All posts by rumachak

To the good times a garden brings

Feeling ever so slightly flat after weeks of planning an engagement party that was celebrated last weekend, I went into the backyard to find it blazing with various shades of pink, purple and green and decked out with swelling fruit. From apples, eggplant and black sapote to strawberries, pears, quinces and zucchini – there are some good times ahead as well. The flowers aren’t looking too shabby either – with the Solanum wendlandii taking over the pergola and salvia Wendy’s Wish dripping with cerise bells. The bees have been busy in the garden too, with Verbena bonariensis and other bee magnets out in full force. All good!

Clockwise from the top: Quinces, salvia Wendy’s Wish, Solanum wendlandii and a little bobble head of Verbena bonariensis

April is all about the garden

The calendar on my phone has reminded me each of the last three mornings that April is all about propagation. From salvias to hebes and wormwood to stachys, every perennial and shrub is simply crying out to be trimmed back, dead headed and disciplined to within an inch of its life in April. There are rewards beyond the obvious for playing dominatrix in the yard this month. Not only do the plants look suitably submissive, they also produce a vast amount of material that has the potential to supply cuttings and hence new plants for newer plantings. Out of every ten cuttings, if even five were to take, that is a saving of fifty dollars at the very least! Take that, big green soulless shed!

Whatever does not take goes into the compost bin to make more goodness for plants to take up and grow further. I am hoping to be able to share some plants with other gardeners as well. After all, gardening can be one massive exercise in paying it forward. As I look about my own garden, the eye stops at William’s aloe, John’s Narcissus obesus, Laurie’s agastache Sweet Lilli, John’s sedum Autumn Joy and Ty’s water celery to name a few. For a garden so full of the generosity of others, the right thing would be to give generously when I can.


April is also about planting. Email notifications from and Jon Lamb from ABC Radio’s Talkback Gardening tell me that the time is right for beans, brassicas, members of the onion family and Asian greens. If you are still reading this, you probably know your brassicas from your bunching onions. And if I reeled you in with all that talk about dominatrices and you are still here as there is something cool about the way I write, then let me tell you that brassicas are cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli and kale while Asian greens are anything from bok choy to mizuna. Jon adds that April is also the time for the sap suckers to arrive and begin feeding on your treasured roses and beloved begonias. Squirting with garlic spray or eco-oil will help keep them down while still leaving enough for the good insects to have a feed. Remember, killing them all will simply see a decrease in predators like ladybirds. So, spray in moderation or not at all.
For me this April in particular is going to be about planting. Having just come back from the delights of the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, I am full of ideas both big and small. I also have the minor matter of a possible garden opening for members of a garden club in October which has already given me a number of psychedelic nightmares involving petunias. Note to myself: There will be a minimum of petunias. Like the garden below –
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Show Garden from Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

I have a list of things to plant as long as my arm; okay, three or four arm lengths. This post is going to be easy and short in comparison. So, here goes:


To plant:

Bearded Iris, Riversdale Irises:
a) Devil May Care
b) By Jeeves
c) Beverly Sills
d) Gracious Curves
e) Whoop em Up
In addition, I am expecting some pass-along iris rhizomes from interstate.
Australian natives, Native Plant Project:
a) Banksia blechnifolia
b) Pin cushion hakea
c) Pink kangaroo paw
d) Banksia
a) Callicarpa giraldiana
b) Phlomis kashmiriana
c) Syringa wolfii
d) Ribes sanguineum pink
Bulbs, Tesselaar:
a) Picasso ranunculus – 25
b) Pheasant’s Eye daffodils – 5
c) Allium drumsticks – 10
d) Snowflake Gravetye Giant – 5
e) Hyacinth – Blue Pearl and White Pearl – 3 of each
Bulbs, Red Earth:
f) Ranunculus burgundy –
g) Thalia daffodils – 3 x 3 = 9
h) Ixia Elvira Blue – 3
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Wall of dahlias at Red Earth Bulbs (MIFGS)
i) Chincherinchee – 25
j) Dutch iris mixed – 20
k) King Fabiola – 25
l) Ranunculus Mixed – 50
m) Ranunculus Pastel – 25
n) Freesia Refracta Alba – 50
o) Wickedly White collection: 5 Snowflakes, 10 Jonquil, 10 Chincherinchee, 25 Ranunculi, 20 Freesia refracta alba
p) Burst of Blue collection: 25 Spring Star, 25 Anemone Single, 5 Dutch Iris, 10 Freesia, 25 Muscari/Grape Hyacinths
Bulbs, from Laurie:
q) Scilla peruviana pink – 1
r) Oxalis hirta
s) Oxalis 

