Moving the van cherry from up the hill left a hole; good thing S got me this Qualup Bell bush for our anniversary!
The upper path going through the top garden is a bit of a hog’s breakfast. It started out as a straight brick path across the bare hillside, three years ago.
Then the little stringybark came down and made a berm, and the path was extended across the hill to the road.
By the time the two were meeting up we’d decided to ditch the brick idea and do stones instead.
Then, as it turns out we ran out of stones really fast. And it’s way better to use stones for walls as the weeds grow up between the stones and are impossible to get out. So we ditched the whole stone idea and went for mulch instead, after toying with the idea of importing some nice gravel.
The mulch worked out very well, but it took some time to get it beyond that one spot between the two stairways. We just don’t use those paths that much, and there was a lot of other stuff to do first.
Eventually we got it most of the way to the road end and up to the cherry tree circle.
There was only about 5 metres left to do, so while we’re finishing the cherry tree circle we might as well get the path done, too. The last bit near the road was completed, with all the compacted clay dug out with the big blue stick, and a good pile of mulch at the dumping spot meant that we could use the same mulch on the path as around the cherry tree.
There was just one spot to the west of the cherry tree that needed finishing, where the old brick path was. The bricks were pulled up and stacked down by the weed tea barrel; they’ll make a nicer base for it than the aggregate we have there now.
The level here is higher than the path, so it needed to be dug down. There’s a stump in the middle of the path, too, which needed to come out.
All the plants have grown up since the original brick path was put in, so the path needs to come out a bit from where it was. Just as well we had a bunch of dirt rocks lying around to pile up and extend the hillside a bit. There’s currently not a lot of space between the wall around the cherry tree and the precipitous drop-off down to the driveway, but that will get sorted out once the wall for the garage is built.
Then it’s just a matter of neatening it all up. We use some stones from the orchard level digging to keep the dirt in place on the uphill side.
After doing the cherry tree circle and half the path, we went back to the mulch drop off spot to get another load. What do you know but someone else was there loading up and taking all the rest. Arrgh! We scrounged what we could but we came up about 2 metres short. Looks like we’re going to have to get creative to finish it.
The new path provides a nice garden bed on the left, which we’ll plant up. That echinacea flower has been going for months and months and I think a whole bunch more there will make a nice summer view out of the kitchen window.
Update: There. That’s better. Tulips and thyme in the bed at the right, and a little more dirt needed on the left, but generally done.
The cherry tree up on the hill has been almost finished for ages now. With walls built and the hedge planted, all it needed was to get some retic and receive a layer of mulch to complete. But it wasn’t long before some self-seeded poppies popped up, so it got left as it was and we had some flowers in there.
The summer’s killed off all those poppies and there was a nice new batch of mulch up at Menzies Creek so it looked like time to get it done.
Over the intervening months, and with me stepping on it while building the walls and planting the hedge, the ground around the tree had become as hard as rock. So the first step was to break it all up to let that soil breathe a little. That also got rid of the weeds that were growing there, and which are pretty much impossible to remove from the soil once it’s compacted.
All the big rocky bits were raked out. The big mess pile down on the orchard level is yielding some compost, so a whole bunch was dragged up to enrich the soil.
Two rings of dripper retic pipe were added to water the Armeria around the tree and the box hedge around the outside. The tree catches any water that falls in the summer and it gets quite dry here.
Then it was time to put the mulch on, and voila it’s done. Lovely!
That path there on the left is looking a bit tired. The mulch has broken down and compacted and a few weeds have taken root. Time to clean that up too.
The little seedlings are ready to go in the ground. First up is the hollyhocks, near the van cherry. The dry, compacted hillside needs to be dug up first, and the grasses removed. There was a bunch of lovely dark dirt at the bottom of the fish pond that we used here to enrich the soil a little bit.
These seed trays go a really long way. Much pleased.
