Lilium season. It feels like a very long time ago, but in fact has only been a few years, since I began planting out hundreds of seedlings from my hybridising addiction. I planted out hundreds more grown from seed generously sent to me from across Australia and around the world. These were exciting plant-outs! I looked forward to seeing all the fruits - the flowers - of my loving labour. And indeed they prospered and flowered! Rewardingly, astonishingly, happily, beautifully! The preparation and feeding and watering and time all came together in several glorious summers.
But hmm... this garden was on shaky ground. It wasn't the 'gift' it wanted to be. It was entangled with expectations and conditions beyond reasonable reason. I couldn't stay. Planting is a momentous commitment. When you're a gardener, it says a lot! It says, I'm Growing with You. We're in this Together. We're here For Good.
Bah.Humbug. So I planted gardens and discovered the whole premise was based on fantasy. If gardens are fantastical representations of plans, ideals and hopes, these gardens were doubly duped. Alas, alack, we are ever self-deceivers.
I stopped planting the lily beds when I couldn't draw the optimism to believe I was committing them to forever homes. Stopped tending them when I ran out of resources to keep investing. I don't want to lose them or for them to die, but I'm now in hiatus from my 'art' with Lilium. I have to figure out how to salvage the best from these before I can create more. How to rescue them. But right now, they are striving for survival in the Great Summer of Neglect.
And despite my failing, look what blooms!
Resonations. I'm listening to the first cicada of the season. This is bliss. The air is warm and gentle, raising the fragrance of baked earth. Sunlight is falling through the leaves, too lazy to dance, just checkerboard steady. Summer is thinking. Shall it move? First cicada to capture Spring. Be gone bitter weather. Time to sing. I wonder if insects are particularly joyful, as short as life is.
Because it's so beautiful, and has opened to celebrate the warm days, here is a picture of Mont Marte. First of the transplanted iris to flower in our new location.
Spring. Blue Sky. Rain. Clouds. Sun. Wind. Mud. Oh mud.
The days are longer now. The frogs are raucous. I slowly build a new garden, stone by stone. It's pleasant to find the right rock, and move it around until it finds the right place. I planted a small number of things over winter, in this gradually spreading assemblage of rocks, relocated humus and earth. Plants selected to withstand marsupial onslaught. Better yet, to not even register on their radar as blips of palatable delight. Surprising still, what does get nibbled, if only once.
Completely ignored has been Dierama. Which is fortunate. I have a hundred or more seedlings to plant out, and can envisage a hillside dancing in these graceful bells. Ophiopogon, too. A grass-like plant that won't be eaten and needs never be mown? Win!
Cordyline though, and Phormium, have been nibbled. They will never be completely eaten, and will outgrow their pursuers in time, but what on earth kind of hungry would you have to be to try eating anything as tenaciously fibrous as flax? And Nerium, or Oleander as it was known. So poisonous, herbivores should drop dead at the mere thought of a bite. But bitten it was. Then ignored. Ha. Aloes though, chosen for their semi-hostile barbs, are not barbarous enough to escape a second nibble, or a third. Which kind of destroys that wonderful spiral geometry that many would otherwise achieve. And succulents are another word for 'salad'. Agave, thankfully... the seriously spiky Agave geminiflora, can hold its own. Our native Dianella and Astroloma too. These last two I have growing in abundance, naturally, and I relocate them into the garden as I need to clear spots elsewhere.
Oh! Bearded iris are uneaten! They suffer being hopped on, but at least they can be grown, and I shall play around with a few more iris over time. Clivia, my new hope for a hybridising hobby, are ...almost safe. The first to be planted in the new garden (in fact, the reason the new garden began), they were untouched for many months, until a few seed capsules approached ripening. Then someone tried. Just left teeth marks in the pod. Then took a bite. Then another. Before long the pods were gone and the scapes had been eaten down into the leaf hearts, and the growing points almost devoured. Yes, I should have just removed the pods after the first attack. But they weren't quite ripe and I couldn't believe anything really meant to eat them. I mean, even when you're wild and you're hungry, there are rules, right? Yes? No. I attribute this attack to One Crazy Possum. Who else would ignore the rule that Clivia Are Inedible? Anyway, I finally covered the plants and after a couple of weeks Crazy Pos gave up pooping on the guard bags. Presumably he became distracted and intent upon some other improbable dinner some place else. I uncovered them, they recovered and nothing has touched them since. Note for future. Really important breeding Clivia to be kept in possum-proof shade house. Garden Clivia can be let multiply and, like triffids, sweep all before them.
It's exciting now, this spring, as many of the Clivia I sowed in 2015 and 2016 are flowering for the first time.
The shortest day has passed, again. Thank goodness for cycles. Thank goodness we can rest, and grow and bloom and fruit and rest.
It means winter has really begun in earnest here, and it has poured! The seasonal creek is foaming. Rivulets fall and braid and carve out new channels in the hillside. They chase one another down the dirt road. I shelter and reflect and rest. I panic when I take stock of all the things I haven't done, yet. It's the time for all those things that need to be deep in the earth, to build and anchor and establish; to do their dark work. But I'm not properly planted yet!
I think, how amazing it will be when I can really grow. When I'm established. Right now, I'm more of a tumbleweed that dreams of being a tree! But already I'm looking forward to the warm season, when it's dry and days are long and I can build, so that next winter, I'm ready. Ready for the dark work.
So much goes on underground during these times in our mild climate. In any climate. Chemical processes are underway that lead to life's expressive, glorious summer. And as all those processes gather pace, the pendulum of light returns.