Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I want for Christmas

All Judy and I want for Christmas is some rain.
It has been very frustrating seeing all the showers bypass us, just yesterday a suburb about six kilometers away received 60mm of rain while we got nothing.
The temperature has stayed in the 30s for what seems like months, there's just no respite.
This is the worst gardening time I have known in my life, it's just so sad to see my beautiful plants so stressed out and dying, what can I do other than use town water and there's just not enough of that what with the restrictions.
We will probably put another large tank in early next year. I knew we had enough water for four months of drought but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would go this long without rain.
Gardening is not an easy hobby that's for sure.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

November 2009 Garden News

Again I have to start with the amazing run of dry weather, after installing six rainwater tanks storing 82,500 litres I knew we would have enough water to get us through any known drought, but, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would go almost SIX months without rain. The garden is turning into a dust bowl and all the trees and plants are looking stressed. We are now using town water, just enough to keep the plants alive (we hope).
The Open Garden lead up was the hardest and most stressful we have ever had, mainly due to the heat wave and dry conditions, but to make it worse the Lions Club pulled out of the catering and this was done by family.
The Open Garden was not a success with just over 400 visitors, this was down by 50%, catering lost about $300 and plant sales were down by 60%, I put it down to the heatwave as temperatures in the sun were in the 40s.
We will do it again next year and hope that the weather is kinder to us.
I know that garden visitor numbers are down throughout Queensland with some really good gardens getting only 200 visitors; we will not open again if our numbers were ever that low.
We are still buying plants, not planting them out until the weather changes for the better.
Now for some really exciting news, Judy and I are finalists in Gardening Australia’s ‘Gardener of the Year’ competition. This is the most prestigious award a home gardener can receive, so of course we are really excited about this.
The other good news is that our eldest son won the 'Sporting Wheelie of the Year award', very well deserved for this World Champion Disabled water Skier.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Garden News October 2009

First some figures, over 5000 people have visited this site and what is really interesting they have been from 80 different countries also my photo-bucket site has had over 154,000 photos downloaded.
‘Simply amazing’.
It’ has started to rain again in Queensland but seems to be missing Birkdale, one suburb close by received 135mm while all we got was a bit of drizzle.
All our tanks are empty and it’s getting stressful as we only have four weeks to our ‘open garden’.
I am still talking to Garden Clubs, Judy and I went to the Glebe Garden Club early in the month and Splinters Club at Indooroopilly.
I have distributed 4000 ‘Open Garden’ flyers so far, so hopefully if the weather is fine we will have a good turnout.
The Lions Club have just notified me that they cannot do the catering for our open weekend, that is a real disappointment as they always do such a great job, anyway my son’s fiancĂ© has volunteered to do it, she seems very confidant, so there will still be a sausage sizzle, tea, coffee and cakes.
I have some great raffle prizes this year, all garden related, we will probably donate the proceeds of this to the ‘Sporting Wheelies and Disabled’ organisation.
I have had a crook shoulder for the past few weeks and after three cortisone injections it is not getting any better.
It’s amazing how many little changes you can make to the garden, a plant here and there, a pot in a different position can make a lot of difference.
We went to the ‘Cordyline Society’ meeting at Jacobs Well, the hosts were John and Jenny Catlin, well it was paradise, they collect rare plants and the collection is magnificent, we bought a few plants but will be going back to buy more. They had a Jade Vine in flower; hope mine will look like that one day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

September 2009 Garden News

As part of the SMART Gardener program I gave a couple of lectures on Sub Tropical Gardening at our local library, my talk seemed to be well received.
Judy has just come out of hospital after having her feet straightened, so I will be looking after her for a while as she will not be very mobile for a few weeks.
Scott did very well at the World Disabled Water Ski Championships winning gold and three silver medals, still a ‘World Champion’.
I spoke at the Aspley Garden Club, friendship day; Judy could not join me due to the surgery.
I have hurt my shoulder and am in a lot of pain, had cortisone injections and have bought a ‘circulation booster’ which is fantastic and is helping relieve the pain.
We have not had a spring; it’s just gone straight to summer.
We have had days and days of very strong winds with dust storms, the weather can only be described as awful, and it’s just so dry, only 8mm of rain since July. I can honestly say this period is the driest I have known.
We have emptied three tanks and are getting desperate; gardening is such a stressful hobby, it’s a real battle just to keep our plants alive.
Due to the very mild winter and early heat everything is going to flower early this year, caladiums out already!
I visited our local landscape yard the other day and fell in love with some large boulders they had, they had a reddish tinge which goes with the colours of our house, so I bought them and had them delivered on the front lawn.
I then used a crowbar to put them in position (no wonder I have a crook shoulder) brought some soil in and planted four ‘Black Boys’ or to be politically correct ‘Grass Trees’, so my project intended for 2010 has been completed in time for our 2009 ‘Open Garden’.
I am still on long service leave and probably will not retire until mid 2010.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Garden August 2009

