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The Garden Destruction Crew

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Sometimes my two dogs are my greatest garden frustration.

They charge around the garden destroying lawn, foliage and even knocking over potted plants.

But it is their environment as well as mine and without the pair of them the space would seem lifeless.

In fact, they know it more intimately than I do and I’m sure they love it just as much.

I look the other way when damage happens because I’m happy when the dogs are happy.

And such a jovial pair they are, chasing birds, hunting lizards and darting across the lawn for the joy of it.

It seems appropriate for me to honour my dogs in the garden they love with a few fun likenesses.

These Westie silhouettes are floating in a sea of Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum).

Dead Nettle is distantly related to stinging nettles having fine hairs which cover the leaves but the hairs are ‘dead’ and do not sting. They enjoy a moist soil and do well in the shade. Be aware, some Dead Nettles sold in nurseries are annuals and some are perennials, I’ve been caught out in the past with plants dying in Autumn.

Dead Nettles have a tiny snapdragon like flower in shades of purple or pink and their variegated leaves of dark green and silver look fresh.

In deep shade these Dead Nettles highlight the dog silhouettes which otherwise would become less significant amongst the ground cover of dark green ivy.

I’m happy to report my canine destruction crew are yet to demolish their effigies.

JT

 

 

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The Nudist Colony

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It has been a very hot summer in Australia and I have naked ladies lounging around my garden.

No, they are not sunbathing by the swimming pool instead they are standing in shameless glory atop the most barren and inhospitable sections of my garden.

The Belladonna Amaryllis or Naked Lady is one of the prettiest, yet one of the hardiest plants I grow. Acutely to be honest, Naked Ladies essentially grow themselves because they don’t require any attention or watering.

A native of South Africa, Naked Ladies survive in extremely dry conditions and prefer full sunlight.

It is not the pear shaped bulb or the feminine pink flowers which give the plant its name. Rather it is the bare naked stems, growing straight and tall without leaves.  This is the flowering stage and the brazen blooms of Naked Ladies do not have leaves to hide their modesty.

Flowers appear in high summer boldly showing off just as other garden plants are wilting in the heat. The pink blooms glow in the hard summer light then after a couple of weeks in the sun the colour softens.

Although they are lily like, Naked Ladies are not a true lily and one stalk can support several trumpet-shaped blooms.

The flowers die back in autumn and this is when the strappy leaves make their appearance. By early spring the leaves also die back and the bulb goes to sleep, becoming dormant until the next summer.

Although hardy, Naked Ladies do not transplant well and take several years to bloom if moved.

Don’t confuse them with the poisonous Atropa Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade, a similarly named plant which is not related.

I grow Naked Ladies along my bottom drive which winds through the wild garden. It seems an appropriate place for a nudist colony.

JT

 

 

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Hotel for Wild Guests

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My large country garden is a five-star hotel for wildlife and the clientele is as unique as any hotel guest list.

A couple of wild ducks, who I call Heckle and Jeckle book in each spring, the swimming pool is their favourite facility. They stay in the more secluded rooms, nesting down in the wild garden.  

I often see them on the observation deck-aka the roof of my house-where they prance up and down enjoying the view while quacking about everyone and everything. 

The Rosellas make a group booking and arrive on mass. They’re a rowdy lot and on occasion I’ve had to ask them to keep the noise down. They like to hang around the side garden where they are close to the buffet when the fruit on the flowering Prunus ripens. 

Lizzie Lizard has recently upgraded from her suite in the terracotta garden to rooms in the hibachi barbecue with a charming view of the pool. 

Mr. Pobblebonk, the frog, enjoys staying in the damp leaf litter but occasionally has a sauna in the outdoor terrarium. 

The magpies are suave in their penthouse trees, always dressed in their finest dinner suits. They prefer rooms at the top of the tallest trees and when they come down to bathe only the largest bird bath will do. 

The pigeons don’t like height, they are strictly ground floor guests and have the run of the turquoise garden. They potter like a group of old women on a package holiday. Their heads bob up and down as if they are chatting and stepping quickly. No one wants to miss the tour bus. The pigeons puff out their chests, so their fronts resemble frilled shirts covering matronly breasts. ‘My dear, where is the Devonshire Tea?’ I imagine them asking.

Bees are the executive travellers, far too busy to lounge around. They are up and off at daybreak with work to do, gathering pollen from dawn until dusk.  

In summer it really sizzles here, so I keep six bird baths and eleven water bowls for my guests. They all need replenishing often and everyday I trot around with the garden hose.  

I’m happy to say, many of my guests are waiting for me as I deliver their room service.

JT