The path going through the meadow up on the hill has been a bit of a sticking point. Originally, we were going to lay down stones. Here’s S in 2013 making a start:
As it turns out, the stones are put to much better use being part of walls. Weeds also grew between the cracks and were impossible to remove without pulling the stones up.
With appropriate stones in short supply, the path languished, unloved after the retic pipe went in.
The next plan, inspired by French vege gardens, was to put little white pebbles down. There’s a place in Kilsyth that sells 7mm Torquay pebbles, but at $110 a cube, they don’t come cheap.
Building the wall around the cherry tree, we needed more stones so we pulled up the ones in the path. At the same time we discovered that mulch in the hills is free, so we put mulch down in their place, just in the spot between the two sets of stone stairs.
The mulch works really well. It’s soft underfoot. When the rain is heavy it draws the water away from the surface but holds it in place until it’s absorbed by the ground. It doesn’t cost anything. And it adds nutrients to the soil. The benefits were too many to ignore, and the plan for little white pebbles was abandoned.
Here’s where the mulch ended. The rest of the path is just an uneven mess of weeds.
The soil was dug back down to the level of the retic pipe, removing the compacted bit on top. Halfway there:
It’s a pleasure to walk on. It doesn’t suppress the weeds 100%, but the few that do come up are easy to deal with.
First tulip of the season
Hoping for proper-sized leaves on the cherry tree this year, now that it’s re-established.
This peach has one branch with pink flowers …
The leaves on the birch pop out in a single day
Peach blossom and a new bit of wall
Blossom on the new almond
My favourite rhododendron makes creamy flowers with a delicate pink accent … but it’s a tiny twiggy thing that struggles to survive, with generally yellow, diseased leaves. Not sure what to do with it.
The cherry tree has taken well to being moved
Tulips pop up out of the shrubbery making a show in early October. They don’t last long, though, and this year a hot wind came through and burned them all to a crisp.
Gerberas emerge in mid-October
Work in the “garage patch” and in dismantling the old sand pit has yielded a nice pile of rocks for wall-building. The circular wall around the cherry tree is the one we’re most interested in seeing complete, mostly because you can see it out the kitchen window.
All the big rocks go on the bottom, and make a solid foundation for the rest. The rocks on the top need to be nice and flat, so the correctly-shaped ones get duty doing that. All the rest go in the bulk of the wall, and there’s usually a bunch of little ones just under the cap rocks to make the right profile to make solid contact with the bottom of the cap rock.
C’mon spring! Coldest winter in 26 years …
Lovely furry peach blossoms. Didn’t know the colour when we bought them, but we lucked out and got a red one, a pink one and a white one.
Down the road at number 15 they took down a big stringybark and were giving away the wood. They have a couple of lovely purple magnolias in the yard.
The race is on to get all the bare-rooted trees in the ground before spring. The birch trees up in the meadow need augmenting: birches in a group make a nice vertical clustering sort of effect that’s quite graphic if it’s done right. The ones we have are too far apart, though, so we’ll throw in a few more.
The dwarf peach trees have these lovely long mop-top leaves. We got 3 at the Monbulk cricket club fundraiser in February, and two went into the ground in April as part of the wall-building around the back of the cherry tree.
The last peach has sat in its pot ever since. We wanted it to go on the left of the steps going up the meadow, to balance the one that’s on the right, but we’d run out of rocks. The ground levelling over in the garage area produced plenty of new rocks, though, so we finally had enough to complete the next bit of wall and the time to do it.
We’d tried to grow a bunch of stuff here, but the slope means that a drop of water will never rest here long. Everything we planted was stunted and sickly (although that thyme plant doesn’t seem to mind).
We scraped away the dirt, popped in some rocks and made terraces that match the other side of the steps.
That little carnation is getting choked to death next to the thyme, and we need something to put on that little ledge, so out he comes. There is another carnation under another bush further along, so he comes out too and they can be friends. In goes the peach and Bob’s your uncle. Hopefully these three in a group will cross-pollinate and give us some peaches.