The Convent Steps Up

If I’ve been a little lax with posts lately it’s because things are pretty hectic just now. I will be packing and moving out from Sydney in just over a week and this weekend the Convent is open for the Kandos Gardens Fair. Tomorrow the Convent opens its garden and the Chapel as part of a local gardens exhibition for the weekend – going public for what has been a very private building.

It’s been dry here for months with barely a shower – but, of course, rain is forecast for the next few days. We’ll have to see how this works out but I’m hoping the visitors will get a chance to have a good look-around.

I have a bit of latitude given my garden is positioned as “in progress” as the sale only went through earlier this year, but I’m hoping people will find plenty to interest them and enjoy in the work that’s been done so far. I also have amazing sculptures, food, tea and coffee and a plant stall to provide additional interest.

I’ll post pics and a debrief later, but just now hoping I have everything under control. Things should settle down in around ten days (I hope) as my new life kicks off.

Spring Garden Update – Roses

Crepuscule - I knew this wouldn't disappoint
Crepuscule – I knew this wouldn’t disappoint

The Kandos Gardens Fair is now rapidly approaching, meaning that most of my time is spent in the garden. The other gardens on show are well-established, but given the Convent garden only really started this year, I’m eager to have something to show visitors.

Rose hospital or graveyard? Home to the unsuccessful bare root roses
Rose hospital or graveyard? Home to the unsuccessful bare root roses

There have been a few disasters. The bare root roses I planted in a prominent position in front of the established roses at the front of the Convent, did nothing – I mean nothing, other than perhaps die. I’m not sure if they are still alive or not but looked very sad, bare little sticks. I’ve now taken the step of replanting them together in a more protected area which I am hoping is a plant hospital rather than a rose graveyard.

Also taking advice to spray for lawn weeds wasn’t the smartest move. I did it well in advance – maybe around three weeks ago. What I didn’t bargain on was my lawn being all weeds, which means I have large expanses of brown. Or more accurately, very little green areas. It’s also been very dry so I’m now watering like crazy to get some green back.

The back gate garden - looking cheery although the blues haven't kicked in yet
The back gate garden – looking cheery although the blues haven’t kicked in yet

Otherwise, there are areas I’m really happy with and the garden is positioned as “in progress” which cuts me some slack. I think the roses peaked too early and the lovely original old rose bushes have already finished their main flush of flowers, although I’m deadheading them and feeding, hoping to get some more flowers for the viewing.

In the meantime, the roses that were planted throughout the year are now coming into their own and look like they will be winners. It’s exciting to see plants grow and flower for the first time. Hopefully they will be doing their thing for the visitors we are anticipating.

Lots of blue here with electric lobelias and verbena. That's Tango admiring the bed
Lots of blue here with electric lobelias and verbena. That’s Tango admiring the bed

In the meantime, my days are filled with digging, mulching, weeding, pruning, planting, watering and feeding!

Pierre de Ronsard's first year
Pierre de Ronsard’s first year
Madame Isaac Perriere making her debut!
Madame Isaac Perriere making her debut!

It’s my Convent and I’ll plant if I want to

This is what was left after over a day's full-on planting
This is what was still left after over a day’s full-on planting

… and am I planting! This weekend was a bit over the top and way too ambitious. Now we have passed the shortest day and it’s more daylight, I think I’ve over-reacted. The thought (threat) of being on show for the upcoming Kandos Gardens Fair has also added some impetus to my gardening. As well as the thought of seeing Spring in with a garden full of lovely growing and flowering plants.

Above is what was left after a full day of planting which also included 3 mega punnets from Bunnings, a number of lovely blue Salvias and a stack of perennials which have already found their way into the side garden bed, which is looking much more organised.

"Muncher" should help greatly with garden refuse as well as feeding garden beds
“Muncher” should help greatly with garden refuse as well as feeding garden beds

I never made it to starting the new little back garden bed near the gate. Or for that matter, starting to plant the potatoes. I did however buy a new toy, a Ryobi mulcher, which should help with both lessening the need for mulch and compost as well as reducing the trips to the tip. It’s already been put to use mulching for the Pumpkin patch (which has everything other than Pumpkins in it!).

Anyway, I managed to bring up two more camellias and azaleas from the Sydney garden, which have been rehomed on the front fence, along with a Mme Isaac Perriere rose – these are described as blowsy rampant pink roses – sounds like a loose woman. She has gone to one of the darker corners to hopefully brighten it up as she scrambles across the front wall. Three lovely deep blue salvias also went out the front, although this weekend saw very heavy frosts and some of the salvias seem appalled by this weather.

I also planted a stack more groundcovers in the shady area which struggles with grass as well as some lawn chamomile. It appears that the other chamomile (all four packets of it, which are growing so well) is the wrong kind. I didn’t know there was a specific “lawn” chamomile as well as a German one. Will be interesting to see how they go as they are both widely spread now.

The side beds are looking tidier. But how good is the old girl looking with her facelift. Dazzlingly white.
The side beds are looking tidier. But how good is the old girl looking with her facelift. Dazzlingly white.

The outside of the Convent is starting to get plenty of attention and she seems to be enjoying it. Hopefully the inside painters turn up this week.

One night I looked out and was surprised by the Grotto which had an eerie light about it. Took a second to realise that it was the solar spot lights I’d installed that were only partially charged. Still, it should look effective at night time.┬áThe Grotto garden is already showing promise. The roses are healthy and I’ve rigged up wiring across the top to help train them. The plants all seem to be growing and the bulbs are just beginning to flower.

I’m getting a few more locals popping in now they see lots of activity to have a chat and look, which is particularly rewarding.

Next weekend looks like another one where I will be armed with a shovel and trowel. I’m just hoping that most of the new plants cope with the frosts.

One of the first daffodils - an Erlicheer
One of the first daffodils – an Erlicheer
The Grotto beds are settling in well. A mix of plants making themselves at home.
The Grotto beds are settling in well. A mix of plants making themselves at home.