A welcome home

We got back mid afternoon.

The worst of the unpacking is done. Mouse has reacquainted himself with every corner of the house and back yard and has enjoyed stretching his legs and savaging a bone out there. He’s now asleep (at least until I feed him, that is), and the Husband and I are both sitting down with a cup of tea.

I wandered around the back yard to see if everything had survived. It has, and the garden has welcomed me home with a few new faces. Here are pictures and no words; I’m too tired.

More tomorrow ūüôā

The Wild Beast of Chiconia, and other tales

The poor Husband is going to come back to a nasty surprise today…

His normally sunny-tempered consort is grim-faced, bloody-fingered (from the pins) and her hair is standing on end. ¬†The overall effect is rather like an irritated bear. It’s not a good look.¬†And the reason for all this joy? The ongoing battle with The Quilt that Fought Back.

Some of the quilting completed in the bottom half of the quilt.

Some of the quilting completed in the
bottom half of the quilt.

Having said that, I’m making reasonable progress. The bottom half of the centre section is done. Perspective lines are in, the little cakes and mugs are outlined. You will definitely not be seeing any close-up brag shots of my immaculate stitches. Because they’re not. Immaculate, that is. ¬†But the overall effect is pretty OK. The chief irritation relates to my new sewing table extension, a clear perspex platform on legs, which slides onto the sewing surface of the sewing machine, in order to give you a larger flat area to work with. This is a marvellous idea in theory, but unfortunately, the manufacturer has slightly changed the shape of the machines since I bought mine, with the result that the table doesn’t quite fit. It’s loose and there’s a gap. And every time I turn or adjust the quilt under the needle, the edges or pins or loose threads catch the edge of the extension and shift it. Again and again and again. I’m delicately refraining from sharing my true thoughts, and I’m pretty sure the language would get this post taken down right smart (considering it’s supposed to be family-friendly). Anyway, I have constructed an elaborate network of sticky tape which is holding it still for now. But I am very definitely in Wild Beast Growly mode for the moment.

In other news (I feel it’s time to move on…), the baby lime tree seems to be recovering from the trauma of the move into larger quarters. The two citrus trees were given a dose of Epsom salts and a large drink of diluted worm tea at the beginning of the week, and it seems to be paying off. The lime, particularly, had clear evidence in the leaves of magnesium deficiency, hence the Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) treatment. It has new flowers, and none of the baby fruit has dropped off.

New flowers and baby fruit

New flowers and baby fruit

I’ll have to thin those out shortly as there are far too many for the tree to sustain, but citrus trees always produce too many and the majority fall off. I’m also watching a couple of the branches, where leaves have fallen off wholesale at some point, but which appear to have some tiny buds on them. If I can avoid pruning them off, it would be good.

Leaves on the dead stick!

Leaves on the dead stick!

The frangipani (dead stick) is in leaf. It has taken a while and I was wondering if it truly was a dead stick, but the tiny little dark red points continued to sprout out of the branch ends, and are now opening into beautiful pointed oval leaves. The parent tree has gorgeous flowers: pink, with a golden heart. I think it’ll be a while before this one flowers, but I know what to look forward to.

My hippeastrums have also flowered profusely; the earliest is now dead or dying, but there are some beautiful flowers still. My difficulty is getting a good shot without a tripod, and even if I had one, getting it to stand still on the uneven bark chip surface. Anyway, look at this gorgeous girl:

Aten't I gorgeous?

Aten’t I gorgeous?

That’s the news from Chiconia. The Beast is soothed by a little light gardening, laundry and photography. The quilt is progressing, the Husband is on his way home, and things are definitely improving in my world. Bloody hot outside, though.

We’re off on a road trip tomorrow. Mackay to Childers, Childers to Coffs Harbour, Coffs Harbour to Dorrigo, and home again after a couple of days. We’re visiting friends, window shopping for a house as an investment property, and on the way home, going to the Craft & Quilt Fair in Brisbane. For those of you feeling sorry for the Husband, you should know that we have a reciprocal arrangement. We go to events he wants to attend, we go to events I want to attend. So far this year we’ve gone to a big truck show in Brisbane, and the World Rally Championship in NSW. Now it’s my turn, with the Quilt Show, and in November we’re going to a classical music concert in Brisbane (Last Night of the Proms – I used to love the Promenade Concerts in London, miss that here…). The lappie is coming along, so I’ll still be posting and checking, but I don’t think that quilting or the garden will feature much over the next week or so. ¬†More soon…

There’s a Husband in my garden!

