Dressing up a shed

pandorea-1aMy shed is made from rusty but sound old corrugated iron, with no charm in shape or design to allow me to call it ‘rustic’. So it has to be disguised.

Originally a lovely Madame Carrière climbing rose graced the eastern end, but the possum’s munching has almost made that disappear.

This spring however, for the first time, a native beauty has taken on the role of dressing up the shed.

Since I planted it just around this corner of the shed several years ago, my Pandorea pandorana vine has struggled.

Last year I looped it around the drainpipe to get full sun and it clearly loves this position.
pandorea-2It never has much in the way of foliage and what it has is very fine, but now it has burst into a mass of clustered blossom bells, flaunting their frilly cream skirts and showing off their maroon streaked undersides.

Its common name is Wonga Wonga vine. Without knowing its meaning, I find the sound much less attractive than ‘Pandorea’, so I don’t use it. My Pandorea is a party girl!

Garden gifts

gift-1Just spring, and another of my old-fashioned camellia bushes has come into bloom. Grown from cuttings taken from the garden of an old house in Port Macquarie, this one is lolly pink, streaked with strawberry. A candy camellia. Ain’t she sweet?
gift-2In a less domesticated part of my yard, three native plants have formed a dainty trio. A young Omalanthus tree, often called the Bleeding Heart Tree, only as tall as myself, has been wreathed in thin vines: the clinging bridal shower of Clematis aristata, Traveller’s Joy, and the purple pea highlights of Hardenbergia, Native Sarsparilla. The tree I propagated and planted, the vines are surprise gifts of nature.

The lime green leaves of the Clematis are echoed by the long budding racemes of the King Orchids (Dendrobium speciosum, var. hillii) . A spectacular native orchid, it will be even more so when the flowers are open.
gift-3Found in my rainforest gully years ago, the increasing weight of this clump had probably caused the casuarina branch on which it had grown to come crashing down. I relocated it to rocks at the base of a stringybark in my yard, where it has fleshily multiplied since.

Whoever said the Australian bush is drab?!!

Fleshy blooms

There are few flowering plants in bloom now. The wattle is almost ready but as yet is grey-green with just a promise of gold. Most of the bulbs have shot through the grass but only one or two isolated jonquils have opened their scent to the light and air.

And yet from the damp edges of my verandah I can see clumps of creamy-beige flowers pushing up old mown grass. They are not something I have planted; I have never seen these in my yard before.
blooms-2When the rain eased I went closer. Not flowers, but extremely over-populated fungi. Cream to pale caramel, delicate yet fleshy all at once, their lightly fringed caps upturn like the faces of flowers. Fighting for space and light, they fold and layer and then triumphantly open — my blooms.





blooms-3 A few days later they are still there, and then I think I see a new colony several metres away, near the leafless birch trees.
These are in two separate spots. The lower one is definitely the same sort as my fleshy beige blooms, but a small cluster right amongst the jonquils seems whiter.
Indeed they are, perhaps because the most recently emerged, but they are also more convoluted and this I think must be because they have had to grow through the jonquil bulbs and around their leaves, tougher than grass.

Possum presents

A Crepuscule rose climbs along my verandah railings, the blooms of which I am very fond. Unfortunately I only get to admire them on the far branches that hang suspended in mid-air.

The rest are eaten by the brush-tailed possum.
No doubt it thinks it makes a fair exchange. It munches on flowers and leaves and breaks off stems and branches, makes a deposit on the railing by way of payment and waddles off to the next rose bush.
But whether currants or coal, I haven’t yet found a use for these little black offerings, so am not happy about the exchange at all. I could do without the presents and the presence — of any possum!

Summer whites

Not cricket apparel or cool clothes, but flowers: free gifts that appear each summer to brighten my days and my by-then mostly green garden.

They all receive my admiration but none of them need or receive any attention in between.

The Spider Lilies are extraordinary, delicate space age creatures that prance and arabesque from fleshy  bulbs and leaves. Beside them flower the herbs yarrow and meadowsweet; the nearby oregano is about to burst into white flower spikes too.


Twining daintily along my verandah and perfuming my evenings is the Mandevilla laxa, commonly called Chilean Jasmine, although it isn’t a jasmine at all.


And the shed is being overwhelmed by a rioting fountain of Chinese Star Jasmine.

The scent of these flowers comes to me separately and together at different spots in the garden.

Sweet summer whites.

Fungi favour orange

The cleared slope was a fairly uniformly well-grazed green. Except for a spot of orange today.

I walked over to see what it was and found a small cluster of coral fungi blooming fleshily all by itself in the middle of nowhere.

A species of Ramaria, it would seem, or else paprika cauliflower cheese made from a rather spindly cauli.

Back home another incongruous splash of orange drew me to the orchard, to the sawn-off base of a self-sown avocado tree who’d had 10 years to prove it could fruit, and didn’t, meanwhile shading my vegie patch.

It was ringed with tough orange frilly fans, while others were elegantly striped, in less garish cream and grey and brown. I think it’s Trametes versicolor.

On top of the stump was a cluster of funny little greenish-grey nubs, like lost teeth. What they are I cannot imagine!

Garden variety

You may have heard the odd expression, ‘the common or garden variety’.

It’s used pejoratively, meaning nothing special.

I find this odd because my small vegetable and herb garden produces some of my most beautiful flowers in the course of their ‘common or garden’ duties of feeding me.

Like the Roi de Carouby snow pea, who drapes my netting fence with softly spotted green leaves and suspends stunning two-toned blooms in pink and burgundy, which turn into large and deliciously crisp peas.

They almost never make it to my table because I eat them as I see them, reluctantly leaving a few to grow fatly podded for seed for next season.

Or how about the borage plants, with their exquisitely shaped and detailed flowers — blue and burgundy petals and purplish-black stamens.

The flowers hang like space age lanterns below their clusters of exotic hairy buds.

The crinkled borage leaves are hairy too, and both flowers and leaves smell like cucumber.

I use the flower petals in salads and add just a few leaves to juices, as a tonic, but many claims are made for this herb, such as increasing milk flow in nursing mothers, or to give courage in battle. I could use the latter at times!

But I wouldn’t care if it was good for nothing but beauty, as I never plant annual flowers and the generous borage self-sows every year.