Tempus fugit

Hi All,

And BOY how it ‘fugits’! For those of you dear readers who are not up there with your Latin…”Tempus fugit” means “time flees” and this year seems to have run faster than Effel doocark prior to her eggs hatching. The reason that I am able to regale you with my mastery of the Latin vernacular is not because of any amazing ability of my own, it’s simply because I was listening to the ABC this morning in bed. I can’t tell a lie…I chopped down the cherry tree. There you go…I admitted that I am a Latin illiterate. I did, however, recognise the phrase so something in my distant past has adhered to one of my brain cells and allowed me to use this phrase (somewhat smugly) for my post. Yesterday I was checking my emails and noticed an email from my Instructable friend, Mr Jxross. I have great admiration for this man due to his ability to bridge the American and Australian humour gap that tends to leave most Americans looking at we Aussies somewhat blankly when we “take a lend” of them. We are a culture that likes to remain “real”. We don’t like people getting “up themselves”. In American, “up yourself” is a complement and something to be aimed for. We Aussies (as a rule…there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule…) tend to attempt to bring people back to earth (deflate their fat heads) and it has been coined “The tall poppy syndrome” by people wanting to elevate themselves above the rest of the general populace. I don’t think that Australia, despite the size of its landmass, is a nation of a population with a single accent for nothing. You could fit the U.K. where you have no problems identifying where you come from by your many and varied accents into Western Australia alone, 10 times and yet there are no perceptive differences in our accents and most non-Aussies would find it difficult to narrow us down to a specific state from our lingo. Why is this the case? Because we are 1 people united by hardship, our colonial past and our multinational makeup. Anyone could come to Australia, so long as they put up, shut up and did their bit. That’s what makes us a nation and what gives us our Aussie ethos. In saying this, Mr Jxross has bridged this gap and rendered me non anti-yank. In one fell swoop he has done more to elevate his entire country in my eyes (and hopefully of you all dear readers) than 100 lightning visits by Mr Obama himself. Thank you for your cultural bridge dear sir and I am thinking of nominating you and your family for American ambassadors to Australia :o). Here is his latest post and something to tickle your fancies with his own interpretation of the “Occupy Wall Street” phenomena.


A hoot isn’t it? If you didn’t bother to go there and read it…your loss! :o)

We have spent the last few hours working at cleaning up the lower part of the garden. I took lots of photos for you all to see what we are up against in our endeavours. I have been kind and spared you (and by default, myself…) from seeing the worst of what we have to do here. I will save that for when I have come out from under the bed. Like most things here, what we thought would take a day, is going to take about a week to accomplish, but in saying that, we most certainly made a difference today. We have been crown lifting some Hakea salicifolia (willow leaf hakeas) that must have been planted previously on the property. They are all over the property now so must have been spread by various means because they are not endemic to Tasmania. These tall shrubs are represented in my Horticultural vocabulary as “Bloody bollocky Prickly Swines” which should give you a small hint about how much I “love” dealing with them. I had a doozy today. Not only was it a B.B.P.S, but it had cultivated a symbiotic relationship with a large blackberry that was tangled up in its uppermost branches. What a lovely pair to deal with? Hakeas are tough, drought tolerant and very hardy shrubs. The specimens in the teatree garden area have reached the end of their serviceable life. The black cockatoo’s scoffing them at regular intervals might be something to do with this, but it’s more likely the lack of ready water after being spoiled with abundant water for many years prior to my dad and his partner moving in and putting an abrupt stop to regular water events.  It’s amazing to see these tough, drought tolerant plants giving up the ghost when there are exotic specimens of the rhododendron and azalea family growing happily right beside them. For whatever reason, the hakeas look ratty and have more “D’s” in them than non-D’s. The “D’s” are “Dead”, “Diseased”, “Deformities”, “Dying” and “Damaged”. If you would like to take a further look at pruning 101, have a gander at this web page. It has heaps of information for the amateur (and misguided ‘professional’…) pruner…


Crown lifting took a fair few of the D’s out of the Hakeas but most of them are on their last legs and will need to be removed. The problem with removing, pruning and weeding our property is that we always end up with a massive great pile of branches, weeds and various debris and no way of dealing with it in the immediate future. We are NOT taking it to the tip…paying for green waste AND lining the pockets of the city council because they mulch it and sell it on (double dipping eejits who we also pay rates to so that would make them triple dipping eejits!) and I would rather eat the green waste then provide them with any more of our diminishing savings. We have a few tip passes but refuse to waste them on green waste and so we are left with a bit of a conundrum in working out what to do with these rapidly expanding piles of branches. We have been leaving them till they dry out and burning them but it’s getting harder to burn things as summer unfolds and so we are tossing up what to do with them. For the moment they can stay down and out of sight in the teatree garden. Some of the wood can be cut up and burned when it is dry and some of it can be used to make various wooden things out of but a fair bit of it is unusable.

