Monday, 30 April 2012

Planting the Winter Crops

Over the last couple of weekends we've finally got of our veggie garden ready and planted some cooler weather crops. After a lot of procrastination, and excuses like rainy weather and busy weekends, work has gone into clearing the beds, digging through compost and fertiliser (blood & bone and potash are my staples) and planting. Garden beds with seeds planted in them are not the most interesting photographic subject, I know, but I had to record the event. Seeds were sown for snow peas. Garlic was planted. Shallots and broccholi are in, and some more lettuce as well.
Winter is my main growing season. There'll be more to plant yet, but it's a good start.

I moved some self seeded tomato plants which I'm guessing/hoping are cherry tomatoes to the base of their climbing frame - also bought some Roma tomato seedlings which look very small and frail next to their stakes.
This year, for our potatoes, we are trying something new. We are using the compost bin squares John made from old pallets to create a raised potato bed. We'll build it up as needed over the next couple of months by adding more squares on top of this one.

...and speaking of procrasinating...I finally planted out the rosella seedlings. I hadn't forgotten them. I just hadn't got around to planting them in the garden. They've been growing away in a seedtray in the greenhouse since January. They must be a hardy plant because although the poor things are very leggy, all twenty were still alive and a few had started to flower. Maybe they'll forgive me and I'll be making rosella jam sometime soon.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Succulent planter wall

Quite some time ago I saw a block wall succulent planter on Pam Penick's blog Digging. She had the instructions for construction. I showed John and he agreed it would go well along the edge of our paved area. It's taken us a while but its finally contructed. Thank you Pam and John.

It's not quite finished though.
Now I'm on the lookout for succulents to plant in it.
Because I don't want them to dry out too quickly and bake, we will make little wire baskets for each of the holes, but leave the plants in pots.

I'm going to need 15 plants and currently have 5. That means a few trips to nurseries or markets. I'm sure I'll cope.

Until recently, I haven't been very interested in succulents. That's what blogging does. Seeing some beautiful and creative ways succulents are used in other gardens has sparked my interest. Once this project is finished there may be more.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Thieves in Missy's Garden

Looks like the ladies are going to miss out on getting the sunflower seeds. Someone else has got there first.
We've had thieves in our garden.
We've always known Missy may be a watch dog but she's no guard dog.
She would have just sat and watched the criminals at work.

They've made quite a mess. Every flower has been attacked.

It didn't take long to find out who the culprits were.

Next morning they came back for more.


Caught in the act.

A pair of king parrots

We forgave them though.

 We can't get mad at such beautiful creatures.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

April's Flowers

The weather here in Autumn is like Forrest Gumps' box of chocolates - You never know what you'll get next. This week we had one day where the maximum was 30C, another with a minimum of 9C and today we woke to rain. It's all quite normal for this time of year. Winter and Summer are battling out for supremacy. Eventually Winter will win but Summer's not giving up without a fight.

Just after the sun came up this morning I braved the rain (actually just drissle), put on my plastic gardening crocs and checked out what's flowering for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

The garden reflects the changing of the seasons. Some of the Summer blooms are trying to hold on while the Autumn/Winter blooms are just beginning.

Many of the frangipani have finished flowering and are dropping their leaves ready for Winter. These perenial ones will also lose most of their leaves as the days get shorter and the weather cools.

The heliconias will soon need to be cut back to ground level and given a warm blanket of thick mulch for the Winter, but for now we are still enjoying their blooms.

Each stem flowers only once then dies, so we are kept busy at this time of year cutting everything back and mulching.

 Strelitzia Reginae
Unlike the heliconias, strelizia don't seem to notice the seasons. They just keep flowering for most of the year given enough food and water.

 Golden candles Pachystachys lutea seems to keep a few blooms for most of the year too. I have been waiting for it to stop flowering to prune, but I'm still waiting.

This is one of the justicas I bought at the Ipswich Plant Fair. I haven't worked out their peak flowering period yet.