Well it has now been over two months without a drop of rain. Same old story year after year. The garden has really suffered this month due to the winter heat wave we have experienced here in Brisbane. The temperature has reached 42c in the sun, that’s just crazy.The plants do not know if it is winter or summer, some plants are flowering two months early, one thing for sure is that this years ‘Open garden’ is going to be very different.
This month I have given my ‘Smart Sub Tropical Gardening’ talk to Benowa Point Garden Club and also at the Cleveland Library.
Warrick and Fabienne returned from their six-week holiday in Switzerland and Scott has left for France to compete in the World Disabled Water Ski Championships’, hope he does well.
Judy goes into Hospital to have her feet fixed up, the rheumatoid has disfigured all the bones in her feet and it is terribly painful walking, hopefully this operation will help her.
I arrived home the other day to find two chickens in our yard, what a mess they made scratching in the mulch, soon found a home for them.
Not much in the way of garden news as I have spent the last three weeks painting the house.
Besides it gets depressing when the place is so dry and you have to spend hours and hours watering just to keep the plants alive.
Judy is having an operation this month to try and straighten both her feet, the rheumatoid has bent and twisted then and she finds it painful to walk.
Well, the last day of the month and 8mm of rain, not a lot but very welcome.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

July 2009 Garden news

To start off the month I was asked by the Ormiston Garden Club to talk at their meeting, I was only given 24 hours notice but still agreed to do it.
As I now have a very good ‘Power Point’ presentation I needed a projector. Luckily they were able to source one at the last minute, but it was not compatible with my laptop, fortunately one of the members was able to source another laptop within a few minutes and the presentation went ahead. This mix up has given me the impetus to purchase my own data projector and screen.
I am really enjoying talking to Garden clubs.
On the day prior to the Nambour Garden Expo we had some visitors from the 'Sydney Tropical Garden Society' even although most of the tropical plants were in the dormant stage they still went away very impressed.
The Nambour show was as usual a great day out and Judy and I managed to source some new plants.
SMART gardeners are still having monthly meetings and I am booked to give a couple of presentations at the Cleveland Library.
My youngest son Warrick and his girlfriend are away on a six-week holiday in Switzerland and we are looking after their two Jack Russell dogs, this is hard work as they are both demanding pets.
The big news is that Warrick proposed to Fabienne and of course she said yes, it was nice as we were able to watch the proposal on ‘you tube’,

I built a new extension to a garden and planted some very rare Hawaiian Cordylines that I had sourced.
I think the back yard is finally finished landscaping.
It is back to being very dry and we are watering from the rainwater tanks at the moment.
My eldest son Scott is off the France shortly to compete in the ‘World Disabled Water Ski Championships’, these are held every two years. Scott is the present World Champion in his division (paraplegic). What really annoys me is that he has to mostly self fund this trip, he even has to pay excess baggage on his water-ski equipment. It seems like representing Australia does not count for much unless you are in a high profile sport, then they just throw money at you. He is a real hero to have conquered his disability with such outstanding courage. He Puts a few of the high flyer's to shame. I just wish I could help him more.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

