Welcome friends. A Jug of White Daisies is about my life and all the thoughts that come to me while I'm walking, doing the dishes, having a shower or hanging washing on the line - some of my regular activities that give me time to think. It's about all the things that make up my life - cooking, cleaning, creating, loving, learning, discovering, rolling my eyes, sighing, smiling, forgiving, making do, making the most of, looking up, gardening, hugging, being. It's about the things that I make for sale, fabulous finds, the wisdom and beauty in the world, and it's about stopping to admire the simple perfection of daisies.

And in amongst all the thinking and writing about that, I'll be doing it all, and more, so if you don't see me for a day or two, please send chocolate.

September 4, 2017

Tree Talk

While we have waited for things to happen in the house, I have spent time in the garden. The garden is big, hot, neglected, and dry with deep, sandy loam for soil - no nice composted anything in it. No worms either. It's fertile enough for things to grow, but it desperately needs compost and mulch to make it rich.

There wasn't much here when we bought the house, most of the grounds was just what was laughingly called lawn by the real estate guy. He was deluded. It was almost entirely made up of weeds, although there are three types of grass as well: the bush type, that grows about 3 feet high and has very hardy roots, the thin spindly type that sends out long runners into every direction so that you trip on it if you aren't careful (and it also likes to invade garden beds), and the broad leaf type that actually makes a decent lawn if you have enough of it (we don't) and you ever get half decent rainfall, which, unfortunately, we can only dream of. But the weed count is truely impressive!

There also wasn't much shade. There is a massive poinciana tree overhanging the driveway and the electricity cables (not good) that does provide us with some very welcome shade in the front garden, which faces north, into the sun. However, the roots have completely wrecked the concrete driveway. The lady we bought the house from mentioned that they had fixed the driveway. I looked at it and wondered what the heck it could have looked like before if this was it fixed!

See what I mean? Not very "fixed" looking!

The poinciana sheds. All. The. Time. It sheds teeny tiny leaves by the billion. Leaves so tiny shouldn't make that much mess! But added to the leaves, it sheds twigs, huge seed pods, thousands of seeds, and flower petals. I've pulled up at least five hundred baby trees since we moved here two years ago. Because it's been lopped once, it no longer has the lovely broad canopy of older poinciana trees, but instead is quite sparse and tall. To give you some sense of scale, the little green line at the bottom of the picture is a 2m high fence.

The seed pods at least are useful. We use them as Quick-Starter pods in our firebox. They burn so hot and fast that they are terrific for helping to get the fire going. But seriously, we have two big boxes of pods in the shed and ... it's the end of winter and the tree is chock full of the things!

Our neighbours don't like the tree either, as it's just as naughty on their side. So it has to go at some stage, despite the lovely shade it gives us over the driveway and into the garden. But... it will cost a couple of thousand dollars, supposing we even get permission to fell it, and we just don't have the funds right now. So in the meantime we will collect a few years worth of pods, pull up more babies, sweep the bumpy driveway regularly, and enjoy the shade.

In the same bed as the poincianna there were several large palm trees, some golden palm, a tree fern, a banksia, a huge native hibiscus and three sad little port wine magnolias, along with some lillies and ornamental grasses. I don't much care for palm trees. OK, I don't like them at all. I try not to hate anything. But palms turn me right off. Pretty much sub zero affection rating... So the biggest have already gone. There's one weirdly shaped one still to go, but  I've decided to keep the golden palms, because they are actually quite nice along the western fence line and I know they won't get much bigger than they are. They give some shade at least. It's a very deep garden bed, so I still have space to plant pretty things in front.

When I say banksia, by the way, I don't mean a bush. This poor thing, crowded out and desperate for light, was just one long, long branch snaking across the bed to find light. Some enterprising previous house ownder had tied it to the carport for support. It was a bit ridiculous. I checked online to see if it would be OK to cut it back, or would it just die? The experts seemed to say that Australian natives often get pruned back to the butt by bushfire, so if you want to chop it, do it. It will either survive or not. Thanks a lot, so helpful.

But anyway, I figured that if it didn't survive, I didn't want it there anyway. So I got out my trusty saw and turned leggy into hope. And hey presto, it has lots of new branches. They are also getting long, and they still have to come forward to get any light, but I'm going to prune them again to see if I can make it bushier and more lush. I don't mind if I have to wait a few years to get flowers again, as long as it is a better shape eventually. It has a lot more space now that the palm and several other things are gone, but it's overshadowed by the neighbours very large lilypily. The bed is not in any way sorted yet, but if I can start the process of taming, at least the poor banksia has a better chance. It doesn't look much yet, but a couple of years pruning and thickening and it should be reasonable.

On the other side of the front garden, there is a little melaleuca, a grevillea and a bottle brush. The bottle brush was really scraggly, so I recently chopped it back severely and it's just starting to leaf up lushly. I hope to make it into a much better shape, with lots more branches than before. I've already tip-pruned it once, to encourage a bit more bushiness. Poor thing, it looks pretty pathetic. But the neighbours behind us chopped theirs off about 60cm from the ground last year and it's now a lovely ball of new growth.

Out the back there is a large old frangipani, so fragrant and lush. Happily, it's the old common one, lovely creamy white with yellow centres. I like some of the colourful ones, but I really love the one we have. It has been trimmed in the past, making it quite leggy, but that's OK, it has a nice big shady canopy in the summer, and of course, being deciduous, provides some winter sun underneath. At present, underneath is just scraggly grass and some random bits of concrete. A nice touch, the concrete... it isn't anything, just rubble left who knows when and thoughtfully kept under the frangipani... yes, we are so lucky!

Next to the frangipani there are two very tall palm trees. Blah. They are going as soon as I can persuade Duncan to do the job. Of course, it's not simple and requires big ladders, ropes, an extra person, a chain saw, etc. And then we have to deal with the mess. I really need to buy a ute... But oh, the mess they make of the soil! I am going to have to hire a kanga or something to break up the ground so that I can plant anything else, it will be a horrible mass of roots. And as to feeding the wildlife, well, there are plenty of other gardens with palm trees. And I will be planting things in their place that are pretty, and also feed the wildlife.

It sounds like we have heaps of trees actually, but with a block of land our size, there is hardly anything, and half of that is going. I am planning on planting lots of new trees, pretty things that provide shade, flowers, fruit, leafy beauty and soothing sounds in the breeze. A garden in fact, rather than a few things dotted about with nothing in between. It's going to take time, but it will be lovely one day.

love Heather x

"We may think that we are nurturing our garden, but really, it's our garden that is really nurturing us." Jenny Uglow.

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