May week4

No cheating this week, please take note! I knew the aloes would feature. In fact I’m preparing a whole post on them. But I wanted the right shot for today, which I found when looking up from where I was kneeling, dealing with the complications that go with four dogs gently but insistently wanting affection at the same time. So out came the camera. And it is surprising how much is in this shot.

The aloe is Aloe arborescens, one of the smallest of the ‘tree’ or multi-stemmed aloes. Some years ago there was so much damage from the cold that we cut back the rosettes and the result is a very dense version – so dense that flowering is not as plentiful as it could be. In a good year each rosette or branch will produce at least one flower spike. It seems as if I need to put on my thickest and longest gloves and prune out some rosettes at the end of winter. They grow on very quickly into new plants when stuck into a sandy mix after being allowed to dry for a few days and form a callus. All the same, the spiky medusa heads are green all your and contrast beautifully with the soft mounds of Rose Geranium that grown next to them.

Immediately behind the aloe is the gaunt shape of a bottlebrush, Callistemon citrinus, whose hard textures are so typically Australian, although the warty seed pods start life as fluffy red flowers which give the shrub its common name. The sunbirds  -our version of hummingbirds – love them and in summer one can watch them come and go for hours. In winter they turn to the aloes, one of the  reasons for growing them so close to the house. The elaborate bird bath – about which I blow hot and cold – was recently moved here, and the birds love its new position. A fruit feeder also hangs in the bottlebrush.

Further down a Japanese Maple is in full autumn splendour. We are having a strange autumn, with many trees being quite late to turn. Although we have missed out on the intensity of a ‘normal’ autumn, we are in for a long one it seems! It was the combination of hot colours that drew my attention to this composition.

Below that  and behind the birdbath is my yew (Taxus baccata). It took years to decide to stay with us, produced several hundred cuttings a few years back which I gleefully planted as hedges – and lost. It seems yew hedges are not to grace Sequoia Gardens after all… This yew will form the centrepiece of the Mothers’ Garden which I’m planning to edge the Big Lawn and which will commemorate my and my partner’s late mothers. Sometime.

And then right down on the Makou Dam’s wall the fan shape of one of the 40-odd young tree ferns that have germinated for us of their own accord  over the past 20 years can be made out.

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