The gardens of Chiconia

Ok, time for some garden notes….

Tropical garden, before            Tropical garden stage 1(2)           Tropical garden stage 1(2)

Top: this is my ‘tropical garden’, before work started.

Middle & bottom: some work done, plants in. Imagine the planting space filled with huge lush plants.

The area was originally parched in the winter and wet and boggy in the summer.  In the Rains, the water pools in that furthest corner, so it gets swampy. The ground’s as hard as a rock due to constant inundation, the worms have packed their bags and left, and all nutrients have been leached out.  Stage 1 was stripping the mangy turf, laying out the central circle and path, edging and bark chipping it, and then spreading a thick layer of organic compost with added goodies over the lot, to bring the worms back and keep moisture in the soil.  Then I put the sprinkler on it for a couple of hours and let that sink in, then some more water, and finally, digging it over to a spade depth and combining the compost and soil.  Lots of breaking up of hard chunks and fishing out bits of bone that John’s late dog Axle was kind enough to leave – he probably knew the soil needed calcium and phosphorus, yes?

Once that was done, I got some plants in.  They’re mostly too close together, but if they grow quickly, they’ll provide cover for the soil in the heat of the summer, and I can always transplant and dig up the losers who won’t play the game.  Tough love! There’s a load more still to buy and plant, it’s going to be lush. I can just about visualise how it might look in a few years, and I’m loving it!  The stick in the blue square pot is a frangipani.  It’s a cutting from the old one out at the front gate.  There are tiny leaf shoots at the end of the three branches.  In a pot and raised off the ground, because they hate having wet feet. It’ll also keep it from getting too big.

What you see in the background is my temporary vegie garden, everything in tubs and raised off the ground for easier watering and picking, and so that I can spread compost underneath in due course.  The vegie operation will move to the back when the tropical garden’s done and I have time for the major works involved!  John is plaintively asking if I can please work on something else before I move on to it, as there are other jobs round the place, and it’s not fair to leave it all to him. Certainly, your majesty.

Top: the ‘desert’ garden, before.

Desert garden, before

Below: same place, this morning.


Desert garden, after (quite a long time after!)

OK, this area was a problem.  It was hot, dry, and parched. It gets a lot of hot afternoon sun and is an enclosed space.  It needed tough bastards to survive there.  So that’s what I’ve given it.  Stage 1 was strip the stuff that was pretending to be grass.  Then put down weed exclusion matting.  Then put down washed riverstone, rocks, driftwood and sand to give the effect of a dry riverbed.  Then plant the tough bastards: agaves, succulents, dietes, portulaca, moses in a basket, desert rose.  Oh, and we took down the palm tree that was dropping branches, fruit stems, fruit and seeds.  Now I just have a 1.5m stump on which I’m going to grow airplants, those hairy little things that take everything they need out of the air.  The desert garden has an irrigation system that goes on a couple of times a week, and the rest of the time, it just has to tough it out.

Baby mango      Baby lychee      Baby avocado

Top: Baby mango (Bowen variety

Middle:  Baby lychee (Wai Chee variety)

Bottom: Baby avocado (Wurtz variety)

And now, my darling little dwarf fruit trees.  Don’t they look cute in their matching tubs?  And the little solar lights look very cool at night.  The tubs have water reservoirs in the bottom and a slot for watering in the side, so you can’t over water them.  And they’re on little wheelie trollies so they can be moved about to catch sun or shade without danger of inducing a hernia.  Under the sugar cane mulch (highly nutritious) is a yummy mix of premium potting mix and soil conditioner with blood & bone, compost, water crystals, worm castings and other plant delicacies.  Should hold them for the next 6 months, after which I’ll have to start watering that sort of stuff in.

I love these little trees.  I’m worried about the lychee, it’s not looking quite happy and has dropped quite a few leaves.  It’s probably the stress of the journey in the car all the way from Mullumbimby to Mackay, a change of climate, the transplanting into new roomier accommodation, whatever. I hope it makes it.  I LOVE lychees.  Somewhere, I have a lovely lychee icecream recipe… NO!  This is a garden segment.  I will not revert to food!

I checked my worm farm yesterday.  There’s a lovely puddle of worm wee in the bottom, so I can start using that, heavily diluted, to fertilise the vegies.  Anyone want to know more about very small scale worm farming?  Great way to get rid of the weeds and vegie scraps.

That’s it for the Gardens of Chiconia.


4 thoughts on “The gardens of Chiconia

  1. Anlina says:

    Love the desert garden. I want to do that on a dry part of our garden under the gum trees but much bigger area = more work and $$

    • katechiconi says:

      I was lucky. I already had the weed matting, collected the big rocks by the Bowen river, got the riverstone for nothing (end of a load from a friend of John’s) and most of the plants were cuttings/donated by the mother in law or neighbours. Only a few were bought new. All I had to contribute was sheer bloody hard labour!

  2. VERY NICE!!! You have accomplished a lot in a small space!

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you so much! I’m finding it hard to squash my dreams into such a small space… I was brought up on 5 wild acres in farming country, lived in tiny London apartments for 25 years, moved to Melbourne in the south of Australia and had a tiny borrowed space about 15ft square, moved to northern New South Wales and had 3/4 acre, chickens, sheep and rabbits (not pets, food) as well as a huge vegetable patch, moved down the mountain to the coast and had about 20ft square in total, arranged in long thin strips around my house, and now that I’m married, I have my husband’s deeply neglected patches of scrubby grass to play with. My gardening up to now has always been in cold and warm temperate climates, sub tropical at most. Now I’m in the deep tropics, Wet and Dry seasons, torrential rains, rampant growth and no frosts, ever. I kind of miss the cool weather stuff, but this is a whole new adventure. I can grow all kinds of things I could only dream of before. I like your blog too, but the problem is, if I start reading too deeply on anything there, I’ll disappear for a week or two. Keep up your good work.

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