A few days ago I heard a loud crack, and upon immediate investigation saw the balcony filling with leaves and small branches and the cat who likes to sun herself there, hightailing it inside. I assumed a small branch had fallen, as they do from time to time. A little while later I realised that it was, in fact, a sizeable branch from the tall gum (eucalyptus vimalis? manna gum). It was still partially attached to the tree at one end, and resting on the much small tree that had stopped its fall at the other. If either end gave way, it would swing down and seriously damage the carport and anyone nearby so it needed to be removed.
Luckily we were able to have it removed the following day by Patrick from Heritage Tree Professionals. It was secured at each end, and then cut in the middle with each half lowered safely to the ground.
it will eventually end up as fire wood, but in the meantime while it is drying out, we have used the logs to create another adventure activity for grandchildren.
The climbing area, stabilised and ready for action.
During the pandemic lockdown I was invited by artist Glenys Mann to collaborate on two books with her. We each created a book on the theme of 'a sense of place' leaving every second page blank for the other to complete. Book were exchanged by mail. I made a book on Bickleigh Vale and these are some of the pages. It's a different way to record this place and my experience of it.
The title comes from a statement made by Edna Walling - "I prefer a rather wild and unkempt garden".
Fifteen months ago we started transforming a significant area of our garden see blog entry for August 2019. Now after a year of growth, some good winter rains, a bit of pruning, and new growth in late winter and spring, this area of the garden is flourishing. The grevilleas, prostantheras and native grasses in particular are flourishing.
Some of the plants that were tube stock when planted are flowering for the first time which is exciting. I think there is a particular joy in seeing trees and shrubs you planted flowering for the first time.
The central White Mulberry is coming to life again.
Sculpture features of the garden are rusted metal and have expanded to include a pair of bilbies, an echidna, bandicoots, galahs, wrens, a butterfly and an egret. They all blend into the fabric of the garden for spotting by the keen-eyed.
The central stone circle is planted with a collection of what could be considered weeds (including seaside daisies, forget-me-nots, violets, wild strawberries), but this is an area, for the time being, where children can pick all the flowers they want to.
In Spring 2019 two White-faced herons build a nest high in one of the pine trees on the roadside near Wimbourne. After one unsuccessful try, eventually two young birds hatched. As they grew and became more daring they could be seen walking along the branches of the tree. At this stage they were still being fed by their parents. Soon they were flying short distances to other trees, and eventually came lower and lower and down to the ground in Whistlewood.
Twelve months on the frog ponds have been expanded and are flourishing. I have seen Common Eastern Froglets and Brown Tree Frogs in the vicinity of the ponds although I think some of them may have have provided sustenance for some visiting juvenile White-faced herons.
The tank overflow goes into the slightly higher pond, and then into the lower one.
A third pond is also flourishing but needs to be refilled after hot weather and the water level is not deep and soon evaporates.
When we moved to Whistlewood 2 years ago, one of the garden challenges was what to do with an unkempt area that passed for a lawn.
A rock circle, two frog ponds, a tank and more 100 plants later a new garden is emerging. More to come including paths and more plantings.
As part of the redevelopment of the lawn area, we decided to build a small pond tucked in behind the raised vegetable bed.. We'd already found a Marsh Frog hiding under a birdbath, so we knew they were present in our garden. So we
1. dug the hole, lined it with pond liner, and decorated the edges so there were nooks and crannies for small creatures to hide in;
2. added water, and water-loving loving plants; and ...
3. ...the frogs will arrive. That's the theory anyway.
So far it has been used by magpies and currawongs and other birds, with the occasional damselfly making also an appearance, but we are hopeful of one day finding tadpoles.
When we moved to Whistlewood 18 months ago we soon discovered the 'lawn' and I use the term loosely was a collection of weeds, violets, daisies, and, in winter, moss (picture above). Some investigation revealed that the lawn was sown over what had been the original driveway, and about 4 cm below the surface was gravel. When it rained the water ran off the surface and ended up on the driveway. None seemed to penetrate.
After some contemplation we decided much of the lawn would go, and be replaced by plantings of low native shrubs. The lawn being retained is an area with the lovely Weeping Mulberry at its centre. First stage of the rehabilitation was to dig up the existing lawn as much as possible, add top soil, and compost before planting.
It will be at least a year or three before we see any real results,
And in the lawn that's left, I'm encouraging the daisies.
The Weeping Mulberry, and the daisy lawn.
A beautiful Enamelled Spider, green form. Apparently the Gippsland form is green, while the rest of Victoria and Canberra form is yellow. Thanks to Melbourne Museum for identifying it for me.
Laughing Kookaburra, possibly contemplating his next song, on the tennis court fence at The Barn.
From the pre-dawn chorus of the Kookaburras to the Tawny Frogmouths calling to each other at night, Bickleigh Vale has a rich soundscape of birdsong.
It is my intention one day to list all the birds I hear in 24 hours. However, I haven’t been that organised yet, nor up early enough, but it will surely also include, depending on the season