Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wallum Wildflower Walk

Wallum is an Australian ecosystem of coastal south-east Queensland characterised by flora-rich shrubland and heathland on deep, nutrient-poor, acidic, sandy soil. Seasonal changes in the water table due to rainfall create swamps. (so says Wikipedia)

Apparently, the wildflower walk is an annual event, part of a number of nature walks in the area to mark the start of spring (which officially starts in 2 days).

I was well prepared - sunscreen, water bottle, rain jacket & camera in my backpack. Joggers on my feet.

I should have worn gum boots.

It had rained the night before our walk.... and I don't mean a couple of showers - good hard rain, so I could just as easily call it a swamp walk. In fact the route arranged had to be changed because the water over the path was too deep.

It was still fun and I saw wildflowers I'd never seen before.

Many are very tiny and delicate, like this Sprengelia sprengelioides.

We were given a pamphlet with photos plus many plants were tagged.

I noticed the labels were dry so someone had been around in the morning before our walk and placed each label.

Patersonia sericea - the native iris. The plants only grow to 40cm high . You can see how tiny the are relative to my soggy joggers.

Looking up - Banksia

Looking down - Sphagnum moss

Wallum Wedge Pea

Swamp Pea

Common Sundew - a carnivorous plant. The largest was about 4cm diameter. They grow on the ground and live on small insects.

Wallum Boronia

Leptospermum polygalifolium 

Burchardia umbellata - Milkmaids

Sowerbaea juncea - Vanilla Lily

Epacris - Bell Heath

One of the organisers explained that some years ago, the parcel of land we were walking over was to be developed for a housing estate. A group of people fought in the courts to have it declared protected. They won and eventually it was made a National Park. 

I'm so glad they did.

These were a very small selection of the wildflowers that were within a few feet of our path - I haven't posted all the pictures I took, some flowers I didn't photograph and some I did try but they were out of focus. 

These are not bright showy plants. Most are tiny and delicate- but beautiful plus many are unique to this region. 

As you can see from the photo below, if the organisers hadn't marked some of the plants with tape, I may have walked right by.

   Dry track

Wet track

Monday, August 24, 2015

More Plant Hunting

Another weekend - another trip around the local nurseries.
This time we headed north.
The first nursery we visited was the furthest away - almost an hour. We intended slowly making our way back visiting nurseries on the way.

I fell I love with the first nursery. Rosemount nursery is near Bli Bli . The first thing we noticed (near the car park) was their pots - a huge variety at really good prices. From that moment I knew I'd be coming back.
Then we discovered the plants. They were all so healthy and well tended.

Their "tropical" area was huge. This is only a small part. I could picture quite a few living in our garden.

But we were on a fact-finding mission - no buying today.... so we kept going.

We visited three more nurseries in the Buderim area before we stopped for lunch.

This vertical garden gave me some ideas. It's simply pots of geraniums so would be reasonably easy to care for.

The other nurseries were OK but over lunch I kept thinking of the first one and we both agreed it was one of the best we'd seen, so you can guess what happened next.

We doubled back.
We filled the car.
We came home.

The haul - 3 Bangalow Palms, 3 cardboard cycads Zamia furfuracea, 2 pots of tiger grass Thysanolaena maxima, 2 dracaena tricolour and a Cousin It Casuarina glauca.

I guess we'll have to go back and check the rest out another time - and visit the Yandina Markets which I've been told has great plants for sale. Next time we'll take a bigger car and maybe the trailer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where to buy plants?

When starting a new garden from scratch, it's all very well to have a design in mind with specific plants chosen - not that I have firm plans just yet (but if I did) sourcing the plants can be a hurdle. I haven't had to buy plants for quite a while. I propagated many of the plants for Missy's garden. Although we brought plants with us, we will still need to buy quite a few.
I got a shock when I looked in the garden section of the big green shed and a tray of mini mondo grass was selling for $28. Surely I can find better value.

Being new to the area, we spent a day last weekend on nursery reconnaissance - checking out the variety, price and plant health. We headed south and visited 6 nurseries in the Deception Bay to Morayfield area i.e. within 45 minutes drive.

I forgot all about taking photos, but I will be back to a few of them soon so I will hopefully remember next time.