June 2009 Garden News

There’s not a lot of news this month, it has rained again, we had 100 mills during the month and the place is very wet, in fact I was overheard to say “I wish it would dry up a bit”. I could not imagine myself saying that a couple of years ago.
Even though it’s winter the garden is still looking good, I believe this years ‘Open Garden’ will be the best it’s ever looked.
I have been helping Judy with her Bromeliads a lot this month and she is pleased with our joint effort.
I am in demand as a speaker to garden clubs; I am booked to talk at Ormiston, Aspley, and Ipswich Garden Clubs as well as two talks at the local library. I have made up a power point presentation on ‘Smart Sub Tropical gardening in SE Queensland’. So far my presentation has been very well accepted.
I am doing lots a little jobs around the garden like placing miniature Bromeliads in trees and filling up low spots with dirt.
I must have about five or six cubic metres of compost brewing at the moment, all mixed with mushroom compost. I always keep a few extra bags and place under the Custard Apple tree; this gives us enough mushrooms for family and us for quite some time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What a busy month it has been.
We had over 200mills of rain mid month and some follow up showers, all the tanks are full and the sub soil is actually damp, augers well for the rest of the year.
I spoke to the Chermside Garden Club and the Beenleigh Garden Clubs and now have a power point presentation. My talk is about ‘Sub Tropical Gardening in Brisbane’. I was very well received and have been asked to go on the registrar for the ‘Queensland Council of Garden Clubs’, which I have accepted.
Our winter supply of sugar cane mulch arrived and I have started to spread 65 bales, it’s good because the ground is still fairly warm and the mulch will act as insulation as well as keeping moisture in the soil.
There's been a lot of garden rubbish this month and the shredder has been working overtime, all going into the compost bin of course.
We had a visit from the ‘Coochie Mudlo Garden Club’ only a small club but they all enjoyed the garden.
My ‘photobucket’ album has now got a stats counter and much to my amazement in the last six months 155,000 photos have been viewed, that is incredible.
I won a $200 garden Express voucher for a submitted 'Garden bed' photo, looking forward to spending that.
Now for the main news, Judy and I are now grandparents to a beautiful baby girl, Sophie Jane, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. She is also a ‘miracle’ baby as our son Scott is a paraplegic and the pregnancy came as a complete surprise to all. We are so very happy and will spoil Sophie.
I am still working most days in the garden and it’s really starting to show, this year’s ‘Open Garden’ will be the best ever.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Garden news from April 2009

April has been a very busy month.
Have been prawing just about every week, see photo of 'Charlie' above.
In the first couple of weeks of this month we had 225 mills of rain, all tanks are overflowing and the garden is smiling.
I put up shelving in Judy’s Bromeliad house and removed all the pine bark from ground; hopefully this will stop rot disease and let in a lot more air circulation.
I have started to use Scott’s Crown 225 as an insect spray and so far I am very pleased with the results. I am also trying out ‘Amigrow’ fertilizer mixed with ‘Natra kelp’.
Judy and I have joined the Wynnum Garden Club; we have found it to be a very friendly club who have always supported our ‘Open garden’.
We have done a big garden clean up done to prepare for our visitors from Bundaberg.
My SMART gardening course has finished and we graduated with a certificate and polo shirt, where this will take us in the future I am not sure what sort of volunteer work I want to do.
We went to the ABC garden Expo and were very disappointed as it was very small and not a lot really to see.
The International Tropical Foliage and Garden Society from Bundaberg visited our garden, they came and went quite quickly, we were the last place they were visiting and they were all tired and just about gardened out by the time they reached us.
I have been invited to join the ‘open garden’ committee but not sure if I will accept as I HATE committees and have never enjoyed the few that I have been on in the past.
As well as having a ‘smart garden’ we now have a ‘smart home’ having just installed an eight-panel solar power system, which generates 1.3 kilowatts of electricity; hopefully this will ease the pressure on our electricity bills.
I continue to make small changes to the garden and will continue to do so as it will never be finished. We are looking forward to being grandparents for the first time in mid May.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Garden News from March 2009

I was invited by the Bayside Garden Club at Wynnum to give a talk on sub tropical gardening in Brisbane, which I did and was well received. I took along a selection of plants and flowers; about 60 people were in attendance. Judy and I have decided to join this club, as they are a nice lot of people.
I am still attending the ‘Smart’ gardening course and learning a bit but sometimes it gets a bit too much technical and stuff like natives plants I must admit I do not have a lot of interest in.
I was sitting down on the back patio looking at our waterfall/pond area and realised that I could really improve it, so I started to remove the front pool fence then re- install it at he back of the waterfall of course one job always leads to another so it was more bush rocks, soil and fencing material. The fence also needed to be ‘CANE TOAD’ proofed.
I also had to buy a new pond filter and pump, so this time I bought a filter with a UV light and a 6000 litre per hour pump.
The pond area looks really great now I am very pleased with the end result.
It’s the Prawning season so I am trying to get out on Tingalpa Creek as much as possible.
Looking forward to visit from the ‘International Tropical Foliage and Garden Society’ members on 19th April 2009, they are on a bus tour from Bundaberg.
I attended an all day Native bee (sting-less) workshop and really enjoyed it. I was glad I went.
 I have planted a couple of dozen more ‘cordylines’ In the garden but it’s hard to see where they have gone. We had a garden visit last year and I was asked, “where were the cordylines”? I replied “there’s about 200 plus if you look”.
Last but not least RAIN, it only rained once in March 20 mills only.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

