366/366: full circle

An achievement in itself has been managing to blog every day of the year. I am commemorating this auspicious occasion with some good news. The semi-circle of shame is no longer. I mentioned that I would do the grand unveiling on New Year’s Eve, so here ’tis.

Having weeded it all, it was ready to attack, by removing some soil and recycling some old vinyl and rocks.

weeded and ready to attack

recycling vinyl and rocks


almost finishedAlmost complete, I will probably add more river rocks to the arrangement, but for now it will suffice.

WordPress’s Project 365 challenge has encouraged me to write every day, and it is true: the more you write, the more you want to write. However, I know that on some occasions I was scratching around for a post, so next year I will not be forcing myself to do it daily. Hopefully, my posts can be more thoughtful, although sometimes it’s fun just sharing a photo I like, with little or no writing. I’m looking at posting weekly on princessprattles, freeing myself up to work on my novel, my other blogs, and maybe even introduce a couple more. Yes, addicted to blogging and loving it.

Have a fantastic New Year, and aspire to great things. The possibilities are endless.

365/366: mulch ado about nothing

Sorry Shakespeare, for torturing your title, but hooray and hallelujah, the pile of mulch is done and dusted. Thanks to my husband’s concerted effort on his days off, the final deadline has been achieved, (by the end of the year), a day ahead of schedule. This is all well and good, but that was actually the third deadline we had made for the mulch, though in all fairness, the other two were just a guideline.

the final barrow of mulch in the driveway

There remain a few piles ready to spread in the back yard, but finally it is finished and we can reclaim the driveway, a good way to end the year.

Being a leap year, Project 365, which should officially end today, has a bonus day tomorrow, for what I like to term Project 365 + 1. It feels a little like the end of a school year. I’m ready for a holiday!


364/366: containment issue: english ivy

You might plant an innocent little cutting, and within a few months or years it has insiduously taken over part of the garden. However, some of these plants are very attractive, so it becomes a containment issue, such as with seaside daisies, fishbone fern and in this case, English ivy. Left to its own devices up in the top tier of the back yard, it spread to such an extent that it was becoming a pest.

looking between the plum trees before minimising ivy

My circle of shame was testament to its hostile takeover, but that transformation will be revealed on New Year’s Eve. Last time it was mentioned it had become a semi-circle of shame.

The giant mountain of mulch has helped spur me on to create places in which to spread it. It’s a win-win situation, getting rid of both the pile in the driveway and creating a new look for the back yard.

last piece of ivy containment

a sense of order restoredA sense of order has now been restored, and will allow much easier access to pick plums.

363/366: new home for a conifer

One of our many Castewallen Gold conifers had some offspring. Situated just in front of the rhododendron, a successful cutting I took from the huge purple-flowered one in the front yard, is the rogue conifer.

rogue conifer in the way

As the conifer has grown larger, I have realised that its position is untenable, as it blocks the pathway and possibly inhibits growth of the rhododendron, necessitating the move.

My personal labourer came to the fore again, and did the necessary digging and re-planting of said conifer. Although I work extremely hard in the garden, I appreciate his help in situations such as these, where brawn defeats creativity.

my personal labourer at work

Now it has a new home, and hopefully it will continue to grow, but this time I will keep it in check with regular pruning, unlike the previous giants we have had lopped or removed.

in its new home

The path is now clear as is the view looking up towards the top tier.

clears the path

362/366: black and blue

Zorro liked it blueThe blue chair I bought recently at a garage sale has had a makeover, and is now black.

As you can see, Zorro approves either colour scheme, which leads to a question: can cats differentiate between different colours? And how would you know? Did someone ask them? Je parle chat, meaning I speak cat. We have conversations sometimes, as anyone with a cat might attest to, or is it just me?

Zorro approves the colour change

My plan was to spray paint two other cane chairs today. However, with temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, I think it’s best to wait for a cooler day. Paint always performs better in less extreme temperatures, be they too cold or too hot.

Having just been to Zumba this morning, after a couple of hours spent pulling up some english ivy, I am more than happy to leave it for another day, and head to the shops for the post-Christmas sales. In the meantime, I can show you the “before” shots of the other two chairs.

another cane chair for an update

cane chair awaiting some colour


361/366: the companion marigold

Marigolds are apparently good companion plants for tomatoes, so I bought a few of the potted ones to have in the house on Christmas Day and to later plant in the garden. Although this is an expensive way to buy marigolds, with seedlings a cheaper alternative and seeds even more thrifty (if they grow), at least it was a better option than purchasing cut flowers, which only last a few days.

marigolds in a basket

No sooner had I taken them out of the basket to plant out however, when Zorro spied it and just had to climb in. I swear he is addicted to cosy enclosed spaces.

