Monday, October 29, 2007

I Love Gazanias!

Living so high up in the hills means I must find plants that will survive all the extremes our climate can throw at them. Gazanias are ground hugging plants that provide cover and colour to my garden, and I love them. They propagate easily from cuttings, are drought tolerant, and have such a dense habit they choke out most weeds.

It's a little hobby of mine to collect as many different varieties as I can.

Most of them are flowering now, so here are some..............

Beautiful shades of pinks that start dark and lighten as they open. Great green foliage.

This one just appeared next to the house. Zara the poodle likes to chew her bones on top of the patch, so there is usually a flattened area.

This pink is one of the more common gazanias.

Beautiful deep burgundy

A rich orange and shiny green foliage. Lovely with purples!

Slightly less dramatic, but good with the silvery leaves

This scrumptious little cream one, sneaked in via some mulch from the tip. I love it because it goes beautifully with everything.

A newer version of the pink above. It's a richer colour which shades to orange. Very 'sunsetty'!

My newest one's first flowers. Large white flower with pink center.

This one hitched a ride from the tip as well. I have them in a long run outside the front gate, and the sheep have nibbled them down. These are the only two flowers I could find.

I do have a few more which are young and haven't flowered yet.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Memories of Our Boxer Dog

My daughter rang me last night, talking about how much she liked the painting I posted of her and our boxer dog Dempsey, so I thought I might do a small write-up about him.

We had Dempsey for 9 years only as boxers rarely live much longer that than that. He came to us as an eight week old, gloriously soft faced and beautiful, all big feet and loose skin. He grew rapidly into a lanky teenager, delighting in family life, snoozing under the children's doonas and chewing anything that came into sight.

As he grew into adult hood, a darker side crept into his personality, and I remember his and my first and only face to face argument. I asked him to move from his bed and he growled deep in his throat at me, all bully-boy teenage stuff. He was going to be a huge dog when mature, and potentially dangerous, so I grabbed a newspaper, rolled it up and took off after him around the bedroom. He growled and stood up to me for a while, but I kept thumping him and shouting at him to get down, until finally he acquiesced and did. He rolled over onto his back and showed his belly, a sure sign of acknowledging defeat. I praised him loudly and got him up and outside, and showed him I didn't hold a grudge. He was mine for evermore, and never grumped at me again.

His good humour didn't show to everyone, and each day as the postie came, he would roar out to the fence barking loudly. When we walked the streets with him on the lead, he would spot the postman coming from far away, and be dragging on his lead to get at him. Poor man, he was a bad tempered old bugger who had growled at the dog when he was a pup, and Dempsey never forgot, or forgave.

We also had some pretty awful neighbors who lived on a 'battle-axe block' down behind us. Their two dreadful boys would throw half bricks and gravel at him over the fence when I wasn't home, so he hated them too, giving them the same treatment as the postman. They weren't clever enough to work out what might happen if he got over the fence to them.

He was well bred and very handsome, and one day a woman came to me and asked if she could use him for stud. She brought her bitch on heat for him to meet, and he was horrified, not understanding the manners or mechanics of mating, promptly biting her on the nose .... and drawing blood! Needless to say, there were no puppies expected from that meeting...................

He and I walked many kilometres around
our country town, and we were often stopped by admirers, complimenting me on my beautiful dog. He grew very large, around forty kilos in weight, and his arched neck, high tail carriage and floating movement was reminiscent of an Arabian horse. I never tired of watching him 'strut his stuff'.

Later on, he developed an infection in his prostrate, so he lost his 'undercarriage' and any future opportunities that might have come his way.

As an eight year old, some health problems began to be noticed, and he was diagnosed with cardiomiopathy after his heart was found to be hugely enlarged. This slowed him down considerably. Then he developed some cancerous lumps on his feet. Poor old boy, he aged very rapidly after that, until I finally had to make the hard decision to have him put to sleep. It was a sad day for us all, but we celebrated his life as one worth living.

