day break. I hate pruning. It seems so counter productive to cut back anything green when we’re surrounded by concrete.
Yet I know it works. Without a hard prune the climbing rose would have succumbed to black spot, and look at it now. The only thing that saved the viburnum was an equally vicious chop. The pest attack was so severe I was forced to cut off almost every branch. It went from beautiful to bare, yet three weeks later it’s growing back.
As temperatures finally start to dip after Sydney’s long hot summer I wonder what to do about the honeysuckle. Two years of rampant growth have sent it shooting to the top of a twenty foot wall on the southern side of the patio, covering the ugly breeze blocks with scented flowers and green stems. That’s exactly what I wanted, but now the base is woody and bare. Endless side shoots suck all the moisture out of the ground, making it difficult for other plants to flourish, and the problem will only get worse.
I probably shouldn’t have planted it in the first place. A hard prune would help, although then the wall would be bare until it grows back.
The answer, of course, would be to pull it out and replace it with one or two better behaved plants, like the evergreen jasmine that in less than a year has spiralled up the pillar at the front of the house. Jasmine will grow along the entire length of the stem, it’s easy to tip prune and it will stay glossy and green all year long.
Photos taken less than three years ago are a reminder that plants grow quickly here in Australia. So if I do pull out the honeysuckle, that wall won’t be naked for long.