Progress since last September
So we looked over the Marsden photos and sketches to see how this part of the garden had originally been created and decided it was time to clear it all out and start again - not a recreation of the original but in a sympathetic way.
The hard work started in June this year and has continued since then with one of the garden beds cleared out and replanted by September leaving the garden bed between the path and the pool to deal with.
There was a further complication. Next to the pool was a very large gum tree that was mature when the house was built (it can be seen in this photo from 1982 - the middle one.)
He cut most of the tree trunk and major branches into firewood lengths but left three large sections for me to make into nesting boxes to hang in the trees around our garden (a later project!)
Now, of course, we had a big pile of firewood and I set to work over the next 3 weeks with a block splitter - should see us through next winter, really well!
So, that's where we were up to by Christmas and for the past week I've been completing the very tough grass removal and then the tree stumps (eight big tree stumps wrestled out of the ground with axe, block splitter, chain saw, crow bar and mattock in 30- 38 degree hea - finishing each day with a swim in the pool to cool off.)
With that all out of the way, five bags of cow manure, five bales of lucerne and weed blanket should help to get the worm action going to improve the soil and hopefully keep the weeds under control.
To finish the job, the drip irrigation system and mulching.
And now, it's ready for planting out next April after the hot weather!
It happened last time in 2011 (check our the photos from back then) so I guess that's only 1-in-5 years for us! This time we got 50mm of rain in the Abbotsley rain gauge in 50 minutes and sure enough - the creek overflowed over our driveway.
Since the last time our driveway flooded, I've made sure the under-driveway concrete pipes are kept clear of debris but I hadn't thought about the ferns growing a meter or so upstream. When the storm hit and large amounts of debris filled water came rushing down the creek, they pushed the ferns over and into the mouth of the pipes forming a great debris trap. In no time the creek had filled to overflowing and then, of course, the easy path is straight down the driveway!
So now, the gravel surface of the drive has been gouged out into deep channels, peeling off into the garden bed - just like in 2011. Too busy now but in a week or so, I'll get a delivery of gravel and put it all back together again. (sigh!)
So last week, I was thinking we had quite an impressive show by the gate from the echium and native hibiscus...
So this morning I tried to stand it up again and see if I could save it with a bit of support for a while but that didn't work - the main roots were broken so it had to go.
The new look is going to take a bit of getting used to! (As you can see, it's a very wet day.)
We've finally give up on what we lovingly (or laughingly) called our lawn but what was really just mown weeds! It's right at the top of the block behind the pool and unconnected to the entertainment area where it would be useful. To make matters worse, the ground is so rocky with poor and very thin top spoil in this area, that grass wouldn't grow well.
So we decided to take it back to the original garden plan of having trees in this area but this time, rather than natives, we've planted four olives (two kalamatas and two manzanillos) and a fig tree to go with the orange and mandarin planted a couple of years ago.
It's backbreaking work taking over an hour per tree but it should give them a fighting chance to become established.
When it's windy, we're all listening out for falling trees. When it's the strongest wind for eith years, something has to give and sure enough, another two big trees next to the house came down.
Fortunately, they fell away from the house and the only damage was to crack the brick paving and break the fence wire . It's too late in the day to do anything about it now, so the cleanup job will have to wait a couple of weeks.
Now that spring is here, we thought we'd better get the larger trees in to join the weeping cherry so that they have time to settle in before the hot weather. Today we planted a Crimson Knight Crabapple (Malus 'Criknazam') and a Magnolia 'Royal Purple' (Magnolia x soulangeana) in the bed next to the weeping cherry,
We also had two weed trees taken out a few weeks ago in the upper bed by the pool fence and so now we've planted another Crimson Knight Crab Apple there too.
The crab apples can grow to a reasonable size so we're going to need to keep the one closest to the house pruned.
Now we've got to finish removing the grasses which are past their use-by date, put the drip watering system in and mulch it all before summer. When we get some free time, we'll work out a plan for a few shrubs and more small plants to finish it off.
We decided a few months ago that the garden bed at the back of the house outside the lounge and dining room has to be one of the next projects and today we made some more progress.
Over the past few years we've planted a few things there but plants seem to do it tough so we're going to have to work on improving the soil and removing the bigger rocks. But there was also the problem of weed trees - especially the pittosporum - and other innappropriate trees.
Then the other thing was - Karyn wanted a weeping cherry in pride-of-place at the end of that garden bed where it will be seen from both the lounge and kitchen. And so, she got an early birthday present yesterday and today we cleaned out the weed trees and planted the weeping cherry.
So now we wait for the blossum in spring!
This is the first year we've had success with the tree dahlia's donated by Maryann at Downderry five years ago - every year until now the wind has got to them before they flowered. The visiting bee - perhaps from Badgers Wood - is enjoying them too!
Chris and Karyn, Abbotsley homeowners since December 2010