Our bauhinia corymbosa was cut back quite hard a while ago but you wouldn't know it. There are buds everywhere so it will soon be a mass of flowers again.

The ixoras have almost finished blooming. There's just a flower here and there rather than a mass of blooms.

The calliandra is loving this rain.

Some of the bromeliads have created their own little water gardens.

We have a couple of Autumn flowerers that are at there best this time of year. I should add more so there is year round "interest".

Brazilian Red Cloak
(No close-up. I wanted to keep out of the rain as much as I could) 

 tibouchina alstonville

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora
We call this plant blue ginger but it's not a ginger at all. It does look like one though. It behaves like a ginger to some degree as well, liking lots of moisture and shade, but unlike gingers it flowers in Autumn and grows from stem cuttings.

I could be wrong but I think this bromeliad is a billbergia pyramidalis. That's it at the top of the page but I thought it deserved closer inspection. Isn't it beautiful?

With Spring in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere I'm looking forward to seeing lots a beautiful blooms via GBBD hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens

I'm also linking to Nick's Floral Friday Fotos from Australia (a little belately - sorry Nick). 

Friday, 13 April 2012

My Garden has turned BLUE

April is Autism Awareness Month

Around the world iconic buildings were bathed in blue light a week or so ago to signal the start of Autism Awareness Month. You may wonder why we need a such a month - to put it simply - although it is a common disorder of childhood, there is a lot of ignorance and misconception by many in the medical and education professions as well as the general public.... and that makes parents' battles harder than ever.
So in my very small way  I ask you to read some simple facts about autism and maybe even look up your local autism association for futher reading. Chances are someone you know is affected by autism.

Autism is a 'Spectrum' Disorder
People with autism can be a little autistic or very autistic. Thus, it is possible to be bright, verbal, and autistic as well as mentally retarded, non-verbal and autistic. A disorder that includes such a broad range of symptoms is often called a spectrum disorder; hence the term "autism spectrum disorder." The most significant shared symptom is difficulty with social communication.
Autism is not a behavioural, mental health or emotional disorder. It is neuro-developmental.

People with Autism are Different from One Another
If you've seen a TV show about autism, you may think you know what autism "looks like." In fact, though, when you've met one person with autism you've met ONE person with autism. Some people with autism are chatty; others are silent. Many have sensory issues, gastrointestinal problems, sleep difficulties and other medical problems. Others may have social-communication delays - and that's it.
It is true that a few autistic people are “savants.” These individuals have what are called “splinter skills” which relate only to one or two areas of extraordinary ability. By far the majority of autistic people, though, have ordinary or even less-than-ordinary skill sets.

There are many treatments for autism - But No 'Cure'
There is presently no cure for autism. That's not to say that people with autism don't improve, because many improve radically. But even when people with autism increase their skills, they are still autistic, which means they think and perceive differently from most people. Treatments may be biomedical, sensory, behavioural, developmental or even arts-based. Depending on the child some will be more successful than others. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and intervention starts, the better the outcome.

There are many theories on the cause of autism, But No Consensus
Theories about possible causes of autism range from mercury in infant vaccines to genetics to the age of the parents to almost everything else. At present, most researchers think autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors - and it's quite possible that different people's symptoms have different causes. Autism spectrum disorders are increasing and it is not just due to better diagnosis. No one knows why but better and early diagnosis can only account for a small fraction of the increase.

Children Rarely "Outgrow" Autism
Autism is usually a lifelong diagnosis. For some people, often (but not always) those who receive intensive early intervention, symptoms may decrease radically. People with autism can also learn coping skills to help them manage their difficulties and even build on their unique strengths. But a person with autism will probably be autistic throughout their lives.

