Category Archives: Neighbourhood pleasures
The winter plantings are continuing. Here I am setting out for the neighbourhood tram stop with the trusty bike trailer and a future sheoak grove tucked into a bucket.
They went in one by one, among the plants remaining from council planting, those that survived from my previous efforts, and some succulents another guerilla gardener has put in.
Little but lovely, I hope they will make it!
At the moment they are dwarfed by the platform, shown here as a tram stops.
Then I picked up the rubbish and headed home, watering can and pots ready for refilling!
I’ve been returning slowly and carefully to the garden in our backyard as well as the bigger one of the suburb. I’ve been gradually weeding a little patch near a culvert, where some earlier plantings are beginning to gain in size and I am keen to stay ahead of the poisoner, who may visit at any time.
This time, I put in some grey-leaved bladder saltbush, using the places where weeds are coming up as a guide to where they might be able to grow.
Then I moved to a fence alongside the same culvert but on the other side of a path. I plated some hop bushes here, in a place where there used to be some fine trees that were cut down just the other side of the fence. It’s a bare, neglected place now. As trains pull up at the station beside me on mornings when I work here I often wonder what the driver thinks, whether they even notice, and whether to wave!
And–my old favourite, ruby saltbush, also planted along the fence line. If these beginners make it, perhaps I can plant some trees here in time to come. I picked up leaves that were forming drifts in the bed of the culvert and used them to mulch the little plants, because while it’s midwinter here now, summer is coming, the season of drying and crisping.
The last few weeks as our autumn has begun to set in, have been weeks of pain and disability. I’m on the path to recovery faster than could have been expected, but there are some things that it doesn’t make sense for me to do, and gardening is one of those things. The plants that have grown from seed through the warm moths are ready to go in the ground. What to do?
Depend on your nearest and dearest, that’s what! Here are two lovelies preparing to plant in the neighbourhood. I came for the ride, there were jokes about my supervision, (and later on there were jokes about my elves) and I was the one greeting passersby while they worked and I made string. Who can believe the matching outfits?
There are more plants that made it through summer in this unpromising patch than you can see in this image, but my friends planted more. Lots of saltbush to stabilise and create some ground cover.
You can see at the top of the picture that some made it through the heat and have grown over summer, when many plants here died when there were two days over 40C back to back. Hopefully these new plants will have time to sink some deep roots before the next wave of hot weather comes along.
Here we have some saltbush going in nearby in another patch that is weedy for part of the year and desert the rest. They join the two plants that made it through summer in this spot. Fingers crossed for success!
Sometimes a person spins a yarn but there isn’t anything sensible to knit it into. Perhaps there isn’t really enough of it, or it was an experiment. Or it’s badly spun. or too… something… to ever be a garment. This is banana fibre and wool dyed with madder exhaust, being knit on an evening in Warrnambool a while back. Not enough for anything I can think of. What to do? Well, the title of the post gave it away.
I’ve been working my way through all kinds of leftover weirdness in my stash (and needless to say, creating more weirdness as I go). One fine day over Easter I went for a walk with these.
Here is the banana fibre.
This is combing waste from spinning sock yarn.
All those short ends and grass seeds, so troublesome in a sock, won’t bother anyone now! While I was applying this one to a pole, a local sculptor pulled up on his mozzie bike and had quite a chat about what I was doing and what he was doing and the importance of treating one’s neighbourhood as a shared place for beautification, care, thought and cleaning up. I’d seen his sculptures around and he’d seen my “beloved tree” banners. Now we’ve met.
This is lock spinning over a core, leftover from knitting a tea cosy (another good use for weird wools). Now it is over by a tram stop.
Badly spun coils that won’t hold together for long unless felted.
Now adorning a pole… where they will felt in the weather.
Core spinning–it made a great tea cosy, but there were just a couple of metres left!
Indigo dyed carding waste.
What even is that?? Well, now it’s a blur of colour as you ride your bike past!
Leftover strips of indigo dyed worn out t shirts the main parts of which are slowly awaiting conversion to their next life (cut out and partly stitched).
This one is at a tram stop. I wonder how long it will last? Finding out is part of the fun of yarn bombing…
…the time of year when the calendars get turned into envelopes. I was a bit surprised to find that we had three calendars kicking around the house. Admittedly, one of them had been on the wall for two years with scant attention to the dates because the pictures are glorious but the seasons are for the other side of the planet. The seed saving envelopes are especially good looking this year…
And since I had the Trees for Life calendar, which I loved all year long, I now have seed-themed envelopes as well as envelopes for seed-saving. Somehow that’s a happy thing! If you are longing to make your own, there is a tutorial above under the How To tab. Enjoy!
This morning I went out in the grey dawn for a little guerilla gardening, wearing a flour-bag shirt that has been dipped in indigo!
