The Gardens of Chiconia 12


Brugmansia in flower

Varied Eggfly butterfly, male, upper side

Varied Eggfly butterfly, male, upper side

Varied Eggfly butterfly, female, underside

Varied Eggfly butterfly, female, underside

Ground cover, doing its thing, but how pretty.

Ground cover, doing its thing, but how pretty.

Look at the way the raindrops collect at the leaf edges, like lace trim

Look at the way the raindrops collect at the leaf edges, like lace trim

The new leaf unrolling iteself

The new leaf unrolling itself

It’s been a long time since I did a garden post. Here we go.

I was opening the garden door this morning to air the living room and I saw at once that the Brugmansia was in flower. It’s made a special effort to get the flowers out so I can see them before I go away! I’m a bit disconcerted, because I bought a tree I thought was going to have apricot flowers, and it turns out they’re white. I had to swoop on a grass- hopper which was contemplating one of the flowers as breakfast. Two more died to preserve banana leaves. Bring on the winter, when hopefully it will get a little too cool for them.

It’s butterfly season too. The two above were sunning themselves on passionflower leaves, but we saw a million at least on our journey home from Rockhampton yesterday. It’s the time of year when they do their mating flight, and the air over the road was thick with them for kilometres, and there was a carpet of tiny sad corpses on the road where they’d smashed against car windscreens. The species is called Tirumala hamata, the Blue Tiger butterfly. I don’t want to infringe copyright, and I don’t have a photo, but here’s a link to a Google image. I don’t know why they were so numerous over that particular stretch of countryside, but we were driving under them for at least 30 or 40km.

I’m still battling with WordPress’ changes. I don’t know if it’s because I’m on a Mac, but I still can’t put images into the text, they automatically sit above all the words. At least now I’m able to add links, which is an improvement…

Tomorrow the sewing machine goes into hospital for the duration. It’s been a very long time since it had a decent service, and as I’m away, it seemed opportune to get everything fixed up. I miss my needle threader thingy, which is broken. I’d like some of the squeaks and groans silenced. The bobbin race needs a better clean than I can give it without dismantling the whole thing, and I think the needle arm needs realigning. I think this might be a rather expensive service… Meanwhile, I’m carrying on with the embroidery. More on that later.

More soon.



Meet Isfahan

The quilt formerly known as Car Quilt.

The second border has been appliqued on. I'm leaving it this size.

The second border has been appliquéd on.
I’m leaving it this size – my fingers have had enough!

It’s now 50 x 46″ and therefore large enough to qualify as a lap quilt for my father. At the age of 91, he’s reluctantly moving back to the UK to live with my brother. After 30 years in Spain, the climate is going to be a bit of a challenge, so this quilt will help to keep him warm, tucked around his legs as he reads or watches TV. Bright colours and modern prints are not really his thing, and he’s always loved the rich warm colours of Persian rugs, so this is his own personal Isfahani rug. Besides, it goes with my brother’s décor!

I’m backing it with dark blue fleece for extra warmth, which would make hand quilting exceptionally tricky. So it’s going to be either machine quilted, or it’ll be my first tied quilt.  I’m inclining towards tied, and am considering what colour to use for the floss ties. I’d do a tie in the centre of each of the beige ‘breather’ hexagons, so it’d end up being tied every 3 inches or so, which is plenty. I’m also having a poke around in my  scraps to see what colour I can use for binding. It really needs more dark blue, but I don’t have any left. What I do have is a fair bit of each of the featured fabrics, so it may end up with the scrappy binding of all time.

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) flower, just out and a tiny bit sorry for itself.

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) flower,
just out and a tiny bit sorry for itself.

The sun is out again today, although the wind is still strong and gusty.  I went out hopefully with my camera to try and capture some flowers.  The passion flowers have either not yet opened, or are on their way out, victims of rain, wind and grasshoppers. The Brugmansia flower is all the way out, but has been beaten against nearby leaves by the wind, and is looking a bit brown around the edges. Still pretty, though. I’m hoping it’ll survive long enough to get a bit more colour.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow I shall cut the fleece to size, pin the layers together and if time permits, start doing the ties.

Creeping closer

…on two fronts.