Stop press! ¬†Hold the headlines! ¬†My other half is in the garden, and he’s got a spade in his hand!

Seriously, though. ¬†We’ve gone from a man whose idea of gardening was to pay the neighbour to mow his grass and to kick dirt back into the holes dug by his late dog, to someone who’s willing, or possibly even happy, to help with the heavy lifting out there, because it makes me happy.

I needed to move my tubs of vegies from fence A to fence B, where they won’t be scorched to death (see Frying Tonight, September, Gardening). ¬†We achieved that with no trouble, although the irrigation system’s going to need some rethinking. ¬†Then, as I’d now got space in the correct place, I decided to plant my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow creeper, my Star Jasmine and my Passionfruit vine. ¬†These were going into positions where I haven’t had a chance to put down compost to encourage the worms to move back in, or water, or turn the soil over at all. ¬†So first thing was to break up the clay, then steal some compost from another area of the garden which wasn’t doing much yet, and then water heavily. ¬†Then I moved away to do some other stuff, while the water got the planting holes nice and soggy. ¬†In they went. ¬†The Passionfruit and the Star Jasmine get nice mounds of earth, as they don’t much enjoy wet feet. ¬†The Y,T&T is in a slightly higher part of the plot, so no mound was necessary.

Husband dug, watered and repositioned things as requested, and seemed to be quite happy in this alien environment. ¬†But after a while, it wasn’t fun for him any more, and I carried on alone. ¬†The dark red and silver grey variegated begonias are in too, and that part of the planting area is now thickly covered in sugar cane mulch. ¬†For those to whom this is a foreign substance, sugar cane trash is chopped finely and used as mulch all over northern Queensland, where the cane is widely grown. It’s full of goodies and rots down well without robbing nitrogen from the soil, unlike other more carbon-based mulches such as bark chips.

My Hippeastrums are coming out, great triumphant shouting trumpets of colour. ¬†When I was a child in England, these were commonly known as Amaryllis belladonna, but Hippeastrum is how they’re known here. See, aren’t they gorgeous?

I love flowers with broken colour and if I were in a cold climate I'd be growing parrot tulips. But these girls are gorgeous, aren't they?

I love flowers with broken colour and if I were in a cold climate I’d be growing parrot tulips. But these girls are gorgeous, aren’t they?

Anyway, a little more progress has been made out there, despite the heat. ¬†I’ve been worried about the Flame Tree I gave the Husband, which is sitting in a 50L tub. ¬†It’s about 1500mm tall, and since the transplant from weeny pot to nice big tub, it’s been dropping leaves – they go bronze, then yellow, and then fall. ¬†However, it has also been shooting out new baby leaves at the growing tip of each branch, and even if it loses every adult leaf it already has, I think it’s going to make it. ¬†A relief, as himself will be heartbroken if it carks it.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Flame Tree: Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the¬†Illawarra Flame Tree, is a large¬†tree¬†of the family¬†Malvaceae¬†native to¬†subtropicalregions on the east coast of Australia. It is famous for the bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it is leafless. Along with other members of the genus¬†Brachychiton, it is commonly referred to as a Kurrajong. ¬†

And here’s what they look like:

Just LOOK at that colour.  And the flowers are tiny, so imagine how many there are.

Just LOOK at that colour. And the flowers are tiny, so imagine how many there are.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the image.

The tree flowers mostly on bare branches, so you get what looks like a dead stick (OK, a very large dead stick) absolutely covered in these screaming scarlet flowers. ¬†They have a habit of growing in rainforests, where you can see them for miles off because the red stands out against the dark green of everything else. Fabulous, eh? ¬†I can see why the Husband loves them, they’re truly iconic, outrageous and brilliant. ¬†I’m slightly nervous of what will happen when it gets bigger: I’m going to have to take out the top growing tips and root prune it every few years to try and ‘bonsai’ it as much as possible. ¬†Yet another example of why I’d so much love a bigger garden: the damn things grow to 15 metres or more in domestic gardens, and 30 metres plus in their native habitat. ¬†I’m just hoping it’ll flower without growing so large. ¬†It can take years, and they don’t flower at all until they’re at least 6 years old. ¬†Ours is only a couple of years old…

OK, that’s probably about as much horticultural burble as you can take. ¬†More another time. ¬†Besides, I have a ham hock on the stove; I’m making stock for pea & ham soup for the Husband to take to work, and I can’t let it boil dry while I sit oblivious at the computer….