If I know Steve (and I think I know him pretty well by now…) he will want to start studying today. I am in agreement with him on that point but I am going to do a little experiment and see what happens. Steve isn’t someone who tells you what he wants to do straight up. He works his way around to shuffling you into the direction that he wants to go and then lays a trail of verbal hints to herd you into the coral where he can wrangle what he wants out of you. I am going to watch how he manages to get me to do what he wants today. There is a saying…”Keep your friends close…keep your enemies even closer” and although Steve is not to be considered “enemy” here, he does have his own agenda in this matter and it will be most interesting to see the maestro of persuasion at work. Where words could take quarter of the time (and arrive at the very same results) Steve can take a day to get where he wants to be by using various forms of manipulation and he isn’t below employing his guilt poker should the need arise. Isn’t it funny how when you live for any length of time with someone you become very aware of the ways that they are able to push your buttons and manipulate you? If you plan on living with that person for any length of time you need to be able to counter balance those little button pushing incidents and formulate your own. When you first get together and everything is lightness and joy (and this is for all relationships, not just romantic, where 2 or more people have to live together) and you are being careful not to tread on each other’s fingers in any way because you are trying to make the best impression you can there tend not to be any problems in your “relationship” (this goes for flatmates etc. as well). It’s only when you start to be yourself and they do the same that the interesting and varied ways that the other person will attempt to manipulate you to do what they want start to surface. Everyone does it…no-one is a total doormat and even being a doormat will get you martyr points from someone, so we have to look at this with a physics standard…”for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”… or, as some very wise Muppet’s once said “before you can have a cookie you have to lift the lid (to the cookie jar), after you remove the lid, you can have a cookie” and no truer words have ever been spoken!
Here is the first photo that we took in Launceston when we headed in on Monday to sign up for our course. This old (again Victorian) most elaborate fountain is situated in a small park called Prince’s Square. Steve, the dogs and I love this little park in the middle of the city. It’s a really fantastic place to go when it is hot and dry because the park is full of beautiful old deciduous trees and in Autumn it is particularly beautiful when the leaves change colour (especially the Pin Oaks) and start to fall. The dogs love to run through the drifts of leaves (that some poor council worker is stationed 24/7 to try to keep off the pathways) and in winter the park is a glorious study in the stark beauty of the old tree limbs against the dark winter sky.
This is one of the water lilies that lives in the base of that fountain. You can occasionally see the odd goldfish when the council workers aren’t sucking water out or hosing it back in
Another water lily…
A different coloured water lily but you get the picture
I think we need another paragraph there don’t we? My paragraphs tend to be quite extraordinarily long sometimes (I don’t believe it… I just spelled extraordinarily correctly!). One of the most important things about our human condition is that once the pheromones wear off we are left wafting the breeze and seeing our partner in the cold hard light of day. They are doing the same thing so don’t start feeling sorry for yourself, the feeling is mutual. It’s at this point that we are all being encouraged to call it a day, move on and find someone else (especially by dating agencies). It’s also called “The Honeymoon Period” and involves a whole lot of fibbing and compromise and we all wonder why the other person stopped loving us when what they REALLY started doing was being themselves. What do we do when familiarity starts to breed a little bit of discontent? We find ways to get what we want is what we do! I figure that the secret to a happy relationship is nothing to do with romance. Romance is an added bonus…the secret to a happy relationship is in being able to manipulate what you want whilst allowing your partner to do the same and allowing your relationship to reach its angle of repose. In saying that, I don’t mean stagnation, I mean acceptance. He snores, you leave armpit hairs in the sink, he clips his toenails on the floor and the dog eats them, you spend too long in the bathroom and use all the hot water…it’s a balance and whenever 2 or more people are wrangled into a situation where they have to repeat the sequence over and over again you are going to find manipulation in so many forms and it is very interesting to just stop and watch what it is that your partner/flatmate is doing to facilitate their own way. Are they bullies? Are they wheedlers? Do they use guilty tactics or