Monday, 22 September 2014

Splendid Blue

I know, I know, I have been a Blog slacker lately, sorry.  It's been busy around here!  We had a few days in Perth on short notice after we heard the sad news that Steve's Uncle Albert had passed away.  So we paid our respects at his funeral and caught up with loads of extended family we haven't seen for years.  Steve looks rather handsome all spiffed up don't you think, doesn't look like a bogan at all... :-)
We had a lovely evening with Paul and Michelle at Paul's house.  Fantastic Indian takeaway for dinner, yum yum!
Selfie with Michelle.  We stayed with mum and dad and had a lovely meal out with them at The Mussel Bar in Fisherman's Harbour.  Lovely view and good company, shame I forgot to take a photo of us!  Thanks for your hospitality mum and dad! xx
 Now the other reason for my tardiness with the blog post is that I was determined to get a particular photo.  You see, all my plantings around the place have been for one main reason, to encourage the small birds in and to give them another haven to play in.  It takes time.  We've been thrilled to see Scarlet Robins, Silvereyes, Western Spinebills, Fantails and various wrens in my garden, but the biggest and bestest thrill was the very first sighting of a Splendid wren, together with his tribe of women, pottering around my plants.  They are difficult little buggers to photograph, they never keep still!  Hence it has taken me a few days of stalking to finally get the shots I wanted.  I had to weed the bloody garden for 3 hours before they finally came in to look for bugs in the turned soil.  But it was worth it, isn't he the most beautiful bird you have ever seen.
 And this one is a juvenile male, looking a bit scrappy, having a lovely time beating a hapless caterpillar to death!
And this is the less spectacular, brown female, although she does have a cheerful blue tail.  I love her red beak.  You have no idea how thrilling this has been, to find that these little birds have chosen to spend time in my garden.  Happy happy joy joy!
That's my garden, the fenced bit on the left.  Everything is exploding with spring growth and there are flowers everywhere.  We've just finished doing the first mow after winter, love how spick and span it looks and so green!
 The Kangaroo Paws and Geraldton Wax are positively brimming with flowers.  The Western Spinebills with their long, curved beaks, love slurping the nectar from the Kangaroo Paws.  And the Geraldton Wax is such a dense shrub that there can be a dozen little birds hiding inside it and you wouldn't even know until you walk close by and they all come zooming out!
 My first cornflower of the year, they are my favourite annual.  I don't plant many annuals, but I just have to have these happy little blue flowers.
The Moonglow grevillea is finally starting to grow well after being in the ground for 3 years.  It has lovely big cream flowers that as you can see, the bees love.  I am hoping that grevilleas with encourage honeyeaters into our garden, that's one variety of little bird we haven't seen yet, as our native bushland doesn't seem to have nectar plants, so I've been busily planting a lot.
 I have been so happy with the cliveas this year, never before have I seen such big, vibrant flowers on them.  They are so bright under the big peppermint tree, like orange beacons.  They, amazingly enough, don't need a fence around them, apparently they must taste horrible as the roos don't touch them.
Speaking of roos, our residents hang around most of the time, always interested to see what we are up to.  There seems to be an explosion of joeys in pouches at the moment, soon we'll be seeing the new gangly ones having their first tries at hopping around, such a delight to see.  :-)
We spotted something rather exciting in the garden.  Our first olive tree, which I planted nearly 3 years ago, has stubbornly refused to flower for the last two years.  I've been cursing it, not knowing what I was doing wrong, it gets watered and fertilised, goodness knows what was going on.  Anyway, we were thrilled to see the tree absolutely covered in teeny tiny flowers a few weeks back.  And now there is the start of teeny tiny olives, absolutely gazillions of them!  Perhaps the tree has made up for lost time.  This variety is Frantoio, traditionally I believe this is an oil olive, but the one tiny jar we pickled the first year it went in were delicious as pickled olives, small olives but with a really nice flavour.  So, here's hoping for a good crop!
