Unhealthy Projects

Some of the plants in our garden are a bit depressed. Some have been depressed for a long time, some are more recently depressed. I’m going to make it my project to try to cheer them up.

For our passionfruit vine, the trigger was being thrown into a new environment. He was unsure of his new surroundings, felt lost without the protection of his pot, and confused about what we expected him to do with the elaborate lattice we’d constructed him next to. It was all too much and he became overwhelmed.

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We knew straight away that he wasn’t happy. At his grandad’s suggestion we chopped him right back so he could grow at his own pace and get a feel for his new environment, rather than being thrust into the lattice unnaturally by hand. Plus his shocked roots wouldn’t have to drink so much to keep his leaves looking nice.

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I was convinced that the change was just too much for him, and he wasn’t going to make it. But, with some encouraging words from his grandad, Kate and James, we gave him a chance. He is slowly creeping out of his shell again to sniff around at his new environment.

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With some continuous love and affection, I think he’ll make a very fine passionfruit vine.

Like many with depression, Maggie the Magnolia’s depressive symptoms are linked with the weather. But unlike most humans, she is more depressed in the summer months. Her first summer was a big struggle, and she has never really recovered. Perhaps she became ashamed of her appearance after her leaves became burnt. Like the passionfruit vine, I think she also struggled adjusting to her environment. There was a half dead tree in her place before she arrived. The tree stump was actually rotten. We have always been worried about the soil and drainage in this spot, so it’s no surprise she’s struggling. She’s actually looking better than ever at the moment so I do have high hopes that with protection from the sun, plus some extra love and care, she’ll be ok.

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There are three other depressed plants in our garden, and despite my keen interest in psychology, I’m not sure what the cause is.

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Our yellow-leaved grevillea. Molly the grevillea was yellow when she was younger, but she adjusted and turned green within a few months. This grevillea has been yellow for a long time, and is showing no signs of improvement despite the occasional feed. I’m not too sure what the best treatment option is here. Perhaps she’s depressed because she knows I love our other grevillea’s (Molly and Peaches and Cream) more than her. I’ll make a special effort to show her more love.

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Our philotheca has been depressed ever since he arrived here, about two years ago. He’s looked half dead since about a month after he was planted, but has never actually died. The passionfruit vine used to be next to him so I’m hoping for some miraculous recovery now he has his own space. I thought philotheca’s were meant to be pretty hardy, but he obviously doesn’t like this soil at all.

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Our lovely lime tree has been in and out of depression several times. I’m just hoping he’s strong enough to pick himself up again. This depression hit really fast, soon after I fed him and he sat outside on a rainy day. I’ve since moved him into a sheltered spot, out of the sun and protected from the wind (for a good lie down as Kate suggested). I’m closely monitoring his water intake with my new moisture meter. I spray him with Neem to keep the pests away (thanks to James for the suggestion). If anything he’s looking worse. I’m not sure what to do next 😦

Notice that our lemon tree isn’t on the list of “unhealthy projects”? That’s right! Our lemon tree is looking fine and dandy! She still makes me nervous though. Fingers crossed she stays off the list!

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The Birth Of A Garden Bed

One of the purposes of this blog is to share the creation of our garden from the blank canvas we had to begin with, so I think it’s time for another creation post.

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Of course, our ‘blank canvas’ wasn’t actually blank to begin with and it took a hell of a lot work to get it in a state where we could begin ‘creating’. Since we live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne we don’t actually have a green waste bin and have to request the council to make a special trip to collect green waste. It still feels strange putting weeds in the rubbish bin. The backyard did actually have plenty of plants when we moved in, however they were mostly plants that I consider weeds in this case – agapanthus, fishbone ferns, jasmine and other unspecified climbers. These plants all have their place, just not in my garden! And not in the abundance and unkempt condition that they were.

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It wasn’t just plants that needed clearing. There was rubble everywhere! There were stacks of red bricks, concrete pavers, broken ceramic pots, bones, golf balls (we live opposite a golf course), and just rubbish. You could never dig a hole without finding rubbish! I even dug up two 5kg dumbbells! The rubble in the photo above was the result of just a few hours of digging and clearing.

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With one section of garden cleared, I started making a simple garden bed. It appeared that this area used to be a garden bed as there was a short wall of bricks concreted together at the edge of it, so I just had to make a line of bricks to separate the bed from the lawn. And with all the red bricks I found scattered and buried around our garden, it was good to put them to use!

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After digging a trench and laying down recycled bricks as straight as I could by eye, I realised I should’ve used a string line! It took me hours to make this wonky brick edge with a tape measure and a cheap, short level. Another lesson learnt!

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Now for the fun part! Choosing plants. Our house was built in the Victoria era so I had lots of trouble deciding what sort of plants to plant. I love natives, and wanted to attract birds as we don’t get as many as I’d like, living so close to the city. But I wasn’t sure that natives would suit our Victorian-style house. I considered a more English garden look, with roses and box hedges, but never got excited about that style. I also didn’t want to be stuck with a particular style. Growing up, all our gardens had a bit of everything from natives to roses to bulbs and annuals and I like the variety. So natives won for this particular garden bed, but our garden overall has a bit of everything. My partner has two brown thumbs, as I keep mentioning, but he insisted in having a say in which plants we bought. He was happy with natives (because he didn’t know what natives were and I didn’t show him any other sections of the nursery!) but we disagreed on the size of plants. As you may have noticed in these pictures we have the most ugly shed known to man! We will of course knock it down and build a smaller, more attractive shed when we have the money to do so (I can’t wait!), but for now it’s staying. My partner wanted to buy short plants so as to not block the shed. I know, he’s crazy. I, of course, wanted tall plants! We compromised and I was allowed to buy a grevillea which will grow to 1m in height, but the other plants are relatively short.

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The second plant from the right in this photo was my partners choice and was not expected to grow any taller than it is now. Thankfully it didn’t like the clay soil and died! I now have a passionfruit in a pot here patiently waiting for the fence to be built between us and our neighbours property. It was a housewarming present that I can’t seem to give away so I’m just hoping it will survive until we can plant it.

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Five months on and our boronia, grevillea and philotheca are growing nicely. The grevillea is yellowing a little. I’ve fed it various nutrients so will see if it greens up again.

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The grevillea is called Molly. Our last dog was called Molly and I miss her lots so I’m particularly attached to this plant. This plant’s a beauty, just like Molly the dog was!

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It’s spring now so our boronia is in full flower. Beautiful.

So our first garden bed was born. Our plans for a new shed will see this garden bed becoming an L-shape one day and unfortunately the boronia will have to move. It hope it survives a transplant because it’s a particularly lovely boronia! The shed is probably a few years away though, so for now we’re enjoying our straight line garden :).