The back of Happiness, nearly completed

The back of Happiness, nearly completed

I’m creeping closer to completing Happiness. Here’s progress so far on the back. You may recognise some of the fabrics as ones I used for backing on the Triple Trouble quilts. I had a fair bit of two and a small bit of one of the fabrics left, so I’ve just worked around what I had and added in things that seemed to go. I still need to add another 7″ border around what you see here to bring it up to size and give me enough spare to quilt with. I’m playing with the idea of using the turquoise fabric I have left over from the back of Tree of Life. But I’m not sure… I think the colour may be too strong. I shall have to go and rummage a bit further in the cupboard. The photo’s a bit dull; I should have used the flash. In reality, the colours are brighter and more cheerful, not so greyish.

And here’s what’s creeping closer on the cyclone front.

T.C. Gillian, heading our way. She's tending more and more southerly, so we may be in for it.

T.C. Gillian, heading our way.
She’s tending more and more southerly, so we may be in for it.

We are now within the destructive wind zone, so we’ll definitely have to batten down the hatches after the Dowager has gone home this evening. She’s coming round for dinner, and I have to go and make a carrot cake for dessert in a minute… If/when the cyclone arrives, she’s going to be called Gillian.

That long pod in the centre is the flower bud of my Brugmansia. If it survives, it'll turn into a gorgeously-scented apricot trumpet

That long pod in the centre is the flower bud of my Brugmansia. If it survives, it’ll turn into a gorgeously-scented apricot trumpet

The first flower on the passionfruit that has survived the grasshoppers.

The first flower on the passionfruit that
has survived the grasshoppers.

Out in the garden, I’ve taken photos of a couple of things which may well not survive the night. I just wanted to prove that my passionfruit is really flowering, and that my Brugmansia is actually in bud – normally I wouldn’t expect either of them to flower till next spring.

Right, time to go and fill the water storage, take in all the loose stuff and then get cracking with the cake.

The Gardens of Chiconia 10

It’s been a while since I was able to get out there and take a look at all my green children.

Turns out, they’ve been doing fine without me! We’ve had a good bit of weather: first the cyclone, and then high winds and heavy rain off and on, so I haven’t got down to the long-overdue weeding yet. Perhaps in the next few days. But the neglect has not deterred anything.

Taller than me now

Taller than me now

First, the tropical garden. The banana, which was knee high when I put it in, is now taller than I am, and shows no sign of slowing down. It took a clobbering in Cyclone Dylan, but seems unperturbed, and continues to send out enormous leaf spikes on an almost daily basis. The trunk is now so thick that I can only just make my hands meet around it. It’s supposed to be 2 or 3 years till we’ll see any fruit, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the sight of the huge, lush leaves and the sound they make rattling in the wind or when the rain is falling on them.

Nearly a tree

Nearly a tree

The Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet), which was getting gnawed by grasshoppers before Dylan, made some headway when all the little buggers were blown away. Again, it was knee high (or maybe less), and is now waist high  on me, and I’m 1.65m (5’5″). It went through a spell of dropping all leaves except those at the very top, but now new ones are sprouting up the trunk, and the trunk itself is thickening up. When it finally flowers, who knows when, they’re supposed to be a pale apricot colour and smell amazing.

Pretty pink flower spike

Pretty pink flower spike

I put in three ginger lily corms a few months ago. Nothing happened, and kept on happening, until a few weeks ago, when leaves began to appear. I went out yesterday, and there’s the start of a lovely pink flower spike. I don’t think it’s going to be too spectacular this first year, but as it gets older and the corm grows, it should make more leaves and flowers each year. They’re supposed to be very sweetly scented too.

Taking over the world!

Taking over the world!

The passionfruit, as always, is showing signs of being intent on world domination. Not only is it ramping all over my side of the fence, it has now invaded the neighbours. They are, fortunately, delighted as they love passionfruit and their back yard is all paved so they’d have nowhere to plant one. I keep having to nip out the growing tips to prevent everything else getting strangled, and to make the laterals thicken up. Hopefully next summer we’ll have fruit. It’s a Panama Gold, so the fruit shouldn’t be too hard to find among the foliage.

It's decided to live after all...

