Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘roses’

April Rose Diary/Survey Day…And Those Expletive Aphids!

It wasn’t long ago that I was happily declaring that the fight to defend my roses against aphids was being won by parasitic wasps. Well, the wasps have clearly bitten off more than they can chew (as have I) and the aphids are overwhelming me with sheer numbers.

A 'Chicago Peace' bud, showing some stem and bud damage

I’ve squished, squirted and flicked them, but still they keep coming.

Aphids on Mister Lincoln rose - April 2010

I’ve actually lost blooms, mainly due to stem damage. The aphids have feasted on the new growth resulting in weak stems that can’t support the bloom – which may also have been damaged.  It has been a dissapointing Autumn flush.

Just Joey April 2010

Anway putting aphids aside for a moment, I am going to intersperse this post with photos of my April ‘bloom survey’ of those roses that were in bloom on the 26th. I’m having to cheat a little with some photos from the last few days, as I got a bit carried away cutting roses to bring indoors before I took my photos!

'Altissimo' is a spectacular single rose

From now on the 26th will be my ‘rose survey’ day when I take stock of what’s in flower to help get a better picture of my year of roses. If anyone is interested in joining me for a monthly rose bloom survey, you are more than welcome. If I get any takers I’ll work out how to link the posts!

'Camp David' April 2010 - lots of blooms and smells delightful

Back to the little green beasties. Aphids aren’t uncommon in my garden, but they are usually kept in balance by predators and a little bit of squishing here and there. No need for drastic methods such as spraying with insecticides.

I don’t have a lot by way of theories as to why the aphids are so bad just now, but here is what I have come up with:

  • It has actually been quite wet over the last few weeks – good drought breaking rain that is seeming to indicate that our temperate conditions may be returning to a more normal pattern – good for the garden, but good for providing food for an abundance of pests too.
  • Neglect last Spring and early summer had meant that I have paid even less attention to fertilising and caring for my roses than usual. Some of the plants are not as healthy as they should be.
  • Many of the roses are in shaded positions, making them weak and more prone to attack. The roses tend to get tired toward the end of the autumn flush anyway, so it is a hard time of year for them.

Margaret Merill at close range - April 2010

So what is the solution? Give in and get out the spray? A little pyrethrum at least? No, at this point in time I’m just going to force myself to be patient and wait. It’s only about six weeks until it’s time to prune the roses anyway, so I’m cooling my heels and drawing up battle plans. I’ve come over all ‘Art of War’.

'The Dark Lady' is in flower, sadly my photos just don't capture her beautiful rich colour

Pierre de Ronsard powers on. It is one of the few roses in my garden rarely bothered by aphids at all.

So far the plan of attack is as follows:

  • Learn how to attract more beneficial insects to the garden, including re-establishing a ladybug colony in spring. I’ve found some interesting info on attracting ladybugs and will share what I’ve learnt soon.
  • As I’ve mentioned before many of the roses are going to be moved to a sunnier position over winter, so this should help them develop much stronger growth and make them less prone to attack.
  • Moving the roses will be a great time to give them a good tidy up and start them off again with a really good feed, again this should boost their health.
  • I’m also going to look into the viability of purchasing some beneficial insects if I can’t attract them on my own.

'Abraham Darby' still has plenty of buds waiting to open.

Winchester destined for scrap heap as this is a rare bloom on a sickly plant.

It won’t be until next year that I know if these strategies have been succesful or not…but I’ll at least have some idea as to how healthy they are all looking in spring!

Rose Diary – Meet More Survivors and Stragglers

Roses might seem like spoilt children when it comes to shade and damp, but they come in to their own in hot and dry conditions.  My part of Australia is (hopefully) just starting to come through 13 years of drought. The plants I list as ‘thriving’ are truly drought hardy because they almost never get supplementary water.  Note that the ones that are suffering are generally doing so because of too much shade. I am biding my time until winter to move many of them.

Mister Lincoln - 4th April 2010

I’m looking forward to getting past the ‘listing’ stage of my rose diary.  I want to rush on and share with you a bit more about some of my favourites and my plans for some of the beds. Sadly that would defeat my record keeping purposes, so on with the next set of introductions!

Oh, and I’ve mucked up the tables so I can’t edit at the end again – but after this lot, you’ve met almost everybody – just a few ‘lost roses’ to go which you might be able to help me identify next time!

This next bed is what I call the ‘Elder Bed’ which is rapidly getting shaded to the East by ‘Mother Maple’. I have big plans for this bed, but more on that later!

