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The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Hello


Hello, it's been quite some time since I was last here, nine months in fact! Time certainly flies these days, it's hard to believe we are already in the middle of May and almost the end of Autumn.  I have missed taking photos and putting together a bit of a story to go with them. Time to do a bit of a catch up I think!

In October Mum and I had a week's holiday to beautiful Cairns, somewhere I have long wanted to visit.

This was the view from our hotel room. My photos don't do the scenery justice it was
so breathtaking, I love mountains and could have sat on the balcony and looked
at this view all day long.

This view was taken from our gondola going up the mountain to Kuranda.

View of the Barron River from our gondola.

The beautiful Cairns Birdwing butterfly

Another beautiful butterfly we saw

This was very special! Seeing this Jabiru with her chicks in a nest very high up off the
ground. You can't tell from this photo but the nest was huge. This photo was taken at
the Port Douglas Wildlife Sanctuary and it was awesome being able to witness a
part of nature you wouldn't normally see.

Also in October this handsome boy joined our family!
His name is Arrow and he is an Arab, he will be 18 
in a few months time but you wouldn't know it!
It is so lovely having a horse to care for and look
after once again after not having horses for a number
of years now. He is my daughter's horse, but as she has
moved out of home I'm the one that feeds and cares for him
on a daily basis, and I really do enjoy it :)


Then on the 10th February we had a lot of rain and flooded.
By evening the water had subsided quite a bit and by early afternoon
on the 11th we were flooded again after more heavy rain. The levels didn't get quite as high
but almost. We lost two lots of fencing, all the horse feed, the chooks had to camp on our
verandah for seven days until their yard wasn't such a boggy mess. I lost lots of plants from the garden and just a general big mess to clean up. We fared so much much better than further out to the east. Given our shire is in the wrong and we shouldn't have flooded to anywhere near the extent we did.....well that's a story for another day.


Summer was pretty uneventful for tomatoes! This was the first time growing
Tigerella. The only tomatoes I picked were the ones above plus the one in the
basket in the photo below. I also grew some cherry tomatoes which were a dismal
failure. I haven't had much luck with tomatoes for a few years now.

Watermelons on the other hand were a huge success!! We picked very close to
100kgs of beautiful full of flavour watermelons! We didn't get to eat and share all of 
them as the last half dozen or so had been sitting in the flood waters and even though
they have a hard skin there was no way I wanted anyone eating them. The chooks thought
that was just it as they devoured them. Capsicums have been another success and at the end
of Autumn we are still picking capsicums almost daily.

In April Cody celebrated his 11th birthday, he has been part of our family
for not quite two years now and celebrated with his favourite sorry second
favourite thing after a walk, a car ride. And special dog treats!

So that's a bit of a catch up of the last nine months. Have been busy in the garden so will be back soon with some pictures of what is growing in the garden in the lead up to winter.



Sunday, 28 August 2016

A cold weekend and new trees


Hello, what a cold and blustery weekend it is here. It's currently sitting on 9 degrees Celsius at lunch time. Too cold to be out in the garden so the following photos are ones I took a few days ago. This post isn't really much of anything but more just because I want to keep up the habit of posting regularly. Yesterday we received 15mm of rain which the garden enjoyed and a bit more for the rainwater tanks.


Last week we had a couple of very cold nights down to -2 and the frost has burnt all the green shoots on the mulberry tree.



The mandarins are nice, but the poor tree is under attack from sooty mould. I have been trying to get rid of it for quite some time now but don't seem to be having much success.


The Casuarina or she-oak trees indigenous to this area from a distance all look like they are dying.
It's only when you get up close, you realise what looks brown and dead from a distance is actually
the trees covered in pollen.


Close-up of the Casuarina pollen ............  ah-choo!
Obviously taken a few days ago when we had blue skies
nothing but grey skies this weekend.

Back at the very start of winter I planted three Silver Birch trees.
Looking forward to seeing them covered in their summer green leaves, then changing
into a soft buttery yellow in Autumn before becoming skeletons again in the winter with
their silvery white trunks.