Cancer and weak hearts are common boxer problems, and I was only talking to a man last week whose dog was put on chemotherapy as a four year old to extract some more time for them both. He now has another, and a second daughter of mine has one as well.

They are wonderful dogs, physically beautiful, with faces full of expression. As an artist, I have always loved them. I did do some portraits of him (see below).

He was a great mate, a top guard dog and loved those who mattered. The rest he didn't bother with.

"Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really."
... Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is Your Plaster Cast comfortable?

I feel compelled to put this in as I had no idea an uncomfortable plaster cast could be so dangerous.

Almost everyday after I had surgery to reconstruct the wrist end of my radius, I had discomfort with my 'back slab. A back slab is a half cast wrapped with bandage, so that when the swelling from the initial injury and surgery subsides, it can be re-wrapped/ tightened if necessary. The disadvantages are that there can be more movement, which can shuffle the ends of the break together and slow healing.

My back slab was uncomfortable from day one, and I re-wrapped it almost everyday, until I got some fat padding from the chemist. It was like heaven to not be so uncomfortable. But there were sore spots on three bony protrusions - the ulna wrist knuckle, a small bony point nearby in my hand, and the end of the radius, at the base of the thumb. The pain from the pressure nearly drove me crazy, and I finally got to my cast with the pliers to make space. This relieved it somewhat, but now 7 weeks into my injury and a week and a half out of my cast, these areas are still very sore, and one is quite swollen.

Until this morning, I had found nothing referring to this problem, apart from my physio talking about inflammation from the cast. Googling today, I came up with this page:
which talks about the dangers of having pressure sores/ not enough space, and they are huge! Gangrene and deformities are not to be taken lightly, and it can set in overnight.

So, if your cast doesn't feel right, do something about it......................

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Watercolour at Last

"No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head."
... Terry Josephson

I used to love to watercolour, and won quite a few prizes over the years. Then my Post Traumatic Stress struck and my concentration went down the tubes. Trying to plan, as you must with watercolour, became an impossibility. Suffering 'brain burn', as I call it, means your head goes into overdrive and generates physical pain - not a headache, but an intense burning sensation, causing an inevitable panic attack. It's a feeling you go out of your way to avoid, so I avoided doing watercolours.

I have pondered and planned endlessly to get back into them and now I am having a go.

This is messy, but nice. It is of my beautiful daughter and my dog Dempsey having a bonding moment many years ago. Dempsey is no longer with us, but thankfully my daughter is.

I'll keep going and do some more................

Mower Man

I was granted two hours gardening a fortnight by the TAC, who provide support post vehicle accidents. I have also finally received 2 hours cleaning weekly starting next Wednesday. Now six and a half weeks into my injury, it seems a bit late, but I will take it gratefully, as the dust is building up.

I have learned to vacuum one handed, and wash the floor. Mopping is quite difficult, and works better if I have a long sleeve on my right arm and the handle can slide up into that.

But I digress: back to the mower man...............

He was a tall, taciturn fellow, but pleasant enough. I walked him around the two gardens, pointing out what needed doing, saying he could choose his areas and my man would pick up the slack.

At the end, he turned to me and said, "The TAC only pays $21 per hour and I charge $45, so you can only have an hour".

I looked at him with my mind racing, pondering on the possibility of dobbing him in, but thought I might hold off and see how he worked.

I joked back, "Well, what are you doing talking to me, you'd better get to work!", and walked back inside.

He whipper snipped furiously for a while, then got the mower going, firstly on in the house yard, then down around the studio. Just over an hour went by, and as he was packing up, I went around for a look, and he had done it all!

I went to thank him, and he said in a pleased voice, "It'll be easier next time!" and drove off down the hill. He was mopping his face profusely, so had worked up quite a sweat.

Needless to say, my man is feeling threatened by this dynamo. He says it would take him half a day to do all that.

Having a self propelled mower like his would take a lot of effort out of mowing the slopes, so maybe we should look at one of those........

