During the summer holidays, we stayed at Flinders, in the Mornington Peninsula.. as we did last year.
This year, Paul and I took time off the beach to visit an open garden, a garden high on the hill and surrounded by farms and vineyards.
This garden is owned by gardener Jo Ferguson, and her partner, Simon Hazel.
Jo Ferguson is a gardener designer, and takes charge of design, the planting and the day-to- day care of the property.
Jo has a simple, but interesting idea on planning a garden; imagine a place where you are most happy, or a place in your childhood where you were happy. Try to bring elements of this into the garden.
Simon liked to see bees on flowers, and Jo liked grasslands, “when I was little I would sit in the grasslands on the foreshore of Merrick beach.”
They have made a unique garden on a hill in Flinders, defying harsh winds and heavy clay soil, and following what makes them happy.
The garden has Echinacea, Kangaroo Paws, alliums, dahlias, paper daisies, and many more flowers, all waving in the breeze and searching for space amongst the local and exotic grasses.
Jo’s partner Simon Hazel works in commercial landscaping, and deals with the larger-scale aspects of the landscape.
Simon tops up their heavy clay soil with a mix of sand, compost and course mulch.
He makes his own compost by incorporating 100 cubic metres of horse manure and vast quantities of grape marc (the solid remains of grapes after pressing, from local vineyards in the region.) He then turns the mix with his Digger, and leaves it for a year, before use.
I’m sure that this kind of dedication to compost would bring excellent results!
Jo and Simon have impressive water tanks, used for the house and garden, the vegetable garden, chickens and alpacas, and the odd sheep.
They have an abundance of vegetables growing in the garden, unfortunately I could not get photo of some parts of the garden. It was very popular with visitors.
It was easy to see that this garden was a labour of love, and every season would bring more surprises.
On the way back to our holiday house Paul and I chatted about what brings us joy in the garden.
When we arrived back at our holiday house and garden, our grandchildren were very excited because there were two Eastern Rosellas in the garden, and even better two Magpies, our granddaughter was sure they were the same Magpies as the ones that entertained us last year.
It occurred to me that one of the many things that brings me joy in the garden is being able to attract a variety of birds, with the help of birdbaths, and shrubs, bushes and small trees that provide safe haven for birds looking for food.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, what brings you joy in the garden?
Recently a family living in the Adelaide Hills had an unexpected visitor to their Christmas tree. There are many trees in the area where they live, and seeing koalas in the trees is not uncommon. However, a curious koala had made it’s way into Amanda McCormick’s house
and climbed up the Christmas tree! The story went viral when her daughter posted these photos on FB. The koala was gently removed, (the Wildlife Rescue Team thinking this was a hoax at first) and the koala was taken back to her natural habitat. Fortunately she had not managed to eat decorations or green plastic leaves!
Amanda McCormick said, ”After a bad year, it was nice to have that”
2020 has been a year like no other. A year of changing our routines and habits, feeling a degree of fear and anxiety as the pandemic spread, and spending more time at home than ever before.
Looking back over my photos of the year, I feel as if we have lived three years in one year! Was it really only in January that we did a trip to Melbourne Botanic gardens? Wasn’t that a life time ago?
Lockdown began in Canberra in March and we realised it was time to cancel our long planned trip to the UK in May. The light slowly dawned on us all that travel to another country was definitely not going to happen any time in the near future, and travel to other states within Australia became increasingly difficult too.
By August and September, when the state of Victoria had the worst number of Covid cases in Australia and therefore the hardest lockdown, travel to another suburb within Melbourne was banned for three months. During this time, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, our daughter, living in Melbourne, gave birth to a baby boy.
Despite all the hurdles of tight hospital rules and general anxiety in the community, this bonny baby was born in September and he smiles all the time….the best of 2020.
During this Lockdown year, most Australians have been able to go for walks, around suburbs and within slightly wider boundaries.
As good luck would have it , the La Nina had begun, bringing plenty of rain to Australia.
Now there is less chance of drought and bushfires in summer…not to mention beautiful healthy green growth, food for all the birds and animals around Canberra.
If the Chicagoan architects and planners of this city, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony could see Canberra now (well, most parts of it anyway) …..so much greenery, bushland and space, at a time when it is most needed. Many thanks to them.
I have read that during this pandemic, dog ownership has become remarkably popular, in Australia and elsewhere. This is not surprising considering how many people have been working from home…dogs provide both companionship and a reason to exercise!
Our daughter bought a puppy, named Charlie, during this year, and he has been a great Covid year companion, and we look forward to his visits. He is very very cute!
Last summer I wrote about a gardener in our suburb, named Ken, who had begun to grow plants on the verge outside his home and garden.
This year, he has, with the permission of the local council, extended the area and he has planted, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. (the vegetables are for any passer-by to pick)
These pathways are well used by the local community, and every time we walked past there are a whole range of new plants to admire.
Ken and his wife are very proud of their gardens and always have time for a chat. The big sandstone rocks provide seating and shade, and companionship to passers-by. Best of all, the birds love the extra trees and plant food.
I think this casual interaction between neighbours gives us a sense of community, and belonging, I’m not sure anyone had the time for chatting before 2020!
Yesterday, as we walked through these gardens and down the hill to get the morning paper, we came across some busy cockatoos.
The ABC Science show recently had an interesting talk on Sulphur Crested Cockatoos..
