Thursday, August 27, 2009

New plants!

OH I do love to order new plants! I found out that asparagus grows well in this area, so went online and ordered 4 two year corms which should start bearing this year and then got some seeds for some "black" asparagus which will take a couple of years. I have to now make a bed for them since it is going to be a permanent perennial bed. I will pick up some chicken manure pellets on the way home, hubby is not keen on eating vegetables that have been near any other kind of manure. Since he is going to be eating half the vegetables..... he said chicken manure is OK. I also do have some lovely compost.
The other seeds I ordered are for angled luffa. This plant, you can eat the young vegetables like zucchini, but if you leave them to dry on the vine will make loofahs! How cool! Both of these should go into the ground before the wet, so I only have about a month until that starts to happen. I wanted to grow something in the wet - most gardeners here just stop growing anything from now until next April, but I want to try and produce some food throughout the year. The way to do that is to concentrate on growing what grows naturally here. The jicama (yam bean they call it here) is doing well, and I think chilies should go through the wet as well. I have banana peppers and also started some jalapenos which are just forming their first leaves. I am leaving all the volunteer cherry tomatoes as they pop up, hoping that they will continue to produce.
I see signs that my favourite local nursery has plants half off this weekend - I would like some bamboo and a lime or lemon tree (wouldnt mind a grafted one that has two types of fruit). Oh dreams of new plants....

This is a photo of my cats whiskers which is a lovely native plant. I just read a book on herbs and discovered that the leaves of this plant have been used for centuries in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in the treatment of gall, kidney and bladder stones.


My dear hubby went to an auction of the local hardware store and spent ALL DAY waiting for the paving lots to come up for auction. There were a few different lots and he had marked them in order of preference. The first two lots went for way more than we had anticipated, but he managed to get our first choice for exactly our upper limit. Then my dear stepson helped him bring them home in two lots. Thanks to both of them!
MY job then started, digging up all the grass - it was very sparse in that area as it has been under the shade of the gazebo and with lots of foot traffic. We just have sand, so I saw no need to go out and buy a load of sand, so once the grass was up I raked and levelled and then started laying the pavers. Two edges were already there - a line of bricks (which I levelled out to the same height) and a patch of cement, and I began to lay the pavers keeping them level with them. It went surprisingly well and I had the whole lot down in two days. oops I should have taken photos of the progress!! Oh well, too busy working at getting them down! there are a few high and low spots - will work some beach sand into the gaps to firm it all.
The remaining pavers, and a few other ones left lying around have been used to create a bit of a path to the back door and around the back of the gazebo. Spots without pavers will be filled in with ground cover. Mondo grass and rhoeo. I have found that I dont do too well with prior planning - mostly I just wing it and then adapt as I go along. Luckily when things dont work out I can always adapt from there. My gardens have always been growing, living experiments! I generally dont move the furniture around, but do move plants!

I do love how this extends our living area, especially in this climate where we can eat out in the garden year round!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Photos taken at sunset

there I was thinking - oh this light is so nice and soft and the colours are so vibrant, so I went and got the camera. By the time I took the photos it was probably too dark, but the flowers looked so vivid and lovely I just had to share.

I just love all the variation in tropical foilage.

there is something quite magical about yellow roses against a black background..

we went to a few of the open houses from the Cairns Garden competition. Should have just stopped with the first two - they were magnificent
I got some great ideas I want to use.
the photos didnt do it justice.
can I say the same for mine?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The ongoing herb spiral saga....

