Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Family Reunion

Over the Easter weekend, we went to Rockhampton to a family reunion - John and I and my brother and his wife. Missy had her own holiday at a boarding kennel.


 These were my relatives from my father's family. We are spread far and wide and rarely see each other but it is amazing , when we come together, just how well we all get on and many family traits we all share.
There were 5 generations represented. We met for afternoon tea under the Banyan tree in the botanic gardens.

 
We share a laconic sense of humour, a love of learning, acceptance of diversity and quite a number of physical traits as well.
 
 
A Banyan is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk.
 
Quite symbolic of our family
 From small beginnings we have grown and spread but still remain connected.
 
Our family began in Australia when our great great grandfather was sent here by the English Government as punishment but instead of withering, he founded a strong and flourishing family.
 
Lining up for our meal
 
Saturday evening there was dinner and a bush dance at a local historic homestead. A sense of fun, a love of food  and an ability to dance as if no one is watching seem to be a family traits as well.
 
The only time there was quiet all weekend was when we were eating.
 
 
On Easter Sunday morning we visited my grandfather's grave.
My cousin Jenny had for many years wanted to give him a head stone and she gave a wonderful talk about the value of family and discovering from our ancestors our heritage - who we are and where we are heading.  In discovering where we came from, we also find what we are capable of. Other cousins recounted favourite memories of Pop, read a favourite poem and laid a wreath to remember him.
 
 
Then my brother and I visited our father's memorial. He died when my brother was 3 months old. I have very few distinct memories and some cloudy ones of my Dad. My brother has none - so it was good to hear elderly relatives' recounting stories about when he was young.  
 
We met up again for lunch  - a barbeque of course. What else would an Australian family have?

Jenny had organised a cake with our grandparents wedding photo in the icing.
In fact, Jenny had organised the entire weekend.
She did an amazing job.

The older generation cut the cake.

My generation.
18 of my 24 cousins were there.
 
The boys
 
The girls
 
We're planning our next get-together for 5 years time.
 
 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Designing the new garden - Part One


While finalising plans for the new house, we need to also have at least a reasonable idea of what we want the garden to be. I thought I'd record and share the process.
At the very least, it will be interesting to see if the finished product matches the image I have in my head.
While the new house will be smaller, the garden will be tiny by comparison to Missy's garden.

FROM

4000 sq m






TO
630 sq m

(about one sixth )
 
We enjoy outdoor living so I want the outside of the house to be just as comfortable as the inside. There’s a lot to think about and decide. I need to think about function as well as looks.

To me, the first step is to have a wish list - what we want in the garden and how we intend to use the garden.
Cooking and dining – Lunches, dinner and, in retirement, morning or afternoon tea in the garden will be the norm. Ideally I would like a simple outdoor kitchen with a small BBQ, a bench & a sink and, of course, table and chairs.
Sitting reading or relaxing – a quiet area for solitude
Painting – I want an undercover area to set up my easel and paints – an outdoor studio.

Entertaining– a large enough space to accommodate a group of friends or family from time to time.
Gardening – Of course! I have to be able to play in the dirt and I’ll need somewhere to store gardening equipment and a vegetable patch to grow some herbs and vegetables. I will be significantly scaling back on the number and variety of plants, obviously, but I still want some of my favourites.  Going vertical by setting up a wall or vertical structure to grow plants on may be an option.
John wants a pond for his fish. He also wants to minimise lawn. I think living on an acre has turned him off lawn mowing for life.
I would also like, if we could afford it, a small pool to splash about in.

 I saw this one at a display home and liked the idea. It’s actually a spa set partially in-ground. I love the glass front.
This is just on the “maybe” list. If we don’t have a pool it won’t be the end of the world. We’ll be living near the ocean.
So that’s the wish list, but before deciding on a design, a few essentials need to be considered as well. (Did anyone notice I put what I WANT before what I NEED?)

Shelter and Shade
The main outdoor living area of the garden will get morning sun and afternoon shade which is perfect.

Privacy and security
There are fences to be built. The developer will be providing a fence along the back and maybe one side. Since the back of the house is so open, privacy could be an issue. A “screen” of some sort that lets the air flow though, looks attractive and keeps out potential burglars is needed.
Lighting and Electricity
The garden will be used at night as well as during the day. Lighting is a major consideration and possibly a major expense if we don’t incorporate it in the house build. We also need external power points.
Water
Siting of taps for watering the garden plus water for my outdoor sink need to be planned. We also want one or two water features (one with plants and fish). Not only are they attractive, soothing and entertaining, they provide cooling on a hot day. We need to pre-plan where they might be positioned to make sure external power points are close by to run the pumps.
Maintenance
We want a relatively low maintenance garden. Although I enjoy gardening I don’t want to be a slave to it and neither does John. Although we love Missy's garden, part of the reason for moving to a smaller home was less work in the garden.

I've probably forgotten something but as far as I can tell, these are the basic requirements. The next step will be deciding on a basic layout.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Autumn in the garden

The leaves don't change colour during Autumn in the sub-tropic but that doesn't mean the garden is uninteresting. I am amazed this time each year at the cross-over of seasons and the range of plants in  flower to be found as I walked around the garden.

 
The camera can't capture this frangipani's true colour. It's actually darker than this. 

 
I trimmed this plant back to about half its size to take cuttings for the new garden.
It's obviously forgiven me and is flowering profusely.

 
Most of the frangipanis are still putting on a show. They will start to lose their leaves soon and look like bare storks over Winter, but until then I'm appreciating their beauty and their perfume.
 
 
Even some of the heliconias are still blooming.
 
 
This hibiscus was cut back a few months ago to about a third of its size. It had started to look rather scrawny, but since its trim it is thick and lush and has just started flowering again.
 
 
 Along the pathway near the pool we have pentas (red & white) golden candles and a pink allamanda - butterfly alley.

I was going to train the allamanda up a post and into a weeping standard. 
 I'll probably run out of time before we have to move.

 
Nearby the tibouchina has just started flowering. It remains covered in blooms for most of Winter.

 
The bees don't seem to have discovered it yet but they will soon.
 
 
The Brazilian Red Cloak looks amazing. I think I'll take a few cutting for the new garden.
To have a shrub like this flowering during Winter cheers the soul.
 
 
Justica Brandegeana, the shrimp plant is in full bloom as well.
Perhaps all the plants are appreciating the rain we've had lately after the hot dry Summer.
 
 
A bromeliad flower. It will last for a few months.
 
 
Cooktown orchid.
 
This was a lovely little surprise I found when I went into the shadehouse to check how my cuttings are progressing.
It's been growing on a piece of wood totally forgotten and overlooked until it flowered.
 
 
By the way, the cuttings look ready to pot up.
 
Enough wandering around the garden. Time to get to work.
 
 

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