This was a wonderful nursery (photo from their website) Their presentation of plants was outstanding. Lots of ideas for ways to multi-plant pots and display special plants.

A different nursery called Garden Gems (website photo again) just crammed with healthy plants.

One I won't return to.  There was little variety and the plants were very expensive. All the rest were great.

One was a huge surprise. It wasn't on my list but a lovely man at one of the other nurseries told me to go there. It's a Produce Store selling animal food, farm supplies, etc and has a nursery section. Great plants quite cheap. We bought a couple of things even though we aren't ready yet to plant and this was just a fact finding mission.

This again is a photo from their website.
If we hadn't been advised to go there we would never have found their garden shop.

Then, the next morning, we went to the local markets.

Along with all sorts of other stalls and entertainment, there were about five or six plant stalls as well. Most were plants being sold by private local gardeners.

Stocked up on fruit and veg for the week here.

There are markets most Sundays so I think a visit to the markets may become a regular occurrence when I'm ready to start filling the garden.
My next reconnaissance mission will be heading north to the Sunshine Coast. There are dozens of nurseries to check out and we are getting closer all the time to being able to start planting.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Deciding what to paint

We have a lot of blank walls in the new house and I'd like to fill them with originals painted by me if possible. Apart from finding the time, the biggest problem is deciding what to paint.

This is one I did a few months ago. Thought I'd add a couple of beach inspired items and hang it in the dining room.

I dug out another painting I'd been working on a while back. Not finished yet but with a similar ocean theme.
Given our house is near the beach I'm wondering whether to continue with the beach and ocean theme or vary my subject matter a bit more.

There are a number of photos I've taken around the island that I'm thinking of painting.  

a pelican on the shore
a sunset over the sea
I'm spoilt for choice
That's the problem

Monday, August 10, 2015

When I Become Wealthy

Retirement planning experts tell us that you need much more money than I have to live comfortably in retirement. It's a scary prospect. To make things worse the Australian government has raised the age at which people become eligible for an Aged Pension. They want us to keep working longer and longer.  To know when is the right time to retire and how much is enough to sustain you must be a problem faced by most people I guess.  Not just me.

Years ago, John and I saw a financial advisor who asked us to look at where we wanted to be and what we wanted to achieve in 5 years and then 10 years so that he could help us plan our financial situation accordingly. He told us that being comfortable financially is more about your expectations and what you consider "enough" rather than any dollar amount.
He said it's more about what you feel you need rather than how much money you actually have.
I like to think he was right.

When asked how they would know when they are actually wealthy, many people say "when I can afford to do what I have always wanted to do".
So, combining these two  - How do I want to be living my life in 5 years time – What do I want to be doing?
I made a list of how I'd spend my time when I can afford to do what I want.

Try it.
You may discover that you're already wealthy, or at least closer to it than you thought.
It's clear from this list - My favourite things don't actually cost much money - like walking along the beach, playing in the garden, painting, spending time with John and Missy. Then there's the myriad of things that have been put on the back burner for years (because I work long hours) or that I've never done but think I might like to. Most don't need a lot of money. Most simply need for me to find more time.  There's a couple of things hidden in that list that would cost quite a bit. I'll call them optional extras for now.

I do, of course, need money for food and bills and I will need to have enough to keep paying the bills when I no longer have a wage - so for now I  will keep working - cos even if they aren't on my list, having electricity and food is kinda important to me as well.

“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. ”
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, August 3, 2015

Creating a Front Garden

We still don't have a garden, but some progress is being made. 

Remembering that this was what we started out with --- a clean slate....

The front garden is starting to take shape.
We decided to "terrace" our sloping front yard and chose a block called Natural Impressions - grey concrete made to look like stacked stone. 
Can you see the clumps of dirt in front of the wall? It's clay - hard as a rock when dry and mushy and slimy when wet. There was no organic matter whatsoever, so soil was brought in and we added bulk chook manure. (Not used to having to buy it, when the girls produced a steady supply.) 
In the areas where no extra soil was needed we added dolomite as a clay breaker and some chook manure to improve the soil.
There will be stairs leading to the front door, probably with pavers. We laid them out roughly to see how they'd look.  
Still looks a bit like a building site at the moment though
Not quite finished yet, but getting there.

The next step will be planting.
Given my love of tropical plants, what do you think we should choose?