Container Gardening Adventures

Spring has arrived in Melbourne:

Red flowering gum.

I and my partner, along with most of inner north Melbourne, decided to head to Ceres and clean out the plant nursery. We then returned home and potted like maniacs. Actually, my partner potted while I spent a few happy hours torturing our worms (otherwise known as harvesting the humus from our worm farm, which we’ve taken to calling “worm dirt”. I am good with titles, no?)

We bought seedlings of

  • kangaroo paw
  • boronia
  • oregano
  • strawberries
  • rosemary

and seeds of

  • rocket

My partner potted the seedlings in suitably sized pots, including a few polystyrene boxes gleaned from our local grocer, and, after I was done torturing worms, I planted out seeds.

I planted:

  • rocket and lettuce mix (seeds we’ve had for a while) in a trench-like self-watering container
  • borage in two large round containers (4 seeds in one; 3 seeds in the other)
  • nasturtiums underplanted with the dwarf meyer lemon
  • an avocado seed from our worm farm in a smaller pot

I covered all the seedlings with cling film (except for the nasturtiums, which are hardy enough and have never failed to sprout before), punched a few air-holes in the cling film and now intend to spend the next couple of weeks heading out to inspect whether they’ve sprouted. Oh, the agony and the ecstasies of gardening.

Kangaroo paw, on gleaned child’s chair; lettuce (in the black pots); and oregano (hiding) and limonium perezii (gift from friend in exchange for worms), on gleaned wicker chair.

I also planted some succulents, nabbed from the roadside verge, into a large soup-bowl mug thing that we don’t like using as a soup bowl. I nabbed other succulents, including pigface, but I need to let the broken off end dry out before I plant them and see if they’ll take.

I had hoped to plant some chilli seeds I’ve saved but we ran out of dirt!

And now, we wait. I’m not really expecting the avocado to sprout but I’m hopeful everything else will do fine. My gardening style is demonstrated best by this hyacinth:

Zombie hyacinth.

I call it my zombie hyacinth because it rose from the dead (told you I was great with titles.) Many visits to beautiful stately homes in the UK led to me trying my hand growing hyacinths in a forcing glass in Australia. I miss spring bulbs, although Melbourne is rather good for them. Winter actually gets cold enough here for a frost to form, sometimes, on the ground. I was surprised, and rather pleased, to see snowdrops in a neighbourhood garden.

A forcing glass is an hour-glass shaped vase: the bulb sits above the waist of the vase, and water sits below – but not touching – the bulb. In May, I bought a vase and bulb. I placed my forcing vase into a dark corner of the toilet, the coldest room in the house (because it has a window that cannot be shut!) I checked it regularly to see if roots had grown but after a few weeks, the bulb just got mouldy. It was tempting to throw the thing out, but I got busy and did nothing instead. Later still, our basil plants were not weathering winter very well at all, so I uprooted and composted them. Into one of the pots, I planted the (still mouldy) bulb and let it be. Only a week ago, the bulb sprouted greens and then, timing it perfectly for the first day of spring, flowered last weekend. I brought it into the house, thoroughly chuffed with myself, and now its heady scent perfumes my living room.

So, optimism, even in the face of what surely must be failure, together with laziness equals zombie hyacinth. Win!

Here’s hoping for more wins on the gardening front.



  1. Love the story about the hyacinth!

    I hit up CERES last weekend too, and have been worrying about my new plants in the wind all week! I know exactly what you mean about checking on the seeds though – but I was super excited that my rocket and marigold seeds have already started growing! I’ve never grown anything successfully from seed before so this is super exciting!


    1. Oh goodness, the wind! Blew one of my cling films right off! It must be more difficult for you on a balcony – at least my high fences which block the sun, block the wind a bit too, although sometimes it creates weird wind turbines round and round the “courtyard”; very distressing for the wee plants! I’ve inspected, however, and everything’s okay and good ol’ trusty rocket has sprouted. Hurrah!

      Growing from seed is so rewarding. I just love watching sprouts unfurl!


      1. Thankfully my balcony isn’t all sticking out of the building, some of it comes back in, so I was able to shelter my plants in the innermost corners and on my shelves. They seem ok… although I’m concerned about my lime tree as a couple of the leaves have died in the last couple of days (mostly concerned because it wasn’t cheap, so killing it is an expensive mistake!)

  2. Wow Oanh they look really healthy especially the Kangaroo paw. Was that from seed too – or a plant? Glad to hear they all survived the wind – our worm farm was knocked over (even with a brick on top to hold it down). The worms survived a night on the concrete – Tony scooped them up and they look fine today (missing a few that must have wriggled into the garden). We are trying all seeds this year – so far success with carrots, peas, rocket and of course broad beans – but no sign of any swedes 😦


    1. The kangaroo paw is super healthy because … that’s how it came from the nursery! 🙂
      Oh noes! Your poor worms – still bet the ones who made it into the garden are happy! The ones left behind will replace the ones who have left!


  3. I like your characterization of benign neglect as the zombie effect. Sometimes that works for me, too, and it’s such a delight 🙂 Good luck with your little seedlings! And happy spring.


    1. Hi Judith!
      Thanks for visiting. Yes, Aussie Spring is lovely, although I do wish Melbourne would jolly well decide that it is Spring and commit!


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