The tribulations of studying

Hi All
It’s around about this time of year that I start to get very antsy and irritated with anything to do with studying. Apart from it being spring and the perfect time to be bum’s up sorting out the garden, we have had an entire year of studying and it’s time that it was finished for a bit to give our poor addled brains a rest. Steve and I are on our very final unit of our Diploma of Horticulture and unlike our usual modus operandi, the hardest unit was left until last. This wasn’t our choice. Our lecturer has orchestrated this situation and it’s not the way that I usually like to work, because doing the hardest units first up, ensures that you are fresh, raring to go and have the most amount of energy both physically and mentally available to you to work your way through. Every other course where we have had input, we have chosen the hardest units first. I am finding it very hard to stay focussed on this unit. Aside from it being a difficult unit involving somewhat complex computer software (Autocad), it’s been almost a year since we moved to Serendipity farm and I just don’t want to be doing any more studies so the grumble quotient is high, work ethic low at this moment in time. The property is calling me and demanding that I plant out potted plants, ameliorate the soil, build a wood fired pizza oven, solve all sorts of problems that exist around here, irrigate the fruit trees, create a larger dog run for summer and so many other things that every time I try to study I get very resentful with the amount of time that is slipping through my hands.
I have mentioned in earlier posts that Steve and I operate completely differently. This gives us a fantastic base for covering all aspects of whatever situation we encounter, but an almost nil ability to work together because we have totally different processes involved from start to finish with anything. I like to plan, organise everything that I need prior to the ‘event’ (for want of a better word), have a contingency/back up plan in case of most things and work systematically through until the conclusion. I also like to problem solve my way around any ‘excess’ involved in the project and ensure that it is simplified to its core to get the best result. Steve likes to bolt out of the starter’s gate thinking on his feet. He likes to try different ways of doing things and problem solve around what he has at that given time. It’s incredibly frustrating for either of us to have to work with the other but that has been the case ever since we started studying together. Sometimes we don’t even know how to begin to explain what we are talking about to each other and that adds an edge of inherent frustration to most projects that we undertake together. We try to separate out our tasks into our areas of ‘expertise’ or at least what we are good at doing and that seems to work, but inevitably we have to work together on things and that is where the problems start. How do you work with someone who operates on the opposite side of the spectrum to you? Especially when both of us have bad tempers and no patience at all! It’s a recipe for disaster if you ask me…
Steve has just gone to Exeter to pick up a precious bundle. It contains 1kg of Thai curry chicken and prawn sausages that I ordered for him on Monday on the way through to Launceston. These sausages sell out within minutes of them being placed with reverence in their spot of honour in the meat cabinet and so if you want any, you had best order them in advance. Coupled with them only being made on certain days and that creates massive demand for a small supply. I wonder if there is a black market in them? Anyway, Steve had his ordered in advance and can now pick them up after 3pm and walk El Chupacabra while he is at it. I am staying at home with Emo dog who has decided that he only needs a single walk because otherwise he gets too hot in the middle of the day. He is happily basking in a sunbeam on the deck while I sit here wondering just how many litres of water the hose leaked out when it burst after I forgot to turn off the tap…oh well, at least the tea trees where the excess water gets funnelled to will be happy. My brain is full of decorative pebbles…various cultivars’ of Clematis and Pierre de Ronsard rose (I chose ‘Blushing Pierre’ if anyone cares)

And various other aspects of this final project in our Diploma. We are finished our specifications and are now costing up what we need for the job. Anyone whinging about the cost of a landscape designer should really know that they earn a pittance compared to most other people who have had to spend 4 years of their lives studying and they have to do a heck of a lot for their money. Not that I am ever going to be a landscape designer, but it’s a good skill to have when you want to help out in your community. Here’s the gate that we are going to use in our final project. I know that our friend would swoon if she got a set of these and they are available locally which is a real bonus…