Rose/Breeder: The Dark Lady (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Many loose petals. Deep crimson red/pink.
Position West facing, now just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: Getting leggy and sparse, which is sad to see in one of my favourite roses, can’t wait to move her into the sun!
Perfume: Yes, rich and just lovely!
In flower? A couple of sparse blooms.
Rose/Breeder: Blue Moon (Tantau)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. ‘Blue’ mauve.
Position West facing, living almost completely in the dark under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’.
Condition: So sad, almost leafless. I don’t kill many roses, so hopefully I can move Blue Moon before it’s too late.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No , not a chance!
Rose/Breeder: Mary Rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Loose petalled.  Bright mid pink.
Position West facing, living almost completely under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, with just a bit of afternoon sun.
Condition: Getting very leggy and sad looking. Also needs a new home ASAP.
Perfume: Yes, soft.
In flower? No.
Rose/Breeder: Mister Lincoln (Swim & Weeks)
Type/colour: Hybrid Tea. Dark velvety red.
Position West facing, just under the canopy of ‘Mother Maple’, some afternoon sun.
Condition: Strong grower, even in the shade. This one reaches for the sky without looking leggy or weak. Flowers have diminished in the shade though.
Perfume: Yes, spicy and strong.
In flower? Yes, just a couple at the moment, but gearing up again.

Angel Face - 4th April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Angel Face (Swim)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Unusual pinkish mauve.  (‘Stirling Silver’ is one of it’s parents)
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms, but over a long period.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? A couple of flowers.
Rose/Breeder: Julia’s rose (Wisbech)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Milky coffee colour.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Weak grower, few blooms.
Perfume: No.
In flower? No, just finished.

Chicago Peace - this photo was taken in January and the bloom is a little sunburnt from a very hot day.

Rose/Breeder: Chicago Peace (Johnson)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea. Similar colouring to the original ‘peace’ rose, but the colour much stronger and more yellow / darker pink edging.
Position West facing, later afternoon sun.
Condition: Doing well, putting out new growth, getting ready for an autumn flush.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds appearing.

Ambridge Rose - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Ambridge rose (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with cupped shell like petals very soft peach/apricot.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Thriving, strong plant – one of the star performers who repeat flowers and will grow to a couple of metres in a season.
Perfume: Yes, lovely sweet fragrance.
In flower? A few flowers, just starting it’s autumn flush.
Rose/Breeder: Evelyn (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose, with open shallow blooms. Mid apricot/pink.
Position West facing, sun from late morning on.
Condition: Doing well, medium sized bush that flowers well over long period.
Perfume: Yes, quite strong ‘old rose’.
In flower? No, but several buds.
Rose/Breeder: Winchester Cathedral (Austin)
Type/colour: White with an occasional touch of pink.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Disappointing blooms shatter easily.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Yes, but only a smattering of blooms.
Rose/Breeder: The Swan (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Not thriving. Susceptible to black spot. Erratic flowering with blooms that don’t last well.
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? No, but some buds.

This is Mary Webb - I think!

Rose/Breeder: Mary Webb (I’m pretty sure it is, but not 100% certain) (Austin)
Type/colour: English rose. Pale buttery yellow.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Little growth but healthy. Has been shaded out by a shrub that was recently removed, so should bounce back.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Just finished.
Rose/Breeder: Leander (Austin)
Type/colour: Climbing multiflora English rose. Strong apricot.
Position South/west facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Strong grower shoots out new growth that is thick and strong and over a metre high. Needs to be move somewhere where it can be trained properly to increase flower production.
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? No flowers, but some buds.

Margaret Merill - April 2010

Rose/Breeder: Margaret Merril (Harkness)
Type/colour: Cluster flowered floribunda. White.
Position West facing, sun from mid morning on.
Condition: Grows very well and produces many flowers over long period. Flowers do tend to get marked easily.
Perfume: Highly scented, quite spicy.
In flower? Yes, lots of flowers.

Katy Did It!

The good news is that the aphids are all but gone. The little wasps are still busy doing their gruesome alien emergence thing, but that’s fine with me because it works. No chemicals and (very nearly) no aphids. Lovely.

The bad news is that no flotilla of ladybugs appeared. I’m starting to wonder if the little wasps are too much competition for them. Something I read (can’t remember where now) did say that the parasitic wasps were a more effective biological control for aphids than ladybugs or lacewings. I wonder if being out-competed is the real cause for the loss of my ladybug population.

