22 December 2013

Count down to Autumn GOG

Only 3 days to Christmas and 110 days to the Autumn Gardens of Glenlyon!

The garden has had a dream run to date, with the most beautiful weather through Winter and Spring.
Winter sky

The rain bucketed down up to a month ago, but things are getting serious.  Now the summer heat has arrived, with temperatures of up to 40C.

A full dam after winter rains

Our selection of plants has to take into consideration these wide variations in the weather.  We must select frost tolerant plants as well as those that will survive a scorching summer.

Winter frost

Summer heat
The rule of thumb around here is to wait until after Cup Day to plant frost-tender plants such as tomatoes.  But this year we were out-smarted by the weather.  A very late frost frizzled things.

Our frizzled grapevine.
Our grapevines are mainly for shade, but the local vineyards lost their first fruit.

2 December 2013

Budding bee keepers

Bees need hot weather for honey.  Plants produce the most nectar when the weather is hot and humid.
The last 12 months has been difficult for bees, because of the inclement weather.  However, with the first little burst of summery weather, they are out in their thousands (well, probably millions!).  The hives have been re-queened and are humming with activity.

The next generation of bee keepers are learning the ropes.

Grandpa John selects a hive and each grand child, on reaching the age of 11, is donned in bee keeping gear and given their own hive.

Michaela is now 15.  She has a lemon coloured hive with a Collingwood sticker.

Eli has a white hive with a bulldog sticker.

Osker didn't stay in his bee suit long enough to be photographed (he's the one in the green tee shirt).  He has a white hive with a Collingwood sticker.

Three more boys to go!

18 November 2013

Planning for 2014

Today, the gardeners of Glenlyon gathered to plan for next year's open gardens.  The focus in 2014 is autumn and sustainability and how we manage our gardens, all in very different locations and soil conditions.
Next year, there will be gardens to visit, talks to attend, gardening products to buy and fabulous dining in two local venues - Ellender Winery and the Glenlyon General Store.

20 September 2013



September 2013, and it's still raining!

The garden is ecstatic, except for the veggie patch, which is sodden.  The broccoli hasn't turned a hair, but the root vegetables are not so thrilled.

The garden is a mass of Spring blooms, especially the bulbs.  I have managed to reduce the yellows by culling many of the yellow daffodils and replacing with some gorgeous white ones.  Dotted around are pink and purple anenomes, snow drops and jonquils (especially Paper White and Erlicheer).  What is left of the  ranunculi after a pesky rabbit savaged them, are in bud.

The 'piece de resistance' is the white Magnolia Soulangiana, a mass of blooms this year because there were few frosts- another advantage of the rain.



One's attitude to rain is certainly modified following a prolonged drought!  After eight years of minimal rainfall and the very dry winter and spring of 2012, this rain is so beautiful!

The dam is nearly full and the garden is brimming with blossoms and flowering bulbs that have beaten the gun on Spring.

The river is flowing at near-capacity and our water hole is full.

The mist on the river in the early morning is magical.

Beside the river we wend our way along the 'Kangaroo Highway', our feet crunching on the icy grass in the early morning light.

Pockets of sadness: Growing more dogs

There is another little of pocket of sadness in our garden, where Joplin, "Joppie", resides.

Jop was walking with us one day, down to the dam beside the bee hives.  We had visitors and we were showing them around.  Joppie rushed down in front of us with a visiting dog.  They disappeared into the bushes.

On our way back, Joppie was very slow, but as she was thirteen, we weren't particularly concerned.

However, when we returned to the house, Jop went to the shed and started screaming, then collapsed.

We rushed her to the vet, where she was given antivenene for snake bite, as this was the most likely cause of her symptoms.  She died soon after.  My heart was broken and the boys dug a large hole in the rock-hard clay to bury her.  There was practically no garden then.  My sister planted a small garden around her, an extension of a tiny patch that had been planted by the previous owner.

A tatty old wallflower resided in this garden and over the months it grew into a wonderful thriving bush.  My daughter Leah, who has a delicious black sense of humour, commented "Mum!  You've got to plant more dogs!"

Well, sadly, now we have.

Joplin's wallflower - thriving above a planted dog.

