Saturday, 27 November 2010
In response to my appeal I got lots of useful ideas and encouragement from wonderful cyberfriends like Denis Wilson, Hermes, mysisterdale's garden, Edith Hope, Titania, Diana, Grace Peterson, The Violet Fern, Stephanie, Tina, easygardener, Wendy and Carol.
Since starting the project I have lost hours of sleep.
For the database I went with Filemaker's Bento because it seemed simple to use and offered a downloadable garden template. The only disadvantage to Bento that I have discovered so far is that I can't work out how to upload it to Google Docs. I don't want to lose all that work and the best way to secure it that I know of is to move it into the clouds. In the meantime I have backed it up on a usb stick.
So far I have entered 116 plants into the database. Not all entries have details, links and photos yet. It is a work in progress. I love doing it, getting to know the plants as individuals and members of larger groupings. I never made time to formally study plants or gardening - I preferred to do it and learn by experience. So my knowledge of plant classification is pretty basic. The learning curve has nowhere to go but up.
The next decision was how to feature the plant list on the blog. I have started to place the information on the blog's home page. There are no details or photos, just the names of the plants on different lists for each part of the garden.
Here is one random example of my new precision in identification of plants in my garden: Acacia cognata.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
“Will you step into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
Lately I have been noticing with great interest the contents of spider webs. Sometimes the web creator itself perches gracefully in the centre of the web. More often I see its victims - dead, half eaten or still alive and wriggling, trying unsuccessfully to extricate themselves from the deathtrap.
Such drama in the garden, so easily overlooked.
Some clever spiders have built their webs near the lavender, a major attraction for bees. So several bees have met a sticky end.
I despaired of getting a photo of the dragonflies or damselflies flitting around. It was definitely my lack of technique not the fault of the camera, since V. succeeded wonderfully. Luckily for them they seem to be too big to get caught up in the spider webs.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Saturday, 13 November 2010
I didn’t photograph them. They were just ordinary houses, with unremarkable front and back gardens – not unlike the suburban house I grew up in. Without photos, I hold them in my mind, determined not to lose the images of what the houses across the road looked like before land values rocketed and the developers stepped in.
‘When a thing is gone it is gone,’ said Jack stubbornly. ‘When a house is knocked down and another built in its place, why the first house is gone forever.’
‘Even that is not so simple as you would believe,’ said the Dragon, ‘for whatever has stood in the world leave behind an imprint, an echo, a scent, a spirit. What is destroyed is also reclaimed. What has been lost waits to be found.’
Jack was out of his depth, like a swimmer who can hardly see the land. Dragons talk in riddles, yes, in riddles …
‘Time passes,’ said the Dragon, ‘the clock chimes, men are born, grow old, and die, the world changes. All that is true, Jack, but that is not the sum of truth. You are young, but your deepest mind is as old as the mind of the first man who ever was, and what he saw, you can see, and what he knew, you can know, and what he feared, you fear too. You are many Jacks, many minds, many lives, but you live this one now, and that is what you see, like a man in a great house who confines himself to a single room and a single view.
‘And I, I am older even than mankind, and I have seen much.’
Jack thought of the Thames, and how his mother had told him that the Romans had rowed up the river and how in those days, so far away, the banks were thickly wooded and mammoths roamed the land. And how there were rich houses along the banks of the Thames, and the mammoths were all gone, but the river still ran its course. It was the same river. Perhaps his mind was like that river.’
Taking a long range view of human history helps put things in a refreshingly different perspective compared to the short term thinking and planning of politicians with an eye to the next election.
I like the poetic way Jeanette Winterson writes about time - that tricky, slippery dimension that is so abstract, so difficult to understand, yet permeates our experiences and identities.
For a long time Silver sat reading and trying to read the book. Then she noticed that it was getting dark, and that the whole day must have passed. A short day, she thought, but then she knew from past experience that some days are shorter than others, that time is not what it seems to be by the sun and the clock…
The quotes are from Jeanette Winterson’s novel, The Battle of the Sun, published by Bloomsbury in 2009.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Monday, 1 November 2010
I read this book to my kids and now I’m reading it to my grandkids. I always enjoyed it but now it churns me up inside … I’ve been rethinking my stance on welcoming wildlife including insects to the garden. It rather depends on the numbers involved.
One egg hatching one caterpillar is delightful. But there was nothing delightful about the hundreds of eggs on each leaf of my still young eucalypts. Initially I did what seemed the most sensible thing to do at the time: just ignore the whole thing.
After a couple of weeks the leaves on the largest of the small eucalypts become brown and see-through like lace. The same thing was starting to happen to the neighbouring even smaller eucalypts. Time to put on my reading glasses to confront the details. Horrors! Caterpillars climbing up and down the trunk and on leaves. Hundreds of them. Eggs still unhatched.
Then I saw a spider. Thank goodness. Here was a natural predator of caterpillars that would help keep the numbers down. From the top rung of the ladder I watched in fascination as the spider approached a largish caterpillar. Come on, I said to it encouragingly. At the spider’s approach the caterpillar loomed upwards swaying menacingly. The spider quite sensibly beat a fast retreat back the way it had come.
Hmm ... time to make a plan. I certainly wasn’t going to use chemical sprays. And I didn’t have the stomach (or finger pressure) to do so much squishing and squashing. So I cut off the affected leaves and put them in the rubbish bin.
Now the tree looks like this.
Yesterday I watched a cute caterpillar moving along a branch of a grevillea shrub. It was blue and white striped and very cute. So far as I could see it was alone. That meant I could afford to be merciful and generous and choose not to use my power to end its life. I look forward to seeing it flying around some time soon as a lovely butterfly.
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