After we worked it out, there would have been 40 minutes of traveling time, fuel, and payment for his franchise, so it didn't seemed so bad after all. And our lawns look great!

I had my second physiotherapy session last night, and am feeling a lot more confident about my injury. He says it will take 6 - 12 weeks to really loosen it up, and the full 12 months to stabilise it. He gets the Voltaren and Vitamin E cream and rubs it all in vigorously, crackling the joints around, and flapping my wrist backwards and forwards. It hurts like hell, but I steer my mind away from the pain, and after a while it feels quite good. It certainly feels wonderful to have it moving.

I have two areas of unexplained pain; one on my outside wrist 'knuckle', and at the base of the thumb bone. He says that would have been caused by pressure from the cast, which had been an issue in both places, and the bone was a bit inflamed. Ouch!!! It certainly burns and is quite swollen still.

I have some scary exercises, like steepling my hand in prayer fashion and pushing together. My fingers don't want to do that. Then I must interlock them to force them apart and roll the wrists up and over each other. Everything is designed to stretch the shrunken tendons and ligaments.

I haven't done it this morning because I'm a bit scared of how bad it feels, but that's my next job.................

"Oh, wouldn't the world seem dull and flat with nothing whatever to grumble at?"
~W.S. Gilbert

Postscript Photo

Lunch or playmates?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gang of Five

Just a quick post for today. I had to put a photo I took tonight of our little lambies. The five babies have formed a happy little group, and spend much of the day playing together. Often a tree will be the central pivot as they race wildly round and round, falling over each other with sheer youthful exuberance.

I moved them tonight from one area to another, and they took off with worried mums trying to keep them in view, baaing to slow them down. My Nikon battery died as I took this one, and one baby is out of shot, but their little heels are up and they're flying!

In my darker moments since my accident, I have deliberately gone out to stand and watch them, because they fill me up with their absolute innocence and fun.

This other shot? A view above them across the hills. I love this time of evening, with the long shadows and yellowed light. I came in to change the battery, and looked out, and the light had gone..............

Maybe another time.

"A baby is an angel whose wings decrease as his legs increase."
... Author Unknown

Monday, October 22, 2007

Forest Fog

The mist rolled in at lunchtime yesterday, after a weekend of bright dry days. Our driveway disappeared into a white fudge, and our lambs snoozed comfortably in the warm silence. After a time, the rain began to fall slowly and quietly, as if gravity was pulling it from above. The afternoon passed in this way and our nibbled down grass was watered and readied for regrowth.

We view mist differently in our high place in the hills. Often we can wake in bright sunshine and look below to a 'mystic lake', where only a few trees poke through a thick doona of mist. Other times we can have our heads in the clouds and below is clear. Driving up or down can change our views on the days' weather in a few kilometres.

This photo below is a favourite of mine, and I have even done a large pastel from it. That Mountain Ash Eucalypt is sadly no more, as that magnificent branch crashed to the road some years back, and then the whole tree tumbled a couple of years later.

Was it any wonder, when the pull of that long heavy branch downwards would have pushed the strength of the joint to the limit?

Mountain Ashes are one of Australia's most magnificent eucalypts, with their pale striped trunks and red brown bark pulled down like discarded stockings.

We have some younger ones on our block, and if you don't check in on them regularly, you can find they have shot skywards and developed all the grand characteristics like the ones above. In late summer, they flower with clumps of tiny fragrant blossoms which the bees love.

I have one dangerously near my studio, but the Crimson Rosellas congregate amongst the leaves and call me for their seed during winter. Sometimes we talk about trimming it a little, to stop the inevitable branch drop that gum trees do, but I can't bring myself to have it removed.

It is on a steep bank which would pull it away from the building, and the big winds usually blow the other way, so that's my excuse. If it falls, it won't fall on me!

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
.... Joyce Kilmer

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Green Green Grass of Home

This time of the year the green of the grass almost burns your eyes.

