Nature has gently eased us out of summer with hints of what’s to come; the mornings bring cool fresh air, but the high temperatures along the coast and inland last week tease us back into summer mode. So the bees in the garden are still very active. Throughout the garden, some roses have tell-tale signs of the presence of unique leaf-cutter bees. Although it doesn’t appear to damage the roses (except visually), there are many distinctive circular holes in the foliage caused by the unusual leaf-cutter bees.
The strange near, perfect circles on the roses are from the ‘leafcutter bee’. The circular foliage they cut out is for making a nest for the female bee to lay eggs. The leaf is then rolled into a hollow chamber where the eggs are laid, and each space has pollen and nectar left in it for the young bees. The process is repeated four to five times, and each segment has ten to fifteen leaves layered together and then sealed. The compartments, once finished, are joined into a long cigar-shaped construction.
Leafcutter bees are in the genus Megachile, range from 6 to 15 mm, and are found all over Australia. They appear to keep cutting into the same rose plant, usually ones with soft fine foliage, until almost all the leaves have circular holes, and they leave the other thicker-leafed roses alone. Many roses with buds and blooms are opening, but the foliage is lacy from so many circles cut out; fascinating and quite odd.
Pink Knockout Rose and Josephs Coat Climbing Rose with holes in the foliage from leaf-cutter bees
Autumn has provided some much-needed rain this week, returning the garden to lush green with the extra delight of late-blooming roses opening. The roses are not perfect as in Spring and Summer, and the colours are a little washed out; nonetheless, they are pleasant and a reminder of roses to come in Spring, like this Golden Beauty below, which is usually an intense gold colour.
Fortunately, I have had some welcome help with the weeding recently, and the garden is coming into its own. It looks like a proper garden with all the extra work over recent weeks and extra assistance instead of out-of-control shambles. I need just a week or two more of removing weeds after summer growth and will have caught up. That is if the rain doesn’t speed up the weed growth again.
A not quite perfect ‘Thank You, Rose’
Nature is always a challenge in any garden, but this week’s rain is timely as I’ve transplanted several large plants and new perennials and annuals that are now reasonably safe with expected wet weather all this week. I always feel more confident in transplanting roses and adding new plants if rain is due. It gives that extra burst of nitrogen and helps settle plants into the soil.
The blooms are almost finished on the Monsieur Tillier Rose, a famous old Tea Rose bred by Alexandre Bernaix in France in 1891. It is sold as Monsieur Tillier in Australia and Archiduc Joseph in Europe and the US. The rose was named after Monsieur Tillier, the former head of the National School of Horticulture in Versailles, France. Monsieur Tillier has very distinctive medium-sized, old-fashioned blooms with a fresh scent. The colour is fading now as it usually has a more brick-red pink colour. The foliage is pretty, as well as the blooms that are prolific throughout the season. I finally have the perfect spot for this rose that will grow into a large, hardy rose bush at least 2 metres tall.
Mother and Daughter™ rose bloomed this week, growing in its usual elegant fashion with an old-world quartered bloom shape and producing lovely yellow roses with sweet perfume. This one was discovered by Lyoyd Rankin in Australia in 2002 and released by Rankins Nursery Australia in 2011 as ‘Mother & Daughter™ rose has thick leathery leaves, is resistant to black spot and mildew, and is a vigorous grower to 125 cm. It will flower on until May if grown in a sunny position.
Now that summer has passed, it is time to nurture some of my plants not usually found in an inland drier garden. I may have ignored them over the summer, although they are relatively self-managed, thankfully. Several standout plants create architectural impact in pots or the garden. Plants like Strelitzia, Jade, Agaves and one of my favourites, trailing Dichondra Silver Falls. I also have grasses and some perennials that I’ve initially grown in pots to ensure they were not invasive to the garden. So, Autumn is a chance to plant them out and lavish attention on the neglected species.
Agaves are gardeners’ best friends requiring little to no maintenance. They can grow in pots and containers or a well-drained garden bed but like to dry out between watering, or they may rot. My agaves are in pots on either side of the french doors at the back. They thrive in the early morning sun and shade on a verandah. I do very little except water them occasionally, but I have to watch the frost during winter as they do not frost.
The Jade plant is also a useful architectural verandah plant that requires zero maintenance. Jade is from South Africa and is supposed to bring luck. It is often given as a housewarming gift to bring prosperity and wealth to the occupants. Be aware that these plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
Strelitzia is a hardy, no-fuss plant that adds drama to the garden and instantly creates a tropical element. It will grow to 120 cm and has stunning bright electric blue and deep, vibrant orange flowers. Our Strelitzia grows near the tap, is protected from winds, and has a perfect part sun, part shade position. We cover it in winter to protect it from frost, which has grown this way for decades.
Dichondra Silver Falls is the ideal silver groundcover or trailing plant for baskets and troughs. Once it gets going, it is super easy to grow and highly effective as a contrast to all the green foliage. Silver Falls is soft and beautiful, and I’ve just replanted several that I hope will survive the winter if I cover them for protection from the frost.
Neoregelia species – Bromeliad adds colour and interest because of its rosette of glossy deep magenta leaves. This beautiful patio or verandah plant enjoys a morning sun and shaded afternoon position and is protected from frost in winter.
Doryanthes excelsa, commonly known as the Gymea lily, is a flowering plant in the family Doryanthaceae and grows in coastal areas around Sydney. The spectacular sword-like leaves grow more than 1 metre long. I have this also in a container for now as it appeared dwarfed by the roses and is happy in the situation near the Strelitzia.
Herbs, chillies and aromatic plants are also getting attention this week, with some focus on the edibles. Recently, as I’ve weeded the garden, I’ve planted lots of parsley for winter soups, lemon verbena for tea, a variegated culinary sage, basil, and more chives and rosemary. The favourites, Lemon Verbena, Chillies and Curry Leaf Plants, will need to be undercover for winter, and there are many more herbs to add once Spring returns.
Autumn provides plenty of perfect gardening weather as we transition to cooler days. After the rain, the garden looks fresh, weeded, and calm without the fiery, intense sun, even though the afternoons are still fairly hot in rural New South Wales. Planning for Spring is underway, and preparation for protecting the more tropical plants because one never knows what nature will bring by the end of this season.
Content Di Baker 2023
All images Di Baker March 2023 except for the leaf cutter image courtesy of wikimedia.org
The title Quote is by Jim Bishop
Quotes as cited or unknown