Evidently I was in a hurry, and so the blurred image… ruby saltbush and a type I have not identified yet, that I call scrambling saltbush. It’s already fruiting in the pot. The days over 40C killed so many plants at home and in the neighbourhood that I have not been planting for weeks. I’ve just been weeding and picking up rubbish and thinking about autumn. The season of cuttings and root division. The season when the plants that are in pots now might be able to make a go of life in the big wide world.
I took the seedlings to a site a street over where a big ironbark came down in a storm. The trunk was cut away and removed but much of the crown of the tree as well as the root mass has been left as it fell or was cut. I’ve begun carting it away. The conversation I had with a neighbour I don’t really know when I was doing this recently was very funny. I was strolling down the street towing a big green bin on wheels. This is the way “green waste” (anything that can be composted) is collected in my council area. It gets chipped and composted commercially. He said to me “most people take a dog out for a walk” and laughed a bit at my taking my bin for a walk instead. I decided to maintain the mystery (I am not sure people really want full disclosure at times like these) and joked back. He was still there when I towed it back up the street full of dead branches, so I made a joke about whether the bin enjoyed the walk as much as a dog would have. I thought maybe I had a better time than the bin.
I had started planting out one end of this site before the tree came down, so I planted some more, and continued moving branches off plants and shifting big branches back toward the driest area where nothing will grow. Then picked up the rubbish, removed an old yarn bomb that had descended to the ground and begun to rot away, and came home again. Off to work in the Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt. I think the print is so cheery no one notices the size of the shirt (or if they do, they are way too polite to say anything about it). I can live with that!
It’s 41C in my town the day I am writing. Things are much worse in other parts of Australia–where it has already been above 40C for over a week. And here’s what I did to prepare for 41C.
Step 1: recommit to action on climate change. This country (among others, some already going under the sea) will not be habitable for future life unless we succeed, and there are some rather specific signs of inadequate action both here and in other first world nations right now. If in doubt, ask the Climate Council. You know: scientists who know their stuff and know how to communicate.
Step 2: water plants deeply. Freeze water for the worm farms. Ensure ample water and shade for the chooks (hens). Put water in the fridge. Make sure cool air can get into the house, if there is any, during the night. Invite friends who can’t cool their homes to come over.
Step 3: wash fleece, because wool drying weather this good should be taken advantage of. Dye fleece with heat-activated “cold pad batch” dyes and place in the right spot to maximise the heat it will get on the big hot days. I have mixed up the last of these dyes I own and given away my fixative. It’s been fun but I’m committing to plant dyes and just seeing out the chemical dyes I already have.
Step 4: harvest woad. Could you tell that was woad steeping in hot water in the first picture? Extract pigment. That second image of the blue froth with a coppery blue swirl in the middle? The most exciting thing that has happened when I’ve tried to extract pigment from woad to date. I’ve read high summer is the best time to get blue from woad, and–this is high summer. Add woad to indigo vat. Rebalance Ph. Do your best to create conditions for reduction. Stir carefully. That’s where things are at in image 3. Image 4 is some hours later. Keep warm overnight. Place vat in a sunny spot first thing.
And on the day… stay inside except when tending living things and hanging loads of washing. Check as the temp of the indigo/woad vat rises to 35 and then 45C. Enjoy the sound of the inverter for the solar panels as it cranks out power from the sun.
Dear Readers, it seems this post was overlooked when written, and here it is somewhat belatedly!
When life sends you limes? You know you’re having a pretty good life, I think!
I had saved pips from some variety of citrus and kept them in the freezer. You can see them here in the mesh ball, contributing their pectin to the mix, as our limes are seedless.
After lime slicing and then lime cooking by mood lighting… the finished marmalade seems like a fitting end to the last lime season.
It had been a cool summer up to the point when I wrote this post. Quite unlike a usual December in these parts. So I have been making the most of it and planting away. This time, rhagodia (seaberry saltbush), enchylaena tomentosa (ruby saltbush) and two other varieties I have not identified–one upright silver leafed variety and one that scrambles on the ground.
I am gradually filling out spaces where the tree was recently felled as it looks like the trunk is there to stay.
Here’s one I planted earlier (foreground), in case you’re wondering if any ever grow!
Then over to the culvert. Ruby saltbush at the top edges.
Next, some serious weeding. There is one local patch where most of my losses are to the poisoner. And, I am trying to avoid the poisoner’s attention arriving at the culvert plantings. I think weeding is the answer for now. It is the best thing I can do to ensure these plants get big enough to make it. Once the low growing plants are established, I can consider putting in larger ones. or trees. I am having sheoak sprouting success right now.
And now for a gratuitous picture of two maned wood ducks with their ducklings, running downhill toward water as fast as those teeny legs can take them. Some days walking to the bus is the best part of the working day!