Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Study in Bronze and Green

There is a little green house not far from mine. It's a typical Sydney double-fronted weatherboard, with the main bedroom at the front (under a gable) and a small bullnose verandah, and small coloured glass panels in the front windows. Such small late-Federation weatherboard houses can be found all across Sydney.

The roof is corrugated Colorbond -- no doubt replacing the original corrugated iron -- in Woodland Grey (a green with a bronze undertone). On the verandah, the sheets are alternated with a paler green that is very similar to the external wall colour. This is a pale green, but not the usual apple green: more like a sage, with a faintly gold undertone.

I don't like yellow-greens, in general. It took me quite a long time to truly see the house and its gardens, and recognise the restful colour scheme. Here are some of the plantings in the small front yard:
  • Wisteria up the verandah post
  • Heavenly bamboo
  • Creamy-white roses (not Icebergs, which are a clear white)
  • Peace rose
  • Diosma
  • Variegated ivy 'Glacier'
Bronze-greens, sage-greens, cream, maroon, and a little peach, pink and lilac. Just delightful.

Unfortunately, I can't give you a photo. The new owners didn't see what the previous owner saw, and the cream and Peace roses have been replaced with Icebergs (still with tags). They tried poisoning the wisteria, too, but that had the usual success of such attempts. I wish them joy of all the suckers it's producing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Garden Design Programs

I've just been mucking around with the Virtual Garden at the BBC website. The whole gardening site is a lot of fun and quite informative, and you can make your own garden and see it in 3D! Amazing what you can get for free these days. It does, however, remind me why I have never bought such a program for myself. And I would love one.

Incompatibility. Even with this one, I'm having to use The Geek's computer because there is no Shockwave port to mine yet. When I was last looking, most programs were not Mac-compatible. The Mac programs were for professional garden designers, and prohibitively expensive as a consequence.

Limited species. I never see the plants I want in these things, because the lists are never created by Sydney gardeners. The Beeb program is, understandably, extremely limited in the plant range available. That should be less the case with commercial programs, one would hope. If you want to sell a program outside your local area, you need to supply an enormous plant list. I'm still betting I'd never see Acacia parramattensis on one of those lists!

Species at all. These programs produce a simplified result, so it's silly to specify the kinds of plants used. The rendering isn't adequate for it. What I really want is the ability to specify that a particular area is a "Shrubbery to 2m" or "Tree to 10m" or similar. The general sizes and shapes are the chief thing that a garden design program should show us, and they are the hardest to get right.

I find the real design stuff -- rhythm, masses, voids and so on -- much more difficult to grasp than What To Plant Where. I have an extensive mental list of plants I can use, but a very poor understanding of design principles. As I investigate this site, I hope to learn a bit more. Stay tuned -- or play with the site yourself!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Holiday Roundup

Welcome back for 2008 and may it be a year of blessings for us all!

I've been having a pleasant holiday visiting relatives and friends, helping The Twig learn to swim, doing a bit of gardening (and garden eating -- hooray!). It has been a good holiday, but it's back to work for me on Tuesday.

Why Tuesday and not Monday? Because on Monday, The Twig is going to vacation care and The Sprig back to day care. I am having Mother's Day Off! I just hope I can figure out something nice to do with it. I suspect it will involve a Festival of Sydney event, or a visit to one of Sydney's cultural institutions, but we will see.

But what, you say, of Chookie's Back Yard?

  • The kikuyu invasion in the vegie patch became so bad that I sheet-mulched 4 square metres with newspaper, moo poo and lawn clippings. It has been planted with sweet corn, cucumber and watermelon seeds, which are not yet up. I have again attempted a perimeter planting of lemon grass, and some of them appear to have struck. Roundup has also been sprayed about with abandon so that I had somewhere to put the aforementioned lemongrass divisions.
  • Yesterday, the kids and I planted a small bed near the house with 'Teddy Bear' sunflower seeds and 'Cream' Californian poppies. We have fenced it to keep the chooks out; I Can guess how many sunflower seeds we'd have left if we didn't!
  • We have eaten our first tomatoes; I'm pretty certain some were 'Jaune Flammee'. The others were cherry-sized, but didn't look like the pictures of 'Tommy Toe'. The chooks got in and ate my first truss of 'Broad Ripple Yellow Currant'.
  • Other harvests have included 'Stringless Dwarf' and 'Italian Romano' beans, 'Spacemaster' and 'Mini White' cucumbers, and 'Golden Bantam' sweet corn. It has been a long time since I felt up sweet corn to determine its ripeness, and I've lost the knack -- three of the cobs were immature, but eaten by The Sprig nonetheless.
  • I have seen green chillies.
  • What can I do with perilla aside from making Asian-style salads? The plants are 60cm high!