March 2012

Weather

The weather is pleasantly hot this Jan, Feb and March. There are none of those stretches of over 40 degrees so we hardly use the air-conditioner. Admittedly we are very used to working hard in the first part of the day, then coming back to cool off in the swimming pool. Then we only need to use fans for the rest of day.

During March there is a total rainfall of 117ml of rain  which comes down in frequent bursts of drenching rain. Of course this means that everything looks wonderfully verdant and the newly-planted natives have settled in well, however, the grass and weeds keep springing up again and again. Ian is often mowing the home enclosure and side paddock. Ian plants the new native reeds around the dam at a level slightly higher than water level never thinking that there will be enough rain to submerge them permanently – it is doubtful that many will survive.

Toward the end of March we move nursery from end of house (shaded but open to rain) to front of house (more sunlight as it becomes cooler at beginning and end of day).

Main Work

Ian is slashing the grass along the bays while I cut the grass back in the gully. We both work at separate times to clear the grass and weeds / vines (a dreadful prickly cucumber vine) from around the gums and figs that are on the pontoon bank. Ian whipper-snippers the three sandy bays and plants figs with tall stakes. We pull back the glycine down on the pontoon landing area. We also pull out weeds in the groves behind the bays, especially those that are overhanging the edges of the bays. Now we can see how the convolvulus (with small white flower) is a pest as it entangles the plants and puts down multiple roots.  We clean out weeds around tereticornis and stake all the new self-sown plants underneath – such a delightful find – so many plants are cropping up in places where horses used to forage or trample and where we walked or mowed. I  gather up loads of Wandering Jew from the ferry garden (into black plastic bag) as well as repeatedly pull out glycine and cobbler’s pegs. Lastly Ian is digging  up garden  around the pool  – to kill off the nutgrass which has become entangled in the good plants.

I continue to transplant into tube-stocks the ready supply of dianellas, tuckeroos, figs (all types), silky oaks and axe-handle seedlings. We scatter through the front gardens some of these as well as lomandras Ian had been fostering. The oaks (from Bowraville) and chestnuts (from Hitler’s bunker) seem to be managing the Australian climate. I clean out weeds along Danny’s fence and lift any seedlings either straight into Danny’s garden or put them into tubestocks.

Ian plants more across the northern slope (natives courtesy of our friends, the McMasters) and more on the cottage bank. Together we plant lomandras around the top edge of the gully bowl where we had noticed huge run-off from the cottage bank.

Identification of plants

SGAP meeting (Society for Growing Australian Plants) identifies Sida rhombifolia (or common sida, a weed in paddocks with long tap root which I had been calling ‘bulldog’).

The small holly –like tree which is growing all along the riverbank (which I have been calling a native holly) is Aphananthe phillipinensis (axe-handle wood) which has very rough leaves and bark.

The other tree with a longer, more pointed leaf but holly-like shape is Streblus brunonianus (Whale-bone tree) where the top side of its leaf is smooth but its underneath is hairy. Another lovely small tree.

Mt Cootha Herbarium identifies the ancient looking trees surrounding e tereticornis and along the top of the bank in the groves as Olea europea subs europea – we have never seen fruit (olives) and wondering whether is has spread through suckers.

Also the tree we have been referring to as a bread fruit tree is actually                                         Pachira sp (possibly) nervosa.

Wildlife

Blue banded bee in pool area! Black pacific duck with 4 ducklings on dam, lapwings and cattle egret more evident again. Figbirds singing in the trees especially in the afternoon.When we take down red and white furniture to sit under trees for afternoon tea, it is such a thrill to hear their chorus. This year the exotic fig has a second flush of huge number of figs – and this time the figs which are usually dark yellow, go a deep plum colour on the outside

Domestic

2 new small horses, Georgia and Gumnuts in front with Lady.

I am letting guineas out all day – just putting food and water up high on cage. Winnie has longer wattles and is making a very loud (male-sounding)screech if separated from Chick.

Ian is pickling tomatoes and cucumbers as well as planting egg plant, tomatoes, corn, beetroot, broccoli, zucchini.

Zinnias are gorgeous…we will try to keep their seed for the next season.

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