19 September 2013

Pockets of sadness

Our garden is full of happiness- birds singing, bees buzzing and humans at peace with the world.

However, within the garden are pockets of sadness.  Our 'grand dog' Lily has died, aged only seven.  She developed a tumour on her spine and with a negative reaction to drugs which made her very ill and the pain of the tumour, it was decided that she should go to doggie heaven.

Lily was loved by the whole family.  She was so gentle and loving, but also such fun, doing her 'spazz dogs', rushing around in circles with delight.

She spent a great deal of her life at 'Greenlion', racing around or sleeping beside us while we gardened.

She loved walking with us to the river, eating the odd bit of kangaroo poo and fossicking through the grasses.

When we sat outside with a cuppa, she crossed her front paws in the most endearing way and placed her head on our feet.

Now, Lily resides at the edge of the front garden, looking down into the river valley.  We took some time to choose the best spot- the place with the best view.

We buried her with rosemary for remembrance, daffodils for brightness, daphne for sweetness and blood and bone to fill her doggy heart with joy.
It's hard in the morning, when we are not greeted by a happy dog, tail wagging in anticipation of the morning walk.

Vale, Lil.

18 April 2013

Autumn color at Vizsla Lak

Viszla Lak is a riot of autumn color at the moment. To see the contrast here's what it looked like in summer.

1 March 2013

A gardener's view of worms

"The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly plowed and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms.  It may be doubted whether there are other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures".     
Charles Darwin

In my garden when I turn a over a rock, lift a brick or a pot plant, especially in summer, I'll find a worm.  They like cool, moist, dark places.  So you'll find them in soil that is rich and damp and covered with leaf litter or mulch.

In cold weather, if you search in the soil you will find mature and young earthworms as well as eggs. They become active when the soil starts to warm in the spring.  By late spring, most worms are mature.  As temperatures rise and the ground becomes dry, activity slows and they move deeper below the ground.  Many lay eggs and then die, so by midsummer those worms remaining are very young or  protected by egg capsules.  As the weather cools, young worms emerge.  With the onset of wet weather, they grow active, making burrows and eating extra food, resulting in more worm castings.  Egg laying occurs again.  Activity continues as long as the soil is damp.

From a gardener's perspective, the earthworm's life task is to break down organic matter and add it back as nutrient-rich pH neutral worm castings (that's poo, a soil conditioner called vermicast).  An earthworm produces its weight in castings daily.

Leading with its pointy head, and using its bristle-like hairs, called 'setae', it pushes through the soft earth, swallows soil or organic matter, grinds this in its gizzard and excretes tiny castings to line the burrow or deposit at the entrance hole.  Deep-burrowing worms aerate the soil and condition it by digging deep, long tunnels, bringing oxygen to roots of plants.  Composting worms are surface dwellers who live under leaf litter.

The application of chemical fertilizers, sprays and dusts can be disastrous for worms.  Nitrogenous fertilizers tend to create acidic conditions, which are fatal for worms.  In Australia, changes in farming practices such as the application of super phosphate to pastures had a devastating effect on the Giant Gippsland earthworm, which is now a protected species.

After rain, earthworms often appear above the ground.  They haven't drowned, as fresh water doesn't disturb them.  However, stagnant or contaminated water will force them from their burrows. Earthworms can survive in soil that freezes gradually.

So to encourage worms, keep the soil moist, with plenty of leaf matter and avoid artificial fertilizers.
Adding compost to the soil is an excellent way of attracting worms, as well as increasing moisture.

Gael Shannon

15 February 2013

This afternoon it is pouring

Huge rain drops - too heavy to go out and check the rain gauge. And what a contrast to the past few weeks when there's been no rain at all.

Here's our local weatherman's report for November and December 2012:

The rainfall in November was only 28mm, which is well below the monthly average of 61mm. 

The rainfall in December was 20mm, which was only 40% of the monthly average of 50mm.  Rainfall for the August-December period this year (187mm) has been less than half of the average (382mm) for this five month period - the rainfall during this period has been lower only twice in the past 25 years (1994 and 2006).

The total rainfall for the year is 644mm, with is 27% below the long term average of 885mm. Flow in the Loddon is now not much more than a trickle.

So - this gives you an idea of what the gardeners of Glenlyon have to work with (or against).