Monday, 22 December 2014

Progress with the new house

I took a day off work today so we could meet the building supervisor at the new house. They've been making good progress.

It's starting to look like a house. We have a roof and wall frames and windows and doors. The brick-layers will start in the next day or so and the plan is to have the house able to be locked up before the Christmas break. No work will happen then for a couple of weeks. So we probably won't go up again  to check on progress until the end of January at least.

Ours is one of a dozen houses currently under construction in our little area. All the builders are trying to get as much done as possible before Christmas. There are tradesmen and trucks everywhere.

I love the view of the canal we will  get from the kitchen window. We may lose the view when houses get built over the road, but until then......
This is what it looks like up closer (walking over to the canal). Some of the boats would cost more than our house.
The area I will have for garden looks SO tiny in comparison to Missy's garden but it will still be a challenge - starting from scratch again.
While we were there, we had to visit the beach of course - the ocean side this time. Because it's school holidays there were families enjoying the beach.
This stretch of beach was bordered by a grassy park with BBQs and tables for picnicking plus a bike path winding through the trees. If Santa doesn't bring me a bike I'm buying my own when we move. I haven't ridden one for over 16 years but they say once learnt, never forgotten.

AND a bit of a bonus - on the way home we stopped at one of the fruit stalls and bought a box of various fruits for Christmas plus a box of mangoes. Yum!!!

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone
and see you all in 2015.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A special little cactus

Almost two years ago I was given a cactus as a thank you gift.
a very spiky gift

Recently I saw a sign saying:
It reminded me of my little cactus.

The cactus represents longevity and endurance; this is a plant that can handle what is thrown at it and doesn't need to be pampered.
Native American Indians (according to the internet) saw the cactus plant as symbolizing warmth, protection and endurance - a symbol of maternal love because it can endure and thrive in harsh conditions and therefore symbolic of a mother's unconditional love and a mother's protective qualities due in part to its medicinal properties. The pulp and juice was used to treat wounds and illness. 

Flower meaning charts  agree -  the cactus is a symbol of a mother’s unconditional love, protection and endurance.

This is a very special little plant. A gift from my daughter.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

It rained - Woo Hoo!!!

from grey skies
the rain fell
flowers dripping
getting soggy
raindrops shimmering on leaves
rain gauge filling
grass greening
wet paths
wet chookies
wet dog
and more to come
I hope!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Drought survivors in the garden

Our garden is made up of a number of quite different microclimates. There are areas of deep shade where, over the years, trees have grown to produce a thick canopy of leaves or shade-cloth screens the plants from the sun. In contrast, some areas receive full sun all day. Most of the garden falls somewhere between these extremes – loosely called part-shade. 
The different areas have quite different watering requirements.
A few areas of our garden are watered daily in warmer weather. Many are only watered when it rains. Some (in between) are watered weekly or fortnightly.

Our “normal” rain pattern is for dry winters, some rain during spring then the majority of our rain during summer and early autumn. This year has been particularly dry.

The vertical lines show the days on which it has rained and how much we got. The blue line shows the cumulative total for the year.

Almost no rain combined with very hot weather sorts the plants that can survive a drought from the more fragile ones. Of course, no plant can survive forever without water and even though they are surviving, many of ours would be looking a lot better with more water than they’ve been getting lately. It is, however, the perfect time to take notice and record which plants are the most drought tolerant. Not a full list - just a few I noticed over the weekend.

Some dry shade survivors

Zzplant -
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. As long as it is in the shade seems happy with or without much water.
Clivia not only survive but flowered and are only ever watered by rain.
Persian Shield (Stromanthes dyerianus) surprised me. It would much prefer regular watering and looks almost dead, then after a tiny bit of rain bounces back.
Mondo grass is very forgiving. Again, it does better with adequate water but will continue growing without it.
Liriope in full sun will brown at the tips without watering, but in the shade seems to just continue on as normal.

Part shade survivors
Golden Candles, Brazillian Red Cloak, Hibiscus and other shrubs are in various spots around the garden. The plants that get watered looks much healthier of course, but the ones that get next to no water are still alive. Those in part shade seem to be doing better than those in full sun, however.
The alamandas don't seem to mind that we haven't watered them for a long time.
Bromeliads – This group of plants is so diverse in their requirements quite a few need very little water while others need a lot. Most will survive with only occasional water so long as there is shade from the hottest part of the day. With full sun they burn and eventually die. With no water at all they curl up their leaves and eventually die, but they are surprisingly resilient in less than ideal conditions.

Crotons, cordylines and dracenia seem quite similar in their water requirements. They will survive but not thrive in drought conditions but as soon as the rain starts again they will power ahead again - I hope.

Sunny spot survivors
Cardboard cycad - zamia furfuracea doesn't seem to notice that it's been neglected.

