Weekend Reading

11 December 2020

This is the first foxglove flower I've ever grown. I just love them but always thought our climate was too harsh for them to grow here. This one is in a pot in the bush house and is really healthy. Other seedlings planted in the garden are tiny and I doubt they'll produce flowers. I'll have to change my strategy next year but in the meantime, these two plants are a real joy.

I've been in the garden a bit this week because it's much cooler and I wanted to do a few things before the rain starts - this is our wet season and this year is supposed to be WET. That's good news because Australia has been officially in drought for ten years. Out in the garden, the passionfruits are growing well and there've been many blue-banded bees visiting the flowers. These bees are one of the over 1700 species of native bees in Australia and they are capable of buzz pollination, which is particularly useful if you're growing tomatoes. Most Australian bees don't produce honey because they are solitary and don't live in hives. Some live in holes in trees and some in the ground.  We also frequently have honey bees (introduced from England), and native leafcutter, stingless, carpenter and teddy bear bees in the garden.


Above: This is a female blue-banded bee - with four blue bands, males have five bands. She was hopping from flower to flower and seemed quite happy to have me there, although I usually watch them from a distance.
Below: This is the second time these two passionfruit vines have flowered this year. We're looking forward to a long harvest of fruit, possibly till April.



Another pleasurable task this week was knitting dishcloths.  I finished off the large blue cloths for a friend and started on a set of large cloths for myself in this organic Japanese 5 ply cotton. Being thin cotton, I'm using two different colours together. I imagined it would be more difficult to knit, but I'm enjoying it.



The schools here in Queensland have started the long summer holidays so there's a lot of traffic on the roads and from all reports the shops are full.  After months of having our borders closed to other states, they're open now and tourists are flocking in. We've had no community transmission of Covid-19 where I live for three months. Everyone is pleased to have the freedom to do what they wish but social distancing, masks in crowded situations and handwashing/sanitiser are still advised.

I know it's not the same in other countries but I hope that wherever you are, you get to see your family over the holidays. Even if that is on a screen do whatever protects all of you and gets you through to the end of this pandemic. It will set you up for happier holidays next year

Take care and stay safe. I send my love to you across the miles.

21 comments

  1. Lovely garden Rhonda. I am jealous of your passionfruit vine as mine was ravaged by possums. They ate everything leaves, flowers and fruit. Nothing diswaded them😫 cheers

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    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Bernie. We don’t have a possum problem here although we have a lot of possums. I guess they have enough wild plants to eat.

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    2. We have the same here, every year. Although, last year it actually grew enough to produce some flowers that then fruited. It seems the possum doesn't like the flowers or fruit as it left them alone whilst eating everything round it!

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  2. I saw a possum hanging upside down in my Poplar tree once. It was so funny! That is great that your borders are open, and that you are getting tourists. Things are dire in our hospitals. I feel so badly for the doctors and nurses. They are so overworked, and the hospitals are overcrowded. Being at home is very comforting. All the work in our homes and gardens that we have done is really paying off now. Wonderful news about your rain. We need some snow up here in the San Gabriel mountains of California. It has been a dry year.

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    1. Hi Stephenie, I've heard things are bad in your hospitals and Covid cases continue to rise. I'm really pleased you're safe and sound in your cabin. xx

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  3. Rhonda, I asked our Council gardeners when they plant hollyhocks and they said in March and I presumed it would be the same for foxgloves too as I think both were flowering for the Carnival of Flowers. Of course planting time would be different where you are. They are such beautiful flowers. I have my packet of seeds ready and waiting for autumn.

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    1. Chel, I planted mine when I did because Bunnings started selling potted foxgloves here in September. I refused to buy them because they were $30ish for three plants. I hoped they'd flower in winter buy it was warmer than usual and maybe that slowed them down. I'll try March next year and see what happens. Thanks for letting me know. xx

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  4. you have a lovely garden, how lucky to get foxglove to grow - even though I have the benefit of uk woodland behind my fence, a foxglove has never made it's way over .. we aren't suppposed to pick or dig them up here as they are a wildflower but I often see them in the Summer, they are my favourite wildflower. Interesting that you have bees from the UK - they are so precious and in decline, I wish we could all grow gardens on flat roofs on our houses and install beehives on the space!