Marigolds out, Zorro in

Zorro in a box

When I planted marigold seedlings a few months ago, the snails got to them and they disappeared, so this time I’m not taking any chances. I have surrounded them with snail pellets, so it will be interesting to see how long they last.

marigolds adjacent to tomatoes


359/366: wishing you mulch joy

Know thy limitations could be an alternate title. Why do we try to get so many things done “by Christmas”? I have mentioned before that I work best to a deadline, but sometimes you also have to be realistic.

This was the pile of mulch with a deadline, again extended because really, what’s the difference? Family coming to share Christmas Day will not be judging me by my pile of mulch, and if they do, there may be no Christmas pudding for them!

doesn't look muchstill 2 - 3 cubic metres to go

It looks so much less than when we started:

mountain of mulch

So instead of finishing the pile, with more important things to do like wrap presents, some last-minute housework, extra decorations and food preparation, I made it part of the festivities, which is why I wish you mulch joy at Christmas, love Sandi Claus.


mulch joy at Christmas



357/366: a plum’s net worth

When you find a plum on the tree pecked this much, it is time to net the rest.

a bird's ripeness test

bird netting

Determined to cover as much of the fruit on all three trees with the 4 x 10 metre netting that I had purchased, necessitated some manoeuvring.

In the end I realised I should have either bought the larger roll or two of the smaller. I made my choice, so I took an alternate route. I pruned the tree early, with plums attached, and then put them in a basket. I’ve never picked plums quite this early before but for jam-making there will certainly be plenty of pectin! Only one way to find out, and that is to do it. It will be interesting to ascertain if there is sufficient flavour so early.

maybe ready for jam

pruning for plum jam

the final result - practical though not pretty

I might leave them in the basket for a couple of days (inside) to ripen a little more before the attempt at cooking up a batch of jam. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, although in this case it will be the proof of the jam is in the spreading (and eating goes without saying).

356/366: palmistry

This type of palmistry has nothing to do with reading the lines on my hand, or anybody else’s for that matter. Our quest for a garden with a tropical flavour led us to a Palm Sale last Saturday. The rain had cleared, I had visited the ATM for my budgetted $200, and off we went.

I had noticed these Palm Sales in different suburbs in previous years, not really paying much attention to them until now. This time it has been situated in Vermont South, a ten minutes’ drive from Croydon.

Jotted down on a piece of paper clutched in my hand was advice on different palms that I had learnt from the internet. My husband accompanied me to choose our purchases. The man who runs the establishment poo-hooed some of the information regarding what would grow where, and suggested varieties to suit our needs. It made sense, if he had them for sale they should suit our climate.

For our $200, I think we did really well, with ten plants in all.

$200 worth of plants

They have been sitting in the back yard now for almost a week, as I read that it’s good for the plants to be familiar with their environment to minimise the stress that might occur when planting them in the ground. With so much else to get done before Christmas, I think they can wait another week for their new, permanent homes. Merry Christmas, garden.

355/366: potentially a secret garden

Still working on the giant pile of mulch, I found another good spot to offload some. Underneath the two Pittosporum eugenioides “Variegartum” I collected and removed dead branches and some english ivy, ready for seven barrowloads of mulch.

potentially a secret garden

My husband and I are working in tandem here: I prepare the area and he wheels barrowloads out the back. This time he even raked it out. The pile is gradually diminishing, with our plan for it to be gone by Christmas Day. I don’t know how we ever thought it might be finished before we went on our holiday to Thailand in late October. Nevertheless, we all know that Rome was not built in a day. Why do we so often have unrealistic expectations of ourselves?

through here

While toiling in all these different areas in my garden, my imagination is always at work, planning new projects. This time, having trimmed some of the branches to form a little archway that I will encourage, I can envisage a secret garden in here. Oops, it’s a secret no longer now that it’s out there in cyberspace. However, that’s as far as I have gone, but having planted that seed, an appropriate analogy in a garden blog, it can develop and mature until the time comes to see it through.

a growing archway