With our studies, it’s not just a matter of “Oh I like these…I will put them into the plan…” it’s more “can I get them in Tasmania? Do they cost too much? Are they practical for the situation? Will they live/grow there? Is the climate right? Will they die in the frost? Can they take drought situations? Do they need full sun? Will our lecturer think that we haven’t put in enough effort? Etc.” a whole lot more to doing these specifications etc. than just “That’s nice, shove it into the ground” which is the phrase on most clients lips because they simply have no idea what it takes to get what they are asking for onto a plan. The clematis that was chosen to go on the gazebo in our friends design was chosen for its colour, its hardiness, its ability to be happy with various degrees of frost and drought, its long flowering habit and its height. We ended up choosing this one… it’s called ‘Elsa Spath’…

I have an inbuilt desire to simplify things. It’s just part of what makes me, me. If you saw me at the beginning of any of our study units compiling enormous tracts of information you would not believe that, but it’s all about seeing everything that there is and isolating the right thing for the desired situation. I can’t understand why people make things a whole lot more difficult than they need to. Life is way too short to be messing around with all this bampf and that’s part of why I am getting highly frustrated with my studies. We had a lot of interruptions, disruptions to schedules and unavoidable hassles in the past year. My father died, throwing our lives into chaos, our lecturer also lost two members of his family. Between us, Steve and I lost 3 members of our family last year and moved house AND renovated. Any one of these situations is incredibly stressful, but combine them all together and you have a recipe for uber stress with a capital “Ü”. I think that this summer, after we have finally completed our diploma, is going to be fantastic for us to throw ourselves head first into gardening and renovating this place to our wants and needs. There is nothing like good old fashioned hard physical/manual labour to make you realise that you’re alive! After you work hard, you can sit down at the end of the day, filthy, with a beer on the deck and you have really earned your rest and ensuing sleep (albeit on the couch while you are trying to watch television). You also get a mighty sense of achievement that you don’t get from any amount of studying. Steve and I are not attention hogs and don’t need kudos for working hard. At the end of the day what you have learned is reward enough to be honest. We don’t even want to go to our graduation, but as my son once told me…”it’s not worth attending these things unless you feel like you have earned an award”. Good point Stewart. If you feel like your brain has been pulled out of your ear, twisted around your head like a pretzel and then re-inserted into your other ear and forced to work on the opposite hemisphere to where it originated, THEN you deserve an award! That saying, both Steve and I have been forced to work outside our comfort zones for most of this Diploma and we will probably attend the award ceremony when we do complete it. If only to remind us that we are finished it, and that they can’t make us do it again! That plus they give you a mortarboard and gown to wear and we can send the ensuing picture to our respective mum’s to show them that we are not telling fibs about studying.
We just finished planting out our once lovely Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ that we had to put into a large pot when we bought it as we were unable to plant it out at the time. It hasn’t been looking all that happy lately and its leaves have been droopy. We decided to plant it out as the first of our trees to find their new home at Serendipity farm. When we removed the large pot from the base, we discovered that it had been waterlogged and there is one thing that most maples hate above all other things, and that is to be waterlogged. It’s very lucky that we decided not to be lazy on this occasion and to plant it out today, as I don’t know how much longer it could have gone with its feet submerged in water like it was. Hopefully we have given it a chance to be happy and it wasn’t too stressed or too far gone to come back from that situation. We will just have to wait and see, but this tree had the most glorious foliage in both summer (bright green palmated leaves) and autumn (amazing multi-coloured almost fluorescent coloured leaves) and as we rescued it from Allen’s garden centre when it was located in Rocherlea and they were having a moving sale. It was covered in woolly aphids when we bought it and had to be quarantined and treated before being allowed to join our precious babies where it has remained ever since. I really hope that it survives, because it’s a most lovely small tree…

This isn’t our Vitifolium, its just to show you how lovely the leaves are (when they are not wilted and waterlogged…)

And this isnt from our Vitifolium either, its just a representation of how pretty the leaves go in autumn. Ours actually went the most amazing Magenta that was almost Fluroescent…you have to love something that gives you a result like that…

