19 December 2012

Harvesting the compost

Compost or rubbish?
Concealed behind the tool shed, our huge compost heap accumulates large barrow loads of what I call 'compost' and JC calls 'rubbish'.  In the rush to get things done, I hurl large mounds of weeds and prunings on to the pile month after month.  In the end it is an enormous mass of rotting organic matter.

Before composting, prunings and other vegetation should be cut into smallish, manageable pieces prior to throwing on the pile.  The compost heap should also be regularly turned, improved with manure and watered occasionally.  At 'Greenlion' this rarely happens, as other interesting or more pressing garden tasks take priority.  However, as a result of this neglect, from time to time the compost bursts into bloom-calendulas, comfrey, aquilegias and more.

In preparation for the Gardens of Glenlyon, Nick and I attacked the huge pile of detritus, hurling large clumps of half rotted material to one side.  Our first surprise was the sound of much squeaking and the scurrying of tiny feet as baby antechinuses ran blindly for their lives.  We carefully popped them back under the pile and left their nest undisturbed.  Next, we uncovered the most beautiful humus-sweet, fine and brown.  In this layer of the compost we harvested large, healthy potatoes, a couple of ripe garlics, a tea strainer and a potato peeler.  Not a bad haul for a neglected pile of rubbish!  so impressed was the doubting JC, that he has built two new bays to encourage a more systematic approach to the ancient art of making compost.

Jill Teschendorff, 'Greenlion'.


13 December 2012

A lovely email from a New Yorker


Mary, I'm sure you are now either sleeping or partying after being on duty at Mrs Gooch's wonderful homestead all weekend...but wanted you to know how very special our weekend in the Victorian midlands was !

Firstly, we might never have discovered your peaceful part of the world, and definitely would not have enjoyed it as much.......for Jim, time spent with you in your magical place was the highlight.......followed closely by our dinner at Annie's.......a delectable, delicious experience......followed by having a good chat at the window with Annie herself ...so good in fact that I am coming back out this Tuesday morning (if I can battle Melbourne morning traffic to get out to Malmsbury by 10) to take Annie's Xmas master class which she graciously invited me to join...even though it's already full.

Our stay at the Corinella Country House on the Kyneton Metcalfe Road was very pleasant as were the hosts, Sue and Steve Wright, a farming couple who have been mantling (that's as opposed to DISmantling) a family farm by adding pieces to their little spread and have turned one of the lovely farm houses into an accommodation.......

Following our morning hike up Black Hil, actually Jim hiked and I painted an iconic scene, we stopped into Jill Teschendorff's garden and had a delightful time and some good laughs with her and John.

The only thing we missed out on during the weekend was a late lunch/early dinner at Du Fermier..........The website said that Dan was open until 5......so when we arrived at 4:05 we thought we had plenty of time......only trouble is the website was in error...he closes at 4....again, we were invited in.......treated to a take-home brownie and donut.....and several good laughs before he sent us off back to Kyenton for a good dinner at Pizza Verde....where the chef, David, turned out to be from Brooklyn.......very close to where we live!.......so ended out midlands' outing.

Well, enough, just wanted you know how well it all turned out and that I might run into you on Tuesday if you're out and about.

Best and many thanks from,
Jim and Marsha
New York

11 December 2012

A little of Mrs Gooch's Garden last weekend

Pics taken by Jen Tickle.  It's amazing how lush the garden appears, after we had such terrible hot and windy weather.


Bit like an arab oasis?

A shed on a body in front of another shed.

A touch of class here!

10 December 2012

Bees in a bin

This did not happen in Glenlyon but it's such an amazing sight we thought everyone should have the opportunity to see it.

These bees have set up home in a compost bin - a bin it would seem not used all that much for compost!
Aren't the combs the most beautiful shape?

9 December 2012

The end of an amazing weekend

Hot, turbulent weather yesterday didn't augur well for the first day of garden visiting.  But people defied the wind and heat and our gardens were inundated with visitors.

Today the weather was milder, but the numbers didn't decrease. 

Our gardeners reported back the wonderful responses from the visitors - how they enjoyed the gardens, their diversity, the generosity of the gardeners in opening up their gardens.  Thank you visitors for your respect and the pleasure you took in our gardens.

And the hugest thank you to our gardeners and their willing slaves - without you this weekend would not have happened.

More tales hopefully will be posted over the next few days.  Keep an eye on our blog.

1 December 2012

The generosity of people - more raffle prizes!

