First I have to explain why Friday’s post was full of woe. I have been returning to eating simpler foods and whenever I do this, I get a day or so of unmitigated doom and gloom. Call it “detoxing” for want of a better (less wanky) word. Today I am bright, chipper, happy, content with my lot and looking forward to the challenges that life throws my way. I might be having to hobble about on my grandmother’s (then mothers…looks like it’s going to be passed on!) walking stick that Steve most curiously requested as a memento of my mother and that has most certainly been used a whole lot more than anticipated but life is good and despite the doom and gloom radiating from our television screens (and first thing in the morning from the ABC local news broadcast) my eternal optimism is shining through and I am steadfastly refusing to give in to the general malaise that seems to be permeating society at the moment. Everyone seems hell bent on spending themselves into an early grave. I have decided that I fancy hanging about for a bit so I am trying to eat more simply and of food that will feed both body and soul. I am also on a pathway to vegetable gardening. Most of you will be smiling now as how many times have I said that? Too many to count and where are your pictures of tiny seedlings emerging to raise their collective tendrils in glory to the sun and to God? Nowhere! Now that I have been honest with you about my natural state of sloth, I need to add that sloth is interspersed with manic bouts of “doing”. Steve loves a good “do”. He hates spending time sitting about and would rather be pottering about in his shed “doing” something. If there is nothing to actually “do” he finds something. We have decided that Greece might be going to hell in a hand basket, the European Union might be teetering on the brink of collapse, and America might be just about to get a taste of what the rest of the world has been stuffing their fingers in the “rest of the world” collective dyke, but here on Serendipity Farm we are going to remain stoic and hang out our washing on the Siegfried line… I actually found out what the Siegfried line was the other day when I was reading that book from Mary Anne Schaffer’s list of happy reads. It was a massive great line of bunkers, tunnels and tank traps that the German’s built to defend their claimed territory. I might not have been totally in love with this book (although it was an interesting enough read) but I learned something so it was worth reading for that alone.
Here are some comparison photos for you to peruse. This Dioscorea elephantipes is happily ensconced in the cacti house at the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. At this stage, when we took this photo, we hadn’t even dreamed of growing anything as amazing as this ourselves. We were merely taking pictures of weird and wonderful plants that interested us (me mainly).
Here we have our own home-grown Discorea elephantipes and you can see that after 2 years (we grew them from seed) it is starting to form that lovely corky gnarly cordex that so interested me in this species in the first place.
Here are 2 more of them that Steve had to bring out and untangle their foliage. We had 100% success rate with the 5 seeds that we purchased from an online supplier and they are still growing happily in the glasshouse some day to develop into massive great corky desirable specimens.
I have discovered what some of the plants growing on Serendipity Farm are through a bit of hunting. I found the Prunus laurocerasus (Common Cherry Laurel) that was dug up from a garden and that is growing in a pot ready to be planted out and I also found out that we have various specimens of Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese Cherry Laurel) on Serendipity Farm as well. I can see my old lecturer (old as in previous NOT ancient…) James shuddering at the mention of these 2 tall shrubs/small trees being allowed to live on. They can become weedy species in our temperate climate but they can also be utilised as really good hedging plants. Steve and I are actually hermits. We have very little desire to deal with people that we don’t already know within the boundaries of our own little book of calm “Serendipity Farm”. Sorry to all of you wanting to make the trek to see us and worship at our feet but we make no claims to be anything other than penniless hippy students (lazy ones at that) who are trying to rouse themselves out of their urban complacency and become “Doers” rather than “Sayers”. I have been hunting out various plants to use on the outer perimeters of Serendipity Farm including Crataegus phaenopyrum (a most beautiful and useful member of the hawthorn family) and now several forms of cherry laurel. At the moment, there is one of the saddest examples of hedging known to man straggling its warty way along the roadside face of Serendipity Farm. You could be