Pingu and gremlin run amok

Hi All

The sight that met our eyes this morning after we went into Steve’s music room was this…

Pingu is at the front of the picture and Gremlin (a most fitting name) is over next to the food and water bowls. I think that Gremlin has been leading Pingu astray…

I understand how a chicken might miss its mum. I understand how a chicken might get a bit stroppy over being contained within the confines of a room but what I DON’T understand is how 2 very small birds, who weigh about 100g each, could make more mess than Earl does in an entire day!!!!!!!!!! Gremlin is a most fitting name for this chicken. It is back outside scratching around with the other chickens and is trailing its ‘sometime’ mum who seems to have decided that she has done her job raising babies now and is back with the non-broodies with no second thought to her baby. Gremlin is perfectly able to look after her/himself and is one tough little chicken. Pingu, on the other hand, was also put out with the others and after getting pecked on the head by not only one of the mums but also by one of the other chicks for being too needy, we picked her up and put her into her little enclosure where she is perfectly happy pecking at seeds and being protected. Pingu is not a ‘normal chicken’ now. Because we intervened on nature, we are now responsible for making sure that she is protected until she is big enough to not need that protection. She may always be somewhat tamer than the other girls but when she is big enough to stop feral cat predation (in a few weeks) she will be able to be outside with everyone else.

We did a bit of tidying up today. We decided to start in the spare room because it was packed to the roof with all sorts of things that we were “going to put away” that got stuffed into the too hard basket of the middle room. In so doing we moved a lot of furniture around, we rearranged the room somewhat, we moved things from room to room and Earl had a ball. Bezial did his best to head Earl off at the pass, but he still managed to make one small pine cone spread through almost every room in the house, to eat Steve’s carefully preserved maple leaves that he is saving to make something with, to get in the way, to hamper all efforts to sweep (Earl’s nemesis is Mr Broom…) and need to be physically held down when we were sucking the dead blowflies out of the window frame. Earl has a real problem with the vacuum cleaner. He wants to kill it. He has managed to squeeze the end of it to an oval rather than its original circular shape and as it’s a Dyson, we don’t want to have to replace it any day soon. Here is a picture of Earl after he found an old hat and had spent a few minutes dispatching it. He is most definitely a ‘character’…

Steve has put a coat of estapol on the sheok sign. We need to get some small brushes to paint inside the routed out letters and we will get them later on in the week when we get the car back. It’s not raining any more, it is somewhat overcast though and so we are doing things from our list that we can accomplish. We feel a little bit like we are cast adrift after spending so much time working on finalising our Diploma. We are not used to having time to just potter around. After the novelty of ‘time’ seeps into our poor addled brains, we will probably start messing about potting up some of the vast quantity of seed that we have been collecting, half of which we have NO idea what it is. That’s part of the fun of it. We are also going to take some rosemary cuttings for our friend who shall remain anonymous for her design that we made for her. Rosemary is a bit like lavender in that it is very easy to take cuttings. I have grown lavender by just breaking a bit off the plant and shoving it directly into the ground. It’s a bit of a no brainer to be honest so we should get a reasonable strike rate from our efforts. I might do a few extra rosemary cuttings and some lavender cuttings as well. I have a few of them in our potted collection including a couple of white French lavenders that we grew from cuttings. Look at the botanical name for them! Lavandula stoechas subsp. stoechas f. leucantha ‘Snowman’. Imagine going into your local nursery and having to remember that without it being written down. We want these very Mediterranean plants to dot around the garden for their ability to withstand drought, to be very hardy and to attract bees. I have discovered that plants that I previously hated (irrational I know but I am a bit of a passionate person in all things…) I am now able to tolerate and actually quite like when part of a larger scheme and because of their incredible ability to survive tough times. Agapanthus is one such plant. Previous to moving out here I had a wild aversion to them. Now, seeing how they look massed together up the driveway and how they survived years of no water, total neglect and still look nice has given me a new understanding of the humble agapanthus. The same goes for Hebe. I must admit, I don’t like how hebe’s get all stringy and woody when you don’t keep them well pruned, but they are total survivors and are the only thing living in a most inhospitable, hot, arid, garbage and stone strewn area around the Riverside Woolworth’s complex with no water and they still look good.

Here is the newly estapolled sign. Today we are going to paint it inside the routed lettering and we will show you after we finish. We are starting to feel like an episode of “This Old House”.