I’m going to have to look into that, but today I’ve been on an identity search for prime rose chewing suspect number one. Did you see her perched there amongst the roses?

Who is this fiend?

Because I work hard (stand back and let nature take it’s course)  to avoid using insecticides on my plants, the occasional bug does come along and do some damage. It’s never as bad as you might think and I only loose the occasional bloom. I think that is a small price to pay to have the bees, the butterflies and the creepy little parasitic wasps visit.

But I think this critter has been taking big mouthfuls out of some of my blooms and I’ve been trying to figure out who she is since January.

A harlequin bug copping the blame

In January I was still considering blaming the Harlequin bugs (Dindymous Versicolour) for my rose bud damage, but my suspicion was aroused when the creature  below was found near the scene of the crime.  I’ve since found it loitering nearby on two or three more occasions, so it has become prime suspect number one. It has taken me ages to figure out what it is exactly as it looked to me like a cross between a grasshopper and a leafhopper.

Caedicia simplex?

Turns out grasshopper was closest to the mark and some of you probably recognised it instantly as a Katydid, who has both British and Northern American cousins. I think this one is an Inland Katydid (Caedicia simplex).

Turns out they like to munch on flower buds. Hmm.

Rose Diary. A Parasitic Wasp That is a Friend to the Roses.

Week Two of my Rose Diary…

Over the last couple of weeks many of the roses have started to sprout new growth for an autumn flush. I’ve really only just learnt that I should do a summer pruning (which is not quite as hard as a winter one) so they can be at their best, but I’ve left it too late this time around. Next year. Already I have a lot of jobs on the list for next year!

New rose growth has attracted a stack of aphids. Us rose gardeners can have a reputation for being pretty quick to reach for the spray, but I don’t.

Aphids having a lovely time muching my roses

Aphids having a lovely time munching on my roses.

I am fortunate that if I wait a beneficial insect in the form of a little parasitic wasp (Aphidius rosae) will turn up and deal with the aphids. These wasps are an introduced biological control.

An adult Aphidius Rosae circled. Notice the pale aphid 'mummies' above it.

It can seem like an age for the wasps to turn up while the aphid population explodes, but they are usually here within a week of an aphid outbreak and the aphids are then gone within a week or two.

The wasps manner of dealing with the aphids is quite gruesome. They lay their eggs inside the aphid and the aphid then provides food for the wasp larva. You can read more about it here.

Most years I can also rely on ladybugs coming to the rescue too, but this year we’ve barely seen them and we’re all still a bit sad about that.

Anyway, time to look at what the next lot of roses are doing today. These ones are scattered around the side and back of the shed.

As an aside – I keep mucking up the layout of the tables which seem to limit where I can edit, so this diary entry will end abruptly after the last table!

Rose/breeder Kathryn Morley (Austin)
Type / Colour Many petalled English rose / Soft shell pink
Position North/West facing – beside robinia (part sun)
Condition Quite tall (over 1 metre), getting a bit leggy. Doing quite ok, but I reckon it will thrive in a better position.
Perfume? Yes, soft
In flower? No, a couple of buds

Camp David, as high as the shed.

Rose/breeder Camp David (?)
Type / Colour Hybrid tea / deep red
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition Thriving, can get close to two meters if let go, can produce more long stemmed blooms than it can support if not kept in check.
Perfume? Yes, quite strong
In flower? Yes
Rose/breeder Lorraine Lee

(Alistair Clarke – Australian bred rose)

Type / Colour Climber, tea shaped buds / pink with an apricot tinge
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition Monster climbing rose! Flowers sporadically but over many months. Beautiful buds, but they don’t last in the vase.
Perfume? faint
In flower? No

Abraham Darby, quite an apricot shade at this time of year.

Rose/breeder Abraham Darby (Austin)
Type / Colour Many petalled English rose/ varies from pink early in season to  more apricot later.
Position West facing behind the shed
Condition A big thriving plant over a metre high and wide. Flowers repeatedly and generously
Perfume? Yes, just divine!
In flower? Yes

William Shakespeare March 2010

Rose/breeder William Shakespeare (Austin)
Type / Colour English Rose / crimson
Position North/West facing – beside smaller Japanese maple (part sun)
Condition Very good. Quite tall (over 1 metre). Quite a bit of new growth, getting a tad leggy.
Perfume? Yes
In flower? Yes, buds present
Rose/breeder Camille Pissaro  (Delbard)
Type / Colour Cream and pink bicolour
Position North/West facing – beside false acacia (part sun)
Condition Poor. Not in a great position, but still the least successful when compared to those around it.
Perfume? No
In flower? No, a couple of buds

Fiona's Wish hiding her yellow centre

Rose/breeder Fiona’s Wish (?)
Type / Colour Hybrid tea / strong yellow dark pink edging
Position North/West facing – beside robinia (part sun)
Condition Ok, some new growth, but not really thriving
Perfume? Yes
In flower? Yes

Rose Diary – Week One

Did I mention that I reserved the right to change my mind about how I was going to go about this? No? Oh well…I’ve changed my mind!

