Friday, January 27, 2012

How I Ought to Be Doing Things

Yesterday we visited the children's garden at Melbourne's Botanical Gardens. It's been ages since we've been and I've forgotten how wonderful it is. While the kids splashed around in the water fountains and streams, I wandered about the veggie patch. I realised of course that I'm no-where near getting it right in my own garden. I need to plant loads more. And why do they put that information about how close you should plant your veggies on the packets. Surely it's wrong? I'd need a farm with loads more space and a ruler if I was to follow their directions. And I'd hardly grow anything. I've started to squish things up much closer than they recommend but now I see that it's possible to successfully do even closer squishes.

I really like these bamboo structures they've made to grow pumpkins and beans up at the Gardens.
I've often admired people who grow artichokes. I once tried to prepare one for a meal and it was such a drama I vowed never to do it again. That was twenty years ago and I have stuck to my promise. I've heard of people popping them in their gardens just for the flowers which I secretly thought was a bit bonkers. Until I saw this yesterday...
I'm a convert. I'll definitely be organising some artichokes for my garden this year. And some purple basil which looks great and smells just like the real stuff. Fancy that! I reckon I'd be able to freak the monkeys out with a lovely purple pesto too.
Another thing I realised I ought to do is grow more parsley. Much, much more.
And all those telly and cookbook chefs who snootily tell you that the flat leaf parsley variety is vastly superior are wrong. I much prefer the curly stuff. It looks better, chops better and I can easily distinguish it from the weeds as opposed to that other flat stuff. Maybe my palate isn't too good but I really can't tell the difference in flavour either. So I'll be aiming for massive curly parsley plantings this year too.

There was also a wee asparagus plot at the Gardens. Some of you may know I've been hankering for asparagus and haven't managed to find a spot that I think will be big enough. But they had only a small patch set aside for asparagus here. Mind you I'm not sure how many mouths they are planning on feeding. So I'm thinking I've found the spot in my garden for asparagus, but I've got a few months to continue my ponderings yet.
I quite like the stuff they've got on the paths there. I could walk on that with bare feet and it'd keep the weeds down. I haven't managed to completely de-grass our place since I last posted about it and am still contemplating what I'll use.

Lastly, could someone please tell me what this flower is? It looks beautiful and was attracting lots of bees.
Only a few more days of school holidays left. I'll certainly miss the lazy days and excursions and fun with the monkeys. I never understand people who hang out for the return to school and back to routine. Don't get me wrong, I won't miss the sooking on the trampoline after one of their wrestling matches or circus shows goes askew or the sniping over who gets to use the last clone trooper lego bit. But I do so love summer holidays.


  1. Such a pretty garden!!! Isn't it great getting inspiration from other well established gardens!

    The flower is Echinacea and is indeed very pretty, as are the artichoke flowers! I'm an ornamental artichoke grower! They are so tough and handle the hot, dry summer weather.

    And RE asparagus its 2 to 3 crowns per person. You could always grow it in the ornamental part of the garden. The ferns are very pretty and would happily grow anywhere as long as there is a bit of sun and warmth...

  2. I have hardly any room in my garden, and as far as planting guides...I dont use em...I shove anything and everything in next to each other and it works fine. I cram as much as I can that small space..even artichokes which probably didnt work...THEY ARE HUGE!

  3. Hello I am a gardener over here in Southern California living near the beach and just recently stumbled upon your lovely and hilarious blog. Just wanted to let you know that those pink flowers are Echinacea, they are really beautiful and have a lot of medicinal properties. I've never had much luck growing them over here though I think they like more heat and less coastal fog than we have. Best of luck with your garden!

  4. So glad you are enjoying your holidays, and that looks like a great place to hang out, both for you and the monkeys. I too wonder about the spacing - nobody else seems to follow the rules, and when they plant closely it doesn't seem to allow room for weeds to grow between. I am planning on planting much closer together. I have five asparagus plants - they say you get more if they are far apart, but mine seem to work about two feet away from each other.

  5. Echinacea loves our variable and hot weather so does well in Australia as you saw. Like Phoebe I'm an ornamental artichoke grower, the bees love the flowers. I'm trying to get my hands on a cardoon (used in Australian Victorian gardens)if anyone has any suggestions!

  6. Yep, those flowers are echinaceas (sometimes sold as cone flowers), they're perennial but die back over winter, I've just planted a few white ones.

  7. I'm got some 'White Swan' Echinacea seeds to sow for this year - I know I could just buy a plant but I just love growing things from scratch. They look lovely in 'naturalistic' planting schemes with lots of wavy grasses. Not that I have room for anything so ambitious...

  8. We went to the Kids Garden last Sunday - my favourite thing (other than playing under the sprinklers) was the pumpkin frame, I'm still trying to work out how to incorporate it into my garden though - size issues. I have to say I am a flat leaf parsley fan - I think the flavour is stronger and the texture is much better, particularly in salads like tabouleh. I do happily eat the curly version too though. I think I read in Stephanie Alexanders book that you can never have too much parsley and I have to say I agree wholeheartedly.

  9. I could with that amount of Parsley - we like to treat it as a vegetable rather than as a herb if we ever have enough, which is not very often! There's an old saying that Parsley won't grow well for a household in which the woman "wears the trousers", so perhaps I shouldn't complain too much... :-)

  10. Thanks everyone for the heads up on the echinacea.. HeartsIA I have seen them in my diggers catalogue listed as cone flowers. Ta. Sorry Alison I've never heard of cardoon. Mark too funny! As I am rather a bossy pants maybe I'll have no luck with lots of parsley. Phoebe I hadn't thought of growing asparagus in the ornamental part of the garden. Good idea.


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