do they herd you protesting towards their desires? Whatever tactics they use it is really interesting and indeed productive to work out what it is that your partner is doing to get their own way. How’s that for some free therapy? Now you know what your partner is doing to force you to give them their own way, how do you use that information to your own and indeed your relationships best advantage? You have to be aware of when those tactics (and your own if we are being truly honest here) are being pushed that bit too far and dig your heels in and refuse to budge. Let’s just call it the mule technique. I am not talking about major stuff here by the way people, I am not talking about real relationship problems and situations where you need to both sit down and thrash it out…I am talking about those little day to day whiles that your partner uses to get the remote control, or get you to pop up to the shops and buy them some crisps or get you to wash the dishes. Not only is it fun to put the kybosh on some of these little manipulative techniques that your partner uses but it is also good for them to realise that they are trying to manipulate you and more importantly, that you are well aware that they are! That’s enough relationships 101 for today…
I love this little pedestrian mall and that really lovely Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King‘ that you can see in the picture. At the moment the leaves are almost black but soon they will start to change to the most wonderful deep blood red. I have often collected seed from this specimen without being able to get it to germinate no matter how long I stratify it. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps it is infertile. I also love the old buildings and old street lamps in this sector of town
This little “flower garden bed” out the front of a local Italian Restaurant made me smile. The chef has obviously had a bit of a go at getting some herbs and a few veggies growing in this previously annual filled bed and good on them for having a go. We should get all of our councils to fill garden beds with edibles as well as annuals. We pay for them so we should get more than an eyeful of pretty water using plants without any other benefits…besides, there would be more Beneficial’s and less pests with this sort of companion planting. Less chemicals council = more money
More of that little garden bed…
This was all leading up to why we do the things that we do…mainly because we have just started painting the ceilings and walls of the lounge room and our bedroom. You would have thought that we would have learned from the last time that we did this and stay the heck out of each other’s way, but sadly we are obviously both too stupid to have learned. I do the ceilings. Steve gets a crick in his neck and I don’t mind so I just get stuck in and do them (admittedly complaining a fair bit…) and Steve has the most curious reaction to me painting the ceiling and him standing waiting…he gets guilty. I have NO idea why he feels guilty that I am painting the ceiling because I am sure as heck not going to feel guilty when he is up to his armpits in blue paint on the walls and I am in here tapping away so I just don’t get people feeling guilty when they haven’t actually done anything. Is this a peculiarly Catholic thing? I am not a Catholic and wouldn’t have the faintest idea about it but it is a common urban understanding that Catholics are born and bred to feel guilty about everything. Most probably to keep them behaving and going to church, but I don’t know where this came from? I have the very strong belief that you shouldn’t feel any sort of guilt if you didn’t have any part in the situation that has occurred. Saying sorry because someone of your sex, colour or creed decided to do something horrible to someone else is stupid. Being compassionate and giving a damn is an entirely different thing. Guilt leaves you wide open to manipulation. If you are living with guilty feelings, either confess, get it out into the open and deal with it or let it go. Life is too short to be feeling bad about some perceived guilt that you may or may not have done someone. That might sound incredibly black and white and indeed I have been criticized for being idealistic before but beating around the bush and taking your sweet time to face up to things is very detrimental to sorting it out and moving on. It’s not always easy to do that, but it’s a clean cut and will heal faster than hacking away at yourself with a blunt hunk of guilt. And you thought that I was just a horticulturalist? Actually I am…I am just thinking about what we can do in our gap year before we go to university and don’t think that I want to do work for the dole so I might just open up shop as a travelling psychologist…surely it can’t be that hard…just sitting there and saying “hmmm” and “go on…” to people who usually need someone to listen to them and give them validation more than “therapy”. It is a sad indictment of our ‘evolution’ that the more advanced we get the more we leave our individuality behind and we lose sight of just what it is that makes us unique, precious and our life worth living.