This is part of our driveway. To the left (in the picture) is the previously landscaped garden area and over to the right is the teatree forest. I am not too sure as to how many trees you need before you can call an area a forest, but we are calling 4 acres a farm, so on our Lilliputian scale, that’s a forest! Steve had whipper snipped the sides of the driveway that was starting to look a bit like a jungle of Scotch thistles and rapidly growing native grasses and forget-me-nots. It’s cleaner and tidier now but this is looking back towards the house and that isn’t the area that I desperately wanted to get stuck into…

We parked the car and trailer just up from where we wanted to work. Initially I was going to do some crown lifting of the hakeas that had dead branches and seeds all over them that made this area look very messy. Steve was just going to walk the dogs back up to the house, but he had his chainsaw and after looking at the dead trees he decided that he might just chop one down…or maybe 2…perhaps 3?…

You can see our gates to the right of this tangled mess. Steve had cut down one of the hakeas after pronouncing it “99/100’s dead”. From crown lifting and spending some time doing a little bit of tidying up, I suddenly became chief branch lugger and general labourer…

This picture was taken from the gates and shows you just how scrappy the hakeas have become. We discovered that they are not native to Tasmania and most probably were planted by the owners previous to my father and his partner who bought the property from Glad next door. Originally Glad and Ted bought the manse and land adjacent to the Auld Kirk Church as a 10 acre package. They sold it to their friends who built the house and developed the gardens who sold it to my father and his partner who despite good intentions, had NO idea how to maintain the gardens and it slowly dissolved into what you see before you…You can see the “Highfield Garden’s” sign in the picture as well

Steve cut down dead trees and I used the long handled pole saw that we bought when we first moved out here for specifically this reason, to crown lift various Acacias (mainly Melanoxylon or Blackwood) and identifying other trees and shrubs that are going to need ‘work’ in the future. We have a large Bursaria spinosa or Prickly Box which is a small tree or shrub in the Pittosporaceae family growing right next to the front gates. It desperately needs crown lifting but for anyone who hasn’t had to deal with the prunings from this shrub before, they don’t call it “Prickly Box” for nothing! It was put in the “too hard” basket for today and will be dealt with at a later date. The main reason for cleaning up the driveway was to give a backdrop for our new sign which we erected on the anniversary of our moving in to Serendipity Farm (previously Highfield Garden’s) a year to the day ago. We arrived here battered, bewildered and totally unsure as to whether we could live here or not. It’s been a very long and hard year and a half since my dad died and our lives totally changed but since we moved into Serendipity Farm, it has progressively changed and become ours. There was something very cathartic about hanging our sign up and having a ‘topping off’ beer to celebrate and reflect on the year past. I dare say the “Dun-ya-dough” crow will have something to say about our new sign. It might even be ‘decorated’ accordingly when we next head out of the gates, but whatever anyone thinks of it, or anything that we do to be honest, it’s our choice and our decision and we have been allowed the most amazing chance to ‘make something of yourselves’ thanks to dad and what he left us. There might still be many occasions when the Dun-ya-dough crow’s ears are burning red hot, but they are getting fewer and far between.

I just wanted to show you what I am talking about when I mention the teatree forest. The tall straight trees in this picture are the teatrees. They are slowly getting thinned out to allow them to grow stronger and healthier because they are too close together.

Here is another view of this area. As you can see, Steve whipper snipped underneath the teatrees giving it a bit of a park look. Its a lovely area to wander around on a hot day because its all shaded and once we deal with the random piles of branches and debris that we have been collecting from this area, we can start thinking about what we actually want to achieve with this area. That big leaning trunk belongs to a large Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon).

This photo was taken directly behind the leaning Blackwood tree (one way to make it straight! :o) and you can see one of our hemiparasitc trees in the background (the dark green one) botanically named Exocarpus cupressiformis or native cherry. We rarely see the fruit but it is sweet and edible and we will be collecting seed, growing and planting out some other varieties of this species. This member of the Exocarpus family needs a specific  host to grow on and so it can just seed and grow itself as it seems to be doing most happily on Serendipity farm. We will be hunting for seed from the other varieties when they are in season (and no doubt to the disgust of the birds feeding from them). You can find out more about these amazing plants at the link below


Bezial and Earl were having a lovely roll in the cut grass that Steve whipper snipped earlier in the week when we were sorting out what we were going to cut down and what we were going to crown lift today. They were having a great time when Bezial got nipped on the paw by a Jack Jumper. Jack Jumpers are ants with attitude and Bezial seems to attract them like bees to honey. He shook his paw hard, took off running towards the car and once allowed into the car curled up on the front passenger side floor and hid. Earl is the exact opposite. If something bites Earl he just gets on with it. He isn’t a sook. Bezial is. I guess it takes all kinds to make a world and just like Steve and I, we have 2 totally opposite dogs. Earl and Bezial stayed in the car till we finished our work for today down in the lower portion of the garden. I took lots of photos so that you can see what I am talking about when I mention the ‘teatree’ area of the garden. The tall straight trees are the teatrees and are actually Melaleuca alternifolia. This area of the garden is reminiscent of what the native bushland would have been like close to the river. Native grasses grow under the canopy and dappled light makes a very pleasant environment for wandering around in. The teatrees are what we have thinned somewhat and used to build all sorts of things from the dogs compound around the house allowing us to close the boys in whenever we wish, to the hens perches in their coop. They are very useful and contain an antiseptic essential oil which makes them less likely to be predated by insects and useable untreated. The only thing that seems to really affect them is fungi. While we were working we noticed that a very large branch of one of the 2 large conifers that stand either side of the gate had completely snapped from the conifer at the base leaving a large empty hole. We are going to have to clean that up and tidy up the trail of destruction that the demise of this branch left. It took the top out of a large Eucalyptus and a few of the larger teatrees. That’s a job for another day. We have decided that to tackle the enormity of this job we are going to just have to plug away at it until we have had enough for the day. That way, we won’t spend our days procrastinating and never actually doing anything because we couldn’t move for 2 days after trying to do it all at once. It goes to show that we have learned something since we moved here a year ago :o)

