the problem with plans – and sneaky previews

plandefinition

I was talking to a friend this morning and the topic of plans came up. You know. Plans are those things you make only to change them along the way. Or fail to follow through with entirely.

I don’t know why this is… I mean, surely, you make plans cause you want to get the things you plan to do done, right? Obviously. But it never seems to work that way. At least not in my life.

I make plans all the time: I plan the days I’ll groom (my job), the days I’ll do some gardening, the days I’ll work on dolls or other projects. I’ll also plan to do housework – well, that one is doomed right from the start. I never get past the planning stage of that one unless I’m expecting visitors.

So, why plan when it seems that by the very act of planning I pretty much guarantee not achieving what I planned.

Maybe making plans tempts fate, maybe I just jinx myself.

todolist

Plans are different to To Do Lists. A To Do List is a list of things you’d like to get done in a day, week, month, lifetime. A plan is something something more concrete… it has a timeframe, usually…  for instance, today I planned to garden. Then I slept in till 9.30am. Took 2 hours to feed animals, have breakfast and drink 2 cups of coffee. Then I went to the local market to buy fresh bread.

Gardening? Its way too late to consider that now!

I think I may forgo making plans entirely. I’ll stick to To Do Lists and Suggested Things I’d Like To Do This Week/Day/Month/Lifetime…

Seriously, you know how I mentioned I’d love an entire wall of chalkboards? It’d be one way to keep my To Do Lists front and center.

Anyway. Moving right along.

What have I been doing that’s kept me so busy that I haven’t posted for a few days? It sure as heck wasn’t gardening.

Yet somehow, some things are doing well despite me. Like my camelia, loving its new spot on the porch and blooming!

camelia

Ditto the pink geranium which is looking lovely!

pinkgeranium

I’ve been playing with dolls again! I started on 6 new dolls all at the same time, I finished repainting them and now I’m on costumes. They take longer. But I got in the zone the last few days and lose myself in it.

Here are some sneak previews – more pics to come when they’re finished and I’m ready to list them in my shop.

Can you guess who they are?

cersei1joffrey1jonsnow1tyrion3ygritte1

Answer: Cersei, Joffrey, Jon Snow, Tyrion and Ygritte from Game of Thrones!

Bad photos, I know, they were taken in my office using my mobile phone – the good pics will be taken when they’re all finished.

What fun it is to remake dolls. I saw there are tiny irons for doing craft/doll type stuff. I want one. Can’t afford to spend money on that right now, but its on the Things I Want to Own One Day list.

z

plants for sale

Nothing wrong with diversifying, right? I mean, I groom dogs for a living and I make stuff and I garden. And my garden produces flowers and flowers produce seeds and I end up with more plants and more seeds. Its the circle of life.
As Neil once said on The Young Ones, “we sow the seed, nature grows the seed, then we eat the seed, and after that, we sow the seed, nature grows the seed, then we eat the seed…”
Except for the eating part. I don’t eat my flowers. I admire them. Then collect seeds, sow seeds, grow seeds, you get the picture. As a result I have baby plants growing. I can’t use them all, so I normally sell them at markets here and there. 
Well, I decided that instead of having my plant nursery along the back of the casita where no one sees them, I’d put some out the front of the new grooming room so my customers can see them. That way, if anyone sees something they like they can buy it while I give ‘rover’ a new do.

I made the cute little sign using a timber offcut and acrylic paint. The large basket they’re sitting in is a galvanised bakery basket I’ve had for a few years. I put some metal legs on it and for the last 2-3 years we’ve lined it with burlap and used it to hold carrots for the horses in winter.

I do love my galvanised metal things!