This lovely little nasturtium was running along the wall at a local woodwork design centre in town
Isn’t that bench amazing? The 2 stools behind are covered in most intricately designed leather
A little patch of Antirrhinum spp. at the back of a heavily mulched fallow garden bed. My guess is that they grew from seed broadcast from the previous occupiers of the garden bed. Before moving to Serendipity Farm I would have scorned the humble snapdragon as being water intensive cottage garden fodder needing constant attention and not being worth the effort. I take all of that back. When we moved in there was a small specimen growing under the deck. The area under the deck is bone dry and gets no water unless we have had a torrential downpour for about a week and the water moved back to this area by osmosis. This little snapdragon has not only survived but has flourished giving us non stop flowers and never ceasing to grow despite the conditions that it is living in. If you want flowers in your garden and you can’t afford endless watering to keep them going, plant snapdragons…they will surprise you
Launceston likes to remind us that it is old. Australia is quite a young settlement as colonies go, but Tasmania was one of the first places settled (a perfect convict island) and as such we have some lovely old buildings and this amazing old wisteria that has been growing for over 100 years on this trellis. The area off to the left is actually a community broadcasting station. What a lovely walk to work on a warm sunny day under this arbour covered in glorious long pendants of lilac coloured flowers.
See…I am not telling fibs
I can hear the roller in the lounge room and Steve is painting the walls. We have decided to use the same soft blue colour that we used in the kitchen/living area to give the house a sort of flow through effect. We have 1 week before we have to get stuck into our studies and we wanted to at least finish off what we started out doing last year when we started renovating the interior of the house. We spent a lot of time washing walls down and trying to remove the nicotine stains (dad made heavy smokers look like casual smokers) on the ceiling and walls. We ended up buying some very expensive stuff to apparently remove the tar but it didn’t work and so we just bought lots of ceiling paint and got stuck in. After 5 or so coats the nicotine just gives up… at the moment we have reached that point where women go who have forgotten the pain and overwhelming loss of control over their own bodies that we call “childbirth” and decide to do it all over again and the stark realities of painting things were a distant memory tinged with some good music (we always play good music whenever we clean…paint or do anything else that requires us hauling our sorry derrières off to slavitude). So here we are again…is there anyone out there who actually likes painting? It certainly does make a difference to how your house looks and that is the payoff. If there wasn’t some sort of payoff we wouldn’t be doing it. As Steve just said, now this place is going to really be ours. We spent a lot of time exorcising my dad from Serendipity Farm and giving ourselves a clean slate and a fair bit of money in the process. Both of my siblings are with me when we say that we are incredibly grateful for what we have received…but…dad never made anything easy and inheriting what we have has come with a fist full of leftover problems that even after a year and a half are still reaching out to bite us. I guess we are all learning perseverance, but it is always nice to choose your own battles rather than have them foisted on you. We signed up for our new course yesterday in town and it is promising to be quite interesting with a fair bit of a sustainable lien. Steve was quick to point out that this is more because of the clients desire to be more sustainable than any sort of desire for landscapers to conform to anything of the sort it didn’t go down too well. Steve and I are both of the opinion that “Sustainability” is the latest greatest bandwagon for the wankers and the politically correct to jump on. Most of us want to do the right thing by the earth and the environment and if trying to care is “Sustainability” then we are right there trying to be sustainable, what I am talking about is those people that take concepts like sustainability and do the best that they can to elevate them to socially exclude large swathes of society whilst finding ways to peddle their wares to unwary clients. We are researching what “Sustainable landscaping” actually means. One site showed stone and river rocks as being “totally sustainable landscaping components”. Our lecturer told us yesterday that he could see no reason ever why ANYONE would be able to legitimately explain using river pebbles away as sustainable. I tend to agree with him and as Steve said, this is no easy job isolating what is and isn’t sustainable. You have to look a bit deeper than what is green and check out carbon miles, environmental effects of your actions, the ability for the resource to regenerate, is that resource habitat for wildlife? So many things to think about and on so many levels! Wish us luck with this one because as interesting as it is going to be to hurl ourselves head first into studying this course it runs a whole lot deeper than superficial “sustainability”. Thank goodness I got the “sustainable” bug over the summer holidays and went actively hunting for sites to learn all about it. I at least have a few places to start hunting for our first assignment.
