Lazy winter gardening

It’s FREEZING today. Well, actually it’s 10 degrees Celsius, which I know is really quite pathetic in the coldness stakes – I thought we must surely be in single digits. But hey, we did get a little sprinkling of teeny weeny hailstones earlier today, so it must be cold.

Winter brings out the Martha Stewart in my daughter (note the matching cupcake-themed scarf and apron, not so much the insider trading yet) and the even-lazier-than-usual gardener in me. I still haven’t finished the damn path (can you tell I enjoy plants more than hard landscaping?). I need to cut back the plumbago. I have a couple of bags of mulch that I need to get around to spreading. But life is busy, my toes are cold, and I can always think of funner things to do than touring gravel suppliers in the rain.

Like finding new gardening books in the library, for example! I think I might even have to buy this one – The Dry Gardening Handbook, by Olivier Filippi. I mean, look at the number of purple flowers on the cover – obviously it’s made for me.

I’ve learned things just from my initial flick through, like planting out new plants with a bigger watering basin than I do currently (something I had kind of cottoned on to, but it’s the first time I’ve read it). Also, the fact that different varieties of lavender have different pH requirements – I thought they all liked lime, but Lavandula stoechas (e.g. Lavender ‘Avonview’ and ‘Bee Happy’ lavender) needs acid soil. Which might explain how poorly the Bee Happy lavenders did in my garden.

It’s a UK book with a Mediterranean leaning (and I don’t have a true Mediterranean climate here in Melbourne), but most of the book is a listing of drought-tolerant plants that look made for my garden, if they can also handle a bit of city-living shade, since I don’t have an exposed hill, or even an open paddock, at my disposal.

I might even chuck around a few annual seeds this year – snapdragons and Queen Anne’s lace have accidentally grown well in the past, and I might even try hollyhocks, if I can find somewhere to squeeze them in. I didn’t know they like poor soils – apparently they’re happy in the rubble at the base of a building. And maybe I’ll give gaura and Russian sage a try again.

In the spirit of giving things a second chance, I’ve planted a bunch of purple and pink pennisetums (fountain grass) which grow well everywhere in Melboune, except my garden. Maybe they need more water? Or fertiliser? Or sun? If they don’t grow this year I’m giving up. Here’s a couple surrounded by love-in-the-mist seedlings, aggies, Salvia ‘Waverley’ and blue chalk sticks. Fingers crossed.