excused for thinking that people who have NO idea about plants lived here. This motley crew of sad psyllids infested Photinia robusta span “dead…diseased and dying” in 1 fell swoop. We need to isolate something that will give us our desired outcome (both attractive AND hermit protecting) and the hardy and most poisonous cherry laurel family look like coming to the rescue. If we interspersed our hedging idea with some of the heavily fortified Washington hawthorns that colour most amazingly in autumn (but still hold on to their amazing thorns) we would be able to maintain a low effort (Steve LOVES maintaining hedges so this would be a hobby rather than a chore…), hardy hedge that would (for want of a better and less wanky word) give us the “Wow” factor that we are looking for. As much as we love the Auld Kirk church and its hallowed grounds (when the zombies, werewolves and vampires come for us we can just skip over the fence and we will be safe :o) we are not all that enamoured of the hordes of tourists that stamp around the graveyard on a regular basis and who have occasionally omitted to get it into their thick skulls that a fence means “someone else’s property!”. Now we might be Hill Williams (Hill Billies upper class cousins) but we are not above using a Hill Billy phrase to dissuade the invaders and cries of “Git off my property” can be heard echoing around the Lower Sidmouth valley (I just made that up…Sidmouth isn’t big enough for Upper…Downer… or a valley… I was just trying to glorify my surroundings…sorry about that…it won’t happen again…). I dare say a nice Washington hawthorn hedge bordering the churchyard will be both attractive AND will dissuade nosy tourists from having a gander at the overgrown weedy patch of jungle beyond their immediate surrounds…
These most delightful Madagascan palms (Pachypodium lamerei) were situated in one of the gardens featured at the Melbourne International Flower Show (that in a month and a half will be on again) that we attended in 2010 along with a group of our peers. Thank you SO much Nat for getting us all involved in this amazing and most enlightening trip at the time. We were certificate 2 in horticulture students and wide eyed and bushy tailed and apart from being totally exhausted at the end of our amazing day, we were given a real eye opener about all sorts of facets of horticulture that we had previously been unaware of as well as being show some of the latest trends in horticulture. We, along with our other classmates that attended, were really rallied from that point forward to succeed.
2 years (and with certificate 3 and our Diploma in Horticulture tucked under out belts) later and we have our own little tiny forest of Pachypodium lamerei. Aint horticulture grand? We get to grow plants that we might otherwise only have dreamed about in our own humble little glasshouse. I see where begonia collectors and orchid collectors (the horticultural equivalent of train spotters…) get their addiction from. There is something amazing about lusting after something beautiful and actually being able to attain ownership of that beauty albeit via your own (often Frankensteinien or Machiavellian) hands.
Here is a close-up of one of their little developing thorny trunks. “Bring it on possums!”… I guess what I am trying to say here is that you can have what you want if you are willing to do a fair bit of work to get it. You don’t always have to allow monetary constraint’s (that is being stony assed broke in more common terms) to stop you from getting what you want. You just have to sometimes be patient and often think laterally to get what you want. Its usually worth the wait and you invariably learn so very much more about the process of attainment and yourself when you grow it/do it yourself rather than pick it up in the shop
Here are the Discorea and one of the smaller Pachypodium’s along with their assorted comrades in the glasshouse. That pink flowering Somona was a “dead bit” snipped off my long suffering plant that had been given to me by someone who was going to throw it out. That interesting looking plant in the top left hand corner is the sole survivor of several attempts to grow a specimen (ANY specimen) of Adenium obesum to survive. This little fellow appears to have finally decided to live, unlike all of his fallen brothers and sisters. I think moving him to the glasshouse was a wise move and one that we are going to remember in our future attempts to propagate this unusual and beautiful plant.
Here’s one last photo of our happy little group of Pachypodium lamerei in their place in the glasshouse. Those big light green leaves that you can see are from some other seed that we decided to try that we bought online called Michelia champaca that are growing amazingly well. We have some specimens hardening off in a sheltered area outside all ready to sell at one or other market days in the future.