One of my favourite pastimes is moving things around, assigning new uses to old things, etc. 
I wonder how Wayne will feel about the carrot bin disappearing…. hm. He wasn’t too impressed with the wood box moving to Stalag 13 to house chickens…
z
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my newest junky planter

I’ve had this gorgeous funnel shaped THING for a long time. Its some kind of filter, I presume it came from a water tank. I have no idea what it is… like so many of the things I collect, I just liked the shape.
I’ve had it for years. I’ve had various plans for it over the years. I was going to make a light fixture out of it at one stage. But its never happened. Its hung around in the yard most of the time, doing nothing useful.
Yesterday I decided it was time to do something with it. 
I’ve had many hanging planters over the years, mostly ones I made myself out of chains bought from the hardware store and steamers or colanders. I took one of the chains from a steamer with succulents in it and put them onto this rusty piece of gorgeousness of mysterious origins.
Who cares what it was in a previous life? What purpose it served. Now its a proud planter, holding a mix of succulents on the corner of our porch. In summer there’ll be tiny hot pink flowers forming a halo around it.
Below it sit my old mop bucket – one of my favourite planters of all time, the steamer which lost its chain – sacrificed for the greater good, and my camelia, in a new spot.
See, I’ve had this camelia for a year and it wasn’t doing great. Not where I had it… so, I’ve moved it. Its a heavy pot… moving it was pretty much impossible on my own… till I made a rolling base for it!
I used some pallet wood, made a frame and added castors. Now I can move it anytime I get the urge – to where it’ll get more sun, where the frost won’t get it or just a couple of inches to the left.

Meanwhile some months ago I posted about my change of heart regarding geraniums after seeing a photo of pelargonium apple blossom. Well… I was lucky enough to get a cutting of it from a really nice lady. And look at it now!

My formerly black thumb might be getting a tinge of green!
Before I go I’d like to show off my newest toy:

Isn’t that little tricycle the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Imagine plants in the little wagon… 
Watch this space.
z

new planter box

How do you like my new planter box? I think its really cool.
This is what it looked like when I got it. 

Yeah, your eyes are seeing well. I haven’t done a thing to it other than bringing it home and plonking it on the porch. 
Well… I did put some plants in it. For now. Temporary plants. Two established succulents and 2 cuttings I got from a friend that I didn’t have in my collection which I’m trying to grow. And one is a white geranium I am also encouraging to grow. 
I am not a huge geranium lover – I only have one pink one which forms balls of flowers which are gorgeous, and a variegated pink pellargonium a friend gave me a cutting of recently. That’s been planted and is already doing well. Talk about low maintenance. But this new cutting is a white one with a double flower I fell in love with.
Looking for pics of the geranium I have and the geranium I think I got I came across some amazing photos!
I’m totally rethinking my stand on geraniums…
This is similar to the pink one I have. Its a pale pink ball of flowers:
According to the site I found this photo on, its a common geranium. But I thought it was uncommon and pretty enough to make me want a cutting. Growing up in Greece, I was used to seeing geraniums everywhere but I never thought they were very pretty.
Maybe its cause they always looked sun bleached and dry… Who knows? My mother loves them cause they take neglect in their stride. Maybe the greek ones are tougher. On the website I found the pink one above it said they didn’t survive heat. Tell that to the ones living in pots on greek islands! Mine can cope with the heat but the frost nearly killed it a couple of years ago. Its still recovering. I now keep it on the porch in winter.
I think this is the one I got a cutting of. Its called a Double Trailing Sybil White Pearl. Click on the pic to go to the page.
Here is another photo of a Sybil White Pearl… Drool.
Or it could be this one. The Pelargonium Apple Blossom. How pretty is this one!
And here is another pic. OMG its amazing! I think I’ve just become a geranium person.

But I digress. My new planter box. I love the 60s look. The inside is lined with a bit of galvanised iron so I don’t have to worry about water leaking out the bottom of pots and rotting the wood.

I’ve actually had this for over a month, but I only put plants in it last week. 
A girl gets busy.
z

i’m baaaack!