Pride of India / Jamaica have not been watered for months and look fine.

Plants that can’t survive without watering - not as many as you might think
You would expect ferns to be at the top of this list but some have surprised me with just how little water some ferns can survive on.
Begonias, Justica carnea and even Coleus shrivel  up and disappear without enough water
Lady Palms (Rhapis excels) goes brown quite quickly.

One group of plants that surprised me were the little succulents. I had them in full sun and watered them about once or twice a week. They were looking terrible. Some had died so I repotted them and put them in the shadehouse (temporarily) where they have been getting a daily mist of water and shade and they are recovering. I think over the hottest months of the year that can be their permanent home.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Finally started

It seems ages since we bought the block of land and signed up to have our new house built. It was quite a long process deciding on colours and tiles and electrics and windows and roofing and everything else that goes into a house. Finally the actual building process has begun.

We have a slab. Not very exciting perhaps but to us it's concrete proof (get it - concrete...) that it is happening. We could see where each of the rooms would be and show a couple of friends who came to check it out with us where the guest room would be for future visits.
The bricks have been delivered and apparently the frame goes up this week. They have estimated it will take 16-18 weeks to complete. With rain and holidays over Christmas it may be a little longer so we aren't expecting it to be finished until April next year.

The neighbour's house is a bit further advanced than ours and there are about a dozen other new homes being built in the surrounding area, so we will all be moving in around the same time I guess.
After we move in, the first job will be the front garden.

The marina is a short stroll away and there's a market every Saturday morning - had to check it out.
This is where I will be buying my fruit and vegetables I think. I love the idea of having a market so close. The quality looked great and the prices were reasonable too.
The marina will eventually be developed to include shops and restaurants, etc but is presently simply moorings and an office.
We then checked out the community art centre. They have painting and craft groups and woodworking and gardening groups. This may become a favourite spot for both of us.
Lunch at the golf club rounded up the day. John hasn't played for a while but was a fairly keen golfer so is looking forward to playing regularly again.
 I predict we will be making regular trips to see the progress over the next few weeks. This will not just be a new house. It will be a new lifestyle.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A long weekend is always welcome. With the G20 in Brisbane we were given Friday as a public holiday, or as I called it, a bonus gardening day. Being greedy I decided to take Thursday as a leave day and had a 4 day weekend.
Woke early each morning and got straight out into the garden  before it got too hot. I divided bromeliads and repotted some I want for the new garden and cleaned up a few areas.
John and I also chopped out some of the bamboo that was spreading or was starting to look tatty.
Didn't think about getting out the camera so there's not a single photo to prove my hard work but I did take some afterwards of some blooms around the garden.

 I'm pleased I had the couple of days before the weekend to get work done because Saturday and Sunday were seriously HOT - 43C. Even by 8 am it was too hot to keep working in the yard.
This shell ginger is in a pot and under shadecloth

We have an overhead misting system (the black pipe along the back) to keep this area watered.

Also found this orchid blooming. 
To accompany the scorching sun there was a hot dry wind. There has been no rain for a long time as well so the wind stirred up dust. Even the pool was covered in a film of dust.
All we could do was watch as the fronds of our tree ferns burnt to a crisp.

New fronds were in the process of unfurling (being Spring supposedly) but I will be surprised if any survive unscathed.

The poor chickens really feel the heat. They had shade and I sprayed them and their pen with water as well as regularly topping up the water bowls, but we lost one of our older ladies to the heat.

Missy came and helped when I was outside a few times, but the heat was too much for her well. She preferred to be in the air con. Smart dog.

I suppose we are fortunate these extreme heat spells only last a couple of days. After last weekend 37C seems quite pleasant.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Discovering free mulch in the backyard

As the weather warms up gardens needs mulch more than ever to keep moisture in the soil and stop weeds from growing. Buying mulch for a garden as large as ours is an expensive business. You need a truck load.
When we were starting the garden we did buy a hundred bales of cane trash to spread. I didn't want to do that again but the mulch breaks down over time and needs to be refreshed.
This time of year there are high temperature but no rain. Add in some wind and the ground becomes parched so mulch is important.

Then I discovered a gold mine mulch mine in the bamboo area.

Bamboo loses a lot of leaves over Winter and in dry weather. We have had both. The poor old panda was being buried. The bamboo leaves were up to 50cm deep in places.

Aha! - 2 birds with the one stone. Clean up around the bamboo and mulch the areas needing it.

I started by filling a plastic bin and tipping it on various garden beds... then John joined in and things got SERIOUS.

He filled the trailer then pushed it to the rainforest area which badly needs mulching.

...and here it is ready to be spread. Notice the difference between the little piles I made with my bins and John's trailer load?

There's still enough left for another trailer load or maybe two. FREE MULCH!!!


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