We live in a lush and beautiful part of Victoria, with high rainfall and quality topsoil. Paddocks are being mowed early for silage, and there are hillocks covered with plastic weighted down by tyres on many properties.

Cows apparently love this richly fermented cut grass, and when I look at the emptyings from our mower catcher piled up for a few weeks, I wonder whether it's similar to silage. Early cutting and follow-up rain means another cut for hay closer to Christmas. During the drought last year hay was at a premium, reaching unbelievable prices, so our locals can hopefully relax this season.

We were asked to do an emergency bottle feed of a neighbour's orphaned lamb on Saturday. His name is Zipper because of a black line down his nose.

We were told he would rush up to us and suck crazily on the bottle until empty, then run back to his friend, Rocky the alpaca. That's exactly what happened. He is a lot bigger than our babies, though they're catching up.

Rocky is a big, handsome alpaca wether, but is very serious by nature. He peers ominously at you from under his impossibly long eyelashes, just willing you to come closer so he can spit at you. He and his two friends kept their distance, and when Zipper returned with a full tummy, they moved regally away.

I am told Zipper will lie down next to Rocky, cuddled into his lush wool with his legs up onto his side.


Now the overwhelming windy weather has stopped, our bees are out in full force, harvesting the huge banks of Blue Pacific.

The noise of their combined buzzing is unbelievable, but augers well for a good honey harvest this year. I would like to split our hive into two soon, and must order a new queen to be posted to us, so we can install her and some workers into the empty hive.

Having had a busted wrist which is just out of plaster, so my hand hangs like a painful lump of wood off my arm, means we will have to ask for help. The local bee keeper who sold us the hive has apparently offered, so I am relieved. My man took two stings last time the hive was opened and he has a long memory, and mutters darkly about not going in himself. I love all our little ladies, and don't mind copping a sting, but I do need two hands.

Apparently a new queen can be ordered and posted to us, then installed in her cage with a few workers to care for her. She begins to smell like she belongs during the week it takes for the workers to chew through the box to release her, so I am looking forward to learning about the process.

I took this photo below and wonder whether it is of one of our native bees, though there is no pollen on the rear legs. They seem to like the Golden Diosmas, as there were quite a few on this bush. I will send the photo off for identification.

“Yes, there is Nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem”

.... Kahlil Gibran

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bye Bye Babies............

I went for a last visit and to photograph Glynnis's cavoodle puppies yesterday. I haven't seen them for a few weeks because I can't drive at the moment, so she came and picked me up.

The babies are ready to go this weekend, and though they will be missed, managing a pile of wriggly puppies with constant needs is beginning to tell on the family. Apparently they are waking at 3.30 onwards for breakfast and go right on squealing and wrestling for hours afterwards.

Mum Meggie is really enjoying playing with them and gets right down and dirty rolling around and nipping at them. Other times, it's all too much.

Little Ruby is very quiet and gets picked on a bit by the other two rowdy bubs. She retreats to her bed and snoozes when things get too rough.

As we left for the drive home, Meggie asked to come too, and she sat, free as a bird in the grandsons' car seat, head out the window and not thinking about babies at all..................

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Feel Better Now!

I feel annoyed with myself for posting a gloomy piece yesterday, and do apologise. When I began this I promised myself I would not use it as a forum for personal venting. We all have our days, and I certainly have recently, but who wants to read a self indulgent whinge?

Anyway......... yesterday, I did have a dark moment when I was painting out in my studio. My hand began to ache hugely, so I took off the caste and it had blown up like a balloon ...... all hot and prickly.

I panicked a bit and rang the surgeon's rooms, and they said to come on up for him to have a look. My poor man was traveling home from a work over-nighter and had to turn the car around and retrace part of his trip.

The surgeon had a look (the swelling had subsided somewhat by then, don't you hate that?), and wriggled a lot of complaining joints around. Some moved and some didn't, but he pronounced it fine, and left the plaster off. So, now I am off to physio next week to get my hand back.