Bulbs from John:
t) Narcissus obesus
u) Narcissus Ta Julia
v) Narcissus romieuxii Julia Jane
w) Narcissus jonquilla
x) Fritillary meleagris seeds
Seeds, Seed Collection:
a) Snow pea Mammoth melting
b) Radish French breakfast – 3
c) Evening Primrose
d) Coriander – Slow Bolt – 3
e) Sugarsnap Pea – Cascadia
f) Beetroot Cylindrica
g) Grain amaranth
h) Radish Hailstone
i) Radish Rat Tail
j) Basil Dark Opal – 2
k) Candytuft Dwarf Fairy
l) Larkspur Imperial Choice: 3
m) Linaria Fairy Bouquet: 2
n) Foxglove Excelsior Mix
o) Tussock Bellflower
Seeds, Chiltern Seeds:
p) Hardy bulbs
I also have a tray of seeds earmarked for autumn, which is now for us in the Southern Hemisphere. This contains both bought and saved seeds such as crimson flowered broad beans and Novella peas as well as gifted seeds such as hollyhocks and honesty from local gardeners. I will have to list them for my own mental peace and satisfaction but I think I might stop for lunch now.
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Jason Hodges garden at MIFGS
I feel like the dog in the photo above, wagging away in happy anticipation. Or at least what it would do if it was alive.

Wednesday Vignette(s): Don’t make me miss winter!

Twenty four degrees Centigrade and it is not even spring yet, here in Adelaide in South Australia. I know it does not sound like much, especially when I think of what the gardeners of the Mediterranean regions of California have been going through. But this is also the sort of windy day that sucks the winter moisture right out of our seriously dry soils and leaves the door open for garden plants to perish and bush fires to start from the slightest spark.

Another reason this temperature so early in the season annoys me is the way I know it will cut short the show of bulbs in the garden here. A couple of weeks ago it was hail turning the delicate flowers on the early bulbs to mush. A couple of days like today and the bright blooms of daffodils and tritonia will be faded by the sun and the photos on my phone will be the only reminder that they had bloomed like so many stars.

I planted a lot of anemones and ranunculi in the beds as well. They are providing iridescence under the chopped back salvias. The arctotis daisy has filled the bit under one of the olive trees. In the last couple of weeks little fuzzy buds have been raising their heads out of the mass of leaves and going through a shepherd’s crook phase before throwing their faces to the sun in cerise exuberance.


Flower stalk on Aloe maculata:

Scilla peruviana:





Eremophila nivea:
Eremophila nivea

The last photograph is of an Aussie native. This has done so well in the garden that I am sorely tempted to buy a few more, both of this kind and the species in general. One of these days, definitely!
Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Anna at Flutter and Hum. Click to see what caught Anna’s attention this week.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – August 2018

It has been a while since I have blogged about the garden but I have kept up on Facebook with the garden photos and descriptions. Hopefully I will be blogging a lot more regularly once I make this start and join all the people across the country and the planet in recording what it is that we do in the garden to make ourselves mostly happy and occasionally a little anxious. So here goes my post for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

                                 It is not winter without a pot or three of white Primulas


In the mostly happy category today was the discovery of the first flowers from the daffodils that I had planted last year in pots. Five bulbs to a terracotta pot, labelled with strips cut from the three litre milk jugs that I bought only for their recyclability (is that even a word?), eight pots in all. Unfortunately, some of the labels have disappeared and the writing on a couple of the others has all but faded in the sun that blasted down on them all through November, December and January. Actually there is a new bulb on flower wherever I look in the garden in August and as always, the plants are sensing that warmer days are only a month or two away. We had a perfectly sunny day on Tuesday and another one today. Although it looks like that might be about to change. Or not.

                                                             Split corona daffodils 

split corolla daffodils

                                                              Tete a tete daffodils


                                                   Grape hyacinths by the front door

grape hyacinths

The other happy thing is the return of the perennials like Monarda and sedum Matrona after the winter chill.



