Bye bye gazebo

Hi All

It’s cold and wintery today. A good day to remind us of how clever we were buying our wood stove for cooking, heating water and generally giving us a lovely ambient feeling when its freezing cold and the wind is blowing straight from Antarctica. We walked the dogs in Beaconsfield this morning and were astonished to see, at the end of our walk, an adult male golden pheasant, trot over the highway, across the road and into a grassy verge and we followed it along, over the oval and into a garden on the other side of the oval! It’s not every day that you see a beautiful golden pheasant, but I would have bet money on there being none in Beaconsfield, let alone off trotting around unaccompanied! This is what he looked like…

We got back and Steve shared a packet of crumpets with the dogs. On a cold morning, when you have been out walking it’s lovely to get back, have a nice hot cup of coffee and some lovely buttery crumpets. I didn’t get buttery crumpets but I did get a good sense of accomplishment in NOT eating the buttery crumpets (I will probably dream of them tonight…) Steve and I along with our friends are pulling out the gazebo today. It’s going to be a heck of a job but we are also pulling out the 2 large dead trees. It’s a good day to do so as the ground is damp so it won’t be all that hard to get them out. We are just heading out now to pick out some of our excess plants so that our friends can plant them on their block. We used to be very industrious around Launceston, digging up little cedrus from underneath large trees, going to parks and hunting seedling oaks, pines etc. that would be mowed off and that we rescued. They are all approaching the need to be repotted and if we can give some of them away, it will be less of a job to undertake when we have to do this. Our friend is starting from scratch on her bare block. We are the opposite here, we have to remove a lot of ‘dross’ before we can get stuck in with want we want to do. She is building up…we are taking down…either way it’s a lot of hard work, planning and each job has its share of complexities and hindrances. We all know how to go about doing this (our friend was in our horticulture course at Alanvale Polytechnic and now works in the industry) but sometimes, just knowing how much work you have to do puts you behind the 8 ball as someone completely ignorant of the scope and magnitude of it all just gets stuck in and ‘starts’. I think sometimes, just starting is the hardest bit. Once you get going, its fine. Steve and I can knock out a huge expanse of ground in a day between us. We both have our strengths and where I am not that strong physically, I make up for it in sheer stubborn willpower and occasionally, a good bout of shouting and physically attacking something that refuses to yield, give both stress relief, and a good result with the boost of adrenalin that ensues. My children will all agree (after having to drive with me in any sort of traffic) that I need a good course in anger management. I am trying to work on this, but I must admit it is very hard to do whenever there are cyclists, munters who can’t use indicators or roundabouts and hoons (in other words, 99% of Tasmanians) anywhere on the road when I am on it. Sorry world (and my children), some of us are born to rant and I think that I am one of those ‘someone’s’…

We have just been sifting through plants and amassed a pile for our friend to take home with her today to get into the ground while it’s still nice and damp. Looking at some of them makes us realise just how prolific we were in taking cuttings, seeds and hunting out seedlings underneath adult trees and shrubs back when we were attending Polytechnic full time. We were there 18 months and in that time we were able to graft, take cuttings from all sorts of plants, grow seeds from endemic plants as well as from our later importation of seed. As we moved from lesson to lesson, we also became more aware of what we liked, and what we wanted to specialise in. In saying this, we now have a stock of trees and shrubs to give to friends should they want them. We haven’t had any time this year to grow much. We have taken a few cuttings from things that caught our eye and stratified a few seeds when the opportunity arose, but apart from that, we have done very little propagation this year and now that it’s spring, my ‘propagation bone’ is starting to twitch and I want to get out there and collect. I noticed that the Chimonanthus praecox (winter sweet) over at the Beaconsfield primary school where we park when we walk the dogs is covered in seed pods this year.

And here is what the flower looks like…

I will have to harvest some. I will also take some cuttings from the lovely fig tree that grows there as well. They have the most magnificent specimen of a large Japanese maple tree that I have ever seen. Someone in the past planted out this garden with some lovely specimens. There is also a lovely specimen tree of Stachyurus praecox growing on the verge of a house in Beaconsfield that will give me some good cutting material as it grows well from softwood cuttings (spring, early summer).