It had blown up big time again by the time I got home, and woke me in the night to put the cast back on for support, but this morning I had a lovely two armed shower and rubbed all the layers of left over skin off. Wonderful! I read once that humans shed a bag full of skin each month. Makes you want to vacuum more, doesn't it?

I got on the WWW to research post broken bones care, and found a fabulous piece of info called '
New fracture treatment allows early function and better recovery'

It talked about fixing suitable fractures surgically with metal supports so the bone pieces don't rub together. This facilitates early movement with little pain, the break mends more quickly and strongly, and all associated joints and muscles don't deteriorate as they do by immobilising with plaster. This damage can be permanent, causing cartilage, bone and muscle breakdown.

My break was a complex one and needed immobilising, but I am taking the rest on board, and am making myself use all the joints a little. My wrist and thumb don't want to do much, but I will ask them anyway, and I am not as afraid of damaging myself. I even asked my hand to have a go at hanging out the washing. Onwards and upwards again!

We really enjoyed watching our lambies spronging around in the dusk last night. Even their mums were butting at each other and skipping around like woolly idiots. Calves do the same thing. It seems the fading light turns on their fun buttons. I will take the camera out tonight and try to get a shot.

One little girl is a bit hoppy on her front leg, but she's weight bearing so should be OK. She probably hit a rough spot in the dusk and sprained her knee a little.

"There are no gains without pains."
.... Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's Stopped Blowing

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."
.....A. A. Milne. From the book Winnie the Pooh

Today, finally, there is no wind, and I feel vaguely confused because of the stillness.

Five and a half weeks since my tangle with a car and I am tired of the pain, the confinement, and having to negotiate everything single handed.

Each week I have had warm and wonderful visits from a friend or family member, which has diverted my darker moments for a time.

I tell myself constantly I am so lucky to have not been injured more, but even the effort of staying upbeat is draining.

Yesterday I found the tip of the screw that pokes through my wrist bone and comes out the other side. I showed the x-ray to a nurse friend who expressed concern. Finding a sharp point sitting exposed into my flesh perhaps means every time I put pressure on it, it will pierce a new hole. Maybe it will need to be taken out.............

My thumb doesn't bend, and complains loudly at its base each time I try to move it. More injury needing more treatment? I hope not.

Hanging on so hard to the bike bars as I impacted has stressed that joint hugely along with shattering my wrist.

Grumble over. It's my birthday on the first, and I get to choose a present ..... maybe a chandelier for my bedroom, or an external hard drive for my photos. If I don't choose something, he stresses out, wanting to get me the perfect present. I don't need much, other than my hand back.

I'm off out to the studio to struggle over some ideas I am trying. I'll post another picture from my garden to brighten up your day. :0)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who'd Be a Boy?

I'm feeling a bit guilty about breeding little boy lambies after yesterday. Our sheep shearer came round and blitzed them with the rubber rings, and they went into shock, laying down with closed eyes and legs in the air.

I was warned, and didn't watch, but had to check them later. Poor little boys........

They're up again this morning, maybe not kicking up their heels, but life has begun anew, so I can relax. Half an hour and the girls were crutched and drenched. Weeksie had a 'gorgeous' trim around the eyes so she can see again. and all lambs had tails ringed and their 5 in one shots as well. They were pronounced very fat and healthy, and mums had plenty of milk, so we must be doing something right.

The little twin girls seemed oblivious to all the drama. Tails can't hurt as much as undercarriage.


I can't help myself.....
One more view from the front of my studio up the bank to the house. Gazanias in front, mauve brachycome, not yet flowering hebe, a (red/purple not flowering) hebe hedge in the middle, cream prostrate grevillea, and jasmine just coming into flower on the top fence

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Year's Garden

Now I have my new card reader up and working, and it's stopped raining and blowing for a minute, I can post some photos from yesterday........

