Ludites and Technophobes unite

Hi All,

This is my second post for the day! I have just been checking out that vast area of ‘grey’ that usually renders me incompetant called “Dashboard”. Steve usually has to deal with all that ‘technical stuff’ but I have decided to see if I cant work out how to Tag, Share with Facebook etc. I just posted on my nieces WordPress blog. She has been blogging for quite some time now and is very entertaining. She fosters dogs from the Albany branch of the R.S.P.C.A in Western Australia and looks after them until someone decides to adopt them. We were going to adopt a dog before we got El Chupacabra. We wanted a friend for Emo Dog as he was missing his little mate Qi and headed off to the local pound but they had pretty much nothing that fitted in with our demographic. We needed another male so as not to make Qi feel like she was out of the loop. We also needed a dog that was able to fit in with us and having gotten used to American Staffordshire Terriers, we decided to get ourselves a dog from an interstate stud. Earl arrived after flying over from South Australia dishevelled, scared out of his wits and ready for some old school love and attention. As mentioned previously in this blog, Earl has eaten far more monies worth of plants, furniture, cars, houses, etc. than we paid for him (which wasn’t inconsiderable…) and is into the red (see…all of my year’s 11 and 12 economics finally paid off! I might have failed miserably back then, but its allowing me to at least pretend that I know what I am talking about). The boys are sulking badly. They have been inside the compound since after their walk this morning. We try to take sundays off because living the students life that we lead, days seem to blend into days and suddenly we are not aware of weekends, or more importantly school holidays where we can legitimately have a bit of time off. By making sundays our ‘day of rest’ we also allow ourselves to structure our week better and its like a reward at the end of the week. Steve isnt able to sit still for long (unless he is snoring on the couch) and sundays are usually not much less busy than other days, but for me, I get to go online, I get to do some research, I get to type out great recipes from library books, I get to explore my world. I love sundays. The boys HATE sundays. Its the one day of the week where we dont do 2 walks in the day and they have to stay inside the compound (if the chickens are out that is…chickens out + dogs out = chaos) and as Steve is in the shed messing about with his chainsaw and his remote controlled nitro buggy, the boys want to be in the shed with him. They won’t take any food, they won’t accept pats, they just lay on the deck feeling sorry for themselves. As if they don’t have better lives than most third world kids! I don’t think that there is a dog equivalent of saying “Eat that…there are kids starving in third world countries that would love to have that….”.

Here are some more photos of our precious babies that we have assimilated either from outright purchase or by growing ourselves. If you want to get some amazing quality plants, that are at a very good price and that are a bit different to your usual common or garden plants, go to Red Dragon Nursery at Karoola out LilyDale way. Andrew is a consumate plants man. What he doesnt know will fit inside a very small matchbox. What he propagates is always top quality, interesting, cold climate hardy and has more than 2 uses. We found Andrew one day and haven’t stopped going to his amazing and most beautiful nursery. Do yourselve’s a favour and go out to Andrew’s nursery as soon as you can. Here are those photo’s by the way. The link to Andrew was because we got most of our special conifers from him…

You can see some of my succulent and cacti plants in the foreground. I have lost a fair few of them through this winter. Cactus and succulents dont like frost and we got a few frosts here this year. We live in a little microclimate. Our neighbours (on the other side) Frank and Adrian, think that its because the area is so densely covered with rocks that absorb the suns rays and radiate off warmth throughout the day, minimising the amount of cold that we have to put up with out here. This is an interesting theory and one that I might do some research into the next time that I have 5 spare minutes (probably mid 2050…).

Here’s some more of my long suffering cactus/succulents. Hopefully soon I will find a nice warm rocky spot for them to prosper.

These babies are on the other side of the house. Mostly maples and small grafted plants are represented in this shot. I have a lovely Taxodium distichum grafted standard ‘Cascade Falls’ here. My daughters bought it for me for my birthday last year. Its doubled in size and really needs to go out into the garden.

Steve has cleaned out this glasshouse since this photo was taken, but this shows you our 2 banana plants (only 1 visible) and other warmer climate plants that we have bought and propagated. We bought in a lot of seeds from Queensland mainly Brachychitons and have a good population of them ready to go into the ground. I also bought (on a whim) a coffee plant. I bought it after watching Tito on Gardening Australia planting out a coffee plant at the Hobart Botanical Gardens and thinking that we are a lot warmer than that so hopefully it grows. Who knows where our climate will be in a few years time? Most people say warmer so we might just be able to sustain a couple of coffee plants? Until that day I have a Camellia sinensis for making my daily cuppa. I just have to learn how to ferment it to make it drinkable!