February 2009 Garden News

I have now been off work for six months and have been very busy all the time; I have not been bored once. There seems so much to do all the time. I keep on asking myself “how did I do it all when I worked five days a week”. The garden takes up most of my time and I must say it is looking really good. As usual my main complaint for the month is the lack of rain, we did have a few showers in mid February but as usual Birkdale missed most/all of the heavy falls. Victoria Point, which is, only a few kilometres away had over 230 mills, whereas we had about 35 mills over a few days. Anyway we are still keeping our garden alive by watering from the rainwater tanks. I find standing watering to be much the same as watching grass grow. We had a trip up to Maryborough to see our friends there who have just started a small nursery business, as usual when we go on a trip we come home with a car full of plants, this trip was no exception. I have planted quite a few nice plants this month and they should be fairly well established by Novembers ‘Open Garden’. I have started to go prawning in our local creek, I cast net and came home with my limit of 10 kilos the other day. I had hoped that I would have the creek virtually to myself when I retired but alas not the case, I counted 11 boats all prawning last week, seems the word has spread. At least they are not the yellow raincoat brigade (Viet) who take everything that they catch legal or not. Summer is now over and I really look forward to the cooler weather. I have been attending the ‘Smart Gardener’ training course during February, it’s called master gardener elsewhere but Queensland Horticulturalists objected to that, I could call them a name which started with w and ended with s but I will be polite and not do that, it’s a bit like the article I wrote and was paid 30c per word whereas a professional would have been paid $1 a word. Ah well that’s life.   

Sunday, February 15, 2009

January 2009 Garden

It has been very dry and hot since Christmas, not a day under 30c and the garden is showing signs of stress from the hot and very dry conditions.
I started a new garden while Judy was incapacitated (new knee) as I knew she would not be happy with more loss of lawn, so she came home from Hospital to a 'status quo'. It is probably the last major project in the back yard as the water situation will only get worse and we do want to keep some lawn. I am very happy with the end result and I think Judy is too, but of course she will not say so.
I have been off work for five months, hasnt that gone quick, I have been very busy with lots to do and still to do.
We signed up to have Solar Power installed, we opted for an eight panel system which generates abot 1.3 kw of electricity a day, that with our solar hot water, insulation and roof whirlybirds make our home very green and smart.
Had a couple of Heliconias flower for the first time, 'Chocolate Dancer' and 'Manoa Sunrise', I still get a kick out of seeing a plant flower for the first time.
I must admit I had more time when I was at work to write this blog, I hate being indoors during the day.

January Garden 2009

It has been very dry and hot since Christmas, not a day under 30c and the garden is showing signs of stress from the hot and very dry conditions.

I started a new garden while Judy was incapacitated (new knee) as I knew she would not be happy with more loss of lawn, so she came home from Hospital to a 'status quo'. It is probably the last major project in the back yard as the water situation will only get worse and we do want to keep some lawn. I am very happy with the end result and I think Judy is too, but of course she will not say so.

I have been off work for five months, hasnt that gone quick, I have been very busy with lots to do and still to do.

We signed up to have Solar Power installed, we opted for an eight panel system which generates abot 1.3 kw of electricity a day, that with our solar hot water, insulation and roof whirlybirds make our home very green and smart.

Had a couple of Heliconias flower for the first time, 'Chocolate Dancer' and 'Manoa Sunrise', I still get a kick out of seeing a plant flower for the first time.

I must admit I had more time when I was at work to write this blog, I hate being indoors during the day.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

December 2008 News

It's the last month of the year and alltogether it has not been a bad year.

The drought has finally broken,admittedly we have had a few dry spells but the rain did come at regular intervals.

It is always a relief when the 'Open Garden' is finished, I am not sure if the visitors realise just how much work goes into the opening.

December started off with some good rain, then we went for three weeks without, then the garden started to get that stressed look mainly due to the heat , we have had temps up to the high 30s.

Judy went into Hospital to have a complete knee replacement and I have been looking after her these past few weeks, looks like the operation was a success and Judy will soon be able to get back to her Bromeliads.

The best news of the month was from Scott and Eliza, seems that we are going to finally become grandparents in May, what wonderful news make it more than special as Scott is a paraplegic.

The garden is looking very green and lush the only thing that spoils it is the Gum trees losing their bark, very messy all the time.

I have often thought about opening our garden in February but realise the garden will be missing colour as the Day Lilys, Blood Lilys,Costus and Caladiums are already past their best.

I have decided to open a week later in 2009, so it will be the last weekend of November, the 28th and 29th.

I have decided on 2009s new project which will be an expansion of an existing garden in the back yard, Judy hates it but I think it will look nice.

Now that I am on long service leave I have time to do everthing, no more rushing.

The prawning season starts soon and I will be leaving the garden for a couple of months while I fill up the freezer (hopefully).