It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do. We had a sunny morning and it was the first day I have felt like pottering around in the garden for a while. It’s still winter but the plants in our garden are starting to wake up. I can see that I will have to do a lot of weeding when the weather warms up but will also have more energy for creative activities.
With spring just weeks away it feels like coming out of hibernation. I just hope that the winter does not hang around like it did last year. We may not have Groundhog Day in Australia, but the rare and endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums (the only marsupials to hibernate) will also come out of their nests to breed in the spring. But as they are nocturnal you are unlikely to see their shadows.
For those unfamiliar with Australian possums, they are marsupials like Kangaroos and Koalas and have a pouch. They are really cute. The ones that inhabit urban areas can be destructive to plants but it is very hard to resist those eyes when you see them in a tree and they are easy to forgive. Wind chimes, bells or bright lights seem to be the best deterrent to stop them eating plants. For those of you who have never seen these little creatures, here are a couple of videos, one of a mountain pygmy-possum and another of a Common Ringtail Possum that has come down from the trees to accept a drink on a very hot day.
While some plants are about to display new growth, others are on the decline in our garden and need to be replaced. The grapefruit tree has not survived the dry cold weather as it had some kind of disease. It also took a big knock and never recovered when the tree limb from next door crashed on top of it a couple of years ago and destroyed its middle branches. We will need to put in another evergreen tree in its place. Preferably something the possums can’t eat.
Sometimes you do something in the garden that is not intended to be a permanent fixture but end up keeping it anyway. We stuck a lily plant in an old rusty wheelbarrow to move it from a spot where we wanted to plant something else. It has sat in that wheelbarrow now for years because we could never decide where to put it. It keeps regenerating in winter and does not require lots of water and will have pink flowers around late December. Actually it is quite convenient being in a moveable container and has been placed in various locations depending on the sun. Sometime random acts can work out quite well.
A plant that flowers in the winter and is still going strong is our zygocactus. The pendulous pink flowers look wonderful in the dull light when nothing else is flowering. These plants use smart tactics to attract desperate insects when there is no competition in the cold months. The Arum lilies that started flowing in the autumn are still hanging around and attract other creatures.
At this time of the year everything looks really green and fresh. It is good to see the ground cover plants before they are singed by summer heat. I love the tiny purple violets and the unusual striped Cobra lilies that come up under our lemon tree. The Cobra lilies look like they are about to pounce onto the violet flowers. The violets delicate scent is the smell of early spring. Both these flowers will be gone when it heats up so I try to enjoy them while they last.
The plant that seems to be bursting with life despite the low temperatures and wind chill that we have been experiencing lately is the Japanese Aralia. It has masses of fruiting umbrels. More than I have seen in a while. They turn purple as they ripen. The colour scheme of the garden seems to be in synch. In autumn there will be lots of flowers for the bees to enjoy.
There are many signs that spring is not far away. Nature is about to get very creative and it is always good to follow its example. Time to enjoy the sunshine.
To complete this post here’s a catchy song, Sunshine by the New Zealand band Dragon from 1977, featuring the late, great Marc Hunter on vocals. They were filmed on the Australian TV music show, Countdown. Dragon are legends of the NZ/Australian music scene and are remembered for some great hits from the 1970s and 80s.