We are being truly blessed with gorgeous raffle prizes.  Here are the latest donations, from Domestic Textiles.
William Morris book - gorgeous enough to kill for????

Very appropriate given the weekend!

30 November 2012

Crosspatch from then to now.

We built our first weekender dwelling about 1996.

Maxwell [in foreground] was a puppy and his brother MacTavish was foreman in charge.
We prefabbed the frames off site and the whole structure appeared in one weekend.
Inside was a bed and kitchen cupboards. Cooking was outside.
This was a big improvement on our two-person tent.

A lot has changed since then.

December is a great time to wander in the forest  surrounding our place and seek out native lilies and orchids, like our favourite below:


What to eat during a garden tour?

Ellender Estate Winery are joining in the activities during Gardens of Glenlyon.

Just for the weekend of 8-9 December, they have created a special delicious menu to complement the good work of our gardeners.

They've covered all bases - you can either order a picnic box to go or linger at the winery while you enjoy a regional platter.

It is probably a good idea to order in advance. Phone Jenny on  03 5348 7785.

Gardens of Glenlyon Lunch at Ellender Estate

The Gardener’s Picnic box = $15.00
Baguette with Istra Ham and Garden Salad or Vegetarian option
Cheese and quince paste
Something sweet

Or

Stay for awhile and enjoy a Regional Platter for two = $32.00
Wood-fired pizzas with a garden salad = $22.00
Leek and gruyere quiche with a garden salad = $15.00
Jock’s Icecream with strawberries = $8.00

28 November 2012

More fabulous raffle prizes

Gardens of Glenlyon has been organised by a small group of volunteers, with no financial support, no slush fund, no external contributions to meet costs.  In fact the organising group, at the moment, is carrying quite a financial burden - hoping that the weekend is a success and they can recoup some of their outlay.

Which is why we need people to buy raffle tickets!  We've got some great prizes, so come along to the Glenlyon Hall and buy buy buy.

And for our gardeners' sakes - because they've been working so hard over the past few months - we hope that the world turns up to view their gorgeous and very different gardens.

So far, our wonderful sponsors have provided the following items for raffle.

Morris Outside
Pair oilskin boot guards
Pair The Wicked Weeder gloves
Pair Goat Leather cuffed gloves

Goldfields Revegetation
Grafted grevillea

O'Shea and Murphy
Six bottles of O'Shea and Murphy wines

Mary Ellis
Bonsai box

Melbourne Museum
Four adult museum passes, each giving free general admission to three museums (Melbourne, Immigration and Scienceworks)


Seneca Textiles
Set of queen-sized Egyptian cotton 500 thread count cream sheets.


The Works (Purveyors of Fine Homewares, 275 Burwood Road, Hawthorn)
Two pairs Morgan and Finch jarmies

Two sets of Morgan and Finch quilt covers  
This pic doesn't do justice to the prettiness of the prizes
Citizens of Glenlyon
A hamper of delicious goodies
 

23 November 2012

Crosspatch News


Lots of native animal visitors at the moment, a Kookaburra family, Koalas, and Wombats and Wallabies eating the silverbeet. Time to put some netting over the veges, sigh!

The garden is coming together ready for the BIG DAY.


22 November 2012

Mrs Gooch's Garden

This garden sits on the high point of Glenlyon, with rich red volcanic soil, but ferocious winds and frost.  In 2004 a start was made on the seriously overgrown garden. One third of the property was cleared of an impenetrable buddleia thicket revealing the magnificent arbutus uneda and the large apple on the west boundary.

By 2006 the dilapidated cyprus pines had become dangerous, so 16 were removed, opening up the garden but exposing it to the constant southerlies.  Now the densely planted casuarinas, and blackwoods provide excellent cover.  They were watered in, mulched very heavily and from then on received no help.  Within three years, the red volcanic soil had done its work and the trees are 2.5 m high! They are lopped annually to maintain thickness and retain the skyline.

Having provided shelter, the planting of shrubs and herbaceous perennials began, using very hardy plants like hazelnuts, artichokes, saltbush and berberis. By 2008 the shelter was sufficient to remove the artichokes and some hazelnuts to a less hospitable area and replace them with more tender plants. Unfortunately the  saltbush, having been topiarised for some years, succumbed to the cold and wet.

