Monday, October 3, 2016

Rock Pile update!

Bromeliad in my garden

One week later. Countless mossie and madness making midgie bites. Forearms that look like I just adopted half a dozen kittens, thanks to bromeliads and their spikey-edged leaves, I am on the home stretch with these rock garden borders that surround our old swimming hole.

I have been forced to take a break today once again because this old bod of mine is demanding a day of rest. I have about another 12-14 feet of border to complete. I had left this section with the hardest packed soil for last and in retrospect, maybe I should have conquered that bit first when I was still fresh. The rocks in this last section are buried under hard packed clay-like soil and are clinging to their long-buried positions like a dog with a bone. They are mingled with old roots and I am uncovering ant's nests and native gecko hidey holes with every other stab of my spade and I am praying I don't come across any spiders or snakes that have possibly taken up residence as well. This section is also mostly under cover of a tree that produces an extremely toxic milky sap that can cause serious injury if it drips on your bare skin or gets in your eyes. It is called a pencil cactus or stick tree - a euphorbia that adds a gorgeous focal point in the corner but whatever you do, don't snap off any of the sticks as they will punish you with their sap. A couple months ago my Mick was pruning a few branches and got some on his hands and even though he washed his hands, the sticky residue remained and he touched his eye and we ended up in the emergency room at the hospital for an evening getting his eye treated for what amounted to a chemical burn.  So, you can see why I left this section until last.

The excavation continues

I have to do most of the work hunched over to avoid this miserable tree coming into contact with my body. The ants are furious with me. The soil is unrelenting and I am really beginning to wonder if I took on more than I could handle. On the up side, the result of all this toil is such a dramatic transformation that it is driving me to carry on.

Gardening in the semi-tropics is no walk in the park. I absolutely pine for my moist earth and cloudy skies of my Vancouver garden. I have given up trying to recreate my past floral choices. It may be possible in the southern states here, but it is like working against the grain to do it in Queensland. My neighbour stubbornly grows plants that have no business in a tropical garden, but she is in her garden 7 days a week nurturing and tending to her delicate specimens to keep them alive. I don't have her stamina or weathered alligator skin. I needed something that didn't need my constant attention. Hence, my venture in the world of Bromeliads. I have been researching these plants that are new to me. I can see that they could become an obsession, kind of like orchids. There are so many varieties - it's mind-boggling. For now I am making do with cast-off pups from friends and neighbours plants and taking what I can get for free. This way, I reckon if they don't thrive, as least I have not invested too much moola.

Bromeliads in their new homes

I am surprised they make such a stunning statement. Getting them into the ground is like wrestling kittens as I mentioned earlier. My poor arms and hands are a fright! We upset a gorgeous green frog who was nestled in the cool pool of water inside the inner cup of one of the broms we dug up next door. I am hoping he finds his way to my garden to resume his position inside the plant that now lives in my rock garden. 

It is truly a learning curve for me here. Who would have imagined I would be surrounded by palm trees, agaves, crotons and bromeliads? I am still a novice and learning the names of all these new plants and trees and figuring out their needs. My neighbour is a great source of information. I was agog last week when I visited her garden and saw a spectacular display of about two dozen assorted amaryllis in gorgeous shades of pink and red and coral and peach. It still amazes me that these are grown outside as perennials here. When they die off, they are replaced with masses of Cosmos and Shasta daisies in that particular bed, so she has a constant riot of colour all year round.

Just the other day, I noticed an orchid reaching up out of a clump of ginger that grows out near my patio. I had tossed my old spent store bought pots of orchids into the clump where they were pretty much ignored for a year or so other than the odd bit of water that may have reached them and now there are two blooming again. I lifted them up and out of their less than deserving locations and promoted them to more prominent positions where they will bring me a second round of joy for the next few weeks. In Canada I never had a spot to keep my dormant orchids and would toss them.  I love that I can just tuck them into the garden and forget about them here until they are ready to perform once again.

Ginger clump to the left of the chair where I toss my orchids and the new growth beauty that graces my outdoor coffee table now

Ready for her close-up!

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