They often fly in flocks as big as 50 -100, (the noise they make is deafening) but spend their time sleeping and eating in small five square kilometre areas, with tight networks, going from 5-20 birds who seem to be best mates….as seen here.
They could be collecting the bark to look for bugs to eat, and/or perhaps sharpening their beaks at the same time. (I’m open to suggestions). They are such intelligent birds they could be just keeping busy.
I always love to catch a glimpse of birdlife in Canberra, and to look over at the Brindabella Mountains….may they keep that blue/green hue all summer long.
Many thanks for visiting my blog this year. During a year of so much solitude, I have enjoyed reading blogs and keeping in touch with every day living in other parts of the world.
May you have a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Desiderata was my mother’s favourite verse, and it is very apt for today, despite it being written in 1692!
”…with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
In our Canberra garden this beautiful Crimson Rosella is feeding on the nectar of the pretty Salvia elegans, or Pineapple Sage….the flower and the parrot are almost matching in colour.
The sweet pineapple-smelling leaves and bright red tubular flowers of this plant can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes. However, for us, the joy of having this plant in our garden is to see the birds feeding on it in autumn.
A few years ago I planted a little stick of Peppermint sage near the kitchen window, to protect it from severe frosts. I was surprised to see it survive the winter, and then to see it flowering so beautifully in late summer and all through the autumn.
This dainty honey eater is called an Eastern Spinebill, and with its long curved beak it feeds on tubular flowers such as correas and grevilleas as well as the peppermint sage.I wish we could measure the energy this little bird uses as it eats and keeps its wings in motion at the same time…no wonder it is often mistaken for a hummingbird.
(If you look carefully at the new five dollar note, you can see the head and beak of the Eastern Spinebill featured)
I have read that Pineapple Sage is irresistible to nectar feeding birds and butterflies including hummingbirds in New Mexico where this plant naturally occurs.
Sometimes the Crimson Rosella shares feeding time with the Eastern Spinebill, and they both tolerate this pesky photographer hanging around but,…. if looks could kill…….
This is the Red Wattle bird, has arrived to share in the Peppermint Sage bounty…
The Fuchsia is also flowering long after its usual time….and the Red Wattle is stocking up on nectar all round..
This shy looking young King Parrot is not a regular visitor to the garden, and probably hasn’t got the memo yet that this Almond tree is primarily a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo restaurant.
The colourful Eastern Rosellas are very cautious, the closest I have ever seen one in the garden is on our Japanese Maple, about half way down the garden path..
…the birdbath by the back fence is another safe spot.
and here is the Magpie who potters around in my neighbour’s garden most days……
Today he has ventured into our front garden and is about to start digging around in our small bit of lawn for grubs….
…. well may he hang down his head..
I love the way young Magpies put their wings out and run away from trouble, why not fly??
On this glorious autumn day there are still some almonds to eat…so all is well in this garden….
Cockatoos are frequent visitors to our garden, especially when the almond tree flowers and the almonds grow and drop onto the ground.
They spend a lot of time collecting the almonds from the ground, cracking open shells, and eating almonds on the carport roof, while socialising…
They are pretty good at putting on a show for the camera too..
The almond tree has beautiful flowers and is much loved by many birds.
However, there is seldom harmony amongst birds and gardeners in spring.
Recently a couple of the cockatoos hopped onto the almond tree and started shredding the leaves and the flowers. Earlier this year, they had successfully shredded our flowering Eucalyptus tree of many of its smaller branches, so we hoped this wasn’t going to start a new trend…
Paul waved the broom at them and politely said ”shoo!”
Well! We’ve never heard that tone before!
For our resident cockatoos, even implied criticism is hard to take…they collected their almonds and flew off to the neighbouring telephone wires….
and turned their backs on us!
….. and if you think you are going to get a photo opportunity from us…you can go sing for your supper…
They disappeared for a few days, but, sadly, the plot thickens.
Last year, I took most of these perfectly good tulips out of the front garden and put them in pots on the deck in the back garden.
Cockatoos frequently fly over the deck to get to the almond tree, and very occasionally they behead a daffodil or two along the way, usually the ones that have the temerity to flower early.
However, sometime after our falling out with the cockatoos, we came home one evening to find some of the early flowering tulips, and some crocus had been pulled out of their pots, and half eaten…. what a mess, what destruction!
The culprits had very large beaks…
Cockatoos are known to be curious and intelligent birds…so, were they sampling new bulbs for taste or bearing a grudge?
As my neighbour said, perhaps….”Revenge is a dish best served cold”
The cockatoos did not come visiting for a while, but we enjoyed seeing some of the other springtime youngsters…
Recently we went to Sydney for a wedding, and this time I hid my (remaining) flowering bulbs behind the camellia on the deck…better safe than sorry…
All quiet on the home front when we got home…
At least we have a few surviving tulips for the deck, so all is not lost.
There is not much chance to enjoy anything in the garden at the moment, because the rain has been tumbling down all week.
Except of course if you are a cockatoo. Word is out that the almond shells are lovely and soft, and have been lying around on the ground for some time now.
Well, okay you’re forgiven. We’ll just sit here in the rain and enjoy the bounty ….
I guess every gardener has some challenges, and at least ours are mighty big personalities!
Since I started blogging and reading gardening blogs, I’ve learnt all about a the hazards of nearby rabbits, possums, deer, squirrels and other invaders in the garden…do you have yours?