Most people have no problems with you taking a bit of material from their plants so long as you are careful and don’t damage them. I once had a lady take a bit of scented geranium from one of the plants in the front garden when we lived in Launceston. I came out my door to talk to her and she started appologising profusely, thinking that I was going to tell her off! She left with a big smile on her face, loaded up with pot plants and cuttings. There is no place for meanness when you are a gardener. It’s often the only way that people can afford to grow their gardens these days. Potted plant prices are still reasonable, but when you factor in how many you are going to need, even for a relatively small garden, you start to realize just how expensive that option would be to buy them all from a nursery. My mother has always had a lovely garden wherever we lived. We always rented and every garden contained glorious specimen trees, lovely shrubs, pretty perennials and annuals and often something ‘interesting’ that caught either my grandmother, or mothers eye and that a small piece just happened to drop over the fence into someone’s handbag. I think most of my mother’s garden came from various cuttings and seeds as did my grandmother’s before her. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your garden, you just need to have a picture in your head for what you want, be patient and think outside the box in taking your own cuttings, growing things from seed and swapping things with friends and often strangers.

Heres a lovely conifer that we have in our garden and it has the loveliest purple/red cones…

and heres a lovely incredibly thin leaved maple that I just had to have…

Steve and I have the idea that we want to plant conifers, maples and other cold climate shrubs all over this property with the idea that we will get something like this as a result…(minus all that lawn by the way, lawn is the MOST terrible use of water around)

and here is why we love conifers…you can get the most incredible mix of shapes, textures, colours and depth in your garden using just one genus of plants from the tallest tree, down to almost the smallest rock garden ground cover…

Once you start to get a feeling for what you are actually after in your garden (the look, the type of plants that you want, how you want your garden to fit into your lifestyle) you can then start to plan in earnest. Narrowing down specific “must have” plants is what kept Steve and I penniless hippies over the last few years. We have some amazing grafted maples and conifers that might have cost us a small fortune had we not hunted around and gone out to Red Dragon when there were fantastic sales on. Once you start to get a feeling for what you are actually after in your garden (the look, the type of plants that you want, how you want your garden to fit into your lifestyle) you can then start to plan in earnest. Narrowing down specific “must have” plants is what kept Steve and I penniless hippies over the last few years. We have some amazing grafted maples and conifers that might have cost us a small fortune had we not hunted around and gone out to Red Dragon when there were fantastic sales on. You have to be willing to hunt, and part of the satisfaction of getting something special, is how hard it was to track down. We have been all over the world online, hunting for seeds of specific rare plants. We grew quite a few of these specimens but it took another year of study to realise that these plants, albeit lovely and pretty special, would have to live in the hot house because they just won’t survive the frost, or the low temperatures. I have bananas and a coffee plant in my hot house, along with several Madagascan palms, Brachychitons and other tender things that will just have to be happy living under glass as that is the only way that we are going to keep them as part of our collection.

I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the feral cats killed the female cuckoo shrike that used to take cheese from Steve’s hand. The male has been coming to get cheese and has been calling out for her since we discovered a large pile of grey feathers over where the feral cats hide. The mother feral cat must have babies somewhere out there and is hunting to feed them. We put out plenty of food but ferals have their instincts and when a mother bird, hunting for insects to feed her babies is confronted by a mother cat doing the same thing, it’s the bird that is going to lose out. It makes me really sad, but there isn’t anything that we can do apart from help the male to feed his babies by giving him bits of mince and cheese. We are trying our best to protect the native bird population by feeding the feral’s because we don’t know what else to do. We are not capable or willing to catch the ferals and take them to the RSPCA to be euthenased. The 2 (now adults) kittens were brought here from the bush by their mother to a safe environment and a secure food source. We have watched them grow up and the 2 kittens are not really the problem. The mother (Felix) is the problem. She has always been a very good hunter and my father used to tell me about how his dog would chase this cat so she has been around for a while. It’s one of those things that you see on wildlife documentaries where something gets killed or its babies die. It’s not nice to see, it’s certainly not something that anyone wants to happen, but happen it does and we just have to help those that survive it, to keep going. I just raided Steve’s mince hoard in the freezer for when the male Cuckoo Shrike comes back for something and hopefully he will be able to raise this clutch of babies alone.