Yes, I’m back. A lot has happened around here since I last posted, but I feel in a better place to share our life, news and my projects once again.
For starters, I’d like to share the old bike I rescued from a trip to the tip. It will eventually sit in the garden but till then I’ve leaned it up against the porch railing and started off some plants will which one day, hopefully, explode into colour and drape all over it.
I had a couple of rusty baskets, one of which was an actual bike basket for the handlebars. I lined them with plastic after poking some holes in for drainage, and filled them with potting mix. I then plonked in some plants.
I found this pitiful looking little plant at a garage sale – the daisies are so pretty I had to have it despite its one foot in the grave appearance.

Its looking like its going to the big garden in the sky right now so I may go ahead and move it to the embankment. Daisies obviously love it there, which is great, as I love the embankment covered in daisies.
When pulling weeds I dug up and added some alysum. Love that stuff. It grows anywhere – my kind of plant – and looks like clouds of white fluff.

The front basket got a gaura which was growing in a pot – it was a cutting… well, a broken branch from one of the established plants. I added a bit of catmint for its trailing propteries. Both of those are doing well, though the gaura will need to be moved as its way too big for a bike basket.

The garden is looking amazing right now with all the spring flowers. I’ve been sharing tons of photos of it on Facebook but might do a separate post on the blog about it soon.
Things on the farm are great. We have 6 ducklings in Stalag 13. The ducklings were easy to catch though I did throw myself on the ground in a most undignified way in their pursuit. The mother took us all day to catch. In the end we set up a dog crate and trapped her in it. I don’t think she’s forgiven us yet, but the ducklings are still alive! Unlike poor Little Herman IIs ducklings which disappeared in a matter of 3 days.
Sharing Stalag 13 with the duck family is a chicken. She hatched 3 babies who unfortunately got out of the dog house she’s using as a nesting box, then couldn’t get back in and froze to death over night. We were so upset. We’ve raised chickens in there before and that never happened before. Its always something. We now have a ramp so it won’t happen again. The hen is still sitting. She had 2 of her own eggs and I gave her 2 from another of the girls. Fingers crossed. More chickens would be welcome, though no more roosters. The older rooster is being hounded to death by his much bigger son. Its sad. Other than letting them sort it out I don’t know what to do. Chopping one rooster’s head off was suggested, but… um… no.
We have 5 goslings as well. Doris, the younger of our geese, hatched them out yesterday. Since then its been lovely to watch the group walking around the paddocks – Doris with her babies, surrounded by the boys guarding her. 
Annabelle, the older goose, is still sitting on her nest. They should hatch soon. Hank has made it his life’s work to guard Annabelle. We always know which boy is Hank, he has a squinty eye so he always looks like he’s watching you like a mafia boss. He’s also the one out front every time we step out into the paddock warning us to behave or else.
The youngest goose doesn’t have a name as we really can’t tell him apart from Jethro, the other original goose. It’s hard to tell pure white boys apart… At least the girls have different markings.
The horses are all in great condition thanks to all the feed in the paddocks. Wally is his usual cranky self, Dancer is as sweet as ever and she and Cass continue to dislike eachother. Little Chipmunk foundered again so he’s back in the starvation paddock. He’s not too impressed. We allow him into the casita (my workshop!) to get out of the weather and out of the mud when its been raining a lot. Now he’s bored he’s beginning to do naughty things. The other day he emptied the bag of rubbish all over the floor. I was not too impressed.
There’s been no progress on the new grooming room, but hopefully I’ll be taking all the rubbish/plaster to the tip soon and I can begin working on the walls. Which reminds me… where is the electrician? Hm… He was meant to come last week.
On a more personal note, I’ve taken time off work and am spending my days building up my home grooming business, painting, gardening, and playing with dolls.
Yes. You read that well. Dolls.
Ok, not playing as such, but remaking.
I’ll share in another post once I’m ready to show the world what I’ve been doing. Lets just say its a new hobby for me and I’m loving it.
So there you have it. For now. See you again soon.
z

love the coffee and decor

Some mornings we actually have time to grab a latte before work. This place is one of our favourites. Its a coffee shop attached to a laundromat in North Hobart called Gioconda. The coffee is great, the food is great, and the decor is fantastic!
Get a load of this planter!