In the West Garden you will find various viburnum, philadelphus, berberis, cistus, correa, sambuccus, crab apples, crataegus, parrotia persica, pomegranates, buddleja, leucadendron, leptospernum, kolkwitizia, camellia, sarcacocca, santolina, rosemarys, sages, lavenders, ceratostigma, ribes, wood strawberries and lots of other things! Among them a new sculpture by Stephan Guber, a German sculptor.

The Ram Paddock was the old orchard, with only a few trees left.  In an effort to overcome the depredations of wind, ‘stepover’ apples are being trialed here! The Ram sculpture (Dave Dando 2010) leaps into a sea of cornus alba siberica and cornus flaviramea and is backed by a magnificent walnut. The dogwoods are underplanted with spring bulbs and autumn flowering chrysanthemums for seasonal interest. All very tough and able to withstand the gales!

The South 40 is the propagation area. Currently bearded iris, cornus, garlic, hazelnuts, christmas lilies, and belladonna lilies are being grown. Also asparagus, onions and potatoes for the table.  Interestingly, the plants thrive in this exposed position and it’s good for ‘growing on’.

The veggie beds are set to the north to avoid the worst of the southerlies and catch the best of the sun. The Owl is another Dave Dando piece.

The OK Corral, fenced in willow (Jason Jones 2007) with three manchurian pears, is a wonderful showcase for bearded iris and an entertaining area with shelter from the winds.  And last but not least, The Nanna Garden provides shelter for the elderly lemon and many less hardy old fashioned plants.

Andrew Kimpton has also contributed to the sculpture collection.
Deep blue echiums reach for the bright blue sky

(Pics to come - too many from which to choose!)

21 November 2012

Guided river walk

During Gardens of Glenlyon there will be four guided walks along Loddon River. This rare opportunity to walk the river and learn about it's history and regeneration is not to be missed.

The Guided River Walk departs from Greenlion (75 Butlers Lane, Glenlyon).

Times: 11.15am and 3.15pm Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th December 2012. 

Come on the river walk at 'Greenlion' with Brony Love, an experienced conservationist with extensive experience in revegetation. 

The walk will take approximately 40 minutes and is moderately hard; i.e. a steep climb up from the river, but there is the opportunity to return on an easier path. 
A very flooded river in 2011
See the beautiful river, the wildflowers, ferns and grasses. 

See the extensive revegetation of the riparian zone and the prolific growth following the drought. Observe the sleepy kangaroos, the myriad of birds and with some luck, an echidna.
Landcare volunteer working along the river

19 November 2012

Guest speakers and topics

On Saturday (8 December) and Sunday (9 December) we'll have a range of guests speaking on their special topic, in the Glenlyon Hall.


TOPIC
SPEAKER
DAY & TIME
Fireguarding the garden
Owen Gooding
Saturday 1.30pm – 2pm
Wildlife in the garden
Gayle Osborne
Saturday 2pm – 2.30pm
Bees & pollination
Peter Adams
Saturday 2.30pm – 3pm
All about worms
Jean McClymont
Sunday 1.30pm – 2pm
Improving impossible soil
Rod May
Sunday 2pm – 2.30pm
Growing things
Ray Robinson
Sunday 2.30pm – 3pm

Free entry and lots of interesting stalls and displays.

NAME
DISPLAY
STALL
DAY
Wombat Forest Care
Yes
yes
Saturday & Sunday
CFA
Yes
yes
Saturday & Sunday
Landcare
Yes

Saturday & Sunday
Aesops Books

yes
Saturday & Sunday
Slow Food
yes
yes
Saturday & Sunday
Indigenous History
yes

Saturday & Sunday
Friends of Wombat Botanical Gardens

yes
Saturday & Sunday
Goldfields Native Nursery

yes
Saturday & Sunday
Morris Outside

yes
Saturday & Sunday
Flora & fauna of Glenlyon
yes


Geological profile: Glenlyon
yes

Saturday & Sunday

16 November 2012

Worms

One of the guest speakers during the Gardens of Glenlyon sustainability expo is Eric Dando who will be speaking at 1.30pm on Sunday in the Glenlyon Hall.

But if you'd like to get in early - just in case you have any questions to ask on the day - have a look at this site; great info.

14 November 2012

Raffle prizes

We're starting to put together a fabulous range of prizes for the raffle (tickets will be available at the Glenlyon Hall on 8 and 9 December).

There will be four adult passes giving general admission to three museums - Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and Scienceworks.

And of course there'll be a basket of local produce.

Keep an eye out for more prizes as we successfully target donors!!