Families Coping with Autism Need Help and Support
Even "high functioning" autism is challenging for parents. "Low functioning" autism can be overwhelming. Families may be under a great deal of stress, and they need all the non-judgemental help they can get from friends, extended family, and service providers.
Can you imagine caring for a child who is unable to communicate his needs but will have a massive meltdown when his needs aren't met or is overwhelmed by his surroundings? Now add the disapproving stares and comments from strangers who tell you to control your child.

There Are Many Unfounded Myths About Autism
The media is full of stories about autism, and many of those stories are less than accurate. For example, you may have heard that people with autism are cold and unfeeling, or that people with autism never marry or hold productive jobs. Many are far more empathetic than the average person, though they may express their empathy in unusual ways. Many will make eye contact, show affection, smile, laugh, and express emotions though perhaps in varying degrees. Since every person with autism is different, "always" and "never" statements simply don't hold water. To understand a person with autism, it's a good idea to spend some time getting to know him or her – personally.

Autistic People Have Many Strengths and Abilities
It may seem that autism is a wholly negative diagnosis. But almost everyone on the autism spectrum has a great to deal to offer the world. People with autism are among the most forthright, non-judgemental, passionate people you'll ever meet.

How do I know these things?
Even as a health professional, I was not aware of many of these facts about autism.
I did my training quite a few years ago.
But since my grandson was diagnosed, I have done a lot of reading.....
and that's why my garden has turned blue.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Planting a shady pathway

One thing that's constant about a garden is that nothing remains constant. Gardens are always a work in progress.
When we first constructed this path, the golden cane palms were smaller and provided only partial shade. We filled the area with bromeliads that loved the dappled sunlight. We simply buried the pots in mulch and they were quite happy. 

This is how it used to look.

As the palms grew and less sunlight filtered through, many of the bromeliads began to suffer. They tell you they aren't happy by losing their unique colours and growing long straggly green leaves rather than nice firm shorter rosettes of leaves.

It was time to make some changes. This weekend we moved the broms out to various other places in the garden and planted this area with a variety of shade-lovers.  We also added some small rocks to the border and built the garden up slightly with extra soil and compost.

The plants we chose included:
  • Gingers (a couple of beehive gingers and variegated spiral ginger) at the back
  • Marantas and Calatheas (Maranta leuconeura, Calathea ornata and  'Royal Picta' )
  • Zanzibar Gem or Zamioculcas zamiifolia which had been living in a pot for years  
  • "Sunset" Philodendron - left in its pot as a feature plant
  • 2 normal birds nest ferns and a crocodile skin one
  • Aglaonema Silver Queen
  • Some shade-loving broms interspersed.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Variegated spiral ginger

Birds Nest Fern


Calathea ornata

I can't tell you the name of the bromeliads. Although I'm sure I originally had the names, I'm not very good at keeping the name with the pups when I divide them.
This one is almost black and grows very happily in complete shade.

It currently looks a bit sparce but we have to give the plants time to settle in and grow. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Recycling - the Circle of Life

Not only does recycling and composting save money on fertilisers and make good sense environmentally, it can produce wonderful bonuses in the garden.
Because John brings home scraps from the fruit and vegetable shop near where he works, our ladies get a wide diet of fruits and vegetables and we have unexpected plants self-seed from time to time. Pumpkin and tomato plants are common, but we've also had passionfruit and pawpaw and occasionally melons.
 A while back, about a dozen pawpaw plants came up in the garden. We pulled out all but two that were positioned where they would look good even if they never bore fruit.

The trees are now a bit over 2 metres tall and by good luck, not good management, we have a male tree and a female tree - so we have fruit.

This is the proud father

When you buy a pawpaw plant at a nursery it is bisexual, but the self-seeded ones (I have learnt) only have either male or female flowers - so we were fortunate to have one of each growing next to each other.
Hopefully, the fruit will be nice to eat, but if we don't like them I'm sure the chickens will enjoy the feast...and so the circle continues.
...and speaking of things the chickens love to eat, sometimes I grow things especially for them.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone! 


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