My feelings have softened towards these plants because apart from them being the most prevalent in this garden, they are survivors and I have a soft spot for something that has managed to survive against all the odds. We have about an acre of landscaped garden on the property and unlike a small suburban block; we need to ensure that it is landscaped with lots of plants. I would be very foolish indeed to remove these pre-existing plants because apart from still being alive, they offer the wildlife a habitat, bees somewhere to collect nectar and most important of all, they give the plants that we want to plant into this landscape a better chance of survival because they will be protected by these pre-existing plants. The simple fact of thermal mass allows these mass planted plants to retain soil moisture and gain a degree of protection through being included in a micro climate that otherwise wouldn’t exist if they were planted out on their own. It’s a bonus to us as well because once they are planted out; they will not be as water hungry as what they are in their pots due to the soils smaller surface area in comparison to the larger surface area exposed in potted plants. All of that “Blah-blah-blah” that we listened to in our courses that we thought that we would never use is now coming to the fore as we wade through the many and varied problems that we are encountering on our own property. Green vegetable bugs are a point in case. Our friend who shall remain anonymous had a bad case of these little critters. She tried everything under the sun to rid her vegetable garden of this pest with no success. She looked up every encyclopaedic volume of a technical pest and diseases manual that we were able to access at Polytechnic to no avail. She tried all sorts of sprays and STILL they persisted until in final desperation she allowed her chooks in to the vegetable are and they ate every last one. We would never have known this if we hadn’t gone to classes and been given this choice piece of information. We have our own green vegetable bug problem this year. Well, it’s actually the green vegetable bugs that have more of a problem because the ducks have decided that they love green vegetable bugs. They love them so much that they have eaten them from our potatoes along with the potato leaves. I am not too sure how many potatoes we are going to harvest this year, but the number has been considerably revised due to total defoliation via duck…you win some…you lose some…

We have so many plants that need a good prune and a fair few that are past pruning and that will have to be removed. There is one abutilon that I am going to have to take some cuttings from as it’s a solitary long thing bendy stem with a white flower on top.  We have roses that are so overgrown with many dead canes on them. Some of them have been ‘pruned’ previously and Don Burke has a lot to answer to for telling amateur gardeners to cut them off with a chainsaw at the base as someone has taken his advice to heart and has taken some of the grafted hybrid tea roses back to below the graft so we have some rootstocks that will need to be dug out and we also have lots of wild roses all over the place that were seeded by birds. Again, it’s just a matter of breaking up all of this work into smaller more manageable bits and not looking at the bigger picture or you would not get out of bed in the morning for stressing. One day we will get this all under control. We will be able to plant out what we want; we will make this a lovely garden all over again. This time we will use the horticultural principals that we have been taught and have taken to heart to get the most attractive results for our hard work and using plants that are not only appropriate for the desired effect, but that will be low maintenance and that will give us something other than just a ‘pretty picture’. A lot of research is going to have to be done but I am the woman for that and once we work out what we want, we will wade in and do it. Sometimes its sheer stubborn determination that gets things done. Sometimes it’s blind ignorance because you have NO idea that something can’t be done and guess what…a lot of the most amazing things that have ever occurred in this world have happened because people just gave something a go and didn’t listen to naysayers. That’s our principal. We will give it a go if we think that we might be able to gain something from what we are doing.

I just headed off into the jungle that is our garden. Since I was last down there it has grown incredibly. All thanks to our recent pruning and cutting back and now all of the weeds have gone mad with delight. That gives me a nice lush crop of regrowth to get stuck into murdering very soon. Here are a few photos that I thought that you might like. Everything that you see here has survived decades of neglect and is therefore to be considered hardy, or due to some stroke of good fortune, lucky.

Here’s a lovely little climbing rose. I had initially thought that it was a Cecile Brunner but its white and heavily scented. It’s amazing how things are starting to come back after we do a bit of work. This rose would have been hidden under the huge amount of blackberry that was removed from this area a few months ago and has been struggling on under the canopy and this year it gets to flower in the sun. I didn’t even realise that there was a rose there at all so that should tell you how bad the blackberries were in this area

Anyone who has owned or walked past a Philadelphus in full bloom will know how intoxicatingly delicious it smells. As you can see by this picture. The Philadelphus apparently likes living here and has taken over! It extends right up into a large dead tree in the first garden (yes…this is a garden!). Lord only knows how we are going to tackle pruning this massive beast, but for now its in bloom and its the most magnificent smell (much nicer than the associated chook run I can tell you!)

