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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Up-date on the Dustbin Chicks

How time flies! The days, weeks and years just blur into one another and since I posted about the Dustbin chicks last year, I was asked about them and realised that I had not done an up-date on their progress.


I'm glad to report that all of them survived the ordeal of being rescued out of a dustbin! and the little chick (above) that I took out of the egg has turned into a beautiful young lady. I called her Snoodles. She spent many weeks with me in my studio before joining the other girls in the chicken coop.

Snoodles standing on my computer speaker in my studio, taking a peek at what's going on outside

Snoodles, a chick with attitude!


As soon as Snoodles was big enough, we’d go on field trips through the garden and my wildlife pond area, where she would investigate every nook and cranny, delighting in catching the odd insect. Here she hopped on a rock, chasing after a Dragonfly. Good luck with that Snoodles!




Now where did that Dragonfly go...?

Snoodles taking some time out on the edge of Jacko's chair, much to his disgust!


Snoodles still visits me in the studio every opportunity she gets, hopping on top of all her old haunts (desks, counter top, chairs) and doing a good investigation of what's new. She's got this peculiar habit of opening her mouth big, like she's going to start singing any minute, every time the phone rings!


This is Mr. Brown, one of the dustbin chicks that took to following me around the garden ever since he stayed in my house for a couple of days after the rescue and then was put back with his mother. He’s turned into a beautiful rooster, obviously of mixed blood as his feathers are like those of a Silkie. But what makes him adorable is the fact that he talks to me – whenever he sees me, he utters this whole repertoire of cackles and croaks all the while staring me straight in the eye. He’s also very tame, sitting down when I put my hand on his back and then allowing me to pick him up for a cuddle. Normally all Solly’s chicks that turn out to be roosters are destined for the pot, but I’ve asked him nicely to spare Mr. Chook. (Solly is our mechanic/handyman and he has all these chickens that wander all over our smallholding and usually end up breeding somewhere in my garden.)

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Monday, 9 January 2017

Gettin' caught in the rain


After months of drought, few experiences can match the sound and smell of falling rain – unless it is the exhilaration of being caught in it during a mid-morning walk on our smallholding. The past couple of weeks we've been blessed with lots of rain and all the plants are just totally jubilant!


My rain gauge has been constantly over-flowing and its maximum ark is 100mm. My chooks are the only ones complaining, they've been stuck in the chicken run with access to the coop for days on end.


Yesterday the Marigolds whispered how thankful they are for the rain. It's mid-summer and their display has been a bit stunted due to lack of water. No matter how much I water the garden, there is no comparison to just a few millimeters of rain.

Peering out of the front door yesterday morning


As soon as it cleared up slightly, I even ventured out with the camera for a quick photographic session




... and lose the umbrella!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Starting over (or not?)

How have you all been? Had a good Christmas and New Year? 2016 has been a year full of joys, blessings, surprises, heartaches, love, some successes and a few failures, but mostly it has been a year full of gratitude. Gratitude for the good rains we've had, gratitude for the birds in my garden and gratitude that I've managed another year of good health.

And now I welcome the New Year. May your 2017 be full of new things that have never been, a year full of colours, flowers, laughter and fresh new ideas!

Aloe ferox youngsters in my garden having survived another winter

Have you ever jumped the gun and then regretted it afterwards? Well, that's what happened to me! A couple of months ago we were in the process of selling our smallholding, something we've been thinking of for a couple of years now, planning retirement and all that, and apart from having to have a massive clean-up of all the stuff one accumulates over 38 years of living in one place, one of my biggest worries was all my succulents - those in the garden were OK, but I had dozens of succulents and cacti in pots and it was impossible for me to take all of them with me. After a short search I was lucky and blessed enough to find another succulent-lover who was thrilled to take all of them off my hands.

Now, here's the thing - the sale fell through! (Much to my relief, I must say, as in the process of selling we suddenly realised what we are leaving behind and we fell in love with our life and our smallholding all over again! One doesn't realise what you have until you lose it, or almost lose it, right?)

This new planting was just coming along nicely and the Aeoniums on the left were some of my favourites.
This Echeveria elegans was also just starting to flower for the first time in in about the 4 years I had it
Another first, this Haworthia cooperii var Transiensis was also pushing up it's first tiny little flowers
My only consolation is that I still have a few succulents and cacti left in the garden and it would be easy to take cuttings and start a new collection. But here's the question : do I want to start another potted collection again? At first, after they were all gone, I felt empty and lost, no daily routine of checking up on all of them, spotting new growth and new flowers and softly chatting to each and every one. All their small watering cans are standing empty, calling out for something to water.
But on the other hand, it's also very liberating to not constantly be worried about them and rushing outside to bring them under cover every time it starts hailing. So, for now, I'll be chatting to all my succulents and cacti in the ground in the garden, checking on them daily and giving them some special attention!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Summer-time is Echeveria time


I’ve been absent from the world, lost in the beauty of my sunny front yard garden. Too much work, a whole lot of plants, and life goes on. And the Echeverias (E. elegans) are flowering! A sure sign of mid-summer and lots of rain.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cycad up-date (Cycas revoluta)


It has been just 6 weeks since I posted pics of my cycad flushing after I had been terribly worried that he might be dying, and look at him now! He seems to have almost doubled in size and is looking very lush and tropical!

My Cycas revoluta 6 weeks ago

Enjoying some mid-day shade

Don't the leaves just look beautiful and healthy?!

We've had tons of rain, 10-20mm just about every day and the garden is really loving it. The Hydrangea bushes are covered in flower heads, some as large as a dinner plate! Hydrangeas are not something I'll plant in my garden again any time soon - in the summer heat the water just disappears into our deep top soil, leaving me having to water them just about every day in summer, thank heavens for the past bounty of rain!




Friday, 7 October 2016

Hooray! My Cycad is flushing!

In April this year (2016), I was worried about my Cycad (Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm), afraid that it was dying because all the leaves started lying down flat. I got a lovely comment from "A" at that post, saying,

"Hi Maree, I'm quite confident that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your cycas. It is quite common for them to skip a season without flushing, sometimes stress related, but I doubt this is the cause. With cycas you can almost always tell if something is wrong by looking at the colour of the leaves - like if there was a mineral shortage they would turn yellowish or show signs of burns at the tips of the leaves the most common problem and cause of death with them is root-rot, this can also be picked up by looking at the leaves - the base of the leaves becomes a darkish rot-like brown, which progresses towards the tip of the leaves as the root rot becomes worse and goes untreated. Just as a side note - you won't be able to see changes in the current set of leave if you try and correct the condition by adding compost or whatever, it will only show in the new set.

But with yours, I suspect the answer might relate to the age of your plant - as the plant gets older the flush gets larger and preparing for the larger flush takes more time and nutrients. So I think it would be safe to say that you can expect a nice large one before December this year. You can also try feeding it with Seagrow or just a healthy dose of compost from your heap and watch it prosper."

And now, here's the wonderful proof of this!




I am absolutely thrilled that he is OK! I've been spending the winter worrying about him and talking to him, and at the end of winter I did give him a good dose of compost.

So, a big thank you "A", for setting my mind at ease and also for the wonderful information you imparted, very grateful for that!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The succulent grows in symmetry


The succulent grows in symmetry,
Budding as a flower,
Reaching for moisture,
And sunlight every hour,

She waits in peace for loving,
Someone to grow beside,
Hopeful in the waiting,
With no shade to hide behind,

But then, a plant is placed by her,
A quiet friend to greet,
So, now they'll grow in harmony,
Until their purpose is complete.

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