This picture was taken looking back from the signage board in the last photo. That Copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’, ‘Atropurpurea’ or ‘Atropunicea’ not quite sure which one it is…) is growing really well in City Park. Steve and I love City Park because we have managed to get all sorts of seeds (mainly Brachychiton and conifer) and cutting material from the lovely shrubs and trees growing here. It also provided a lot of material for our specimen collection that we had to assemble for our horticultural certificates 2 & 3. In certificate 2 it was 40 plants, in certificate 3 it was 80 and we both had to do one so we spent a lot of our time waiting for plants to get leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds with very small windows of opportunity and large periods of mad panic where lots of things were in various stages of needing to be collected. You get VERY innovative when you have to collect material like this
Here is that Copper beeches big brother. They are really magnificent trees and we have a few different kinds of beech in our collection waiting to be planted out “somewhere” on Serendipity Farm. Incidentally, beech trees actually produce an edible nut that can be used for food for both humans and animals and as we have been collecting the seed from various specimens all over the North of Tasmania we have to beat these little varmints before they scoff the lot!
Really pretty City Park gates
Why are the boys waiting for me while I take photos?
Our lecturer thinks that we are perfectly capable of doing this diploma in a year. I am all for doing this course in a year but we then end up with a gap year before we can head off to university to do the course that we want to do because it isn’t being offered until 2015. What are we going to do? We have previously completed several units in financial services but now that the Polytechnic has changed everything I have a sneaking suspicion that our units are no longer considered valid and we would have to do them all over again and as the units comprised “Complex Spread sheets (using Excel)”; “Complex Databases (using Access)” and “Complex Word Documents” and they were NOT easy units to complete we are loathe to do them all over again and so we might be having to hunt down a completely unrelated subject to give us a bit of a break from horticulture before we head back into the fray. I guess we have 6 months to think about it so we will be doing just that over the winter period. Annie from “The Micro Gardener” blogging fame and also the editor of “The Green Journey” has just about finished mum’s story and once she sends me the link I would like to share it with you all. Mum was a very clever woman with gardens and with finding ways to grow a garden with no money using all sorts of interesting propagation methods. She was also clever with using vertical planting in her small unit back yard to get the maximum cropping space whilst growing ornamentals and herbs at the same time. I am sure that her story will be most interesting to all of you and that Annie has done an amazing job because her sites are all incredibly professional and well laid out with extremely pertinent content. I am sitting here typing with white spotty hands. I dare say my face is spotty as well but I haven’t had the heart to look in the mirror yet. Earl is spotty and has a white patch of paint on his tail. Bezial is pristine because at the very first sign of us pulling out a paint tray and roller or doing ANYTHING around the house more than housework (and even then we get hard stares…) Bezial is off and sulking. We both know that he won’t eat his tea tonight and won’t bother trying to get him to do so. Bezial HATES change and anything to do with it. I have no idea why he is the way that he is but dogs most definitely have personalities. I am listening to the Black Keys latest album…AWESOME. I love cracking blues like this and it is giving Steve’s poor flagging arms wind in their sails. We learned long ago when we first moved in and started to survey with ever increasing degrees of anxiety and disbelief just how much work we were going to have to do in this place that playing some really good music makes any job easier. Many a late night you could hear Bowie, Credence and Pink Floyd blaring out accompanying us in our seemingly endless tasks and slowly, one by one we did it…
This really lovely display of olde worlde plants has been created to keep the gardens relevant to the park and its older countenance. I think that the hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrocarpa) and the Liriope’s (Liriope muscari) are the perfect choice here.
The crepe myrtle’s (Lagerstroemia indica) are all starting to flower and there are some really beautiful deep red specimens all down the West Tamar highway on the way into Launceston
As we were walking past the last vestiges of City Park I wanted to take this shot because the colours made me smile. I love that smoky lavender coloured border of Liriopes against the softer fading hydrangeas. Apparently the City council are in the processes of converting all of Launceston’s parks back to the flowering perennials and shrubs that would have been planted back in the 1800’s when these parks were created. Rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, liriopes and so much more mass planted to give a wonderful lush vision of opulence using quite hardy plants in the process. I can’t wait!
I think I might finish this post here. I have lots of photos to accompany it that we took in town on Monday (as you can see above and there are another post full to come…) and I need to leave space to put comments about the photos. I couldn’t possibly have you not know what the photo was of now could I? You are after all my dear constant readers. See you all tomorrow when we have more photos of town and most probably a serious dearth of psychology 101 and deep meaningful thought because once a month is about as often as I let my brain wander around like that (you can be grateful for that).