Pretty darn cool!

And then there’s the couch… its almost the same as the couch I almost bought. Love the industrial coffee table.

What about the pallet couch and the spool coffee table? How can you not love it?

Love the mix of styles – retro, deco, 60’s, rustic. Somehow it works.

I just had to share the pics cause I really do love this place. Next time you’re in the area why not drop in for coffee or to get some washing done.
Disclaimer: I am not being paid for this post but if I’m offered free coffee I won’t say no…. 
z

the embankment 2 years on

Its spring. Everyone loves spring cause flowers bloom and make the world pretty.

The downside of all this thriving is the grass (ie weeds that form what we affectionately refer to as our ‘lawn’) is also growing… like… well… weeds. 

I find myself walking across the yard and see a particularly obnoxious weed staring me in the face, grab my grandpa weeder* thinking “I’ll just pull up this one, oh, and maybe that one…” and an hour or more later I’m still pulling up weeds.

This is the time of year you need daylight savings just to keep up with the garden!

However, its also the time of year when things begin to look amazing. This afternoon I mowed and was thinking how I need to get out the brushcutter (tomorrow is another day!) when I looked at the embankment and realised how my dream is finally coming true.

Do you remember when I first conceived of the embankment? When we moved here the driveway was just a slope, directing rain down onto the ‘lawn’ and under the house. We got the driveway levelled, put in a retaining wall alongside the house and were left with a really steep embankment which I thought would look lovely covered in flowers.

But the soil there is like cement – hard clay. So I figured I could make it work if I used old tyres, filled them with dirt to give the plants something to grow in till they could find their way into the cementlike dirt below. Its been a long, tiring project, but its finally beginning to look like I envisioned.

Take a trip down memory lane with me.

This is what the driveway looked like when we bought the farm. A gentle slope, covered in weeds.
It offered more space to park but it wasn’t pretty.
The first step was to get in an excavator to level the driveway, which meant cutting into the slope, creating a steep embankment. Excuse the photo. Most of my old photos were lost when my external drive died.
Next step was a retaining wall to shore up the driveway but basically that was it. Done. A steep, dry, ugly embankment.
But I have dreams. First I tried planting succulents on the slope thinking that nothing else would grow there – and succulents can grow in anything. Well, some grew but they were taking forever and weeds began to take over again.
So my next idea: tyres. First we put down weed matting to stop the weeds. Then we put down tyres.

At this stage everyone said it wouldn’t work. The tyres would slide down. The weight of the tyres, filled with dirt, when wet, would create an avalanche.

I didn’t listen. I got my gardener/helper to hammer in metal stakes on the bottom row and randomly on the upper tyres in order to keep them in place. I figured they’d stay in place once the plants took root, as they’d act as anchors.

At first I kept the scattered succulents where they were, placing tyres around them. Later on they were dug up and moved. I water the embankment in summer and the hose reaches about 3/4 of it. The last quarter is where I’ve moved most of the succulents as I want the sections closer to the house and gate to be vibrant with flowers. I’m happy if the far end has green covering it.
(The ground is so hard used long nails and bits of plastic to secure the weed matting!)

Slowly I began to fill the tyres, breaking the weed matting, putting in clay breaker, filling with soil and planting all kinds of things. Most of the plants I put in were given to me by friends, dug up on the side of the road, or from cuttings. I figured that things which grew from cuttings or on the side of the road were hardy enough to grow on the embankment.
And that’s how we went from this:

To THIS!

Amazing isn’t it?

There’s still tons of work to do. I need to weed for one thing. And trim frost bitten bits. Plus  I’m always moving plants. Some of the plants are growing over smaller ones in nearby tyres so they will need to be moved, or left to peek through gaps. Eventually I want it to be so well covered you can barely see the tyres.