 We finally managed to have our big bonfire, this time of year there are bonfires everywhere on farms as the stuff to burn is finally drying out enough, plus there is a frenzy of activity with this too as the firebans start in a month.  We have five huge stumps in our bonfire area, that have been there for 2 years now, and have been through at least four burnings, with Steve cramming all the other burnable stuff around them.  These stumps are flippin hard to burn, each time they get a tiny bit smaller but it's going to be a couple more years before they disintegrate entirely.  Had to laugh though, the stump on the left did burn quite well and we were amused to see its shape had changed into that of a giant rabbit, in profile.
We have been busy cleaning up and doing spring plantings in the main vegie garden, this is the second vegie garden where I grew a lot of greens, carrots, onions, beetroot and garlic after Steve kindly manured and tilled the soil.  It needs weeding.  I need to get those cabbages out of the ground, they are all ready.  The onions and garlic will be a while yet, the carrots are almost all finished (they have been brilliant this year), and there is still plenty of beetroot growing.  The chooks have adored having endless supplies of greens, I often tie up huge bunches of leaves in their yard.  At the moment I've run a little fence down near the bottom so the chooks have access to the huge brussels sprouts plants (which although have grown beautiful leaves, have failed dismally at sprouts).  They love it, they spent a large part of their day out there scratching around, eating brussels leaves, dustbathing under brussels plants, I even found an egg under a plant!  We are blessed with eggs with brilliant, fluoro yolks courtesy of all this good green stuff.
Speaking of eggs, look at this, we've just had the one thousanth egg from our gorgeous hens, in 13 months.  Clever girls.
Steve harvested the last of the winter potatoes this morning, and planted up the new bed of spuds.  10 kilos of beautiful, organically grown, King Edward potatoes.  Yum!
 When we moved down here, living in the shed, I planted a small grove of Acacia trees behind the shed, extending out from our remnant piece of bushland.  I planted a lot of acacias around the place actually, but most of them succumbed to sandy, dry soil, or were eaten by roos.  This little area I bunged a fence around and gave them a bit of water.  They have grown like crazy over the last year, considering they were tubestock, so like the size of your finger, some of them are now taller than I am!  I took the fence down recently, figuring that the roos can only reach the lower foliage to eat, which is fine.  Currently the trees are all bursting with brilliant yellow blossom, plus amongst them is my fragrant, white flowered Wedding Bush.  Very happy with this little area.  :-)
 And walking through our foresty bushland remnant, I love seeing the native shrubs in flower too.  The yellow ones are Cutleaf Hibbertia, not sure what the white ones are.  The bees are very busy!
Growing in the grass under the tall peppermint trees, I came across this bizarre thing, looks like something you'd find washed up on the beach!  On investigating,  it is a fungus called Clavaria zollingeri, commonly called Violet or Magenta Coral.  Isn't it amazing!  It's about the size of both my hands laid flat
The creek has been fairly pitiful this year, hardly any flow due to the lack of rain, but we had a welcome 40mm of rain recently, and thus the creek looks lovely again, for a few days, then it dwindles down again.
And with all this busyness going on outside, it is also footy finals time.  It's nice to sit and watch on the tellie, with a cold glass of wine and some nibblies.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Back Garden Planting