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  5. I love your Foxgloves Rhonda, they are one of my favourite flowers and I positively encourage them to grow all over our small holding. They are virtually a free flowering weed in most parts of the UK and can be seen along lots of train tracks and riverways. They are brilliant for the bees and wildlife aren't they and I love watching little fuzzy bottom disappearing into each flower.

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  6. Rhonda, I thoroughly enjoy your posts and photos. It is so nice to see flowers and plants growing and in bloom when we here in the States (I reside in the State of Tennessee) are looking at bare trees and garden boxes. I wish to also thank you for your Weekend Reading Posts. I enjoy going through all the links and even at 79 yr old it keeps the mind functioning with learning. Bless you and yours in this Holiday Season.

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying what I post. I'm only a few years younger than you and I believe my mental capacity is strengthened by reading every day. Happy holidays, Gumball. xx

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  7. What a gorgeous foxglove! I haven't yet grown them, but have always admired them.
    Your garden looks very inviting. I hope you are able to get all the rain you need.

    We are in a sorry state here in America. It is unbelievable to me how little some of our citizens care for their fellow beings. They are so determined to "live free", that it's killing us. So grateful that your area has gotten the virus under control. We are counting down the days until sanity once again takes over with our new leader.



    Blessings to you and yours...

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  8. In Tasmania the foxglove is an undeclared weed (it is extremely hardy). A short visit to the bush at the right time of year, and there are thousands and thousands of them (always pink). They are unfortunately very poisonous. I love an English garden, and so we dug up a few and planted them in our garden. Ever since, we have had self-seeded foxgloves (since they are pretty). I bought a white one from Bunnings too.

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  9. Hi Rhonda,
    I have always loved foxglove, but haven't added them to my garden here in the states as it is poisonous to dogs and cats, which we have. I'm not sure where you have planted them, but be careful your animals don't get into them. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.
    Cheryl in WA state

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    1. My only flowering plant at the moment is in a pot in our bush house, I have a few others planted in the main garden but Gracie can't go in there, and when we call her in, she won't join us. Next year, I'll plant all my foxgloves in pots, away from Gracie. Are they a good cut flower? I'd love a few in a vase.

      I hope you stay safe over the holidays and enjoy time with your family.

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  10. Do you have a link to your wonderful washclothe pattern?

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    1. Hi Lisa. Yes, this is the pattern I'm currently using. https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/2-ways-to-knit-diagonal-dishcloths-holes-or-no-holes/ It's really easy and only change from garter stitch is at the beginning of each row, so easy to remember.

      This is the pattern I started off with, I still like it and think it looks better as a gift than the current pattern https://justbcrafty.com/2017/09/seed-stitch-stripe-dishcloth-pattern.html Happy knitting!


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  11. Hello Rhonda,

    congratulations on your foxgloves! It is always exciting when we succeed in growing something that doesn't normally thrive in our climate. I have managed to get ginger to grow in pots and am really thrilled as it has been $50 a kilo!! It was so slow to shoot, I think I waited nearly two months from planting.

    We have had steady rain here this week, and more to come. I am still trying to manage the prolific weeds that arose in the drought. The earth is full of their seeds so I'm experimenting with just scraping them off as they arrive rather than letting them get bigger and trying to dig them out. Some have roots 20 cms long!

    I loved seeing your photo of the little banded bee, we have also started seeing these in our garden.

    Madeleine.X

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    1. Hi Madeleine. Yes, ginger is great in pots, that's how I grow mine now. It takes 6 months to grow here but as soon as I harvest one pot, I start another with a few ginger pieces I've sprouted in the kitchen.

      I love bee watching. I go out in the morning and sit in the shade of the umbrella and wait for them to arrive. I know you're in a colder location but if you've got blue banded bees, chances are you've got many other native bees as well.

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  12. I love foxgloves too, and yours are lovely! I'm in Massachusetts in the USA, and I grow a variety that is perennial here, although I think our climate is much harsher than yours. It is Digitalis grandiflora, with soft yellow blooms. I've probably been growing it for 30 years or so at this point. It always comes back and self-sows, but does not make a pest of itself. The volunteers are nice because they allow me to share! This is my first comment, but I've been enjoying your blog for a few months. Thanks for sharing your world with us!

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  13. Thanks Rhonda for your blog posts and thank you everyone for the comments. Wishing Rhonda and Hanno and all the family a very happy Christmas, and the same to all the readers and commenters. Blessings. Em.

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