Autumn 2013

Today is the first day of Autumn in Australia. I find the changes of seasons a good time to take stock and reflect on my garden’s progress. Here’s my post about my lovely garden at the beginning of summer. Spring had been good to my backyard and everything was very productive as summer rolled in.

It was a weird summer. December was painfully dry. January started with no rain and hit a record-breaking high of almost 46 C (115 F). Then, in the last few days of January, the rains rang in with a bang and most of February had good rain. Throughout summer there were some unusually cold days and a lot of scorchers. Something tells me that when the statisticians are done, everything will average out and it will have been a “normal” summer. Lies, damned lies and statistics, eh?

The one thing I know is that my garden doesn’t believe in averages, it wants water, some sun and a bit of warmth pretty much every day. Those 2 days over 40 wilted, burnt and stunted plenty of plants, vegetables and trees alike. The days with full sun roasted many of the seeds I’d been silly enough to sow and flattened the seedlings that had bravely showed themselves in spite of the heat. The extremes also drove the wildlife to linger longer in gardens than in the bush where plants don’t get the helping hand of a gardener with a watering can. The end result was crop loss – lots of crop loss 😦

That said, I harvested plenty that had been well established in spring and I got heaps of greens, most notably silverbeet, spinach and mizuna, all through summer. I’ve got some plants in the ground that will push on through autumn and maybe I can try my hand at sowing some seeds again with better luck as those long hot days move behind us.

Which leads me to my garden on the first day of autumn – a rainy and cool start to the season.

The corn and sunflowers I sowed in late January obviously are the exceptions that prove the rule; they have been loving the cloying heat and are racing each other for dominance.

Several vines (watermelon, cucumber, squashes) are running like crazy, but the fruit isn’t forthcoming. Maybe March will be their turn?

Basil, basil and more basil. Pesto for everyone!

And hey, I’ve got 2 (yes TWO) banana spears on my plants right now. In the next month or so I’ll be having my daily banana plus I’ll be making as much banana bread as hubby can stomach. The bananas liked all that heat (and water which we poured when the heavens didn’t).

The only obvious sign of autumn is the mulberry tree at the bottom of the garden, in the past 3 or 4 days the leaves have begun yellowing – tis the season!

When I stop and look, there really is a lot out there and I eat something almost every day from my garden. There’s also a bit that still has its best days ahead. Maybe spring spoiled me, summer really hasn’t been too bad after all.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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22 Responses to Autumn 2013

  1. Lovely garden.

    We have been too scared to eat bananas since becoming beekeepers for fear of smelling like alarm pheromone when visiting the hives. Probably excessive caution.

    • Thank you.

      I suspect that is excessive. I’m not sure about all the things they warn you about with bees. A couple of weeks ago I stood right in front of the hive watching the bees come and go while taking photos (maybe 4 feet back so as not to be too intrusive) and I wore zero protective gear. I had been there a few minutes before I realised I was wearing a bright yellow shirt which in theory attracts the bees. Mine must be of the higher IQ variety because none circled me looking for a stamen to land on. I would hope they’d use the same deductive reasoning when they smelled banana on my breath. If not, they’ll just have to bounce off my net while trying to get to my face because I’m not giving up bananas!

  2. Great pictures of your garden. You are going into Autumn as we go into Spring and we can’t wait, it has been so cold here recently.

    • Autumn and spring are the really productive seasons here. Actually I think winter is more productive than summer. A lot of plant varieties (broccoli and peas for example) grow here in winter – they prefer the milder days and I don’t blame them.

      I hope your spring is better than your winter – I know it’s been a harsh one.

  3. Linda says:

    What a lovely garden! It looks like you really make the most of your space. I’m so jealous that you get to grow banana trees!

    • I know, I can’t believe it myself. I grew up in Seattle where our idea of exotic food in the garden was a plum tree. I never tire of picking a lemon or banana from my very own tree!

      • Linda says:

        Would be heaven! Since moving a bit south in the US, I’ve even been amazed at the way plants easily survive the mild winters here…My lemon tree probably would have even made it outside this year. This is the first time I’ve lived some place without a mulberry tree though…and that is something I deeply miss! Mulberry makes some of the best jam!

        • I never have any mulberries left over for jam, I’m way too much of a glutton. I think I’d need 10 trees to produce more mulberries than I could eat fresh.

          • Linda says:

            Haha. The last one I lived near was a very heavy producer…got luck on that one! But I know what you mean…I’ve been around some that barely produce enough for people to eat after the wildlife gets to them!

  4. anamonreal19 says:

    Love your Garden!!!

    • Thanks – I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Many of my friends have beautiful gardens to look at that produce nothing and I wonder what they really think of mine 🙂

      When I first bought this house I wanted to relegate the veggie patch to a back corner behind some shrubs so I couldn’t see it. It got almost no sun and really languished. When I decided that veggie patches were beautiful, my backyard, my daily routine and my diet all underwent a dramatic change. I’m never going back to ornamentals and a sculpted backyard. My only regret is there isn’t much space to plant anything else.

  5. Max says:

    What a topsy-turvy world we live in, I was just eye-balling the swelling buds on my Mulberries and wondering when leaf break is coming.

    • Topsy-turvy indeed. I was just eye-balling the swelling buds on MY mulberries as I was looking at the yellowing leaves. I’ve no idea why they are budding now and I hope it doesn’t cause the plant problems. I’m sure last year all the leaves dropped and there was no budding. Do yours bud a 2nd time in autumn?

      • Max says:

        I only planted my mulberries last year and didn’t notice anything this past autumn. Right now I can’t wait to see if they fruit this year! They’re my only realistic chance for seeing anything out of my orchard until next year.

        • I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. I love mine. A handful of freshly picked mulberries is my idea of a great start to the day. I gave up on the lunchtime handful because birds typically discover any newly ripened berries by then, but if I’m early enough, a morning harvest is a possibility.

  6. wow I can remember your garden when there was nothing much than that birdbath! Your garden is looking luscious and full. great job!

    • A birdbath and several holes in the ground from my bandicoot! I think it was those bandicoot attacks that lead us to each other’s blogs.

      Thanks for remembering and reminding me how far I’ve come. I appreciate the encouragement.

  7. You’ve managed to keep the garden like a tempting green oasis despite the heat. I like your thoughts on the attractive vegetable garden. I have several books by Sarah Raven who echoes this view and I have copied some of her ideas. I couldn’t exclude my patch to under the trees at the bottom of the garden. However, I find the vegetable garden much more demanding than the rest.

    • Vegetable gardening takes a lot more time than just a big square of grass or some nice shrubs and flowers dotted around the place, especially if you’re actually interested in harvesting any food. But it is really rewarding and relaxing in its own way. And I’ve learned to love the changing look of the patch – my old garden changed with the seasons but not week-to-week and day-to-day like the vegetable garden does.

  8. vuchickens says:

    It’s very beautiful. Doesn’t look like it suffered too much to me!

    • Ah well, most of the dead stuff has been pulled out and so is no longer visible. The real problem has been stunted growth so plants like the tomatoes that were so productive didn’t die, they just stopped producing fruit.

  9. Pingback: Winter 2013 | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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