Here’s a photo of my sweet chestnut’s (Castanea sativa) that I had forgotten to eat that were languishing in my vegetable crisper. You need to eat chestnuts when they are fresh and sweet and the sugars havent converted to starch. I had completely forgotten about them and decided that the 3 months of ‘forgetting’ equalled a good amount of cold stratification and as such we planted them in potting mix to see if we would get any growth. As you can see, they seem to be growing! I don’t have the room here for all of these sweet chestnuts, but no doubt I will be able to find a home for them when the day comes to part with them.

Here we have a few interesting plants. The spotty leaved plants are Ledebouria pauciflora (previously Scilla pauciflora and probably will be again, botanists don’t have much to do in their day apart from reclassify flora…)  and the plants at the back are Dioscoria elephantipes, a very interesting plant that forms a large bulbous corky caudex at the base and that goes dormant at the drop of a hat. We smuggled the spotty ones in from Melbourne and we grew the bulbous ones from seed. We love things that are challenging or that are weird and unusual. Anything from Patagonia or the Galapagos Islands is fair game to me!

Everything on this stand we grew from seed. We had a bit of maple jag last year and collected a lot of seed from the Botanic Gardens, from the Tasmanian Arboritum, from local communal gardens and parks and from our own specimens. We managed to grow some lovely maples and have no idea what we are going to do with them!

Here’s some Carpinus coreana (Korean hornbeam) that Steve grew from seed that Andrew had bought from an American source. They are quite rare in Australia and Steve got quite a good germination rate from them.

Here are some Ginkgo biloba’s that we grew from seed collected locally. This is the second lot of Ginkgo’s that we have grown. They are an example of where experts tell you that they are hard to grow, and we discovered that they are just the opposite. We had a really good germination rate and have more than we know what to do with. Ginkgo’s are really amazing plants. Salt, drought, pollution tolerant as well as being somewhat edible. The main reason to have them is that they are in a classification of their own and are dinosaur/fossil plants and they have the most amazing yellow autumn foliage that you have ever seen.

Here’s our heat beds with our current attempts at cuttings and seeds. This is a most sad representation of what we used to do but with our schedule at the moment and all of the plants that need to be planted out and that aren’t, we figured that we should scale down our propagation attempts until we were more able to house them. This heatbed setup is now mostly for sick plants and for those that El Chupacabra has surgically affected. We have just put out an Aralia spinosa (Devil’s walking stick) that despite having spines on just about every surface from the stem, the leaves, the backs of the leaves and the petioles, El Chupacabra saw that as a challenge and topped it! Its now recovered nicely and is back out in the sunshine but while it was convalecing, it was allowed to have some warmth and extra loving care. The Stepelia gigantea (giant starfish cactus) stays here permenantly as it needs warmth constantly.

Some of the other cacti are just there while they strike as they have been appropriated from other sources (one of the ‘sources’ came through customs in my mothers shoe!). Generally, these 2 heat beds support our cutting and seedling population until they are old enough to stand up for themselves and go out to the following area…

This is the area where we used to put all of our babies from the heat bed to harden off. We have to keep some plants here as we have no space for smaller plants out in the yard, but this makes them prime targets for a bored El Chupacabra. He loves their pots and sometimes he loves to eat the plants themselves. He is unpredictable to say the least and you just start thinking that he is going to eat the pots, and he changes his modus operandi and starts in on the green stuff.

This used to be a plant oasis on the front deck before El Chupacabra came. We had maples, conifers, all sorts of lovely things existing in harmony out on the front deck with Emo dog who’s worst plant events consisted of eating the berries from fuchsias and the odd grape vine bonsaiing. Now we have had to minimise the plant population. We inherited a lovely butter yellow dendrobium orchid that according to our sensei lecturer is happiest when living in the fork of a tree branch. They are semi epyphitic like air plants and until we inherited it, it lived on the odd dregs of a can of beer. It was going on great guns until El Chupacabra discovered it and decided to divide it accordingly. Our sensei got one of the ‘divisions’ and the remaining plant might get to cohabit in one of our tree limbs some day soon.

I think thats enough photos and posting for today. I will share some more pictures of where we live and where our plants are situated around the house tomorrow. I hope that everyone enjoyed their sunday and that you all enjoy your week ahead. We are going to be spending a fair bit of it out in the garden making vegetable garden beds as raised beds and lasagne beds. Hopefully we won’t be too tired to post photos of our adventures. The problem is that we finish off after our day of hard slog and we share a beer or three and by the time that we get around to being able to have time to post anything online, we most probably shouldn’t because it would probably be gibberish! To all of our fellow gardeners out there, enjoy your garden this week. Its the best time of the year for gardening.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:15:43

    I’m just so impressed with all your plants. We have a problem with our dogs laying in the plants off our front porch.


    • narf77
      Apr 05, 2013 @ 04:14:21

      We used to have that same problem except Earl used to prune the plants underneath their grafts rendering them useless so we moved the plants outside our home enclosure and now they are at the whim of the possums and the wallabies BUT the native animals do less damage than Earl when he is feeling curious and reckless 😉


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