Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Midnight in the Garden

Most nights we get a nocturnal visitor. Usually we hear the possum bouncing across our roof at high speed just after we turn out the lights. But if we keep an eye out we often see the possum scrounging for food while the lights are still on. The other night I got a photo. The first photo is the view from the lounge that you may see while waiting for the possum. The second is the possum in one of the trees.

07_02_27 garden at night
07_02_27 Possum

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lounge View

A couple of photos of the view from our lounge:

Leaf 25/02/2007
View 25/02/2007

Cropped by layout. Click to view from Flickr

Tagged : The Poisoned Chalice of Blogging

The poisoned chalice has been passed to me; I have been tagged Colin & Carol of Mediterranean Garden Spain. So here I go with 5 things you probably don't know about me:

  • I am currently obsessed by Jyte

  • I can't start the day without coffee and Dilbert

  • I started my working life as an electrician

  • The best book I've read is The Brothers Karamazov By Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • I've been married for 18 years and two weeks

So now it's my turn to tag someone : Pam of Digging

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Thin Rose Wedge

Rose Bed - before

I have finally arrived at the last posting on our front yard makeover. This post is about a thin triangular bed that is edged by the front path, the garage and the front wall. The front wall has a single window facing onto this bed from the front lounge. The window makes this an important bed despite it's size. The front lounge is where we often sit to read and unwind or to have a cuppa with visitors. We usually call it the quiet lounge as the television is down the other end of the house.

When we bought the house this bed had six iceberg roses and a bunch of annuals (a fairly standard makeover when you're planning on selling a house). Anyway the roses remain and consequently we call this the rose bed. We eventually replaced the annuals with lavender and gauri. But it had become rather overgrown from neglect.

For some reason this bed was never included in the gardens irrigation system. Probably because the front path was in before they realised there was a problem. At some point in the past an attempt was made to fix this oversight by running some pipe from the end of one of the beds over the path. To stop visitors from tripping over this pipe it was mortared into one of the path joints (which limited them to the smallest avilable tubing ; 6mm ?). This pipe was too small to be really useful. But that didn't matter as it inevitably became blocked. One of the lawn sprinklers was close enough to path that it actually watered this bed. That is right up until the day that water restrictions stopped us from watering the lawn.

Rose Bed - after

The solution was to run the irrigation tubing to this bed. When I replaced most of the lawn with a new garden bed I removed the lawn sprinklers and was then able to run tubing to the rose bed. The biggest problem with this was getting the tubing under the path. I had to dig a hole under the path (about 1 metre) big enough to get the pipe through. This turned out to be a nasty job taking far too many hours. The main problem being that there wasn't enough room to use a shovel between the garage and path.

We have left the roses and added three quite distinct hebe's. But this is just a beginning and we are considering our options for the edge. We will have some time to ponder this as we don't plan to do any further planting until the water restrictions ease or the weather cools.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Dietes Iridiodes

Front Strip 06_10_21

Alongside setting up the new lawn bed there are two other beds in the front yard that needed attention. The bed I want to mention today is one that edges the front lawn on three sides. The other is the rose bed which I'll look at next week.

All of this edge bed was peppered with weeds. But that was easily sorted with a good dig over and some mulch. There was also a dead plum tree on one side that needed to be dug out. But the real problem was the front boundary. This area was originally hedged with seaside daisies. We'd always planned to remove these daisies as soon as we came up with a better idea. But here we are five years later with the drought forcing the issue. Nothing seems to kill seaside daisies. But that doesn't mean they look good.

One plant that has been a great success in the back yard is Dietes Iridiodes. These are South African plants which seem well suited to our dry climate. They have long strap like leaves and spectacular iris like (hence Iridiodes) flowers. We have been growing these in isolation in the backyard. But the idea is that they will look great planted in a group. They are certainly hardy. In the last four months they have flourished despite the drought. We do give them a fortnightly slosh of greywater but they've never looked like they needed it. I shall keep you posted on their progress.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

My Flickr Slideshow

I was trying out some widgetbox widgets the other day on the blog. But in the end I decided to remove them. They made the page really slow to load and they didn't offer enough design flexibility (i.e the ads didn't fit in and I couldn't get rid of them). The widget I was particularly interested in was a Flickr slideshow.

All the photos I use on this blog are hosted by Flickr. My Flickr account is a rather eclectic mix of photos. Which is why it's great that you can filter them with tags. Anyway I liked the idea of a Flickr slideshow widget so much I decided to make my own. You should be able to see it in action at the bottom of the sidebar. I have it setup to show my photos tagged as flower. But it can get anyones public photos with multiple tags if necessary. Selecting the slideshow should take you to that images Flickr page

Web development is my day job. But work projects are never this simple. It was kind of relaxing to have a small programming exercise. It's the same reason I started to get more involved in the garden. It's good to come home and work on something a bit simpler.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Selected drought related statistics

Just wanted to share a few excerpts from our local water authorities news letter:

In 2006, the regions major catchment resevoir, the West Barwon Reservoir, received it's lowest rainfall on record. Rainfall to mid-December was a disappointing 606 millimeters compared to the average if 1148 millimeters.

At the end of 2006, towns in the greater Geelong water supply region were on Stage 4 water restrictions, the most stringent since the 1967 drought.

An interesting aside is that sewerage voluems have decreased by as much as 15 per cent...This is probably the result of people using greywater from their showers and launderies.

Excerpts from Barwon Water News . Vol 17, 2007

Friday, February 2, 2007

Belladonna Lillies

A couple of photos of the Belladonna Lilly freshly opened today.

Belladonna Lilly
Belladonna Lilly

Book Review : Australian Native Plants

Australian Native Plants, 5th Edition

Today I want to rave on about a book we were given for Christmas : Australian Native Plants, 5th edition (John W. Wrigley & Murray Fagg). It's not a new book. It was first printed in 1979 and this edition was released in 2003 and reprinted last year. I imagine that anyone interested in Australian natives would be quite familiar with it. But in case you've never heard of it I'd just like to add my voice to the chorus of praise. This is a very good book. In fact it's everything I look for in a reference book. It has all of the information that you could occassionally need organised so it can be easily found.

The book has two main areas. The first eight chapters provide an overview of Australian natives followed by comprehensive (though not exhaustive) chapters on selection, propagation, care, pests and diseases. Each of these chapters is well illustrated which is essential for the wannabe gardener.

The next three chapters, which represents the bulk of the book, groups the 3500 plant entries into ground covers, shrubs and trees. Each chapter is ordered alphabetically with each major species (ie grevillea, acacia etc) starting with an overview followed by individual plant entries. The book doesn't cover every plant from every species. But the entries for each species are a fair reflection of their prominence and variety. Obviously species like grevillea will be represented in all three chapters. Where this occurs a pointer is provided to the main species overview.

Each plant entry provides all the features you'd expect (description, propagation, cultivation) and uses symbols to quickly identify the plants main features. An explanation of these symbols in featured on the front and back flaps of the books dust cover as well as being printed on the books first content page. Nearly 20 symbols are used and include things like; bird attracting, perfumed, attractive fruits, recommended for foliage etc. Similarly, color coded symbols show the recommended climactic regions for each plant with a map of Australia showing the 8 climactic regions (adjacent the symbols legend). I guess it would be nice for overseas readers if a description was provided for each climatic region to help assess a plants suitability for their region.

The book contains over 1000 colour photographs representing close to a third of the plants covered. There is also an illustrated glossary at the back of the book for those of us who don't know what 'etiolation' means.

If you have an interest in the rich cornucopia that is Australian native plants then you probably need this book. After a month of living with this book I can't imagine ever living without it.