I've never really been a big fan of succulents but a few of them are growing on me.
This one in particular 'Jellybean' is a cute little plant.

I don't know the name of this native plant, it was a cutting from Mum's garden
and it has tiny little white flowers in spring and summer.
It seems to like this spot quite well and does a good job of softening up the tin wall behind it.

Shorty my parents dog has gone home about an hour ago. Mum and Dad have arrived back home to the freezing cold after their holiday overseas in the heat and humidity. I was planning on cooking a roast dinner tonight for them thinking they would enjoy a home cooked meal after being away for a couple of weeks, but they have both come home with food poisoning. We will still have our roast tonight as it will be the first one in ages that eldest teen will be home to sit down at the table and eat with us, as she is generally working a double shift on a Sunday. Hopefully Mum and Dad will be over it soon enough and I will cook dinner for them and we can go through the photos of their latest trip. :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Early tomatoes and a different kind of blueberry




This photo was taken sometime in May. I had noticed these tomato seedlings about a week or so beforehand and kept thinking to myself I need to do something about them, or as the weather cools down heading into winter they won't survive. A couple of weeks later I got around to digging them up and putting them into pots and put them temporarily on the workbench in the shed until I cleaned the greenhouse out.


Well they stayed on the bench and grew and grew and grew! It has turned out to be a perfect spot for growing tomatoes over winter. My workbench sits underneath a window that faces north and these three tomato seedlings have lapped up any sunshine streaming through that window.


And now all three are in flower!! The last two weeks we have had a couple of reasonably nice days where the icy cold winds that have been blowing all winter have taken a momentary break and I have put the seedlings outside in the hope that the bees might find them. Only time will tell if we might be lucky enough to have some early tomatoes this year :)



'Blueberry Ruffles' 
The newest addition to the garden.
This is a short compact lavender, looking forward to seeing it fully in bloom.




Another new lavender 'The Princess'


These stocks have been in the garden for a few years now and are quite scraggy
and I'm always going to pull them out, but the bees absolutely adore them.


These two always tag along on drives, the little short one goes home in a few days
when my parents get home from their trip. They would hate to think they are missing out on anything!


I'm making a late start on sowing seeds for the spring/summer garden but am hoping that by putting the seed trays on the workbench next to the tomato seedlings, they too will soon be growing and growing. :)

Monday, 22 August 2016

The garden late winter

Late winter already, where has the time gone? I kept thinking I need to take some photos and put on the blog but they just never seemed to happen. For about the last month I have been trying every day to get things back on track. Life seemed to fall apart and nothing was getting done except  for the absolute basics. I've steadily been back out in the garden, but making sure I only do so much then come inside and do a bit and then go back outside for some more gardening. If I stay outside too long I end up in a lot of pain with my shoulders. I figured even small amounts daily is a lot better than no gardening at all which is what had been happening.

That also goes for inside the house I have been breaking things down into smaller jobs and at last I can see a bit of progress. I have this weeks' meals planned in advance which is something that hasn't happened for an extremely long time. I have also been de-cluttering and clearing things out and it feels good to be getting rid of some stuff.


Apricot blossom

The bees are loving the flowers on the almond tree

Lots of promise on the apricot tree

English spinach


Some of the greens in the veggie patch

Kale

Red lettuce

The flowers on the white hardenbergia are starting to fade but have brightened the back fence all winter

The purple hardenbergia is still going strong

Tulips which I haven't grown for a few years now, nice to have some again

Plum blossom, really looking forward to fresh plums straight off the tree

Both blueberry bushes are loaded with flowers, can't wait for fresh blueberries either!

Long anticipated flower bud on the kangaroo paw. Have lost count how many seedlings I have planted in the ground and none of them survived. The last lot I planted into a large pot and bingo I have a couple of buds now!!


