Just off the farmhouse back verandah is a little limestone outbuilding, once upon a time this was the bathroom and power generation room (in fact the bathroom has only been inside the house in the last ten years). Nowadays it houses my laundry, a toilet and little garden shed storage. The ground around the limestone laundry though was a bit depressing – rocky ground and bare patches where lawn wouldn’t grow. The area in front had been on my mind for awhile, I had visions of a garden bed there, it just made good sense.
As this is a south-facing wall my first thought was hydrangeas – they are my absolute favourite flower, highly featured in our wedding, shade-lovers with a bit of sun, thirsty but that’s ok, my must-have in a garden and yet I didn’t have one here at ‘Carlton’. My Nana had huge hydrangeas all along her south-facing walls of her home, big blousey blue ones which thrived in the volcanic Gippsland soil. In town last week I found some hydie’s on sale – 50% off score, all part of my ‘not-spending-a-fortune-on-a-garden-that-isn’t-ours’ plan. I love white hydrangeas but all the on-sale one’s were pink, that’s ok, they’re also a novelty to me as the ones we can grow back home are always blue. You can change the alkaline of the soil to change the colour, except white ones are always white. When we lived in north-east Victoria I had pink hydrangeas, when we moved to Gippsland I dug them up and planted at our new house. The first year they flowered a slightly purple tinge, rather than their usually vivid pink. We weren’t there the following year but I’m pretty sure they would have turned eventually blue in the change of soil.
Given the state of the soil we thought some serious re-conditioning was going to be involved, but we were pleasantly surprised with what we dug up. Under the rubble and rock, only a light layer, was actually some quite nice sandy loam soil. We dug in some sheep manure (which we get bagged up from the shearing and ram sheds on the farm) and made a little garden bed. And when I saw ‘we’ I mean Matt while I took photos.
My mum got me some wildflower seeds from her travels through Western Australia earlier this year. After planting the pink hydrangea I sprinkled some of the wildflower seeds around the bed, watered it all in and mulched liberally.
Isn’t that so much better? Now I’m hoping to get that pesky lawn to grow up to the edge of the concrete (it would help if Matt would stop spraying everything within cooee of an edge!) and my little hydrangea to grow, grow, grow! Going into the hot South Australian summer I’m going to have to keep the water up to this one, they love to be a bit wet and can wilt easily. There are already two heads of buds, waiting to bloom. That’s another thing, don’t buy the in bloom plants at the nursery! The hydrangeas on offer to me were almost all in full bloom, sure they would have looked instantly nice, but I like to buy one that isn’t in bloom. It’s in a far better position to go through the trauma of being planted in a new home, it can then focus all it’s energy on blooming for you!
Now when I wander out to the washing line or the laundry or the veggie patch just over yonder I no longer shudder at the wasteland in front of the limestone laundry. Hurruh!