French pear circle

We have a few more trees left in pots from the Monbulk cricket club fundraiser in February. The two pears and two crabapples presented a bit of a quandary about where they might go. Practically, the orchard level should continue on from the apples that were planted earlier, but there’s a giant pile of garden junk in the way.

Never mind, we’re all good adapters around here. One of the problem areas of the yard is over on the west fence. A stretch of dirt about 3m wide between the fence and the old sand pit is just a mess. There’s long grass and blackberry and a ton of bidgee widgee growing there. There’s yet another one of Carl’s signature stumps. This one’s a blackwood. The great ugly sand pit box is like a kind of psychological barrier and frankly, an eyesore. We have some French pears, so lets do something French over there instead. You know, crushed stone pathways and rock seats and little strappy-leaved flower plant borders and fruit for the picking and maybe the odd girl in a muslin dress floating around.

Being interested in the least effort possible, we picked a spot that was basically at the same level as the apples and planted the two pears over by the fence there. Easy done, lickety spit. These pears are the brown Beurré Bosc variety.


Of course, now the thing is done and everything has to be made to fit, including the hillside. First step is to cut back the grass so we can see what we’re doing.


We can’t keep any of these little trees (a wattle and two blackwoods) and they’ll have to come out. It’s ironic; when we first arrived we were weeding the sand pit and found a tiny wattle seedling. Oh! So cute! we thought. Save it! we said. So we popped it back in the ground just there. Not realising that the damn things would be popping up absolutely everywhere. Anyhow, there are four more blackwoods over by the trampoline spot, and a cluster of wattles at the other end of the yard, so there’s no need to be precious.

Also, a giant rock. Always with the giant rocks.


Let’s begin! We brought the orchard level over to this area with a piece of string and aligned it to the top of this stake. We’ll take dirt out of the hill and pile it here.


As it turns out, the two pear trees won’t pollinate themselves very well. They do go well with Williams/Bartlett pears though, so we got three of those as a complement.


Pear number three goes in, as close to the fence as is practical and maintaining a uniform distance from the next plant. Every good mathematician knows that with three points on a circle you can find a unique centre, so we bang a stake in at the centre point and keep digging for pear number four. Of course, as luck has it, pear number four goes in the exact spot where the little wattle was, so the whole root ball has to be dug out. Then the giant rock is hovering dangerously close so it gets pulled like a big tooth. Then to top things off there’s a giant root from the blackwood stump also going right through that spot. Sigh.IMG_2010

We are not deterred! Giant rock can go at the centre of the circle as a feature, and a bit of chainsaw action will get that root out and we might as well shorten the stump while we’re here.


Sweet! Completing the circle with pear number five would make things look funny, so he comes out away from the fence and in the process suggests a use for the two remaining crabapples (as guard duty for steps leading down to the bottom level).


Vege patch refresh

Rohan’s vege patch needed a bit of a going over. The baby coriander we planted some months ago were immediately eaten by snails (at a guess). There was no point trying much in there in the winter cold. There’s a hint of spring in the air, though, and stuff is shooting up all over the place, so now seems like a good time.

First step was cleaning out the weeds. Here it is back in May. The beetroot never grew (just long thin roots), and the carrots were all munted (soil not sandy enough). There is a bunch of self-seeded parsley in there, though, which we’ll be able to put to good use.


Out they all come, and in go some bricks to make a little path. We’re going to try not being so random this time. As usual, Mrs Magpie sees an opportunity to catch a worm and patrols the area with enthusiasm.



Transplanted parsley is on the right. It’ll come good in a couple of weeks. At the back is garlic that was grown from cloves in pots. There’s also a few dutch cream potatoes on the inner right at the back. We put a random assortment of plants gathered out of the garden at front left, including a rosemary, a thyme, two baby baby apple trees and three baby baby avocados. Coriander had grown up in one of the planters on the deck, so they all came out and went in front right. In mid left went a bunch of onions. We’ll put some netting up to keep the bunnies out and cut that grass behind to flush out all the snails.

Maple trees

Finally found maples at the Wishing Well nursery. We’ll pop two in just below the orchard level. They should give us some lovely leaves come autumn.

Maples to the right, one for Aithan and one for Ellroy. The little claret ash stick is on the left.

More birch trees

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.

Two more below the path make this a cluster of four. The Tritonia, Ixia, Sparaxis and Freesia bulbs are saved out of the dug hole and replanted. Gah! Look at those red yuccas. They really need to go into pots or something.
I tried to make this space into a carpet of Iceland poppies, and all I got was buttercup weeds.


Goodbye buttercups. Now there’s a group of three birches. Much better.

Last dwarf peach

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.

It can’t be seen from this angle, but there’s a little “Lorna Doone” thyme plant just to the right of the peach. Hopefully it’ll cover the ground in time.

Almond and ash trees

With the birthday silly season out of the way, we can get back into the garden. Wanted some maple trees for autumn colour, but Emerald Gardens was fresh out. We got an almond and two claret ash trees instead.

A pretty easy dig this time for the almond tree. It’s about 4m away from the last apple and just below the chicken run. The string there is making sure it’s at the same level.
This one’s self-pollinating, so we don’t need to get it a partner. Fingers crossed the little stick grows into a mighty nut harvest!
The two claret ash trees can’t even be seen from the house. There’s one in the little brown patch just to the right of that baby ash tree, and another behind the wattle in the middle of the shot. Five apples in the mid ground and the almond on the right.