There’s a Husband in my garden!

Stop press!  Hold the headlines!  My other half is in the garden, and he’s got a spade in his hand!

Seriously, though.  We’ve gone from a man whose idea of gardening was to pay the neighbour to mow his grass and to kick dirt back into the holes dug by his late dog, to someone who’s willing, or possibly even happy, to help with the heavy lifting out there, because it makes me happy.

I needed to move my tubs of vegies from fence A to fence B, where they won’t be scorched to death (see Frying Tonight, September, Gardening).  We achieved that with no trouble, although the irrigation system’s going to need some rethinking.  Then, as I’d now got space in the correct place, I decided to plant my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow creeper, my Star Jasmine and my Passionfruit vine.  These were going into positions where I haven’t had a chance to put down compost to encourage the worms to move back in, or water, or turn the soil over at all.  So first thing was to break up the clay, then steal some compost from another area of the garden which wasn’t doing much yet, and then water heavily.  Then I moved away to do some other stuff, while the water got the planting holes nice and soggy.  In they went.  The Passionfruit and the Star Jasmine get nice mounds of earth, as they don’t much enjoy wet feet.  The Y,T&T is in a slightly higher part of the plot, so no mound was necessary.

Husband dug, watered and repositioned things as requested, and seemed to be quite happy in this alien environment.  But after a while, it wasn’t fun for him any more, and I carried on alone.  The dark red and silver grey variegated begonias are in too, and that part of the planting area is now thickly covered in sugar cane mulch.  For those to whom this is a foreign substance, sugar cane trash is chopped finely and used as mulch all over northern Queensland, where the cane is widely grown. It’s full of goodies and rots down well without robbing nitrogen from the soil, unlike other more carbon-based mulches such as bark chips.

My Hippeastrums are coming out, great triumphant shouting trumpets of colour.  When I was a child in England, these were commonly known as Amaryllis belladonna, but Hippeastrum is how they’re known here. See, aren’t they gorgeous?

I love flowers with broken colour and if I were in a cold climate I'd be growing parrot tulips. But these girls are gorgeous, aren't they?

I love flowers with broken colour and if I were in a cold climate I’d be growing parrot tulips. But these girls are gorgeous, aren’t they?

Anyway, a little more progress has been made out there, despite the heat.  I’ve been worried about the Flame Tree I gave the Husband, which is sitting in a 50L tub.  It’s about 1500mm tall, and since the transplant from weeny pot to nice big tub, it’s been dropping leaves – they go bronze, then yellow, and then fall.  However, it has also been shooting out new baby leaves at the growing tip of each branch, and even if it loses every adult leaf it already has, I think it’s going to make it.  A relief, as himself will be heartbroken if it carks it.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Flame Tree: Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the Illawarra Flame Tree, is a large tree of the family Malvaceae native to subtropicalregions on the east coast of Australia. It is famous for the bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it is leafless. Along with other members of the genus Brachychiton, it is commonly referred to as a Kurrajong.  

And here’s what they look like:

Just LOOK at that colour.  And the flowers are tiny, so imagine how many there are.

Just LOOK at that colour. And the flowers are tiny, so imagine how many there are.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the image.

The tree flowers mostly on bare branches, so you get what looks like a dead stick (OK, a very large dead stick) absolutely covered in these screaming scarlet flowers.  They have a habit of growing in rainforests, where you can see them for miles off because the red stands out against the dark green of everything else. Fabulous, eh?  I can see why the Husband loves them, they’re truly iconic, outrageous and brilliant.  I’m slightly nervous of what will happen when it gets bigger: I’m going to have to take out the top growing tips and root prune it every few years to try and ‘bonsai’ it as much as possible.  Yet another example of why I’d so much love a bigger garden: the damn things grow to 15 metres or more in domestic gardens, and 30 metres plus in their native habitat.  I’m just hoping it’ll flower without growing so large.  It can take years, and they don’t flower at all until they’re at least 6 years old.  Ours is only a couple of years old…

OK, that’s probably about as much horticultural burble as you can take.  More another time.  Besides, I have a ham hock on the stove; I’m making stock for pea & ham soup for the Husband to take to work, and I can’t let it boil dry while I sit oblivious at the computer….


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