This season speaks of the reawakening of the earth from the damp, cool winter. Nodding greenhood (Pterostylis spp.) and other early-flowering, terrestrial orchids characterise this time in the Kulin calendar. And how fitting it is, for this is truly a season of flowers. While some people argue over whether this is winter or spring, I prefer the indigenous viewpoint, that the weeks in late July and throughout August constitute a unique season where the emphasis is on the blooms.
My garden really comes to life, floristically-speaking, during this moment of pre-spring. Even through our mild frosts and light flurries of snow, the early bulbs; Gordonia and Camellia; winter Kniphofias; Silver and the Snowy River wattles; red and white and coral flowering quinces; leucadenrons and banksias; wallflowers and calendula; and the highly fragrant winter shrubs such as Daphne odora and Lonicera fragrantissima, bring bright colour and vivid fragrance to the garden.
This year I have been delighting in my pot of miniature daffodils, Narcissus ‘Tête-á-tête’. Many of my other pots of narcissus have been quite underwhelming in terms of number of flowers this year. I probably was too generous with fertiliser when I repotted them and they have put a lot of energy into new growth. Maybe next year. This miniature daffodil however once again filled its pot with the most perfect, bite-sized blooms that nod in the breeze as all daffodils should.
Also a star of the Guling bulb show is the common grape hyacinth that has been growing and flowering in a bed beside the drive even before my arrival over twenty years ago. I potted up a dozen or so 14cm pots of these Muscari aremeniacum last year, planning to drop them into gaps in clients’ gardens right now. Since I can’t get out to work for my city garden clients, they were languishing in the nursery when I decided to bring them up en masse to the courtyard outside the sitting room windows, where I have assembled them on an old, pot-plant rack, creating a little wave of cascading blue and green.
And who can forget, it is the time of an interminable list of gardening chores: the fruit trees and the roses need to be pruned; the perennials require a good cut back and a thorough application of mulch; the last of the planting of ornamentals must be completed; lawns start to grow again and will demand the mowing regime resume; the vegetable seeds need to be propagated for the summer garden and all to be concluded in between showers of rain, hail and snow. No wonder it is so invigorating.
The nesting birds enliven the garden too during these lengthening days of Guling and, like them, we carry on singing our song in the hope of better days ahead.