It’s decided to live after all…

Remember those childhood science experiments when you plant a carrot top and watch it take root and grow? Well, I plonked a cut pineapple top on the ground, watered it and snugged it in with some mulch. It’s growing. It took a while to decide the living quarters were acceptable, but those are new baby leaves down in the centre. It takes 2 years for a pineapple plant to produce fruit, so I’m not holding my breath here! But they are very ornamental, especially the ones with pink and green stripes in the leaves.

Succulent babies

Succulent babies

Round the corner in the desert garden, all the tiny leaves I snapped off the parent plant and stuck in a very well drained potting mix have taken off and are thriving. I’ve now doubled my aloe vera population, which is just as well, given how often I burn myself on the stove or the iron…

Tomorrow I should have some quilty stuff to show, but I’ve had to stop as the light isn’t good enough any more.

The Gardens of Chiconia part 2

A mixed bag of gardening, worm farming and quilting today…  

Waved the Husband off the work, put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, and climbed into my gardening clothes.  I’ve been out there for two and a half hours, and it’s only 9.30am.  It’s getting hot, and the sun is swinging round into the area I was working in, so it’s time to retreat indoors.

The Tropical Garden is beginning to take shape after a hiatus. Today I turned over a few square metres of soil which has had compost on it for a week or so.  There was an earthworm in every forkful, a massive change from before, when the little wrigglers had all moved out due to compaction, waterlogging and nutrient leaching. The strategy is working!  I spread another 75kg of compost on a new area, putting in stepping stone so I wouldn’t compact it when I had to get to the vegie tubs. I planted a fairly advanced variegated shell ginger for quick impact, the brugmansia, a monstera deliciosa, a gardenia, a gorgeous black velvet-leaved alocasia, a peace lily, three more ginger rhizomes to come through over time, and another small murraya in a tub by the front door, to keep the lemon geranium, curry plant, stevia, sage and oregano company. (Notice the recurring theme of the front door pots?  All smell and/or taste good.)  They all have dark blue glazed pots and look very pretty.  I like the contrast in leaf colour from very dark green through acid green to silver.  Round the corner, the Desert Garden is looking lovely: the portulaca is growing like crazy and has lots of bright vermilion flowers.

The portulaca is flower for all it's worth, and just doesn't stop. The flowers close up at night.

The portulaca is flowering for all it’s worth, and just doesn’t stop. The flowers close up at night. The aloe has just started throwing out pups.

I have taken 2L of worm tea from the bottom of my worm farm. Considering this is used diluted 1:10, I’ve got plenty of fertilising material for the next couple of months!  It’s the first time I’ve stripped the liquid out, and I’m impressed with the work my little red wrigglers are doing in the short time they’ve been with us. They get all the kitchen and table scraps apart from onion and citrus.  We put the soft stuff through a blender with a dash of water, for a quick munch, and then cut up the harder scraps for longer term snacking. There’s rarely anything left. They like the contents of the vacuum cleaner and my hairbrush, the dust kittens that gather in the corners, old egg boxes and dead leaves, and are basically a wonder of nature. Every few weeks I have to renew their damp newspaper ‘roof’ because they’ve eaten most of the old one. They live in a high rise polystyrene foam box condominium with a lid. They’re old broccoli boxes, but don’t tell the worms. The bottom one collects the ‘tea’. The next one up has holes in the bottom to let the tea escape, and contains the worms, their living quarters, the latest meal, and the newspaper roof. Then there’s a lid on top of that, with airholes punched in. It lives in the garage in the cool and the dark, doesn’t smell and is clearly labelled so people take care around it. The Husband loves the wormies, and takes on the job of blitzing their food, cutting the hard stuff up and feeding them.

I’m going to retreat to my workroom and get stuck into my Morning Tea quilt again.  Today, it’s sewing down the fairy cakes fused onto the cake stand, the last job on the quilt top.  (For those of you on your first visit, take a look at Morning Tea at the the Quilting Bee from 27 September).  I now have the batting, binding and backing fabric for it, and the sandwiching process can begin.  This will consist of laying out the backing, wrong side up, on the floor.  On top of this will go the batting (wadding), which is needled cotton, so I can quilt fairly far apart if I want to.  On top of that goes the quilt top, right side up. Then you grovel around on hands and knees, pushing curved safety pins through all three layers at hand’s width intervals to hold everything securely together for quilting. Then you stop, let your back unkink, reward yourself with a large drink, and put off further action till another day.  Or that’s how it goes with me, anyway…