Posts Tagged ‘Garden’

Winter Mushrooms

bracket fungi on Kunzea in bush at Karnup I love it when mushrooms pop up in my garden but now winter’s over there’ll be no more until next year. I like looking through my friend’s copy of The Magical World of Fungi by Patricia Negus [1], to ID fungi I come across. Although it may be the drawing of a fairy sitting on a mushroom on the last page which makes me love this book. A Flickr friend told me about the Perth Fungi Field Book [2] which is free to download, so I had my own ID source. I had lots of fun IDing fungi I found and not so much fun realising how difficult it can be to ID fungi.

Fungi species often appear slightly different in different regions. [2]

edible black morel in my garden In August I found some very unusual mushrooms growing in the pine bark mulch of my native garden. They had pointed caps which were intricately crenulated. I’ve had mushrooms with “ordinary” caps popping up in my lawn or vegie garden, but never something quite so alien-looking. The Perth Fungi Field Book came to the rescue and identified them as edible black morels (Morchella elata), not native to Australia, thus like the weed growing behind it, messing up my “native” garden. The name confused me at first because the morels in my garden weren’t black until they started dying, but after picking one to give to my brother to eat, it turned black inside the crenulations.

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Earlier this year I blogged about the insect infestation of the young tuart in my garden.

rainbow lorikeet eating insects on the tuart Unfortunately the insects that have already made homes among the tuart’s leaves are causing quite a bit of damage…The problem is the sap-sucking psyllids, also known as eucalyptus lerps, because the nymph constructs a “lerp” to hide under.

In the course of my investigations as to what insect was causing all the damage I decided it was lerps, even though the lerps I’ve seen on other gum trees looked nothing like what this lorikeet is eating in my garden (see above). I figured there must be some lerps somewhere up high that I couldn’t see. This is an example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you read on a blog (or the web) because I may have been wrong :P

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Spring sprung a couple of months ago and summer is on its way. Hot days of 30°C have started already and the rain has pretty much ended for the year. I thought it rained quite a bit at the end of September, but we recieved less than the September average of 90.1mm. Last month 75.8mm of rain fell, 39.6mm in the last week and 21mm on Thursday of that week. I got a rainwater tank during that week. Sadly, despite the copious rain, my tank wasn’t connected and missed it all. Perth gets some rain during the rest of the year (on average 69.2mm), but it won’t make a dint in the tank until next winter. I should have got it at the start of winter, when I first planned to.

The Bureau of Meteorology said September’s rainfall has not improved drought conditions in most areas of Australia.

Below average September 2008 rainfall over Victoria, southern NSW, SA and the WA interior maintained short and long-term deficiencies in these areas. In contrast, average to above average September falls over much of the remainder of the country gave some minor relief to short-term deficits over southwest WA, northeast NSW, southwest NT and Queensland.

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Sheeba inspecting the new plants After planning my new native garden, it’s actually happened. I got the plants from my friends at Nuts about Natives and the new arrivals are now planted and growing for the birds and insects to enjoy. Most of them are native to Perth around the area I live.

These are the indigenous plants I now have in my garden:
Adenanthos sericeus
(Woolly bush) this is the Albany woolly bush rather than the Perth native Adenanthos cygnorum (Common woollybush).
pretty pink calytrix flower Calytrix fraseri (Pink summer calytrix) has the most beautiful flowers.
Conostylis candicans (Grey cottonhead)
Dianella revoluta (Blueberry lily) has edible roots and nasty tasting purple berries. Some people have told me that Aboriginal Australians ate the berries, but Angus, an Aboriginal man from Wagin who ate bushtucker, said no one ever would, because they taste so foul.
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Start small and build up your production as your skills increase and you will soon discover the unbridled joy that growing your own food can give – and you can bask in the glow of knowing you are doing your bit – The Diggers Club [1]

I just got The Diggers Club Winter Garden catalogue and I’ve been dreaming about all the things I could do in my garden. I read about the history of citrus [2] and decided I wanted an orange tree for out the back. My gardening is all out the front because the back is a strip of paving, with two Benjaminas (Ficus Benjamina) in pots. I’ve often considered removing all the paving to grow things, but I’ve only gone as far as pulling out a line of bricks next to the fence for flowers. I started with sunflowers a couple of summers ago and went on to carnations the following autumn. I didn’t realise these weren’t annuals. I don’t mind that they’re still going strong, because I love the flowers and the only water they need is the drip bucket from the solar water heater.

snake bush flowering a couple of weeks after I planted it, although the flower is not fully open I put in strawberries to attract the bobtail who used to visit my garden, but the summer sun was too hot for the plants. Then I remembered that my friends at Nuts about Natives said lizards love eating the flowers of snake bush (Hemiandra pungens). I got three (because they have different coloured foliage and flowers) and planted them in between the carnations. They are native to my area, drought tolerant and the bob tails might come visiting for a snack. Snake bush is a ground cover, so it will encroach onto the paving (good) and it has very prickly leaves. Kyah the cat has dug herself a passageway under the fence into the empty back block, but if the snake bush encroaches onto her thoroughfare she won‘t like those prickly leaves. She’ll just have to deal with it.

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bobtail lizard in the Perth suburbs by Fred Coles With a title like that, things could only end in tragedy. Last week I found a dead Western Bobtail lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) on my street a couple of houses down from mine. He was in front of the empty block, which would make good bobtail habitat with all those weeds and long grass. He may have been crossing the road because one block is not necessarily the extent of a lizard’s territory or he may have been warming up on that toasty road. My street isn’t so busy and the speed limit is 50km/hr, but people drive faster than that and most drivers aren’t looking out for foot-long lizards on “their” road.

When I saw the dead lizard, his death had only just happened because he wasn’t quite flat and his insides were still glistening. It was the saddest sight.

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galahs at Star Swamp When I visited my friends at Nuts about Natives a couple of weeks ago their yellow leschenaultia (Lechenaultia linarioides) were flowering. They looked so pretty that I wanted one for my garden. Ben told me I should plant it in the ground, not keep it in a pot. Most of the plants I get from Nuts about Natives are still in pots because I’m not sure where to plant them. When I was looking for a place to put the leschenaultia I realised that if I removed the agapanthuses and ferns along the front of my house and replaced them with native plants, the birds and insects would love it and the garden would survive summer a lot better. The ferns die off during summer and come back green during the rain of winter. The agapanthus live happily through summer because they’re shaded by the acacia which grows outside my bedroom window.

tuart in my garden The acacia is a South African species that was popular as a garden tree in the past, but is now a weed in Western Australia. I’ve been meaning to kill it for a while, but every time I ask my dad to get out the chainsaw, we decide the shade it gives to my east facing windows is too useful and the branches just get hacked at a bit (in a couple of months they’ve grown right back). The tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) and hakea (Hakea cristata) I’ve planted are not yet tall enough to shade the house in the morning. I’ve been confused as to whether the tuart is actually a tuart or a marri, but I’ve had expert advice that it’s a tuart. When I told my mum I thought it was marri she was pleased because tuarts grow enormously tall and randomly drop branches, but that won’t be for a while. Although the tuart is getting bigger and has shoots everywhere, it’s still only 2m tall.

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