What we are eating from the garden at the moment: 
  • Lettuce
  • English spinach
  • Kale
  • Snow Peas
  • Parsley
  • Mandarins
  • Washington Navel oranges
Not much at all but considering how neglected the garden has been its still nice to be able to pick something. I'm hoping we will have some broccoli to harvest in the not too distant future, but I think the cabbages and cauliflowers were planted way too late.

It's nice to be back but I can see my photo taking and blog writing need some improvement, I had better not leave it so long in-between posts again :)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Fire and flood


Mother Nature is amazing!

She goes from one extreme to another. Just barely two weeks ago our state had a massive fire, a raging inferno in our South West. It all but obliterated the tiny town of Yarloop. It tragically took the lives of two elderly men. The firestorm wiped out virtually the whole town and the majority of homes. Yarloop is a gorgeous little town, it's where we lived for a number of years, and that's where eldest teen was brought home from hospital as a tiny newborn. It's a town my Uncle has called home for the past 23 years. We had only only been there five days prior to the devastating fire, my Uncle had been in hospital in the city since the week before Christmas and had only just been allowed back home.

We had an extremely worrying twenty four hours where we were unable to contact him. We had no idea if he had got out, if he was still at home with that inferno raging towards his home or whether he had managed to get to the local town oval and shelter with other residents. We had had conflicting reports and were going out of our minds with worry. Ten past seven the next morning I received a quick phone call from him saying he was okay and at an evacuation shelter with his dog. The best news ever.

For eight days he didn't really know whether his house was still standing or not, but finally last Friday he was allowed back in to have a look. Amazingly his house still stands while others around are burnt to the ground. He lost a shed, ute and shade house, all the mature fruit trees and other mature trees and all his fencing. He is one of the very lucky ones. He has a major health battle on his hands this year and I'm sure an Angel must have been watching over his place, to protect it. Knowing the fight he has on his hands, losing his home too would have just been too much.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this fire. Not only did it take out Yarloop, but homes were also lost in Waroona, Hamel, Cookernup and Harvey. I have lived in every one of those towns except Harvey. It really makes you think, and take nothing for granted. That was a massive fire to affect such an area. So many people have lost so much. The way the rest of our state has got on board to help all the animals; both people's pets and wildlife burnt/lost/hurt,  which has been so distressing for so many. Items that have been donated, along with money, clothing, and tradesmen giving their time has been amazing. It really is phenomenal to see the way people pull together when there has been such tragedy.

photo from Abc News

Now to the other extreme. A series of thunderstorms and storm cells have been moving through a large part of the south western corner the last few days. All the photos below I took just five minutes down the road from our place earlier this afternoon. From Saturday evening until yesterday (Tuesday) evening we had received 20mm of rain and then last night another 17mm. Just after I got home from taking the photos it started raining here again and hasn't stopped. It hasn't been heavy, but just steady gentle rain. Some places have received in excess of 200mm. That is an awful lot of rain. My boss sent me a couple of photos of near her place as she can't get out. She lives forty five minutes out of town and they have received around the 200mm mark.

Both of my children belong to our local SES unit and had a call out Sunday night to a neighbouring town about 40klms away for flooding, but by the time they got there it had pretty much been dealt with. Another call came through at lunch time today and eldest teen had just got home from work so she went, but youngest teen couldn't go his boss wouldn't let him. This call out is more major than the other night it's to a town 50klms to our south and flooding damage to the hospital with possible partial roof collapse. Eldest teen has been gone about five and a half hours now and haven't heard anything, so imagine she is going to be gone quite awhile longer yet.








I think by tomorrow the worst of these storms are supposed to be moving east. It's so unfortunate that the rain from these storms can't be more widespread and of lesser quantity. Instead of flooding places everywhere gets just the right amount of rain that they need. But it just doesn't work like that.

I have to admit I am fascinated by storms and think the sky puts on a phenomenal show and I can't help myself but get out there and take lots and lots of photos.

My wish is that no more lives both human and animal have to be lost to the fires that now ravage the earth. Sadly I know that wish won't be granted.