                                  Rosettes of sedum and a couple of self seeded Cosmos

sedum roses

                         Jonquil Erlicheer is always the first bulb to flower in this garden

Erlicheer jonquils

In the anxious category, I have so many things that there is little point listing them and developing a deep funk. But a large part of the anxiety centres around the voracious appetites of the local snail population. They seem to be able to zero in on the most recently acquired precious thing and then proceed to denude it of all green bits. The latest victims of the snails are a little yellow flowered chrysanthemum and a salvia. And a Artemisia Oriental Limelight. And…..and…you get the picture. Or what is missing from it anyway!

                                                                Escargot begone!


I am also loving the new growth of these broadbeans, which are seeing a lot of bee action at the moment. I had the first baby bean yesterday, wrapped in a bit of nasturtium leaf with a fennel stalk for perfume. Yes, I am a grazer!

Broadbean flowers and Japanese red mustard with bee on the right hand pic

broadbeans and mustard broad bee.jpg

And that is what is happening in some parts of my garden in mid August for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Hope you liked looking at it! A very special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens without looking whose post I would never have thought of writing a blog post of my own today.

The Time of the Brugs

This week in the garden has been all about the flowering of the Brugmansia. Grown from a pencil thin cutting in a pot and neglected on and off over three years of changing houses and living in rental places, it never sulked or worse, gave it up and died. Once in the ground at this house it proved that flowers will always find a way. Every three months it blooms like mad for about two weeks. Then it goes quiet and lets nature work under the surface. I wish we had evolved to perform as silently. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, trace elements and of course the sun – all work away, not once needing applause or validation. And then, when their part is done, you are rewarded with this!


Cuttings have been taken and rooted in a glass of water on the window sill. Two of those clones now grow in other parts of the garden. In another year they should be giving their parent a bit of competition!


Another garden goodie from the Cape of Good Hope

This little gem is Oscularia deltoides.
Oscularia, because the little tooth-like edges make each pair of leaves look like a little mouth or osculum (Latin) and deltoides or delta-shaped as each leaf is triangular. In its home in South Africa, this succulent is known as dassie (hyrax) vygie (small fig) or sandsteenvygie because it grows in the sandstone country. I guess the rock hyrax must either live in the same terrain or like munching on the plant.

It has been doing beautifully in our Adelaide garden, in pots in morning sun and all day exposure to whatever weather we are having as well as in the ground, like the one in the photograph. The startlingly pink flowers are said to be almond scented, but mine are too low near the ground for me to breathe the perfume.

A tough plant for the Mediterranean garden despite its spun sugar flowers and celadon green fleshy leaves.


Photo: my own

Bare roots and all! Tree planting season is upon us

It is that time of the year again when a gardener’s thoughts turn lightly to bare-rooted trees, as a future feast for both the senses and the body. The youngest was kind enough to indulge me with the first of the season’s garden gifts with nineteen trees, or was it twenty two? These include trios of flowering dogwood or Cornus and forest pansy or Cercis and a solitary Magnolia grandiflora or Southern bull bay. The others are trios of Chinese tallow, katsura, Japanese maple and some others I will need to go and check.

Why trios? Well, trees look good in odd numbers just like Ganesha statues or shirtless photos of Brad, Salman or Putin. Actually, scratch that last one. Trees generally look good in groups, being social things.

Of the new arrivals, I am especially looking forward to seeing autumn colour on the maples. But wait, there is more as the Sham wow guy says on television. The Katsura is famed for colour and a sweet perfume from its autumn leaves that is variously described as caramel, candy floss or brown sugar! Imagine, candy floss on the air and not on the hips.

The other one is the Chinese tallow, with its three lobed fruit enclosing nuts covered in pure white wax. The Chinese used to boil the covering away to make candles. After the wax has been removed the seeds are apparently used as purgatives in herbal medicine. I kid you not.

But the one I am looking forward to most is the M.grandiflora, the one with giant cup shaped white flowers and waxy leaves with brown felted undersides. These are the classic corsage flowers, loved by authors of Regency romances and couples walking in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens alike(there is a splendid tree there).They are the Scarletts of the plant world, showy, dramatic, delicate but strong.

Frankly my dears, as you may know by now, I give many a damn when it comes to plants. Now to find someone willing to keep a shirt on and dig some holes and heft a few sacks of compost and rock minerals about, while I sip on a refreshing minty julep or three.



People : Dan Pearson, Garden & Landscape Designer, Created Paul Smith’s Garden & Japan’s Millenium Forest ……



Dan Pearson (born 9 April 1964) is an English garden designer, landscape designer, journalist and television presenter. He is an expert in naturalistic perennial planting.