I’m a lousy gardener… hit and miss is the way I work. I put things in the ground and it turns out they’re the wrong size for where I put them (it doesn’t help when I get things without labels and have no idea what they are!). For example I was given some poppy seeds. They were labelled ‘big’ ‘small’ and ‘medium’. I had them in pots on separate tiers of a plant stand, small on top, big on bottom, medium in the middle. But I had no idea how big ‘big’ was… Till a lady told me they were iceland poppies and I googled them. They’re HUGE. I had to move a couple of them….

There are still quite a few tyres to fill with dirt,  plants or both. And more succulents to move. But the embankment beginning to look like I wanted it to… a mess of plants all growing up to and around eachother.

Meanwhile, the rest of the garden is blooming as well. My anemones came back this year – I have my own method: In early spring I cut off dead flowers to encourage more blooms. At the end of the summer I let them go to seed and spread seeds in the garden beds.

Works for me.

I swear I never bought these flowers. Yellow/orange ranunculus…. The packet I bought was blues, pinks and whites. Wierd. But pretty.

Between these and the poppies which could be any colour, I think my plan of a limited colour palette in my garden has flown out the window.

Love the tulips. These are part of a section of tyres filled with bulbs. I’m thinking I’ll sprinkle alyssum seeds in the tyres as well so there’s something in them all through summer.

So there you go.

I’ll get more photos when more things are blooming later. Its a promise.

z

* A grandpa weeder allows you to weed standing up, using your foot on a long handled tool to pull up weeds. I love it!

spring on the farm

When I lived in Melbourne I’d see photos like these and I’d feel so envious. I wanted wide open spaces, grassed plains where the dogs could run and play. I’m so lucky here. (Lucky you can’t see the weeds in photos!)
These are different views of our place from the bottom paddock, looking back towards the house. 

I love our place. Even when its squishy underfoot. It’ll dry out soon enough… then we’ll be hoping for rain.

Thanks to Google, I now know the difference between daffodils and jonquils. I’ll soon forget, but while I remember here goes…

The bottom ones in this pic are jonquils, the top ones are daffodils:

These are jonquils:

These are double daffodils – my favourites:

We also have paperwhite narcissus in a couple of spots but I didn’t get any decent photos of those.

A couple of years ago I planted some daffodils and snowdrops along the driveway and they are finally flowering.

The garden is beginning to pop with colour too. Like these gorgeous purple anemones:

In pink too:

There are still lots of empty spots in the garden beds though, where things are yet to grow or have died… When I get around to gardening again I have lots of work to do. More weeding, planting new stuff. Then just sitting back and enjoying the prettiness.

Ah. I love that part the most.

Oh! And the gumtree I thought would die when we dug the driveway run-off trench is doing great! Plus we have two more little gum trees coming along. Love my gum trees!

You can see the little gum tree on the side of the driveway above. One day it’ll be nice and big… but hopefully we’ll be long gone by the time it decides to fall over across the driveway. Gum trees have notoriously shallow roots and blow over at the slightest huff of wind.

Actually, they don’t. They stand up during storms, then fall over on quiet days. At least that’s the story our neighbour told us and I believe it. One quiet, totally still day last year, a huge gum tree came crashing down on the slope opposite us.

Its true!

z

a little gardening and where on earth have i been?

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Not that the weather has been told. Its sunny one minute, pouring with rain the next, frost in the morning, warm in the afternoon… Pretty normal really.

The garden is confused. Plants flower. Then the frost gets them. So they flower again, The frost comes again and gets what survived the previous frost. Pretty normal really.

The garden isn’t the only thing that’s confused. Annabelle (the goose) has laid eggs. On top of last year’s dead eggs which I never got around to removing from the nest she abandoned.

In fact we’re not sure she’s actually laid new eggs on top of the old ones or if she decided to give the stale eggs another chance… either way, she’s gone clucky. Too early.

The place is a mess. Muddy and wet. Seeds I tossed out are growing and blooming between the frost bitten plants. The grass is growing and the weeds are growing faster. When walking across the yard I sometimes just can’t resist picking up the grandpa weeder and ‘just grubbing out that obnoxious weed that’s just staring me in the face, laughing at me’.