I have been noticing for the last couple of weeks that crusher dust (which is what was put inside the middle of the herb spiral as it was built up) has been flowing out of the gaps between the rocks. I thought maybe I had been watering too hard as the connection to the soaker hose is right above my mint on the side of the spiral. After moving that there was no change and an even bigger pile of dust around the basil the following morning.
So I began a little detective work and moved a few rocks to find............. a toad hole. Now most people say toads are wonderful for getting rid of bugs etc, but here we have cane toads which are a big pest, and poisonous, so they had to go. As I poked a stick into the holes, and jiggled it around the toads were jumping out left right and center. My, what a sight... they are truly horrible ugly creatures. There must have been a huge extended family - I counted about 10! I hope they got the message they are not welcome. That must be why some of the herbs have been struggling - I am sure their roots have been hanging into a huge empty void! I poked and prodded and then filled all the empty space with wonderful nourishing compost! If that doesn't work then I might have to put some concrete in the gaps to stop them making it into a toad house.
I have been thinking about how I am going to cover the herb spiral in the heat of summer/wet season, and also keep away much of the drenching rain. The only people in this climate that have kept rosemary and sage through the seasons have them covered with shade cloth. I have a little temporary shade cloth, but was looking for something a little nicer looking. Aha - the passion fruit vine has been running rampant so DH and I hammered in some bamboo on either side of the spiral and then suspended an arched piece of fencing wire. I can walk underneath it and as the passion fruit vine covers it the herbs will be nicely sheltered. I hope the herbs will still get enough sunlight, and I just cant wait to see how pretty it looks with the passion fruit hanging down from the arch!
Right now everything is very dry and dusty - There is cane harvesting all around which makes lots of dust and it is months since we had rain - just a light sprinkle last night. It has started drizzling a bit now - it would be good to get a really good slow soaking rain.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Propagation by cuttings

Over the weekend I once again found a plant I just had to have. Years ago I had a hibiscus called a poodle hibiscus and I just loved it. So walking through town on Saturday I saw something similar and I took a cutting. This is more delicate, and in fact I like it just as much.

Most of the plants in my small garden have been started from cuttings or seeds. There is a wonderful feeling of achievement from taking a small piece of plant and then creating another plant out of it. Of course we dont do the creating, we just create the perfect environment for it to happen! Hibiscus is a plant that does start easily here from a cutting, but I need to be careful as I am fast running out of room, especially sunny spots, and they do flower best in full sun.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

more frogs

After a long time without seeing frogs, they seem to be coming back into the garden - this is a good sign.... Except that the one I found today was hiding in a bag of potting soil - luckily I am learning to look before I put my hand into dark spaces, as if I hadnt looked first I might have immediately thought it was a snake. they do seem to change their colours to suit thier surrounding although it did look quite green still against the potting soil inside the bag.

I gently tipped the bag nudging him to jump out himself, but in the end had to pick him up and re-locate him underneath my little "frog bath". I was wearing gloves.... and as he lay there I gently hosed the potting soil sticking to him, still, he was an ugly colour.

after about 5 minutes his colour was greatly improved and he seemed to be smiling about his improved circumstances.......

I do love to have the frogs around - they supposedly eat mosquitoes and other non-beneficial bugs, plus they always let you know when rain is on the way. It has been very dry lately so I am looking forward to a few days of good soaking rain.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Frogs are back

On a more pleasant level than bandicoots, the little green frogs are back:) this little one was surveying the scene from the herb spiral :)

You can click on all the photos to enlarge them and see more detail.

The bandicoot battle

I have spent this weekend and last tying chicken wire onto the lower half of the entire back fence. that was the last remaining place that bandicoots could be getting in. Sunday morning I saw some evidence of digging, and we couldnt see where they could have got in. Last night DH heard the trap closing and we crept out and under torchlight secured the cage door with a tie-wrap. Then the cage was put outside the front ready to be re-located. this morning the cage was empty - houdini bandicoot? He must have squeezed through the holes in the cage, so that will now have to be covered with chicken wire. I suspect that we actually caged him in to the garden while finishing off the fences! Maybe this is the last one?

August already!

I did my monthly wandering around the garden with my camera. Some of these tropical flowers last a long time and so I wonder should I keep taking photos of the same flowers? The one I did take some more photos was the desert rose.

It is a very unusal plant and I think is the same plant refered to in Africa as the sabi star. This month is has rows and rows of lovely flowers which last forever! It does seem to be part of the cactus family, so the fact that I keep forgetting to water it makes it quite happy. I put dwarf date palms in the other two pots as I think they will put up with the same treatment. The front area really does not get as much attention as the back - that is where we spend the most amount of time. I started two bouganvilla slips out front - hope they take - I have had trouble with starting bouganvilla from slips before - not quite sure what I am doing wrong. we had a nice bit of rain overnight so that watered everything - in fact it is still drizzling.
Here are the photos; In bloom august 09


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