For a start I don’t seem to be able to add new posts to my rose diary page. Ooops. Still working on this and will move posts in there later if I can!

I was going to go back and start the diary from January. It doesn’t make any sense from the garden’s point of view to do that because the roses don’t start any new phase in January, but it made some sort of sense to me from my calendar focused perspective. After all, this was meant to be ‘A Year in a Gippsland Garden’ and if I am to start my rose diary in March that kind of mucks things up a bit, doesn’t it?

Never mind,  I may just  have to come up with a creative new title for my blog…something like ‘A Year and Another Year in a Gippsland Garden’

'Devon' rose is now on the 'lost roses' list as I can't find any reference to a rose of that name!

Another small problem I’ve  encountered is how many different roses I have. They come in at 40+, so a long list of what they are all doing every post is going to be more than a little dull. In fact, I’m becoming increasingly concerned that the whole venture is going to be more than a little dull for everyone else but me. Feel free to wander off and get a coffee.

Anyway, even if I am talking to myself, here is the new plan for now:

I am starting my rose calendar in March 2010.

Each week of each month I will update, in order, one of  four rough groupings of roses based on their current location.   I’ll give details of each rose first time round, but just update if it is blooming or not with a photo if possible from there on in, so it won’t be so long winded. Occasionally I might focus on a favourite rose. If you are still awake and paying attention you will soon see there is no rhyme or reason to the current plantings.

The groupings will be: By the house, The Elder bed, By the shed, and ‘The lost roses’.

At some stage in winter I will move all the roses about so the whole plan will be turned upside down and confusion will reign.

Right, so here is week one, the roses ‘By the house’ on the 7th March:

Double Delight - 7th March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Double Delight (?)
Type/colour: Hybrid Tea Rose – cream with dark pink edging
Position North facing side of house – morning and midday sun
Condition: Quite healthy, but slow growing
Perfume: Yes, lovely!
In flower? Yes, blooms and buds present

Pierre de Ronsard March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Pierre de Ronsard (Meilland)
Type/colour: ‘cabbage’ style blooms on climber – white with soft pink edging
Position North facing side of house – morning sun
Condition: Excellent. Strong growth and glossy leaves
Perfume: Faint.
In flower? Yes, lots of blooms and buds present

Pat Austin 7th March 2010

Rose/Breeder: Pat Austin (David Austin)
Type/colour: English Rose – Copper orange
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Excellent. Strong growth and glossy leaves
Perfume: Yes.
In flower? Yes, lots of blooms and buds present
Rose/Breeder: Scentimental  (Tom Curruth)
Type/colour: Floribunda – red and white bicolour
Position North facing side of house. Shaded out.
Condition: Poor, not surprising with virtually no sun
Perfume: Yes, spicy, but not strong.
In flower? Yes. But only a couple of blooms and no buds

Mermaid Rose

Rose/Breeder: Mermaid (?)
Type/colour: Large single petal old rose climber – pale yellow
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Excellent. Very vigorous and on a mission to take over the world.
Perfume: No.
In flower? Yes, a few blooms and getting ready for another flush
Rose/Breeder: Valencia (Kordes)
Type/colour: Large flowered Hybrid Tea Rose – mid orange
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Quite good, but being overtaken by neighboring Mermaid rose
Perfume: Yes, sweet.
In flower? No, but a couple of buds present

New 'Kleopatra' - March 2010

Rose/Breeder: New Kleopatra (?)
Type/colour: Hybrid tea rose -Strong yellow with dark red edging
Position West facing side of house – Afternoon sun
Condition: Very good, strong new growth
Perfume: No
In flower? Yes

Recording a Year of Roses

I’ve decided to try my hand at setting up another page of my blog as a ‘Rose Diary’.  The diary will not just be a record of the roses that are blooming, but how they are faring comparatively throughout the year. It will also look at the mistakes I’ve made with roses (which are beautifully forgiving creatures) and hopefully how I’ve learnt from those mistakes.