7 November 2012

Cross Patch 11 visuals

These photos were taken at Cross Patch II a month ago by Susan Clarke.  I wonder what the garden will look like in another month?








5 November 2012

The Gardening Gene

I inherited my love of gardens from my maternal grandmother.  As small children we spent our summer holidays at Nowa Nowa in East Gippsland, setting out from Melbourne before dawn so that the car radiator wouldn’t boil in the summer heat.

Nana had a large rambling garden with a long winding driveway.  The air smelt of roses, especially the scent of the climbing Black Boy beside the kitchen window.   
Circa 1948
Nana hated housework, preferring instead the creative pursuits of cooking and gardening.  When cooking, she managed to get flour on her glasses, down her front and in her hair as she whipped up the most amazing scones and cakes.   

The kitchen had emerald green linoleum on the floor, with a bright coloured block pattern. When Nana did get around to housework, she would wash the kitchen floor, rub it with bees wax and get us to be the polishers.  We would don old socks and her huge bloomers and skid around on our bottoms till the floor gleamed.

One of our favourite spots in the garden was the raspberry patch.  We could climb under the brambles unseen, and pick the berries to our heart’s content.

One day we were caught.  Nana spied us there and with a roar, she descended on us, grey hair flying, laundry prop held high above her head, like Boadicea attacking the Romans.  Luckily we saw her in time to run for our lives and hide in the chook house.

Nana’s garden was ambitious - large, beautiful and untidy.  In a letter to my sister dated October 1965 she writes “For some weeks I have worked from 6am to 8.30pm to bring the garden to as near perfection as I can.  It has been the work for two men.”  Of course, she did have God on her side.   

She was a member of the CWA and the ladies were invited for lunch.  At age 85 she decided that the front garden needed a fishpond.  None of the males in her life would build her one, so in order to have a fishpond before the CWA ladies arrived, she started to dig one herself.  After suffering a mild stroke that day, she returned from hospital to a garden with a fishpond.  The males of the family had completed the task.

We have several plants in our family that have been handed down over the generations.  My favourite is Nana’s pink violet.  The wonderful thing is that the gardening gene seems to have been passed on to a couple more generations, as children and grandchildren, on arrival at Greenlion, embark on the family’s traditional stroll around the garden. 

Jill at Greenlion


1 November 2012

Crosspatch II update

QUEEN ELIZABETH WINS THE INAUGURAL CHERRY RIPE AWARD
We at Crosspatch have an annual wager of a cherry ripe for the first person to see the kingfishers returning from their over winter in the Daintree. They come home to nest and raise their young, feeding on the bountiful supply of small creatures in the Loddon and our dam.

Robyn wins every year.

We have extended this to a virtual award to the first rose  in our garden to flower, and this year it was Queen Elizabeth, just edging out Blackboy. [ think it is still OK to use this name!]

Watch out for the next update coming soon.


31 October 2012

Getting ready for summer

Getting ready for summer means being fire ready.  On Monday evening, I changed the oil and petrol in the pump and re-installed it on the dam after a day of gardening.  It is fire protection for the house as well as a quicker way of watering the garden with a pressurised system.  The soil is surprisingly dry at the moment.


Training on Sunday, gardening on Monday, reality Monday night.  I was called out at midnight to a burn-off out of control, and was there till 8.00 am on Tuesday, did the Gardens of Glenlyon tour on Tuesday afternoon and was called to a flare-up of the same fire on Tuesday evening.  So I piked on going to gym -Strength Training for Seniors - this morning.  That's my grubby jacket, having an airing.



Don't miss the CFA presentation on Landscaping for Bushfire at the Hall on our Gardens of Glenlyon weekend.

30 October 2012

The pre-tour tour

The seven gardeners of Glenlyon toured each other's gardens this afternoon.  It's a hot sunny day - maybe like the weather will be when the gardens are open 8-9 December.

19 October 2012

Doll's Paddock - a week ago at the working bee

It wasn't what I wanted, since the original idea was getting big hefty boys to move soil.

Dominic, our youngest son, decided to hire the services of a well-known landscaper to "advise us" on how to design a garden, choosing to ignore the fact that for the past four years we have been doing just that - with modest success.

So Thursday came - and so did Simon.

Simon sussed the situation and was diplomatic, settling on the vegetable garden as an area for discussion. Plans, lists, string were used; much standing around with legs apart and heads nodding.  All this in the lyrical half-light of a warm spring evening (much like tonight).