Here is what the teatree forest looks like futher over from the driveway. As you can see its a nice place to wander and gives us a fair bit of privacy. That ‘structure’ to the left of the picture was a bbq that my dad made. It has “Fran’s folly” scratched into the concrete and like most things that dad had much to do with, it is badly made, covered in weeds and falling apart…

You can see the ships knot sculpture that dads friend Teena, a local artist, made for him and that was put out the front of the property. We pulled it down as soon as we got here because apart from being decidely ugly, it was only held onto its footing by 2 rapidly decaying ropes and we didn’t want the children attending church on sunday next door or the mail person being squashed by this monstrosity. We are stuck with it for now, unless anyone out there would like it? Teena also made the magnificent (somewhat preditor like) structure in the lower grounds of the Museum in Launceston. She was paid $10 000 to suppy that sculpture…this one leaves a little bit to be desired…That black poly pipe on the star pickets runs down the entire driveway and is a watering system. There are watering systems, numerous taps etc all ingeniously linked and rapidly aging. We are going to have to deal with this ancient watering system one day. It’s all linked back to a prehistoric Rainbird controller…(I wish I had paid more attention to my lecturer when he was talking about these things…)

As you can see, we had done a bit of clearing out in this photo. You can also see the lean on the pole that we are putting our sign on. Everything on this property seems to lean one way or the other. I guess when we are merry after our beer we probably won’t notice it? :o)

We will be spending the next few weeks tidying up Serendipity Farm, mowing the lawns, whipper snipping the edges and the 1st paddock and generally making the place look ‘nice’ for my mums visit. We haven’t managed to get our veggie gardens in yet but we are working on it. We may have found someone to take our rooster chicks in the future and the sun is shining, the sky is blue and we are finished for the afternoon. See you all tomorrow on the first day of our second year here and the 1st true day of living on Serendipity Farm :o)

Here is my pile of driftwood and ‘useful wood’ that I have collected from over the road on the river bank. We are right on the bend and most of the debris gets washed to our little shoreline. I have collected interesting old pottery bits, glass bottle caps and all sorts of interesting driftwood. I stash it by the front gate because I am too lazy to lug it up the steep driveway back home :o)

These babies are at the same time strangely alluring and blatently obscene. They are also covered in blowflies and smell as bad as 5 dead possums and a squashed kangaroo. We have the dubious honour of having a large population of them growing on Serendipity Farm and yes Nat, I haven’t forgotten that you want one :o).

Here is Steve’s topping off beer and my mixed beer and lime in my Goria Jeans travel mug. Don’t you just love the colours? Things get “lost” around here quite easily and being this delightful mix of colours, this baby isn’t going to be lost any time soon (and neither is it going to end up full of screws, plaster of paris or used car oil in Steve’s shed ;o) We decided that something had to be done about that pole though as our sign was looking more “pissed” than we have ever been!

There you go! That’s much better now. Steve gave it a shove and it responded accordingly. Most things respond to a bit of a shove and Serendipity Farm needs a massive great communal shove at times. The sign is straight, we have beer in our bellies, the sun is shining, the grass is snipped and all is right with the world! (for today anyway…. :o)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 12:00:46

    I loved that american Pen, I wonderr if he has australian in him already? It shows though, not all are Up themselves. There should be more signs dotted around the world like that. Your teatree glade is just right to have a cool area love. Steve did the best thing with the chain saw on those dead hakeas too. You have plenty of new sorts in your collection to replace them. It was good to see the drive again, & know I shall be with you all driving up there again soon. Have you remembered the mulcher too? Put through all the smaller braches for mulch.A bit of dry wood with the green won’t hurt either, & you can reduce the heap that way, as well as using the mulch somewhere, even tipped into the compost. The dogs will love it under the teatrees. I must check when I come over, how far towards Glads your property goes Pen. You will have a lovely entrance to the place by the time you sort it all out, as I remember when last there, when you drive through into the property, how nice & secret it all was. Just tidy it up & remove all unwanted things, it will be lovely. The sign is up, kahlu kahlay ! Looks good too. Dad would have been quietly tickled & ashamed of himself at what you both have been doinjg love. It’s a pity he never bothered when he had the chance to isn’t it, but you have now made it yours,& doing an excellent job of reclainming the gardens. KIf the stink lillies get too bad, go cut out the stamens.


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