Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Carnage

What a Christmas! My area was hit by a 'super cell' storm on Christmas day that flooded the streets, my creek and destroyed my garden. We had 20cent piece sized hail stones and some of the worst flash flooding that the area has seen. The train line has been washed out and my car has been damaged!

Most of my immediate neighbours had water in their houses from leaking roofs and run off from the ridge behind us. Our house had plenty of water in it, all of it from under the front door and most of the furniture is still on timber blocks and bricks in the effort to dry things out. There was plenty of mopping up yesterday and cleaning up all the debris and carnage in the garden. The most gruesome discovery was mushrooms growing out of our walls behind the couch! All this rain we have been having over the last few months has created the perfect mushroom growing environment and our earth walls are apparently a fantastic growing media for mushies! Mum suggested I grow shitakis to make the most of the undesirable situation!

Anyway, on to the photos:

Beans and lettuces shredded to bits by the hail.

Poor zucchini and beetroots.

The rhubarb completely mushed.

My poor tomatoes destroyed and there was so much fruit starting to ripen!

Everything in the veggie garden has been completely smooshed and many things I will have to start again. The tomatoes have been cut back to woody stems in the hope that they will reshoot. All the  leaves of Zucchinis have been cut off because they were too shredded. Most of the beans have had to come out, and the corn has been shredded and then flattened by the shear volume of water and hail. I had no idea that hail did so much damage. I can't imagine what this is like for farmers. It must be so devastating!

This was my harvest yesterday after pulling off all of the rhubarb stems and salvaging the least shredded stems. I also dug up all of the beetroot which I think I will roast with some balsamic vinegar and garlic.

At least on Chritmas morning I made the most of the sunshine that we did have and harvested what I could from the garden for our lunch with the family! I managed 2 huge romanesco zucchinis that were both over 2.5 kilos! Not to mention yummy gem lettuces, zucchini flowers and sweet peas to decorate the table.

There is still so much mess to clean up and we seriously have to assess the drainage (or lack thereof)on our block. I guess when you live on a floodplain and at the bottom of a hill, you have to expect flooding, but we can certainly minimise the damage in the future.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and if you are in Melbourne that you werent affected to badly! At least this was a Christmas that we won't forget for a while!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Colour in the Summer Garden

Wow, what a difference the warm weather makes to the garden! There is plenty going on in the patch and the garden in general smiles at me when I walk through it. It sounds naff and all earth mother but being in the garden, immersed in plants and the warm soil has such a powerful effect on the spirits, that no matter how stressful life is, the garden makes it all ok.

Christmas mixed heirloom beetroot.

Lilies and Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass (highly unorthodox plant combination but it looks awesome!)

Beautiful round purple leaves of the Smoke Bush contrasting well with the Euphorbia in the background.

'Just Joey' rose underplanted with Catmint.

A stunning orange Kangaroo Paw. For those in Melbourne who have trouble growing Kanga Paws, try the Anigozanthos flavidus cultivars. They are a lot tougher than some of the small hybrids and less susceptible to ink disease (the cause of blackening leaves). They also deal quite well with heavier soils.

In sad news, my poor Dumpling and Little Margarita were killed by a fox last weekend. We were still working on the fence at the time and had stepped out in the middle of the day and it happened. Its so frustrating! We are now no longer letting the remaining girls out of the coop because the run still isn't finished. Its the first job on the list for after Christmas day.  Dumpling was such a trooper, popping out such huge eggs and Margy was so sweet.
Apparently there a approximately 10 foxes per square kilometre in suburban Melbourne at the moment! I just wish they'd catch the millions of rabbits and not prey on my girls. Oh well. Circle of life and all that...

What was I saying about the healing properties of the garden? Might just have to go and do some weeding.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seed Giveaway Results

Here is the belated announcement of the winners for my 100th Post Seed Giveaway:

Hazel from The Hut Chronicles

Congratulations lovey ladies! Please send me an email with your details and I post your seeds to you. If you hadn't already in the comments from the giveaway post told me which seeds you'd like (or both), please do so in the email!

Many thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Chicks

My two little Lavender Araucana chicks spend most of their days wandering around the garden. They are small enough not to make too much damage in the veggie garden and so I don't mind letting them do their thing (disclaimer: I can't actually contain them in the run - even with clipped wings! This of course will be fixed when the new coop is finished).

I often feed them damaged strawberries and handfuls of chick 'Grower Crumbs' and so they now follow me around the garden. I love hearing their noises and seeing them run, heads down towards me. Its SO cute! They are used to Ollie now who likes to follow them around, and are so small and flighty that they scoot away from him before he even thinks about barking at them.

Their they go heading through to the veggies. I often just find them sitting under the beetroot or amongst the beans, just chillin'. They don't much like the Nepeta Cat Mint (I think there is 'Walkers Low' and another large variety in their. I highly recommended bedding plant for Melbourne!) planted beneath the roses (above) but they spend a fair bit of time just checking it out. 

I love their pointy little bottoms and their slightly annoyed expressions!

The difference between the two is reasonably easy to spot now. There's Frida on the left, she's spunky and independent. She has a very pink upper beak / slowly developing pea comb. Margarita has yellowish feet and a light coloured eye compared to Frida. She'e quieter and easier to approach and likes to follow Frida around.

 I am continually amazed at how different each chicken's personality is. They are just such funny creatures!   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Garden Inspiration: Helen's Garden

Helen's garden is always a continuous source of inspiration to me. It is a kind of Australian garden that combines the best of exotic, native and locally indigenous plantings in an elegant and relaxed yet quirky way. Filled with striking plant combinations, art and found objects, it has evolved over the years that I have known Helen and I always love going over to visit to see the progression.