Saturday arrived.  It rained - heavily.  Sons, grandsons, wives poured out of cars with their dogs, spades, forks, gloves and boots.  Heavenly, I thought, at last we will get the gravel laid, the bush mulch spread.  And we did - eventually.

Adolescent grandsons arrive carrying hangovers and all they want to do is sleep.  Wives arrive with assorted complaints "It's too cold ... it's too wet ... I don't have any boots ... just a minute, I'm smoking ... can I duck in for a coffee?"

So it goes.

Sons plant, make lists, use string and stand around with legs apart, heads nodding!

Lunch time, and five kilos of lamb chops and three kilos of sausages are cooked on a BBQ in a dry area. Everyone is covered in red mud up to their arm-pits. Tools are heavy with soil, lifting them could dislodge cartilage. Everyone is wet down to the last inner layer, but everyone has to wee.  Boys outside, girls inside.  Caked in mud, shoes and boots have to be removed.

Hands, cold and dirty, have to be washed. More visits inside the house.

The dogs eat the left-overs and work begins again. Putting on wet socks, shoes, boots, pants all take time - the six year old gets bored. Mum leaves with him in the car for easier pastures.  Grandsons whose only aim in life is to play for Australia in footy or basketball, who train night and day, complain they are tired.  They good humouredly throw wet soil at one another, their legs now indistinguishable from the ground on which they are standing.  Pyjama bottoms, that are clearly de rigueur in Box Hill, remain adamantly hanging around their hips, wet and thin - preferred by both children to Hard Yakka pants.

Planter boxes emerge from the chaos, some at odds with existing beds, another design being imposed on the existing one. What will happen to the surrounding area when they all go home and reconvene three months later? A jumble of half-completed ideas complimenting a mass of weeds.  I see disaster ahead.

Dinner-time. Another two kilos of hamburgers arrive, with various salads. We eat at the table, after everyone has showered and left their clothes and shoes outside. It rains and gets colder.  Grandsons, unready for the world of adult organisation, leave possessions outside exposed to wind and rain.  Beds are made and sleep comes quickly.

Sunday - the clocks go forward! An hour less sleep.

We beguile them with eggs and bacon. They stand around in more pyjama pants. The youngest must be in Melbourne for a try-out for next year's team. Suddenly they are full of alert energy, nagging their father to go.

It's stopped raining, but it could snow.  The wind is vile, the temperature wicked. Our week-end working bee is over.
Who's the smart one????


Dee Briscomb at Doll's Paddock

18 October 2012

Colours of Spring

A vast sea of yellow signifies spring in this part of the world.   The bush land and rolling hills come alive with yellow wattles.  The deep purple of hardenbergia interlaces the egg and bacon faces of eutaxia, pultenaea and dillwynia . 

In the garden, I have achieved my dream of a sea of daffodils - fields of yellow and white trumpets.  However, as I am learning, there is a fine line between tasteful clumps and rampant excess.  As the bulbs have increased, I’m getting fairly close to overkill!  “All that yellow!”  A friend said.  “It’s disgusting!”   

My vision of wandering free as a cloud amongst my sea of daffodils has some potentially major visual flaws.   It’s not at the disgusting stage from my perspective, but there are some alarming garden moments when yellow dominates the scene.  The daffodils coincide with a joyous display from the forsythia.  At the same time, in the corresponding garden bed, an outrageous burst of lolly pink on the hakea macraema and pink-mauve of a wallflower, clash with the adjacent butter yellow.
This all settles down  with time as flowers fade and the subtle greens of new growth intervenes.


Daffodils can look deadly boring.  Rosa Stepanova, in her book “The Impossible Garden”, abhors the rigid plantings of daffodils so often seen in municipal gardens, engendering in her an emotion “bordering on hatred”.   There is nothing rigid about my plantings.  They are placed as randomly as Edna Walling would recommend, more or less where they land if thrown in the air.   The hybrids are beautiful, but one must take care, for as Stepanova says, some have an uncanny resemblance to “fried eggs on stilts.”

With bulbs, there is also the problem of that end-of- season look.  Will I have a sea of yellowing foliage and shriveled leaves in December? 

Jill at Greenlion

17 October 2012

The planners and the plonkers

Have you heard about the planners and the plonkers?  My son is a landscaper and horticulturalist.  In his student days we would stroll around the garden together, discussing gardens and gardening.    “Mum”, he said, “we were taught that there are two types of gardeners - there are the planners and there are the plonkers”.  Planners design their gardens, plan the selection of plants and after careful consideration, they create their garden. Plonkers on the other hand are compulsive.  They collect bits and pieces from their friends’ gardens, and buy spontaneously from the nurseries.   When they come home they say ‘Now, where will I put this?’  They dig a hole where there’s a space and they bung the plant in.

