Theres something about gardeners…

Hi All,

The generosity of gardeners floors me sometimes. I was invited into Freda’s garden today to see her “special Rhododendron”. Steve and I were walking the dogs over in Beaconsfield when we happened upon the most gorgeous orange flowered shrub with a backdrop of a deep purple mature maple. Not noticing the lady ‘bums up’ in the garden I said “Isn’t this a lovely garden” aloud to Steve and Freda heard me. She came over to the gate and invited us all in however Steve declined, he didnt want to be responsible for the dogs eating all of those lovely plants (knowing Earls past habits, he was wise!) and wandering through her wonderful treasure trove of plants, a large chunk of Rhododendron nuttallii

was thrust into my hands soon to be followed by large chunks of Pink datura

(6 cuttings in all now in water on the heat bed waiting to strike). Her garden is jam packed full of lovely herbaceous and tree peonies, a gorgeous large Acer japonicum ‘Crimson Queen’ and all sorts of other desirable plants like trilliums, podophyllums and some lovely miniature alpine anemomes with the tiniest little white flowers that have massed in a shady corner from a single plant and lots and lots of large purple crocus that I am assured to be getting lots of this year after they die back because they need thinning out.

I left with armfulls of x Heucherella ‘Kimono’ tugged out of the ground because I said “thats a nice leaf on that Heuchera”…Freda was such a nice lady that she didnt even correct me in my naivity about the species. She told me all about the West Tamar plant club and took my name and is going to phone me up and let me know how to join the group. All it took was 3 minutes and a common love of plants to give Freda and I something special to share. Freda lamented the lack of room in her small suburban back yard however this tiny garden boasts  Mollis azaleas, 18 kinds with the most amazing flowers in fluorescent luminescent colours are littered amongst the peonies, large pots of various coloured cliveas sit on her back porch and everywhere smacks of tender loving care and a life of servitude to her plants, all in the best of health and giving her back so much more than she claims she gives them.

This isn’t a unique experience. Try going to the regular Launceston (and other) horticultural society plant shows and just have a chat to the people wandering around next to you. When Steve and I went last year, we met so many like minded people, all wanting to share their knowledge and freely offering plants to us even though we had just met. Its not like Steve and I look like movie stars, in fact we are most probably more to be mistaken for homeless people as our hermit lifestyle is taking us further and further away from ‘normal’ society (and we are loving EVERY MINUTE OF IT :o), so these amazingly generous people are just so generous with their knowledge and their plants. What is it about gardeners? Is it something to do with the hours spent toiling outside, bums up, the sun (and often rain) on their backs with plenty of time to think about ‘things’, I guess if Steve and I spent more time bums up out in the garden we would be a whole lot less stressed and we are both looking forwards to our summer holidays to unwind and spend some quality time in the garden hunting for precious babies currently squashed under layers of weeds and blackberries.

I went hunting today for eggs. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of our new girls (the big pure breed wyandottes) are hiding eggs somewhere and so I was mid hunt up in the shrubs where the chickens frequent when I stumbled upon a severely compromised but most lovely small tree. The centre of this tree has died back due to being tangled up with dodder and being squashed by a fallen long dead eucalypt. But what is left is lovely. I had never seen leaves like those on this tree. Very delicate, lime green, heavily serrated and the petioles were red. Very pretty and a mystery to both of us tree loving hippies so we headed back into the house and spent the better part of the rest of the afternoon trying to find out what it was. I had even sent my lecturer an email asking if he, or anyone else at the Polytechnic, would be able to identify it, and murphy’s law, as soon as I had pressed ‘send’ on the email, the very next image search yielded exactly what I was after. It turns out that the seeds that Steve tried to grow last year with such care to be used in bonsai that steadfastly refused to germinate, was already represented in an adult form in the back yard. Its a Zelkova serrata, otherwise known as a Japanese elm and a most lovely specimen tree with spectacular autumn foliage. We are constantly uncovering all sorts of lovely things here. I found the following hiding in the side garden where the chickens scratch…

Its a little plant called lily of the valley. I keep hearing from everyone “Don’t plant that…it will take over your garden!”…and blackberry and banana passionfruit are preferable to this!!!!? I will be fertilising this little darling and hoping that it spreads far and wide underneath the large Eucalyptus trees next to the massive potted cymbidium orchid that is currently flowering at the moment. One mans weed is another Fran’s delight :o).