Steve has completed the retaining walls up to the steps outside the sliding door behind the house.  We are so pleased with how it's turning out, and Steve is happy because the hardest part is done.  I had a lovely morning yesterday, and went to town on my own to visit, for as long as I wanted, two garden nurseries and did a buy up of plants for out the back.  Such fun :-) Today was hard slog as I planted a good many of the plants, consequently I am sitting here in my jarmies at 5pm with a hot pack on my back, worn out!  

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Lone Almond

It's an odd morning.  It's very warm outside yet overcast, and the wind is swirly loudly in the distance although it's not really windy here.  We have a severe weather warning in place for early this afternoon for very strong winds, and hopefully some rain.  So, I decided to tackle some inside jobs.  At the top of my list is THE drawer in the bedroom, the one where for the last 2 years I have just stuffed in any receipts out of my purse.  One of those "I'll sort them out next week" scenarios, you know what I mean.  Anyway, I went through the whole darn lot and tossed out a myriad of useless receipts, like the bottle of wine we bought on 28th May 2012.  :-)  Neo had the best fun however, pouncing into the middle of the pile, gleefully ripping papers into shreds.  I live to amuse him.
Neo continues to haunt high places, the high bookshelf is his new second home and he sleeps there a lot during the day.  He can see out over far horizons through the front window and chatters at any bird he might see.
 Work continues on the retaining walls.  Steve has managed to finish the steps which are just fabulous.  Sturdy and strong with no movement.  He's used the treated pine sleepers for the risers and has filled the steps with limestone pebbles.  No more trooping through the sand dunes to hang out my washing! :-)
He's managed to follow the curves of the concrete paving beautifully, complete with much cursing and calculating.  All the edges or the timbers are being sanded, the tops of the posts are being bevelled and everything butts together perfectly.  He is a clever lad, the lad who always claimed he hated working with wood!
We've put a temporary fence up all around the back of the house, right up to nearly the back boundary.  It will be great to be able to gaily plant up all the new area without fear of kangaroo chewing.  These are part of my native plant bank, right at the back.  It may not look like much to you, but I am quite pleased with the growth of these plants, considering they were all bought as 'tube stock', ie miniscule little seedlings.  They've been in for 18 months to 2 years and most have survived.
The grass we put in at the front of the house has started to grow now the weather is warming up.  It will be soooo good not to have sand blowing all over the place this summer!
The new fruit trees are all showing signs of life, ending their winter dormancy.  The almond tree has outdone itself and has been covered in flowers, and as we could see the galahs and 28s eyeing them off, we put up our very first fruit tree net, using two long pieces of black poly pipe arched over the tree to hold up the net.  Mind you, Steve had a wander down there this morning and reckons he can only see one almond, so perhaps the flowers haven't been pollinated.  It wouldn't surprise me actually, as the weather has been so weird, much warmer than usual, so the trees are all flowering early, and maybe the bees haven't been paying attention!  So, it could be rather a lot of overkill, that net, just for one almond, ha ha ha.
It was 'clean up the vegie patch' week this week, digging up the spuds, tossing out the old broccolini plants, weeding, and preparing beds for the spring plantings.  Normally the chooks don't have access to this vegie patch, but I tossed them over the fence one by one so they could help out with gobbling up any bugs.  These are my three originals, Anne, Angie and Leanne, looking very chubby and well feathered now their moulting has finished.  They had the best time in here!
And here is the new girl Bridget Bardot, also having the time of her life.  She is my shadow, I think because I protected her a lot when she was being bullied.  Her neck is still a little bald but her new feathers are coming through and she will be fluffy soon.  Thank goodness the pecking order crap has finished, they all get on very well now.  I couldn't get a photo of Angeline Jolie, she was too busy underneath a giant silverbeet plant to grace us with her smiling face.
They are a bit of a pain when I'm trying to dig, as they've figured out each new spadeful of dirt is where the majority of worms are to be found.  Half the time I end up lifting not only a spadeful of dirt out of the hole, but a chicken too that is standing on top of the dirt!  When they all went back to their yard later, they lolled about in a contented stupor, with the fattest, bulging crops, full of worms and slugs.
We had a drive to Shelley Beach a couple of days ago.  Love that beach.  We used to bring to kids here when they were tiny as it's a beach with a freshwater creek running across it, great for rinsing off in, not to mention the fact that it's also very beautiful.
It's busy busy busy at the moment, seeing as how spring has announced itself, so we are doing lots of chores outside.  Hard work but very satisfying.  The grass and weeds seem to spring out of nowhere after a week of slightly warmer temperatures and in the distance you can hear the thrum of ride-on mowers and tractors on nearby properties hard at work which I love, and, oddly, the sounds of someone playing the drums, very badly.  I love early spring, enjoying nature bursting forth, but still too early for the bush flies, ha!