Red hot pokers, birch and green green green. Thanks to my bro for the pic!
We’ve just copped the heaviest rainfall in 98 years – dams are full, creeks are swollen, our bridge is out (more about that later) and even the paddocks are flowing. However, as far as I know, we haven’t had to bring in the elephants yet!
[photo credit: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office]
It’s not just kittens that live under the house at Kibbenjelok. For a few days I had been hearing funny little growls under and around the house in the middle of the night. We have quite a few possums and pademelons around the garden which come down to feed on the grass in the evening and then tromp up and down the veranda, keeping us awake all night. Despite their cuddly looks, both can be quite fearsome and will growl at each other given the slightest provocation (mainly food). “Maybe it’s just the p-animals having a tussle” I thought. “I wish they’d keep it down”.
An amazing and loving cat. Rosie died in May 1998 and I dedicate this chapter to her memory.
Rosie was a white cat with calico markings. She was petite and very intelligent. After we bought the farm, we employed a group of painters to smarten up the walls and do some minor alterations with doors and windows inside the house. This became rather awkward as we were both working in Hobart and Middleton was an hour’s drive from our Hobart home, however, we tried to drive down as often as we could during the week. Once, during one of these dashes down to Middleton after work , I was in the kitchen area when I heard Kees call out to me, “Gay, come and see what I can see.” I ran to the sun room and Kees was pointing outside through the fish net covered window, where I saw a tiny, little, mangy white cat. She was sitting half under the house and looked half-starved. “Oh! Suss said she thought there was a mother cat in the barn when she came down the other day,” I told Kees, “This must be one of the kittens.” The words were hardly out of my mouth when I noticed two tiny little heads poking out from beneath the white cat with calico markings and as we silently watched, the kittens cautiously emerged and I knew then that the diminutive white cat with calico markings was a mother. (more…)
Not a lot is flowering at the beginning of July – just a few early rhododendrons (how beautiful is the orange/yellow deciduous one – it’s an azalea I believe) and a rogue dutch iris.
The time had come for serious discussions about the building of the water garden. The vista from the gardens around the house is very pretty, a gentle view that looks across the channel of the River Derwent to South Bruny Island. Between us and the Channel there is an area of an old orchard and cleared paddocks and I dearly wanted to have a sheet of water in front of the house. I believed that it would be effective in drawing the water view closer to the garden. It was bad luck that the slope of the land made this a very hard exercise. (more…)
Usually the end of Summer / early Autumn is not kind to gardens – spring bulbs have long lost their blooms, summer roses are faded and tired and autumn colours are yet to show. The hydrangeas bring a few spots of colour but everything is a bit spent and ready for a sleep through winter. Except for these guys.
Pushing through the grass, Autumn Crocus herald the change of season in a most colourful way. They have been popping up all over the place – in the lawn, in pots, under the trees, in the middle of paths. They are the first of the hidden gems that we have seen – plants lying dormant under the soil, ready to burst forth when the conditions are just right. I can’t wait to see the garden in all seasons – who knows what else we will find!
The first “Open Garden” was in 1989 when the Federal body of the A.H.G.A. held their annual conference in Tasmania with the theme “Important Gardens of the Future.” We were asked to open the garden for delegates to the Conference to observe a garden in the making. The trees we had planted in the orchard garden were knee high babies. Most of the apple trees were still flourishing in their built up lines which marched lengthways up the acre orchard. The apple trees had been planted on top of small hillocks as there was a bad drainage problem from water draining down from the adjacent hill. (more…)
The first birthday I celebrated after the purchase of Middleton became a momentous occasion. Matthew, our gentle hearted son and great animal lover, gave me, with great excitement, two peacocks. The birthday gathering of the family was held at Sandy Bay and Matthew arrived with two large white bags, tied with orange garden string. He thrust a piece of paper into my hands. “This is all we could find in the Library to copy and you’d better be careful opening the bags, Mum, I think they are still alive.” Matthew, still the child that came home with a kitten for me as a Christmas gift, looked extremely proud of himself.
I thought to myself, “We have quite enough cats with my darling Rosie and her proteges down at Middleton and fifteen years old Calico at Sandy Bay.” “Perhaps you could sit in the old chook pen to open the bag,” warned Matthew. I took a hurried glance at the piece of paper in my hand. Matthew may have given me anything – puppies, guinea-pigs, ferrets. How relieved I was to find the brief article was a short history of Peafowls. “The poor things trussed up like this,” I exclaimed, as we walked through the garden to the abandoned chicken. “This seems a bit cruel, Matthew.” “That’s how the chap who sold them to me handed them over. He said they would be all right. And by the way, I could only afford to give you one, Papa gave you the other.” Sitting on our heels in the very low chicken pen, we released Bill and Ben. They were reasonably mature birds, old enough to have their beautiful tail feathers, if said feathers had been still attached to their bodies. I had never seen two more bedraggled creatures brought home by Matthew. They looked at me with baleful eyes so I quickly crawled out of the coop. “The man said they would lose a few feathers,” Matthew said hesitatingly, “They lose feathers at this time of year anyway and will soon start growing them again.” We went inside the house and I read the photocopied article which was not an enormous help. The essay told me that the blue peafowls originated in India and that the cock was sexually very demanding on the hen and they liked to sleep perched high in trees. “I hope it won’t be too cold for them down at Middleton,” I remarked after reading the item and learning that the beautiful birds originated in India, “And I wonder what they eat?” “Chap said, anything – chook food, vegetables, bread,” Matthew replied. “One thing else, apparently they like to sleep up high.” (more…)