An hour or so later I put away the weeder and go into the house.

In the good news department, my new hyacinths are up. And the tyre retaining wall is filling up as the plants grow.

I put more wire up for the hardenbergia so it can spread across the carport wall.

Even the dogs got into gardening – digging new holes where pretty succulents used to grow.


I’m trying to get the garden done in short spurts, a bit here, a bit there. There’s just so much to do. And so little time. Which is why I haven’t posted. I just haven’t felt like writing, watching TV is all I want to do at the end of the day.

That and exercising my fingers.

With the broken finger now healed I can do almost anything again. My fingers are very stiff and sore and my left hand has only 1/2 the strength of the right,but I’m grooming again and I’ve started doing things in the workshop again. Finally.

One of these days I’ll be organised and have time to do it all.

In my dreams.

z

our junky garden

In the last week I’ve managed to get a bit of work done in the garden. Not on my own… I had some help otherwise I’d be lying on the couch moaning in pain right now.

One thing I did by myself was move these broken old chairs into the front garden bed. Partly to stop the dogs from digging, partly as garden art. I got these chairs at the tip shop ages ago. The guy there thought I was going to fix and restore them. I had no such notions. I only bought them as garden art.

There used to be a gorgeous burgundy penstemon growing where the chair (below) is but the dogs dug it up and killed it. I have another one in there now but till it grows up enough to grow through the chair like the one above, I have an old jam saucepan sitting on it.

The birdcage is protecting a newly planted daisy.

I love my junky garden art.

Close to the front door the old washing machine drum which used to hold lettuce now has sweet peas in it. I’m using the broken windmill as a climbing trellis for them when they grow.

I do have plans to restore the windmill.

If you’re wondering about the springs… dog barrier.

Need I say more?

I found this little chair at the tip shop a couple of weeks ago. I had planned to fix it up but for now its holding some of my succulents on the front porch.

AND…. (drumroll)

I bought a maple!

Its a japanese maple, no idea what type exactly. I had one of these in Melbourne many years ago and I sure hope this does well. Till now we’ve had no trees in the house yard and that’s just wrong. This is tree no. 1.

I dressed it up with a few junky planters so it wouldn’t feel so alone on the side of the woodshed. The soil there sucks, but we dug a deep hole and filled it with soil, fertilizer and manure. Fingers crossed.

I did plant some trees just outside the yard – one canadian maple which bit the dust, one orange tree which was eaten by the geese, three birches near the dam of which one survived. The others were eaten by the geese. Seven birches near the water tanks, and five pussy willows, all of which have survived and are growing despite having been pruned back by the horses on numerous occasions.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed the tyres around the maple… We’ve now added tyres down lower in front of the new drainage ditch, creating an extended garden area. For now I’ve got some spring bulbs in the tyres closest to the maple but need more plants to fill the other tyres.

I bought a new camellia which I put in a container on the side of the house. Advice of a friend: put it in a container in the spot you think you want it to live, that way you don’t have to dig a hole and plant it till you know if it likes it there.
Excellent advice.
Procrastination 101.
The white banksia rose I moved twice and almost killed has come back. Its now in a pot in the spot I intend to plant it eventually. I like this way of gardening. Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

Other than that, I got this old singer from the tip shop. The base is broken but I’d love to find a way to grow a plant around it. Same with the typewriter. I got them both with the plan of making them into garden art. I can put a small pot into the centre of the typewriter, something which will grow up and hang down over the keys a bit. The sewing machine… maybe I can remove the base and sit it in a container and grow a plant around it…
There’s still more to do, but isn’t there always? I’ve spread sugar cane mulch, got the vegetable garden cleaned out of weeds and attacked the weeds. Again. We’re coming in to winter here so I won’t be doing an awful lot to the garden till spring. I just wanted it to look tidy.
z
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