This has given us a whole lot of courage towards planting out more of our potted plants. We are going to have to bite the bullet soon as once summer hits, we will be watering twice a day and 900+ pot plants use a whole lot of water. Once in the ground, our plants can be mulched and the sheer volume of soil will help retain water so much better than the greater surface area in a pot. They deserve to be planted out after giving us so much happiness and the least that we can do is get off our bums and plant them out. Our new additions are starting to look somewhat promising. They have eaten a slug…a worm and a snail that I tossed in to them in their new enclosure. After quizzing the lady in the stock feed shop where we buy our chook food, she told us that ducks are gutses, that they will eat ANYTHING (goat’s with feathers apparently) and that they are not too fussy about what they eat so long as there is lots of it. We have just started buying a free range supplemental feed of grains and seeds for our chooks, designed to give them the best nutrition to back up all of the insects and grasses that they eat when they are out eating the landscape. We used to buy a very similar product but this new one has molasses to make it more palatable to the chooks. We found out that ducks will eat the same food so that saves us having to purchase different foods for each species of poultry. I was talking to our pet food lady Suzie the other day and she told me that she will get me some Guinea fowl eggs (fertile) and some turkey eggs to put under my broody hens (I have 2 more now…) and she will swap for some Brahma and Plymouth Rock eggs for her broodies once my chicks start laying. Barter is most definitely the currency of the country. I can also have some peacock eggs should I ever want some. Why not? I intend on getting some geese as both an alarm system and grass minimisers so I may as well be known as “That crazy bird woman” as “That crazy cat woman”…
Back to our diploma unit…we now need to cost everything and work out a budget for the project. At this stage of the project we are actually happy that we have to use Autocad as it works out the volume of soil/gravel etc. that we need for us, but first we have to give it all the initial information and draw up the plan. We then have to start phoning up local nurseries, hardware shops, landscaping firms and anyone else that might sell the materials that we need to finish this job. After that it’s a bit of spit and polish and we can hand it in to sensei Nick to be scrutinised with a microscope and dissected accordingly. Sometimes it feels like having your baby examined by Jack the Ripper! Anyone out there with 98 rosemary plants all potted up ready to go and 30 santolina’s can you give us a ring?

I am just going to add something quick here. I have noticed that WordPress (this blog site) sometimes won’t allow me to add spacing to my posts. No idea why. so today’s appears to be one of “those posts” so please don’t get too grouchy about the lack of spacing between paragraphs, its not me…its WordPress

I need to tell all of you before I go, that Pingu is very happy now…he is jumping up and sitting on top of his stuffed animal ‘mother’, peeping to get out of his cage, eating more than his weights worth of food a day and draining his water bowl as well. He started out with very sparse prospects but seems to have risen above his past and may just turn into that massive great big hulking rooster that I have sneaking suspicions that he is going to be. The rest of the chicks are doing well and are twice Pingu’s size at the moment but he is catching up fast. See you all tomorrow…


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. zooinmyhouse
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:12:20

    Yay Pingu!


  2. mum.
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:43:15

    I am really very proud of you both Pen & Steve. You have come this far, bouncing off each other & the walls, & you are getting there. You’re on the home run now, don’t let yourselves down now. I look forward to seeing you both in robes & mortar boards! I shall skite all over the place!! Plant as many of your trees in their places as soon as too, as they can get established before next winter. Plenty of mulch helps as you know, & seasol for a good root system. Am I teaching you to suck eggs? Sorry.. The pierre de ronsard rose is beautiful isn’t it ? Dion’t forget, possums hate geraniums, so that would also mean pelargoniums eh? They make a nice show too, & grow easily by cuttings, especially off the neighbours fence!! I love that maple too, I’m glad I have “portraits” of all your leaves from last autumn.Sounds like Pingu is ruling the roost in there. I’m glad he survived.


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 23:13:41

    Speaking of hard units or unpleasant tasks, I must buckle down on taxes today, as they are due in a few days. I hate paperwork anymore. I used to be so organized. Right before I met Chris I lost 5 family members within a nine month period. Counting both sides we have a big family. Only one blood uncle left. I think I would count as an elder now, certainly not a wise one.


    • narf77
      Apr 09, 2013 @ 03:08:59

      I know…I think I have attained that ignoble height as well but I would be considered “that crazy aunty in Tasmania” more than “wise” 😉


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