Can you see the tall stick of Abutilon in this picture? At the very top of that stick leaning to the left is a white flower. I haven’t seen a white Abutilon before and so that makes this something that should be allowed to live but who knows where the base of it is and who would want to…its surrounded by blackberries

This is a Cornus capitata. I know that because Steve and I grew a whole lot of them from seed. Also known as an Irish Strawberry  tree. That knobbly bit in the middle of the flower is actually what forms into the fruit of the plant and its actually edible. Not wonderful, but jam worthy so this makes the Cornus capitata both hardy and useful in our forest garden. This poor specimen has had a hard life apart from the dry and shady conditions that it has been living in, a large tree fell on it squashing it flat. Its still growing and flowering so its elevated in my list of very hardy plants. It’s also a most lovely flowering tree with these massive great creamy green flowers and remember the most important thing…its drought tolerant

Isn’t this lovely? Its a tiny little aquilegia that is growing in the side garden. The lovely black one that looks exactly the same as this one (except black…) has just stopped flowering. I am going to collect the seed from both of them and broadcast it around the property because by the look of it, they are quite hardy. Who would believe it? I remember going to one of dad’s other properties and doing some gardening work for him a while back and the old fashioned Aquilegia known as “Granny’s bonnets” was flowering profusely everywhere and the ‘garden’ was as arid as the Great Sandy Desert! Often you just need to go hunting online if you want something pretty for your garden. You might be very surprised at how hardy some of these amazingly delicate looking plants are and how you may be able to include them in your xeriscape (low water) gardens to keep our gardens relevant and applicable to the future. We gardener’s don’t have to give up what we love, we just have to get cleverer about how to grow them. If we can get an entire garden growing from cuttings and seeds that we appropriated from over garden fences, then we can surely do a bit of research online and in the library and use our simple common sense (that gardeners have in abundance) to problem solve our way right through global warming and the problems that it will bring. Who knows, we frozen Tasmanian’s might be the Queensland of the future! :o)

Finally I would like to show you something that previous to moving here, I would have thought of as being most delicate and needing an incredible amount of care and attention. That is what makes being a gardener a most privileged thing. You learn so very much through simply observing nature and how everything cycles and progresses through the years. I think that gardening makes us wise. It gives us an edge on people who race through life with blinkers on to the seasons and to how life is actually meant to be. To all my gardening friends out there, we share a common bond of understanding and a unity of wonder at just how amazing this most fantastic world that we live in and on actually is. To all of my non-gardening friends and family, just disregard what I just said :o). This orchid is one of many on a large splitting pot of orchids that is out in the side garden. Every year it flowers. No fertiliser, no water, no love, no ANYTHING but still it flowers and grows. Is that why we love plants? They are a bit like dogs to be honest…they love you, no matter how much you neglect them. They keep coming back for more. Ok, Steve is starting to twitch. We have our little car back and we need to go to Exeter to get our massive increasing flock of poultry some more food. They are starting to eat us out of house and home! The boys also want another walk as they have been missing out for a while and have been most gracious about it I must admit. We also need to pick up some books that I ordered from the library about forest gardens. I might even get Steve to take me to the thrift shop to have a look. We will then stop at the off leash dog park on the way home so that Emo Dog and El Chupacabra can stand at the gate for 30 minutes sniffing all of the other dogs pee. See you all tomorrow and enjoy this magnificent day. To Kymmy…sorry about that heat…I remember how hot Perth gets, but you know what? There is NOTHING like that amazing smell when you head into Perth on a hot night and wind down your windows going past Kings Park and all of those Eucalyptus citriodora (Lemon scented salmon gums) have released their amazing scent down into the night air. Its the smell of posibility and to me, its heavenly! I love you Perth, you rock :o)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 11:07:35

    Did you ever get your “special” dog collars from Cesare Milan? Are they any good?
    It’s going to be 32 in Albany today. yay. I’m donating my 3rd pint of blood today in what I hope is a long relationship with the red cross blood bank here. As i’m O neg, they love me long time!


    • narf77
      Nov 23, 2011 @ 15:59:40

      Nope…we didn’t get our collars and they have only just resent a new lot so we will have to wait till after Christmas to see if we get this lot. If we don’t get them, thats IT for mr Cesar Milan and his dumkopf collars and we will get our money back and will buy holties for the pair of them. I went to try to give blood not so long back and they were closed! Crying out for blood on the television and that was the day that they didn’t open till after 2 for donations. How stupid eh?


  2. mum
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:26:31

    What a mess chickens can make eh? At least Gremlin is back out with the others, & Pingu should be okay when he is big enough to get out there with them. Earl looks satisfied with making that hole in the beanie too. Orchids are really no trouble at all Pen, & they like being potbound. That was a find, the little white rose, & I bet it’s an original from when the gardens were first made.It’s a lovely little cottage garden type isn’t it? As for it being 32 today, YUK ! I got out early watering. 34 is on the cards for tomorrow too, but then it drops down nicely. Happy fossicking about in the garden the pair of you.


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:11:47

    We are constantly living “This Old House,” without the professional touch of Norm.


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