after frost



We woke last Saturday to a beautiful frost. A patina of tiny icicles covered the garden, turning leaves into powdered sugar confections.


Here, the frost spangled leaves of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ – blooming unwaveringly on after the solstice. Snowflake spikes are just emerging from the carpet of last summer’s leaves.


Hulk, a sadly neglected resident of the garden for some years now, was discovered frozen in cryogenic stasis on the lawn.


The last sugar dredged ‘William Shakespeare 2000’ roses were particularly fetching in the frost.


These are not quite the last of the roses till September – ‘Madame Isaac Perriere’ is putting on a final show of hot pink blooms which clash nicely with its orange rosehips.


I find the colour of this rose quite troubling – it’s an inconveniently garish hot pink with quite a lot of blue in it which pretty much goes with nothing. Its perfume is exquisite though and I’m hoping the pale blue clematis I’ve planted to scramble up through it will help it recede into the mix a bit next season because it’s far too attention grabbing on its own.

I started pruning the roses a few days ago, a task I enjoy in spite of the inevitable hand shredding it entails. I have spent several sunny hours this week moving from one rose to another, cutting out spindly and overlapping growth and pruning the strong stems back to outward facing buds, creating a symmetrical open framework from which the foliage will emerge in a few weeks time.


The main casualties of the frost were the brugmansias and the banana grove (including a big bunch of bananas which I suspected was doomed as soon as I noticed the flower back in March – unless the fruit begins forming by January it won’t ripen before the winter solstice after which Melbourne is too cold). The brugmansias had been so much happier in the cooler weather, but now they’re looking sad and kind of crispy. Their dishevelled appearance will have to be tolerated until the weather warms up in spring and I can safely cut them back.


Here is our brugmansia candida in its first summer, when it was small enough to be sheltered from the hottest afternoon sun by the fence. It’s never really been this happy since it cleared the palings and after two years there is no longer any avoiding the unhappy fact that brugmansias prefer a cooler, more humid summer climate than Melbourne provides.