We have just removed the gazebo and two very large dead trees have been removed from vertical to horizontal and from there to firewood. Our friends have removed the gazebo as you can see…

Hey Nat…can you guess who this is? She must be in the witness protection program as she refused to have her picture taken from the front…

And it’s going to a much better home where it is going to get covered in climbing roses and clematis and where our friend is going to sit inside it on a bench seat with a glass of red being happy at the end of a hard day at work. It wasn’t used here so it’s good that it’s going to somewhere that it will be appreciated. Our friend had a few beers before she got here and quite a few after she did and so she was able to face her fear of the dogs and say hello to them for the first time. Our friend had a bad experience with a dog biting her when she was young and it has remained with her for many years.  It was good to see her facing her fears and seeing that our boys are very friendly. We get very tired of people telling us how dangerous and how terrible our dogs are. I think that dogs are just fine till some human stuffs them up, and so it makes me angry when people make judgement calls on our dogs when they have done nothing wrong. I had a man (who incidentally left his gate open so that his dog could roam free) tell me that our dogs had ‘lockjaw’. This is a HUGE fallacy. Lockjaw is a symptom of tetanus, NOT something that dog’s exhibit. Our dogs are no more likely to exhibit this symptom, than any small fluffy dog that nana’s have in their handbags! It’s sad that people judge certain breeds of dogs as being more dangerous than others. Certain types of people (losers) are more attracted to certain types of dogs than they are to others, especially big dogs with a ‘tough’ image. They hide behind their dogs and teach them to behave badly. You really can’t blame the dog; it’s all down to their owners.

Its Halloween tomorrow. It used to be a time when people were most superstitious about anything ‘unknown’ and ‘strange’ occurring, but now its just a time for people to hand out sweets and dress up. It’s a huge event in America but not so popular here. My daughters are going to give out sweets in Launceston so if you see someone dressed as a clown and someone in a lab coat, race towards them as they have really good quality sweets to give to you! I will be hanging around at home waiting for the call to come and pick them up. By the time that they phone me I should have worked out how to use their television remote…the next day I am picking up the new additions (ducks) and doing the fortnightly shopping before I come home. Hopefully Emo dog doesn’t decide to eat the ducks before I get home as that might be a bit of a problem… I won’t be posting tomorrow because I will be at my daughters minding dogs and driving them around (daughters, not dogs…) so until Tuesday, have a great time and I hope that your horse wins the Melbourne cup! My bet for the win is Tullamore. I am not going on form, only the name, Tullamore dew is a lovely drop!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum.
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 21:37:48

    I hope the gazebo made it back to Jenny’ss Pen ! I was watching a Greenfingers garden programe just now on the telly, & there was a chap had a block that was quite steep, reminded me of your place, & he had made all sorts of garden rooms up it. Some with a bit of decking too, so think on that as well when you start sorting your area out. Don’t forget to plant lower growing plants under the trees too.That might have been another cuckoo shrike love, & the mother is sitting with her young. let’s hope so. I picked my first huge white onion today! Nice with tomato on fresh bread, & salt/[pepper & vinegar! Yum. Enjoy monday!


  2. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 22:58:41

    Love the gazebo. We made something like a gazebo a couple of summers ago. It’s a glider swing. I will try to post it soon. No wild pheasants here, or at least I haven’t seen any, but plenty of wild turkey and wild cats.


    • narf77
      Apr 09, 2013 @ 03:07:23

      We don’t get wild pheasants either. That pheasant was obviously a clever one that knew where he was going as he had a well worn path 😉


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