Bird bath

Back in January when the gum tree came down on the hill, we decided that we’d turn the stump into a bird bath. And now, only 8 months later, it’s done! Another one of those bottom-of-the-priority-list projects.

And several methods for carving the thing out had to be invented. Plain drill bits, spade bits, routing, chiselling, letting-it-fill-with-water-and-waiting-for-the-wood-to-rot.








Wiring for the fish pond

The major stumbling block to getting the fish pond finished has been getting the wiring up the hill from the house (it will be 24V DC from the solar panel).

Digging trenches is the worst job ever. Digging them under trees is even worse, trying to get the shovel in the ground while bent over under the branches. I started digging away from the pond months and months ago, and got about three metres before getting a back pain.

Anyway, time to quit my whinging and get on with it.


Note to self: don’t bury the conduit before trying to pull the wire. Had to dig up the conduit joins buried earlier so that the wire could be pulled through one section at a time.

Finally made it all the way up to the pump housing, and found that the wire was only just long enough.


I’d like to say that was perfect planning but it was sheer guesswork while standing in the wiring section at Bunnings. So perfect guessing!

I’ll need some more flexible tubing for connecting the water pipe to the pump, but otherwise this end of things is getting pretty close to done and we’ll be ready to put some concrete in the pond hole and seal it up.

Onion weed

Bill called these white flowers “snowdrops” when he came to visit our Sherbrooke house, and that’s what we’ve been calling them. A little research shows that they aren’t snowdrops at all, but the noxious onion weed nothoscordum inodorum. They pretty much cover the top of the hill; it seems they’ve invaded from the bushy area across the road (they line the roadsides everywhere here).


The only way to get rid of them is to dig them up. They can’t be pulled out because the stalks just break off leaving the bulb underground, to re-emerge next year. It’s going to have to be a systematic and ruthless eradication campaign. We need to get onto it while we can still see them; they’ll soon disappear back under the ground. Here, a patch has been replaced with everlasting seeds.


Interlude: flowers

Spring is a proper thing here up the mountain. Everything suddenly springs to life. Some of my seedling packets said I could plant some things in autumn, but it’s not really true. The little seedlings struggled to get a footing over winter and have only just now started to look like they might be a bit happy. A lot of my nasturtiums got a few little leaves and then just stopped growing. Action now, though.


The stock is a bit disappointing. These seeds were planted first thing in the first seedling nursery, but barely managed to grow. The three that made it through went up next to the blueberries near the fish pond have flowered well, but not really like the pictures. Was kind of expecting these tall spears covered in triple-petalled flowers, but these ones are quite bushy.


End of season tulips are dead cheap around here. The Tesselaar tulip farm is just down the road, and I suspect the local market gets flooded with the ones that don’t do so well. These were $10 (in total) from the cricket club’s fundraising sale.


The tritonia bulbs are doing OK, with some flowers coming out. For the number I planted, though, I was expecting more. Maybe just need to be more patient. Some freesias are also starting to appear.


The big green leafy thing there is a weed, I think. Mary gave me some seeds labelled “hollyhocks”, so naturally I thought they were going to be hollyhocks. Not so. These plants are really big, with tiny yellow flowers on the ends of tall, branching stalks. Although they’re doing a good job making the hillside look like a meadow, they’re smothering the other plants and will need to be cut back or pulled out.

Update: these ones were actually what Mary calls roquette – but it’s nothing like the roquette you eat, all hairy and what-not. I’m going for weed mistaken for roquette. And we did get one Hollyhock, but not until January.

And, it turns out those seedlings I thought were chillies are actually roquette. Oh well, more salad!


Azaleas going nuts

September is the month for Azaleas. They’re going nuts all over the place at the moment. I was here one year ago exactly to buy the house, and this azalea is visible from the dining area. It was one of the things that gave me a good feeling about the house.


The leaves have been kind of sick-looking over winter, though. Yellow and spotty. Although it’s recovering now, it could probably do with a prune at some point to bush up a little.

Vegie patch version 3

So digging up the whole veggie patch is a real pain, and the spring is well and truly here, so we turned the earth we dug last week and got to planting some seeds. R helped to put the soaker pipe down the middle, where we’ll have a little pathway this time.


We got a row of sunflowers on the right, from the “lolly” bag from Indi’s party, two rows of corn on either side, a row of tomatoes on the left, a row of dill on the right, and parsley, coriander and basil on either side in the middle.

We made a little rock path there from the rocks we dug up; sadly not enough to go the whole stretch. None of that nasty pea hay this time!

We made the possum/fox/rabbit fence a bit bigger this time, too. We’ll dig the rest out later on.


Seedling time

This year we might even get our seedlings up and going at the right time.

Matthew gave us some exotic chilli seeds way back. Apparently there’s a shop in Melbourne city where you can buy all sorts of chillies – guajillo, ancho, chilaca and some others. Not that we have any way of telling which is which from the seeds.

So we threw those seeds in some seedling pots, along with rocket, wild oregano and some of the random flowers that came from Mary down the road.


Version 3 of the seedling patch is going to be bigger and better. This time we’re digging down to shovel depth, and really working the soil. Even with the very shallow treatment we gave it last year, it is way better than it was.


Mr kookaburra sat by the shovel waiting for a worm to be dug up, and duly gobbled up anything that appeared.


Interlude – greening up

All the little plants that crouched on the hillside over winter have suddenly sprung into action. The first tree spiral around the elm is actually starting to look somewhat like the big vision. The idea is that the whole hillside looks like this … need to repeat this about x50.







R had a party up in Research to attend. On the way back, we stopped in at this old crazy guy in Eltham who sells piles of worms cheaply (read his rant online here). So now the worm farm is done! (It’s been sitting there so long grass has started growing out of the hay we put in there).