Lush green of new growth, and a grouping of blues and purples. Huge Blue Pacific (the bees love it!) at top, white potato creeper at back, new maple leaves, a snippet of my second year almond tree at left, honeysuckle (not flowering), and I can't remember the two flowering purples(?).

My mum used to know the names of everything, but I don't.

Steps leading up from my studio to the house. I would love to surface them with slate, and have collected some, but not done yet. The sides are treated pine at top and two strings of wire below, with variegated ivy twisted round. The left side has about two year's growth, but is nearly there. It needs heaps of trimming, and ivy's so over enthusiastic, but it softens hard lines so well.

Last year's petunia I cut back, along with a new climbing white iceberg rose planted last year to trail up the front of the studio.

Don't you love forget me nots? I pulled them all out for years, now I let them run. So pretty for spring. I even found a pink abberation yesterday! The head was given to me by a friend who got it at a sale. I haven't found a safe place for it yet. You can see a piece of ear at right (must glue that back......).

A view from front path of my studio, those steps (see photo above) in the middle. Huge cream prostrate grevillea which holds the banks together, shields the naughty bunnies, and feeds the bees big time. I have another next to it and planted a third three months ago. The bank is so steep, all mulch and topsoil wanders down after a time, so anything that covers it and looks good is great. Lots of soft ferny leaves when it's not flowering, which just drapes down the hill. The reddish bush at left is a naturally seeded native that I left there and have trained it into a rounded shape. This year it has flowered for the first time with tiny cream flowers. New growth is a lovely russet and it clips back really well. See another upright grevillea bush in front of the blue pacific up the top.... 'Moonlight'. It has soft leaves and six inch creamy sculpted flowers. There are so many beautiful grevilleas: I have about eight.

Hidden behind that bush, along my studio walkway, is a long run of flowering arum lilies, a budding second season purple rhododendron, verbena, irises not yet flowering and a white hydrangea, which gets burnt each summer. I often think I should move that, but the maple is growing bigger, and should shelter it soon.

One of my absolute favorites, the glorious Candytuft! A dear little perennial, sort of, this one doesn't seem to die back. The most brilliant snowy white flowers, and seeds enthusiastically all summer so you can collect them and start some new ones. This plant is about four years old and has a collection of little babies around it. Breaking my wrist has slowed me down, but I am going to pick them all up and plant them in a border round some roses.

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.
My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.
The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful."

... Abram L. Urban

It's Never Boring.................

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."

.... Elizabeth Stone

It's been a full on week, with lots of good happenings. My new baby grandson Asher and his mum came up to stay for a night, so I got a great baby fix. He is six months old now, and the most loved little boy. He's nearly sitting now and got up on his knees for his first rock backwards and forwards.

My busted wrist has stopped me from grooming my scruffy poodles, so we wheeled the hydrobath out and washed the kids, and let them dry in the sun. They all look and feel much nicer now. I asked the TAC (Transport Accident Commission)to include a clip and bath in my necessary services, but the first two said yes, and the last said no!

I can get gardening, house cleaning and taxi, but they refuse to include my dog maintenance. A bit mean. After 35 years as a dog groomer (now retired), doing the dogs is a normal house hold duty for me.

I took a trip to the doctor yesterday for a medical certificate for the above, and a referral to my surgeon to look at my knee. Now the pain of the wrist has receded a little, it looks like my knee has been injured as well. Never ending repercussions from a driver not paying attention. I often wonder out loud what he might be doing then, rather than nursing a broken body at home for me!

Coming home from town last night, we drove up our steep driveway with sinking hearts. There were hundreds of cattle footprints all the way up into the house yard. We had had some unwelcome visitors. I raced around the garden expecting to see absolute devastation, but apart from a broken agapanthus, and two big piles of slimey cow poo, we escaped damage. The poodles thought the delicious poop was put there especially for their taste test, so I had to mix it up with mulch and gravel to make it less palatable. The old dog was seen coming into the house with a green chin! Yuuuuuk!