"And Mum," he said "you're a plonker!)

I reckon my plonking has worked out ok!


 Jill at Greenlion.

16 October 2012

October is the month for Common Bird Orchids.  They are so common, sometimes it's hard not to step on them.  These are under the trees on the far side of the dam at Vizsla Lak.

13 October 2012

Downloadable poster

Click on the image and the poster should download.  Yours for the sharing!
PS: For some reason it seems not to download but perhaps you can do a screen dump. Or that right-click thingummywhatsit (on the mac it's control-command click to save).

12 October 2012

Doll's Paddock - then

It was a warm spring afternoon, we had come to look at 5 acres along the Lodden River, in Glenlyon as a possible site for a strawbale house. The paddock was virgin, only Dollie the Fleicher’s horse, and several generations of cows had lived on it since the foundation of Glenlyon.

I sat on the slope looking east, with Tilly and Bella beside me, and slowly I began to realize that this was a very special place.  A place to live.

That was October 2006. The house was completed in May 2008 and in August when we  moved in permanently, the work on the garden began.

I knew almost immediately what the final design would look like,  ltaking into account the slopes, the position of the house, and the beautiful red soil, I knew where to put the vegetables, the trees, herbaceous borders ( if any) and steps.

In June 2008 and in a panic to get things started we planted 10 melia anzanderachs, 11 silver birch, 10 crab apples and two varieties of robinias. We planted them in a hurry, and without due attention to their welfare.  Mostly they have survived, and seem happy in their new home

Neighbours, who had not shown their colours in 2006  when we bought the land, now started a road haulage, bob-cat and bull-dozer business, leaving their machinery next to our southern boundary. In order to hide this, we planted a 50 metre hedge of prunus lucitanicus  and repeated this around the flower garden.

There were many suggestions for hiding the water tank, but I liked its architectural qualities and decided not to camouflage it, besides we had been warned that if trees or climbers were planted close there was a danger of roots damaging the plastic liner.  Perhaps the most important decision was the building of the terrace wall which helped frame the house and connect it to the landscape. Including the fish pond at the western end was a sudden choice of my husband’s (Tony) and he looks after that – totally !


The red soil is a great gift, however when dry as it was at the end of the drought in 2008,  it became solid concrete, needing jack hammers to break it up.

We planted three agapanthus on the west side of the water tank, using crow bars to break the soil.  Three further seedlings of questionable origin but definitely eucalypts, were planted amongst the building detritus.  They looked sick for a year.  Unable to rip along the western fence line due to phone and gas lines, we spent 3 months hand digging and planting eucalypt, acacia and calistemon varieties.  These needed hand watering and being unfamiliar with amounts in retrospect we were not generous enough.

An attempt to terrace a vegetable garden was made on the eastern side of the house, with some success, but maintenance proved hard with only one pair of hands.

With a determination to avoid the classical English ‘look’, our  second year saw the landscaping and native planting of beds around the house. David Glenn at Lamley advised on frost hardy plants, and landscape artist and gardener Ray Robinson advised on selection of plants, trees and ground cover.  The John Deere enthusiast  (Tony) found cutting the grass on the  slope from the house unnerving due to its  angle, its uneven surface, the rocks and the tree-like cape weed. But continued and regular cutting has lessened the problem. The virgin soil although slightly acidic has proved very productive and the plants have thrived. When the rains came we were rewarded with amazing growth.

Last year we established the “waterfall” in the natural swale where the water tank overflow pipe appeared and with the ‘floaters’ found on the block, we built a very natural looking rocky outcrop and planted leucadendrons, olives, a forest of casuarinas with crocus ground cover,  grasses and frost hardy succulents. Plans to extend the planting are in hand.

During the recent heavy rains the red soil has turned to a thin, red soup – mulches, compost and sugar cane mulch has been used to provide substance. This winter temperatures have fallen below -5 degrees, too cold for the survival of many plants.

Winds have taken branches off the soft robinias, and broken the blossom-heavy acacia trees. We are exposed to strong winds, and heavy frosts as well as temperatures reaching 40 degrees. Very demanding gardening conditions.

Next year we will have established the basics and look forward to a less stressful and hard working year.

Dee from Doll's Paddock