We might not be back at Polytechnic yet but I am on a learning jag. I have been hunting for recipes online for how to make just about everything yourself. I get massive word documents full of amazing, handy do it yourself hints and tips from food, gardening and home renovations right through to treating yourself with herbs. I am less inclined to treat myself with herbs or rely on my own ability to seek out healing herbs as it was only good luck that stopped me from eating the seeds of the Common cherry laurel in an old graveyard over in Evandale last week. My laziness can sometimes be seen in my eating habits and I regularly eat my apple cores and grape seeds and for a brief moment I contemplated simply swallowing the seeds of the cherry laurel. I knew that this plant was a cherry laurel, I just didn’t know that everything apart from the fleshy fruit contained cyanogenic glycosides and amygdalin (which I now know are the basic ingredients of cyanide…) so eating the fruit with gay abandon whilst wandering about the graveyard was somewhat ominous to say the least! I also have a love affair with fungi and mushrooms and a reckless desire to eat them all. Steve has to be the voice of reason and stop me from sampling what I assure him are perfectly delicious pine mushrooms. Consider my lesson learned! I occasionally spend large swathes of my time late into the night online hunting out little pearls of “how to”. I love knowing how to do and make things myself. My hero is Dr Karl Kruszelnicki who is not only Australian and bordering on insane (both qualities that endear me to this strange little man) but he knows just about EVERYTHING! When the world is divided up into factions I want to be tossed in with the geeks, the nerds and the people that know lots. Just like the old advertisements for Virginia Slims cigarettes, they have “come a long way baby!” and what was once a curse is now a quirky and most trendy state of being. Unlike Steve, I tend not to put my findings into practice. I just hoard them in massive word documents that I store on C.D’s for future use. I have C.D. holders full of C.D’s full of recipes and other things that interest me. I love the process of learning and actually knowing things and fully believe that knowledge is power. I am too lazy to apply the “Power corrupts and absolute Power corrupts absolutely” natural progression from the “Knowledge is Power” phrase so you don’t have to worry about me taking over the world (after the Geeks, Nerds, Mad and Evil scientists and I build a HUGE robot…) just yet…
1. Everything is being integrated together with a single password (so it’s easier for the hackers to hack…we can’t be discriminating against anyone you know…)
2. “Everything is being streamlined to make it an easier system to navigate” (read “we want to fire most of our workers and minimise our working overheads”…)
3. “Things” are going to happen to You tube (most probably death due to the inability to post ANYTHING that might have a vague sense of copyright attached to it…)
4. Lots more bampf that I got bored of reading but decided that I needed to allude to here to pad out my post…
There you have it in a nutshell. If you want to find out what they are up to (and methinks it has a whole lot to do with what the American government was trying to do about censorship and copyright law changes making it harder for us to get stuff for free…) and see how it will affect you, I wouldn’t bother going to their site and reading about it because it makes as much sense as something that Sir Humphrey used to explain to the Prime Minister “In the fullness of time…etc.” A whole lot of literary bampf and smokescreens to stop you from being aware of what they are up to. Bring it on Google! Should you try to find ways of making me pay for what I now get for free I will merely (and most stubbornly) return to my precious library books for all of my information. There are always ways around things (as most hackers have found out to their advantage :o) I hope today’s post was worth reading. I am scuttling around like a literary cockroach hunting for scraps to feed you at the moment. When our course starts there will be plenty of fodder to pass on to you regarding plants etc. The one thing that I am a bit grizzly about is that I can’t access the units on permaculture because our lecturer isn’t permaculture trained. I am thinking about nominating him for training this year so that next year’s units can be upgraded but alas, I don’t think my powers of persuasion will run to being able to reach into the tiny pre-purchased mind of our esteemed state leader and gain any sort of sway for my desires. I think that she is too focussed on trying to find a way to survive the next elections…she most certainly won’t still be in government and is going to be out on her ear with her colleagues as soon as they are all relegated to the opposition bench. Best start baking cakes to try and win them over Lara as the old Cold Chisel song attests to…this is what your back benchers are going to say when you are pleading for your job as chief “You got nothing I want you got nothing I need!”…See you all tomorrow