Just on dark, the offending farmer came up very distressed, thinking I would tear his throat out. Apparently he had closed our gate to move cattle past, and we came through later and left it open. The whole herd came up. We reassured him that no damage was done, and he was very relieved.

The weather has been very wet and cold after a few sunny days. All the little lambies need their tails and undercarriage done (for the boys), and shots for the numerous diseases I didn't know they got. The local shearer is coming tomorrow night to assist and crutch all the mums. After lambing, they are a bit grotty and I worry about them getting flyblown when the blowflies come out again in the heat. So much involved in this sheep stuff, but good fun.

My replacement card reader arrived from the US in 8 days! Record time! Who wouldn't use eBay? It cost less than AU $10, including postage. More photos coming!

Finally, making some chocolate cup cakes to take us through the weekend, I looked out the window and saw a tiny baby bunny nibbling the grass out on the lawn. Needless to say the poodles were inside. I have a love/ hate relationship with rabbits, and wish the babies weren't so cute. The parents eat my rose buds and hebe shoots and dig deep warrens into my garden banks, which really gives me the pip. So I am trying to reduce their numbers on one side and admiring their sweet little babies on the other.

He can't reach my rose shoots yet!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Garden Glories

After a day of warm but sad remembrances yesterday, I thought I would post something that made my heart swell..... MY GARDEN!

Although my broken wrist is making it difficult to continue with my garden building and maintenance, I was very lucky to have done a bit of preparation in the weeks preceding my accident, so I am getting some results.

BUT, these photos are from last year, as I broke my card reader last week and am waiting on a new one via eBay. It's a bit complicated to download photos without it. I have to lug my heavy laptop upstairs, crank up my old computer, connect my USB umbilical from one to the other, then copy and paste all my pics across. That ain't easy with a broken arm!

My camera is a seven year old Nikon Coolpix 880, which has taken over 12,000 photos, and sustained a break after a heavy drop from a motorbike. It's never missed a beat apart from then, even after repairs, and takes wonderful shots. My man says, "I'll get you a new camera", but I say, "Why, when this one is so good still?".

This has been a cold spring, with icy winds and not the usual level of rains that inspire spring growth. Having a burgeoning flock of ewes and lambs, we want more sunshine....... and a shower at night, please?

View to my studio door

My garden is only about 4-5 years old and is finally developing some nice corners. We have HUGE winds as we are exposed on all sides, so plants must be chosen carefully for wind tolerance and exposure to very hot and cold conditions. Most need to be fairly ground hugging, or they just snap off or fall over. Any shade or sheltered areas are jammed with plants.

I love cool areas like this with tiny cameos

Last year was a cacophony of colour.... almost too much, and it stopped early in summer, with fewer flowers coming as it warmed up. This year I have moved a lot of pieces around in a bid to get colour well into summer. I am waiting for those to establish and perform how I want them to.

But, for a short stretch, I have a huge carpet of blooms .... diosmas, gazanias, and a huge cream prostrate grevillea that the bees LOVE and holds the banks together. I struggle to keep the bunnies from nibbling my rose shoots, but I really love my 'Julia's Rose' with it's antiqued apricot.

..... and my totally scrumptious rhododendron, which is just like confectionery

I have planted more .... purple and red, but the drought has been harsh this year and some won't flower. There's always next year.

I love the total luxury of the glorious flowers and have done quite a few pastels of Rhododendrons and sold them.

This is a large framed pastel, a multi prize-winner, and is available for sale.

We went for a photography stint a few years back up to the National Rhododendron Gardens at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges. There are a huge number of glorious bushes spread over many acres, and is well worth the visit in October/November for those in Victoria.

We grew up visiting my grandmother who owned an historic property at Olinda, which was filled with banks of hydrangeas, camellias, rhododendrons, and a walnut grove. I have many wonderful memories of our times spent there.

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas."
....... Elizabeth Murray