Plant of the season

Beautiful Bare Bones

Plant of the Season is brought to you by Gayle Parkes, OGV sub-committee member. She also posts to OGV's Instagram - make sure you check back regularly for her latest post. 

This afternoon, on a chilly, typical Melbourne winter’s day, I pondered my choices to write about for Plant of the Season. Should I focus on hellebores, lemon trees, aloes, grevillea or maybe daphne?

My thoughts just kept coming back to the glorious silhouettes of all things deciduous, outlined on dark, stormy skies. The branches of my trees, the intricate wiry tendrils of Boston Ivy adhering by those cute little sucker pads to my shed and the pale wintry light that now enters our living room in the late afternoon.

I thought about my little garden and what I have planted in the blank canvas from three and a half years ago when we moved here. In fact, I thought about the fact that winter is probably my favourite season in my garden. Crazy as that sounds!

I am a bit of a “neat freak” (just ask my friends!) and although I have planned my garden to be full to the brim with lots and lots of pots, garden art and a variety of my very favourite plants, all displayed at various levels with the help of plinths, stands, tables, decks, etc., I do like order. Winter allows just that – my opportunity to have order.

There is so much to be done in the garden in winter! With my fleecy gardening clothes, a woolly beanie and serious boots, I relish a crisp, but dry, day outside. Time to stand back and look at the beautiful bare bones of my garden. Channeling Edna Walling, I take stock, make plans and get busy.

When the leaves have fallen from my ornamental pears, crepe myrtles, my maples, forest pansy and the divine parthenocissus tricuspidata, quinquefolia, henryana and sikkimensis, every one of those precious leaves is raked up and not one goes to waste! Compost, compost! The long shoots of quinquefolia are carefully packed up and given to my friend who weaves them into magical artworks. The fat, juicy buds on the hydrangeas show me where to prune. My raking exposes pathways to become more evident (should that one be more curved?). I can now see the shape of my crepe myrtles and can prune them according to how I want them to grow for shade. 

Salvias get a massive chop back and the sedums, definitely finished now, are cut to the ground with the promise already of fresh, luscious new shoots peeping out from the gravel they are planted in. Now I can see more clearly our two water pots and my fish will really appreciate the good clean out of their kingdoms and will thank me for it.

I have been able to tidy up around the hellebores so that they can now shine. The aloes are loving my bare trees and shrubs as they show off their magnificent winter blooms without any competition from the showy perennials and rich foliage nearby. And look what I have just noticed….. poking their brave shoots through the gravel….. the beginning of my spring bulbs, tiny tete a tete daffodils, fritillarias, freesias. 

Bare bones, beautiful bare bones of the winter garden. I am grateful for the four seasons we enjoy in Victoria. Thank you winter…..