Yep sprinter is definitely here! I’m a firm believer in Tim Entwisle’s re-definition of Australian seasons. We are not quite finished with winter but the garden is well into spring, never mind the calendar.

I may not have heard the Bronze Cuckoos yet, but the Spotted Pardalote’s are actively inspecting our compost heap and drilling test nest burrows and the magpie’s are mating on our neighbour’s lawn (don’t look Gladys!).

The female Spotted Pardalote sitting just above the nesting hole
The male Spotted Pardalote waits near the nest

Elsewhere in the garden I am seeing the first flowering of the hellebore plant’s that our friend J and neighbour V, gave to me two year’s ago. Unfortunately my plan for a woodland vignette has descended into a replica of a miltary redoubt, surrounded by wire and posts to keep the marauding chickens out.

Hellebore under siege

Never believe anyone who tells you that chickens and your garden can cohabit happily. For along with all those tasty insects, they will devour your favourite plants. Our chickens appear to have inherited the palates of dissipated Roman emperors. Nothing is beyond their capability to eat, should they desire it. So far they have demolished both the leaves of my waterlily and the known toxic Small Leafed Nardoo, (Marselia angustifolia), toxic to humans that is, but obviously not to chickens. I placed both of these plants in my stone water trough, thinking that they might help oxygenate the water, but once the chickens found them they were decimated in days.

Meanwhile in the front garden my Blue Veronica (Veronica perfoliata) has put on several flower shoots and the yellow-flowered Bulbine Lily (Bulbinopsis bulbine) is thrusting out of the ground bearing fattening buds.

Veronica perfoliata with flower shoots
Bulbinopsis bulbosa, the yellow flowering Bulbine Lily

The flowers of the only Australian ground orchid in my garden, the Blunt Greenhood orchid (Pterostylis curta), have pushed up above the rosettes of leaves filling their terracotta pot. I have also sunk a pot of these orchids into the front garden. I will soon plant them out properly as I see that they have managed to survive the winter frosts (so far).

Buds of the Blunt Greenhood orchid, Pterostylis curta

We have taken advantage of this wonderfully sunny day to plant out lots of Native Bluebell’s (Wahlenbergia sp.) that my partner has a real knack for propagating. I’ve also committed three Eremophila and a Correa, grown from cuttings to the ‘mercies’ of the real garden, death by being ignored in a pot being the alternative.

Alas the weeds have also registered the upswing in the season. At least I can feed them to those marauding imperial chickens!

Lanyon Plant Fair

This weekend past has seen the last of the Open Garden plant fairs to be held at Lanyon Homestead. Sadly the Open Garden Scheme will cease operating at the end of June this year.

Lanyon looking its best for the Plant Fair
Lanyon looking its best for the Plant Fair

We took the opportunity to make a foray into the world of specialist bulb suppliers, succulent growers, iris, perennials, obscure bulb and rose specialists to name but a few of the offerings. We also went to hear Owen Pidgeon of Loriendale Orchards (and contributor to the food section of the Canberra Times), speaking about his life as a farmer and his special interests in growing both heritage and modern apple and pear varieties.

Owen, discussing his favourite apples and pears
Owen, discussing his favourite apples and pears

Not only did Owen talk about his fruit he also provided samples of the same for the visitors to taste. We selected several Early Gold apples and some Beurre Bosc pears to try. If you’d like to try some of Owen’s apples and pears you can visit the orchard next Saturday for their annual Apple Day:

Saturday 28th March 2015
1.30 – 5.00 pm
At “Loriendale Orchard”

Travel along the Barton Highway, north of Canberra
Turn right at Spring Range Road
(2km north of border between ACT/NSW)

A hatful of tasty Early Gold apples and Beurre Bosc pears
A hatful of tasty Early Gold apples and Beurre Bosc pears

While I wasn’t able to find the specific plants I was after at the Fair, you won’t be surprised to hear that I did manage to buy ‘a few’ plants. The Plant People had just what I was after, Australian plants and those rarest of beasts, small grassland plants! I know it doesn’t sound very exciting but finding small plants to fill in the garden understorey is quite difficult. I bought, Pterostylis curta (Blunt Greenhood Orchid), Microseris lanceolata (Yam Daisy) and Libertia paniculata (Branching grass flag).

Plant purchases from the Lanyon Plant Fair
Plant purchases from the Lanyon Plant Fair

At the back is a ring-in, my Alpine strawberry (Fragaria ‘Golden Alexandria’). I’ve transplanted the orchids into the terracotta pot where, hopefully, they will grow happily out of the reach of marauding snails. On the right front are the Yam Daisies whose flower resembles a dandelion, but are much larger and flower on a tall stem. Yam daisies are one of the highlights of the summer season in the Australian Alps where they form swathes of yellow across the landscape. I understand that their tubers are edible, not that I’m planning on eating mine anytime soon. Just behind them are the Libertias which are members of the Iris family. These white flowering plants have been in cultivation outside of Australia since the early 1800’s.

Anyway as Autumn is now officially upon us we are starting to make inroads into our major garden task of the year, redeveloping the front garden. After the delays caused by the termite infestation we can now re-start filling in the large void where our (formerly termite infested) hardwood plank path used to be. Hopefully all these plants and more will be finding their way into the ground very soon.