13/52: a trip down memory lane

Having moved into our house 28 years ago this month, I realise we have come a long way from a “shell on a paddock” to a comfortable home on a lovingly landscaped block.

original ad for our place 27 years ago

As I sit at the laptop I glance out at the front garden. From my vantage point I look through the lovely timber full-length bay window. I can see two of the three weeping japanese maples, Inaba shidare, a greenstead magnificent, a couple of pruned english box shrubs, and another whose name I am unsure of. You’d think I would have kept records of everything I planted, and I probably did, somewhere in the archives, in a safe place. Ask my husband about me keeping things in “safe places” and he is likely to mutter something about a black hole in which items notoriously disappear.

Last but not least, as I look out the lounge room window, on the right is a slow-growing conifer we planted way back in 1987, as part of a group of plants which looked so tiny in amongst the mulch, but provided a nice view for us from the master bedroom.

our pretty little conifers 1987The last conifer on the right grew up like this:

another side of the coniferFortunately on that occasion we had the foresight to plant it well back from the footpath, to allow room for growth, which could be a subject for a lengthy post, as we have learnt from other less successful planting experiences.


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

327/366: case of the collapsing conifer

Beside the pile of mulch, which incidentally is taking quite a while to totally diminish, we have three conifers next to the driveway. They are the pencil pine variety, which I prune at the top to make them all the same size.

However, two of them were in a state of collapse. I almost considered getting rid of them, but decided to try to fix the problem. A little bit of support was all they needed, utilising cable ties and garden wire.

296/366: ball on a stick

I have found an enjoyment in pruning that equates with an unfulfilled momentary desire to be a hairdresser. But having some fun with haircuts as a lay person and doing it day in and day out would be a different matter.

This way I have the fun of creating shapes and managing nature at my will.

One of the Castewallen Gold conifers that we decided to keep is situated at the front corner of the house. The tree people had lopped the top off, and over a period of years I have pruned and trimmed it into a reasonable shape and size. The ball on a stick is an attractive look, where you can attain some controlled height in a plant.

292/366: the post-pruning look

All’s quiet on the western front now. After the prolific pruning on that side of the backyard, we have cleaned up the area. I love the extra light across the grey pattern-paved concrete, although there is still enough height from the remaining conifers to provide some shade. The umbrella, which can be moved around on its cantilever base, can give extra coverage when necessary.

 My husband did a great job high pressure cleaning the green four metre umbrella. Halfway through you could already see a big difference.

Now it’s hanging back up where it should be, looking almost new again.

271/366: professional pruning proliferation

Little did I know how much this little escapade would cost when I started getting quotes.

The irony of it is one of the reasons I wanted to do it was so that I can save money by growing my own vegetables! How many years will it take to re-coup the cost of this severe pruning? Don’t ask. Anyway, it needed to be done regardless of the vegie growing scheme, to allow more sunshine into our garden.

The guys from Tree Care Services arrived around 7:30 a.m. for a full day’s work, and work they did in a good, streamlined fashion showing good teamwork and camaraderie, tackling the conifers down the western side first.

Firstly they worked on a Castewallen Gold, situated behind the barbecue.

Then they partly worked on the next conifer, a Naylors Blue, allowing footholds and the other trunk to attach ropes to control where the branches would fall. There’s definitely a scientific art to the whole procedure.




I like to look after any tradesmen who visit with a cuppa and some home baking, which I brought out for morning tea, still warm from the oven.

The western side of conifers now stands level with the top of the television antenna on our roof, a vast change from the almost 20 metres some of them had attained!

Stay tuned for the next exciting eastern side of the project in my next post!


270/366: pre-lopping pix

When human beings go in for cosmetic surgery, there are often “before” photos.

Major work is due to happen in our garden tomorrow, so here are my garden’s “before” photos, showing some rather overgrown trees. The worst part is, we have no-one to blame but ourselves, because when we moved in all we had was a shell on a paddock.

Those conifers must be 15-20 metres high by now, and though they provide plenty of shade in summer it has become ridiculous. Behind the barbecue is a Castewallen Gold, with more of the same further up. Just behind the bluestone wall are two Naylors Blue.

The variegated pittosporum on the other side has grown equally out of control. What were we thinking? How simple it would have been to keep them pruned. Aarggh!

This means the backyard gets neither enough morning nor afternoon sun, so drastic action is required. It will open up the back yard a great deal, while still retaining sufficient shade.

238/366: conifer modification plan

The huge conifers down the western side of the back yard have become a problem. While we grew them in the first place to provide shade from the hot afternoon sun in summer, we never realised how large they would grow.

Behind the bluestone barbecue is a Castewallen Gold, and behind the bluestone wall that separates the bottom and middle tiers, are two Naylors Blue and another Castewallen Gold. Further up in the middle tier are yet another two of the Gold.

Don’t get me wrong; they are still beautiful and majestic, but just not suitable for a suburban garden. I have spoken about my indiscriminate love of conifers, and the price we have had to pay in removing them.

This time I have done my own artist’s impression of potential changes. I am new at computer graphic design, so it is quite rudimentary, but it still gives one the idea of what I want. Especially if I want to grow vegies, I need a lot more sun in the garden.

221/366: indiscriminate love of conifers

Just as I once had an indiscriminate love of men with moustaches when I was on the dating scene thirty years ago, so too have we had that sort of fatal attraction to conifers. Both the men and the conifers may have been very attractive, but they weren’t for the long-term.

In my husband I finally found a man with a moustache who had a good personality and a wonderful soul, annoying at times, as all spouses can be, but caring and helpful too.

The conifer of which I speak in particular is the Castewallen Gold, which looked so cute and pretty at first, but unfortunately never stopped growing, and would have been far better off on a huge farm. They have featured in a number of my blogs, as they have constituted a large part of my garden. We got rid of the six separating the lower and middle tiers of the back yard, and also the giant one lording it over the front garden.

However, we still have a number of conifers down the western side whose future we will have to contemplate.


176/366: shed and bed

When we first bought the garden shed, we placed it way back in the far corner of the yard. Later we realised it would be more practical to have it in an accessible position, and also on a concrete base.

Thus we prepared a spot beyond the conifers which divided the bottom and middle tiers.

You may notice those lovely Castewallen Gold conifers which ended up being removed. This was their optimum size, back in the early 90’s, but unfortunately we couldn’t freeze their growth.

The shed was duly moved onto its new bed of concrete, and then we planted some variegated pittosporum and a couple of groundcovers in the rather neglected garden bed next to it.