We had a good day studying today. We finalised our costings for our garden designs. Come next year there is a good probability that we may just have finished this Diploma of horticulture and may be set loose on the unsuspecting general population of Tasmanias North. Don’t panic, we are probably going to be doing another diploma course until Steve gets his Aussie citizenship and then we can head off to University to hassle some other poor unsuspecting lecturer. We would ultimately love to do our teaching degree and use this in the context of a business that teaches people how to live sustainably and how to do so on a shoestring. Showing people how to grow what they need for themselves, prepare their own foods from scratch, think outside the box, problem solving and all sorts of things that we have yet to learn. They say that the day that you stop learning, is the day that you get old. Steve and I plan on never getting old if thats the case. We plan on learning for the rest of our lives. (Don’t faint Nick, that DOESN’T mean that you are stuck with us for the rest of your career! :o).

Steve made Bernard and Manny, our two Javanese Finches, a nesting box. Its very hard to tell Javanese finches sex by just looking at them. We learned a few things about them and discovered that the male sings and it soon became apparent that ‘Bernard’ was a male. Manny was also assumed to be male (as is obvious by the name) but that soon changed when Manny laid an egg. They have been doing intricate dances and hopping on one leg and bobbing up and down for a while now and on researching their mating habits, we have discovered that they are not ill, but pairing up! After making the nesting box (and then re-making it because he didnt check to see if it would fit through the cage door…DUH!) Steve put the nesting box into the corner of the cage and both birds soon became very curious about it. Bernard has claimed it. Hopefully because he is going to stock it with ripped up newspaper and hay ready for Manny to nest in rather than he is a selfish git who thinks that it might just be a nice place to sit…sadly, I am leaning more towards the second option. Time will tell…we used to have a lovebird called Tag. She was very tame and used to do the most amazing things to any paper left around. She would nibble off long thin strips of it, then she would tuck it into her tail and fly off to try to make herself a nest. She laid a few eggs over her lifetime and was the most incredible character. She died earlier this year after living for 4 years with my sister in the lap of luxury. She was soon followed by her little budgie mate ‘Frinky’ who we found sitting on the ground on the way home from picking up the kids from school. I guess he died of a broken heart. Its amazing how close you can get to your pets, especially if you spend some time watching them and actually caring about them. Hopefully Bernard and Manny breed and get the opportunity to have to put up with 6 – 8 little screaming babies, then perhaps they will get some idea of just what we have to go through listening to them clucking inscessantly on a sunday morning when we are trying to sleep in! Time to head off and rant at the television. Have a great evening and enjoy tomorrow, its supposed to be a lovely day here in Launceston. Hopefully its nice where you are too, see you tomorrow.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:30:39

    I would love to find some like minded friends around here. I guess I’m such a loner. No one in my small town seems to have my interests – mainly yoga, hiking, and vegetarianism. I do have some friends who are into organic gardening. And, of course they are not originally from here.


    • narf77
      Apr 05, 2013 @ 03:59:54

      I tend to hide my veganism here in Tasmania because it is predominately a meat eating culture and regular vegetarians are considered “freaks” so could you imagine someone who doesn’t eat milk or eggs as well? I might get tarred and feathered! ;). I don’t have a lot of physical friends either. When I was married to my first husband we moved a LOT for him to progress up his work ladder. When I say a lot, my daughter was in 5 different preschools (between the ages of 4 and 5) and my children never really got to put roots down in any community for longer than about 3 years max. I tended to not make friends because we were just going to be moving on and it made things easier. Steve and I consider ourselves quintessential hermits now but it is nice to have friends and most of mine are like you, online 🙂


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