The front garden is a mix of native grasses that have been planted under three spectacular Eucalyptus caesia Silver Princess. The colour of the stems and foliage complement the Californian bungalow house beautifully. There is also a mix of exotics in this garden, such as Irises and Roses, and these are cleverly located to provide contrast to the soft texture of the grasses and the weeping foliage of the trees.

 Granite slabs and concrete stepping pavers have been located to provide a 'negative space' amongst Ajuga reptans and more native grasses. The slabs provide not only a physical path, but also an element that is a resting place for the eyes as they are drawn through the garden.

The side path is lush, green and cooling, with an overhead canopy of Acer palmatum Japanese Maple. The under planting uses thicker leaved, dark green plants that anchor the path, in contrast to the bright lime green of the Maple leaves. The native grasses planted in the center isle provide another layer of textural contrast.

The side path comes around to the back garden and is defined by the biggest Monstera with a mind of its own!


The back garden is divided into different spaces with a large garden bed shaded by a large Loquat tree and the largest Silver Birch Betula Pendula that I have ever seen! The understory is dominated by an under planting of native grasses and a smattering of Correas, Dianellas, Bromeliads and self sown annuals like the Nasturtiums and the electric pink of the Lychnis coronaria. This is an unusual combination of plants but they work together beautifully!

The middle section of the garden gives way to a small lawn area and a lovely old apple tree that must have been planted when the house was built. The lawn is edged with fallen logs that provide an informal edge and a break between the green. The garden bed is again, a mix of textures and colours the most striking focus of which is the Kahioili Ginger Hedychium gardnerianum in the middle ground (one of the most stunning smelling plants EVER!).

The other side of the lawn is a fantastic netted veggie patch that keeps out the marauding suburban Melbourne Possums.

 This crowning glory of this veggie patch is the HUGE raspberry plot that produces the sweetest of crimson jewels that are pretty much worth their weight in gold!

The path to the veggie garden winds its way to the back of the house and the garden beds either side are richly planted with a mix of plants of varying height. This adds depth to the area and also provides a sense of immersive scale.

There is a fantastic succulent collection too with feature pots dotted through the garden to add colour and interest. I love the old dresser mirror leaning against the wall and the different angled reflections of the garden that it provides. I wonder if I can find on one someones hard garbage pile...

I hope you have enjoyed seeing Helen's garden. It is such a beautiful garden that I look to for ideas and inspiration. I think it is a fantastic example of a dry tolerant garden designed specifically for the local climate. Although plants die and things change, there is always a sense of integrity and unifying themes of texture and contrast help to make this beautiful garden what it is. A stunning place to visit.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finally 100!

Finally Ballynoe Cottage has hit 100 posts! It's been a long time coming, and I have loved the journey. I have to say that the world of garden blogs has expanded my knowledge of all things gardening and I have found it really fascinating to connect with people who are so passionate about gardening, growing vegetables and keeping chooks!

So, as a way to say thanks to my wonderful blogging friends I'd like to give away some of my 'Tangerine Fluff / Puff / Tuft" (I'm not sure which one is!) Poppy seeds and some Gem Squash seeds.

 I'd like to give away 3 little packets, so please say Hi in the comments and which of the seeds you would like and I'll have Ollie or Joel draw the names next Saturday the 17th December.

Thanks again for reading, I love sharing my garden with you and love your comments and suggestions.

Here's to another hundred! (And lots more awesome hard garbage finds!!!)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coop with Water Views

All this rain we have been having lately has filled up our little - usually placid, trickle like creek Its incredible how over night it turns into a seething torrent that destroys everything in its path.

One advantage to the increase in water levels is that the girls get to have water side coop views!

The coop and run is currently undergoing a long overdue makeover. From temporary chicken wire that doesn't keep the chicks in to fortified chicken chateaux. I can't wait for it to be finished. I'll be planting my mulberry tree in the run (protected of course) as well as some wormwood (for lice) and some passionfruit over the new cyclone fencing. I wonder if chickens destroy raspberry canes - does anyone know? The coop gets sun most of the day and the extra chicken nutrients would make for some tasty berries I imagine. 

It will also be good to finally be able to stop Ollie from getting into the coop. He's rather good at jumping the fence to eat the kitchen scraps and seeds for the chickens. I swear, I would have never thought Whippets to be garbage bins that eat anything that is vaguely edible (including chicken poo) like other dogs. There's nothing dainty about this horse of a whippet!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Great Hard Garbage Find

My computer is grumpy with me and doesn't want to connect to the internet - hence my lack of posts lately. But there has been some seriously fabulous hard garbage offerings in my area. We have managed to collect a really cool 70's side chair that is being turned into an ottoman, some interesting 'art', terracotta pots, old ladders and my favorite so far - an outdoor umbrella frame!

My mum gave me a Tromboncino Zucchini seedling that we didn't realise was a trailing vine! It was flopping around all over the place and growing into the path until Joel came home one afternoon with an old umbrella frame in the wagon. "Can you use this, or should I put it back on the pile?" he said to me. "Ohh perfect" was my reply!

Meet my new Tromboncino frame with a baby Tromboncino. Its quite handy with the extra struts and lots of anchor points for the vine. I might weave some willow branches through the supports when I venture out to raid the willow tree along the creek.

Oh how I love hard garbage!
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