Bushwhacked: Winter message lost in the post

WHERE did the idea come from that winter is a glum, colourless time in our gardens? 

It seems ours didn’t get the memo and every time we turn around, something else is exploding into impossibly vivid colours; all the more so because of those other plants which are having a bit of a hibernation.

The native gladioli, all 10 bazillion of them, spent the summer lurking underground. Quite sensibly. And since the weather turned cool, they’ve been piercing the air with their enormous green spiky leaves and last week, they began flowering their gorgeous orange heads off.

The various coloured daisies are doing the same, turning their fluffy green billows into little fireworks displays in white, mauve and yellow.

Then there are these amazing things we came across last year. We found them at a nursery near Creswick and they called them Fruit-Salad bushes. When you brush against them, the reason for the name is obvious. It provokes an odd urge to go and get some ice-cream.

I haven’t been able to find out what its real name is, because the plant more usually known as the Fruit Salad Plant is actually the old Monstera Deliciosa, that prolific shiny, fleshy plant once so common to doctor’s waiting rooms and 1970s front verandahs.

But this thing in our garden is nothing like that. It looks more like a daisy of some sort but it’s acting like it’s on steroids and chucking up lurid chrome yellow flowers with almost botanic abandon. I expect ASADA to turn up for some testing soon.

They also did not get the memo about being dull over winter.

The Correa by the front steps is positively tropical with its mass showing of dusky pink bell-shaped flowers.

And then there’s the pink and white cyclamen. And the unknown bush with white flowers which explodes with perfume every time you go to the clothesline. And the native fuchsia.

The dear old snapdragons haven’t stopped flowering for the past 18 months. Same with the begonias. 

The blue and white plumbago still thinks it’s spring. As does the potato vine. To top it off, just the other day I caught the first glimpse of the golden wattle explosion which will change the landscape over the next few weeks. Some other less spectacular wattles are already out.

The blue and white Rosemary looks like they’re hosting a party and have their colours raging already.

It’s not all good news, though.

It’s been a pretty vigorous year for the blasted oxalis – soursob – possibly because of the warmer, yet damp, start to winter. And we can therefore expect their own thuggish colour displays in the next few weeks.

There’ll be huge puffy banks of impossibly yellow flowers everywhere. They’ll try to fool us into think they look, well, acceptable, but they’re not. They are like raiding Vikings and Norsemen – full of colour and character, but with total world domination in their hearts.

It’s hard not to be paranoid about oxalis.

In all, it’s a fascinating time in the garden.

Everything’s chugging along comfortably and every time you turn around, something else pops up and surprises you with a narcissistic “look at moi” peep show.

While the garden is still almost throbbing with spring expectation, more than enough is going on to satisfy anyone.

This winter finds gardeners far from discontent.


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