Devon Rose 3rd of March 2010

If all goes according to plan, the diary should also record a significant change to my garden in 2010 as I start to re-arrange the rose beds to give these plants the best chance of thriving.  Hopefully that is thriving without turning my garden into a forest of ugly sticks in the middle of winter!

You can pop in to the (only just beginning) rose diary via the ‘My Rose Diary’ tab at the top of this page. Ideas and suggestions are always most welcome!

When a ladybird isn’t a ladybird at all!

I have been bemoaning the absence of ladybirds in my garden this year, so you will understand how excited I was when last night I spotted a flash of red on one of my roses. Unfortunately, when I stopped for a proper look, I saw a lot more little red bugs and it was clear that although these were indeed red with black spots, these were no ladybirds. They are about the size of ladybirds, but they were looking and behaving suspiciously like something else.

The image immediately put me in mind of the little red bugs I had recently  looked at on a Roselle in Bangchik’s lovely  ‘My Little Vegetable Garden’ blog which at the time had reminded me of one of my arch enemies in the garden. Hmmm…

Sure enough when I looked closer still I noticed that an adult Harlequin bug was amongst the little critters. Some comparisons between body shape and markings could be made. The little critters have red boddies and vague black markings on their bodies unlike the distinctly pattered adult Harlequin, but share the same body shape as the adult and a little white dot half way up the antenna (which you can’t really see in the photos, sorry).

I blame Harlequin bugs for some badly damaged rose buds in my garden, but in fairness I’ve never spotted them doing the damage. The bud they are clustered on in the photo looks none the worse for wear for them being there, but we shall see!

The large bug is certainly a harlequin bug!

Apart from the fact I’m not keen on insecticides and figure things generally balance themselves out bug wise in the garden,  I’m staying my hand to learn a few things…

Question one – Can I find any more evidence to confirm if these little beasts really are young Harlequin bugs?

Question two – Will they chew through my rose bud and prove they deserve my wrath?

Question three – Will a natural predator turn up and deal with them? If so who and how?

I’ll update as investigations develop!

Becoming a worm farmer

Part one – setting up the farm & moving the worms in.

The remaining parts of the worm farm. Enough to be going on with I think!

A few years ago we had a worm farm that produced beautiful ‘worm tea’ and vermacasts for the garden. Worm by-products are a fantastic rich fertiliser that doesn’t burn plants. I can’t remember why we stopped using it, but for some reason the worms were set free and the farm was packed away.

While pottering around recently I found the old plastic worm farm and have decided to give it a new lease on life. Sadly parts of it seem to have been ‘re-purposed’ or just plain lost over the years and it’s been left without it’s tap or the lid.  I had a scrounge around and came up with some things I hoped I could use to get it up and running again.

The worm farm needs to be in a fairly shady location. Shelter from frost is important too.

Before I could start moving the worms in I had to do something about the missing tap or the precious worm tea (and maybe the worms!) would leak out of the hole at the bottom. I needed something that could drain the liquid, but could also be sealed up. It had me stumped at first but then I thought the top of a lemonade bottle and it’s lid might just work…

The lemonade bottle top was just a tiny bit too big for the hole in the tub, but a very sharp knife helped widen it just enough. It fits pretty well, but not 100% snug, so I’ll keep an eye on how much leakage there is and put some silicone sealant around the hole if need be.

The old tap was narrower and used to get clogged up a bit so maybe this will flow better, if it lasts!

Once the tap issue was sorted, it was just a matter of setting up the worms new home.  As my daughter is currently keen on being an entomologist when she grows up I was lucky to have a willing helper.

Half a dozen pages of damp newspaper (worms don’t like anything dry!) went in to line the first ‘residential’ tray that was nestled above the drainage tray.

Here is the Box O’ worms! I bought them live from a hardware shop which my daughter found to be a very strange idea indeed. Compost worms are different varieties from standard earthworms which we are also lucky to have in the garden.

I’ve read recommendations that worm farms the size we are using should be started with 500 worms and others that recommend at least 1000 or even 2000. We’ve just got 500 and the hope that in a few weeks they will be happy enough in their new home to make more worms!

Below my daughter is helping spread the worm mixture gently across the tray. They go in complete with the organic matter they were boxed with to help them settle into their new home and have somewhere to hide. Worms like hiding so much we thought our box of worms had no worms at first!