Early life

Pearson was brought up in an Arts and Crafts house on the Hampshire-Sussex border. His father is a painter who taught fine art at Portsmouth Polytechnic and his mother taught fashion and textiles at Winchester School of Art.

He had a weekend gardening job for Mrs. Pumphrey at Greatham Mill Gardens, Hampshire that cultivated his interest in gardening. He decided against going to Art College, and dropped out of his A levels (backed by his parents) to be able to go to the RHS Garden, Wisley, at 17. During 1981–1983, he became an RHS Wisley Trainee, Certificate Course, aged 17. While at Wisley his mother introduced him to Frances Mossman, for whom he designed a garden. Dan then went to the Royal Botanic…

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Not quite Sissinghurst! But better.

I have always wanted to go to England; for the gardens and the RHS shows; for the lush green plants, all seemingly bathed in an eternal downpouring of light that is as watery and serene as a Gainsborough oil; for the sake of seeing the gardens of THAT garden show in May where Australians like Jim Fogarty have won gold with their unique show gardens.

Bel phool

White flowered Jasmine

But for the time being, that trip seems to be slightly out of reach. So, I sulk a little and then knuckle down to creating something of my own that will at least have been inspired by my love of British gardens. After all, I have drooled over enough shows with Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh patiently pointing out the differences between potentilla and potential disasters and drawn up enough lists of plants that would look cottagey as well as survive Adelaide’s wet soggy winters and bone dry summers. These must also hold up against the bone white light of Southern Australia, more bleaching than a bottle of Chlorox on the unmentionables.

When inspiration strikes me, it does not do it by halves. I decide that I am going to plant up the wide bed that wraps around the empty space to the left of our house with a mixture of plants such as salvias, bulbs, perennials and annuals in a colour graded plan. I will start at the front of the space, where the wide bed sits atop two terraces held back by stone filled cages or gabions. The colour for that bed will be mainly white, grey and green. Blue will help enhance the whiteness of the whites and the greyness of the greys. This will be my Sissinghurst, only on a bed that will be hundreds of times smaller when compared to THAT white garden. My ambitions and plant wishes of course are more suited to something the size of the entire estate. I am blissfully aware that I am not Vita, nor do I have her means or the deep pockets of Harold Nicholson to assist me in my adventure.

I start of course with order. I draw up a list of all the white plants I have. I do this once by hand, just numbering the plants. I then do another one, grouping them by height. This will be the final one I intend to work from. I am sure I will be over-planting the bed, given the number of plants I have and the space constraints. But I am flexible about that. I plan to get around that by simply widening the bed till I can fit everything in. Told you I was flexible!

A lot of these plants are passalongs, which simply adds to the pleasure of planting. Each person, each nursery and each trip to get the plants will be revisited, every year as the plants reach their full blowsy potential. That after all is the best part of gardening!


1 Pale Sweet Peas Hi Scent 1 White Salvia Greggi 1 Alyssum 1  
2 Salvia discolour 2 Stevia 2 White Santolina 2  
3 Artemisia 3 Cotyledon orbiculata 3 White flowered Basil 3  
4 Arum Green Goddess 4 White poppies 4 Rain lilies 4  
5 Jasmine Sambac 5 Variegated Kalanchoe 5 Garlic chives 5  
6 Potato Vine 6 Pale orange Salvia Greggii Pumpkin 6 Chincherinchee 6  
7 White rose perfumed 7 Stachys byzantica 7 Tuberoses 7  
8 Ammi Majus 8 Clary sage 8 Candytuft 8  
9 Brugmansia 9 Russian sage 9 Spring Onions 9  
10 Salvia Finnisgrove 10 Spring Onions 10 White Ivy geraniums 10  
11   11 Leucophyta 11   11  
12   12   12   12  
13   13   13   13  
14   14   14   14  


When a little lizard comes asking, are you my Mummy?


This little blue tongued lizard took a walk on the tame side and ended up under my bed and then a little further into the walk in closet.

Blue tongue lizard

Who are you gonna call? Not the RSPCA, they don’t do healthy animals. Not Fauna Rescue, they help everything from microbats to possums but no mention of reptiles. So you call your student who owns Reptile City, find he is unavailable and then you arm yourself with bacon, grapes and a spatula. The grapes are for it, just in case it was a vegetarian. The spatula was for courage. Eventually patience paid off. Little Bluey is united with the great outdoors and I can finally take a break.

I will add lizard whisperer to my resume later on.