If you look really closely you will see that there is more than one worm!

Every bit of information on worm farms seems to recommend only giving them a little food at first, but they don’t tend to quantify what a ‘little’ is, so we guesstimated about a cup worth of compostables, mainly old potato peelings and banana skins.  The Gardening Australia fact sheet on worm farms recommended banana skins, so hopefully we’ll be hearing contented munching noises soon!

At this stage the worms should not need feeding again for a least a week as they will be busy settling in. Definitely don’t feed worms meat or meat tainted scraps and limit use of onion or citrus in a worm farm.

Last of all we added a blanket for the worms – another layer of damp newspaper. The whole farm can be covered with wet hessian or carpet if it’s getting really hot.

I checked our worms a few hours after setting them up and already they are moving about the new food scraps, so I’m guessing they are hungry! We will be checking on them each day to see how they are going and to make sure that their home does not dry out.

I’m not sure what to do for a more long term solution for the missing lid, but my temporary solution was to out an old sign across the top and weigh it down with the spare worm  farm tray. I’ll scrounge up something more permanent soon.

Pest update

I found out what these pesky little critters were. They are a native ‘true bug’ Scolypopa australis with the common name ‘Passionvine Hopper’ . They love sucking the sap from creepers and other plants (like buddleia) that produce nice juicy new shoots.  Interestingly when I trimmed out the canopy of the buddleia noticed a lot less of these and some contented looking Red Wattle Birds.  You have to  love natural biological controls!

Last but not least, one of my favourite roses…

Double Delight

A Simple Plan…

Scentimental Rose in bud (close up!)

I admit it;  I’ve been looking at other gardening blogs and have been caught up in dreams of a beautiful garden with ‘just so’ garden beds and spectacular plantings.  The green eyes have come out! Is it blog envy? I don’t know, but I do know that I take photos of my flowers close up so no one can see the horror that surrounds them!

Today I realised I need a plan. A very simple plan. My garden is never going to be a show piece, but it could be my haven.

The reality is that if I look at my garden as a whole I quickly become demoralised. Think of a garden thug that could grow in the area my garden is in and I’ve got it in spades. Ivy, I’ve got it. Blackberry, the very bane of my existence. Running bamboo, check. Couch grass growing in plentiful supply, yup (but the good news is the Common Brown butterfly is said to love it!)

So, I am now thinking about it in manageable chunks. The Butterfly Garden is my first ‘chunk’ and on the hit list, apart from an awful lot of weeding, is the Ivy.

The before shot. Is the fence holding the ivy up or is the ivy holding the fence up?

Part way through, starting to see the extent of the damage.

Just in case anyone else was as silly as me to doubt the damage done by ivy

90% complete, fence still holding on, just.

After a long days hacking at the ivy and wrangling the couch grass I did allow myself the pleasure of the putting in the first planting toward the butterfly garden. My butterfly book tells me that apart from a whole range of nettles (please no, no more weeds!) the Australian Admiral butterfly is fond of ‘Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) as a food plant, so in it went in a shady spot today.

'Baby tears' in a shady, but possibly too dry position under a Buddliea

Last of all is a photo of a pest I’d like to identify. I’m sure it’s demonstrating my ignorance,  but I have no idea what it is. There are hundereds of these in my garden and we call them ‘flick moths’. Nothing comes up in a search for that nick name and my searches for moths have not revealed anything yet.

A Beautiful Pest

Thanks to Museum Victoria’s Discovery Centre we were able to identify the fuzzy ‘butterfly’ in the last post. We thought it was a beautiful butterfly but it turns out to be the day flying Grapevine Moth Phalaenoides glycinae.

Mystery no more

Apparently it is a very serious pest for grape growers – and it gets worse. It was the reason for the introduction of the Common Myna Bird, a biological control gone wrong and a threat to our native bird life. Bad bug. Well, in fairness it didn’t decide to import grapes or Myna birds!

Anyway, today I started the serious business of decoding botanical plant names. I have put together a short list of the butterflies we’ve observed,  along with those we might be able to attract (as they have been identified in our area).  Now I’m identifying and reading up on their larval food plants. More on this next time!

I've decided this is the Greenish Grass Dart. Well, maybe. There are about 30 different little brown and orange grass darts in our area, so it's going to take a bit of work to know for sure!

In bloom today…

Chicago Peace

The blooms on Chicago Peace are usually more vivid than in this photo, but I think the intense heat of the last couple of days has ‘bleached’ it a little.

Scentimental Rose