Planning a Seaside Garden

Update on House Planning:

The builders are asking me to outline just where I would like the garden beds to go on our block. Already? I thought to myself.

Before the house has even started and before the final plans for the house are even drawn, I have to envisage and draw up a garden plan. Not the easiest request to fulfill.

But this is the process of construction that we follow. So I comply. Here is my rough sketch.

My scratching of the garden placement in front yard

We have saline soil, it is also a silty clay, and it is reactive, meaning it is prone to movement – the ‘triple bunger’ of worst soils. Fantastic! Not really.

Even sandy soils would have been easier to deal with, I think. But the soil tests don’t lie.

Salty Silty Clay

Garden Design

What kind of Garden do I want?

  • One that is private, but not claustrophobic – some hedging plants
  • Plants that require little weeding or maintenance
  • Palms in pots?
  • A retaining wall or raised garden to improve drainage as the soil will become easily water logged.
  • A climbing plant espaliered along the fence?

Choosing Plants for Clay Soils

What plants would like to grow in poorly drained salty clay soil?

Beautiful lavender bushes at Amandine nursery

Lavender bushes will grow by the coast and will also tolerate salty soils, but need good drainage and thus a sandy soil. (which I don’t have). So they would have to grow in pots.

Perhaps I could grow some Bamboo in pots as a screening plant/informal hedge?

vegetables tomato salad

Apparently I could grow certain veges –

“..most productive plants require good drainage and soil that’s well cultivated to about 30cm depth for good root growth and development, beans and shallow-rooted vegetables such as loose-leaf lettuce can be grown in clay soil.

And then there is some ornamental species such as Day-lilies and Hydrangeas that like clay.

The BHG website describes Daylillies as Tough-as-nails. “It’s trumpet-shaped blooms each last only a day, but plants can bloom for several weeks because they produce many flower buds. Some varieties bloom several times through the summer.”

Grow Daylilies

Nandinas are also very tolerant of clay soils and there are loads to choose from.

Winner Winner!

Image
I was hoping to grow something easy to maintain – like this Nandina – tolerant of clay soils

As clay soils can tend to water log easily, care should be taken with garden design to allow for good drainage. Few plants are tolerant of water logged soils. If I lay down a good layer of loam on top, some ground covers might thrive as long as their roots do not become water logged. I can also improve the soil with compost and organic matter to aerate the clay, but it still is salty.

There are not that many garden plants that tolerate salty soil in high concentrations.

Here are some:

  • Blanket Flower – sounds positively dreary
  • Lantana.- No – it is a noxious weed
  • Viburnum – maybe
  • Yucca – Yuk! Enough said
  • Cannas – I have an inexplicable aversion to these plants for some reason
  • Prickly Pear Cactus – Seriously? – This is a pest that threatened to overtake farmland in the nineteenth century. Why would anyone want this in their yard? A definite NO.
  • Lavender Cotton – previous info seems to exclude this range
  • Seaside Goldenrod – another new plant I wasn’t sure about

Flowering native shrubs such as the Bottle-brushes, Melaleucas, might do okay in moderate clay whilst two Banksias: spinulosa and ericifolia are apparently very tolerant of clay. Even a Westringia might cope and they are a coastal plant. Sounding better.

I have successfully grown Banksias before from seed. You have to burn the cones to release the seeds

Lomandras and Dianellas are tolerant of all but the heaviest clay soils. Some sites recommend the ornamental grasses such as Pennisetem, for heavy clay soils, but as I am highly allergic to grass, perhaps I should forget about that species.

I think the iconic Australian native plants prefer free draining soils, and will struggle in clay soils without some soil improvement. Yareena™ Myoporum parvifolium is a native ground cover tolerant of a heavy clay. That might be useful. But sourcing this could be a problem.

The Native hibiscus might survive and Lilly Pillies are reliable for hedges or screens in clay soils.

“Clay soils can be very heavy and hard to dig, with a tendency towards water logging. While heavy clay soils will need significant improvement before most plants will happily grow.. Improved clay soils can hold nutrients well and therefore can be very beneficial to plants which like a lot of water and nutrient, including many large leaved or tropical plants.”

Kate Wall http://www.bestplants.com.au/about-us/a-guide-to-using-the-right-plants/choosing-plants-for-clay-soils

There seems to be hope that there will be plenty of plants that might grow successfully in my salty clay garden. Something I’ll Ponder About.

More things to research. Do you have any suggestions for me?

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The Things you Value and Are Important

things you worship

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be cathartic. Recently I was given a journal of self-exploration, and it challenged me to circle the things that are most important to me in my life. Things I really value above all else. The trouble is I am prone to over- analysis.

things you worship
What is important to you?

Adding a magnitude of difficulty is that the list was finite. Trouble? I think so.

For example:

  • Do I value Laughter? Well of course, but does that include mocking, self-serving or sarcastic laughter – NO.
  • Travel – In hindsight I should have circled travel – but it isn’t really essential to contented life, is it? It is more of a bonus in life.
  • Earth – I am an environmentalist – I feel a stab of guilt that I neglected to circle this.
  • Sight – ???? I didn’t circle it so what does that indicate?
  • Home – who doesn’t value their home? Even homeless folk value homes. But what is a home without family?
  • Honesty – does that make me a dishonest person. Why didn’t I circle honesty?
  • Shoes – I am not a girl obsessed with shoes. Why is this even an option? Then again, it is pretty hard to go without shoes altogether.

You see – Over-analysis. It is a problem!


journal, self-help
The Journal of Self Introspection or Over-Analysis

I framed the book’s question as matters most essential to me – things that I would not want to be without. But they needed a few more options, I thought.

Things I would add to this list:

  • Respect,
  • Compassion,
  • Nurturing
  • Care,
  • Empathy
  • Hope
  • Blogging!!!

The final task in this exercise in self-exploration was to circle the things that you would rather worship/admire/value.

My list looked like this:


things you worship

Are you noticing a theme here? I circled the same seven things!

If you completed this exercise, what would it be that you circled?

What are the things you worship/value/that are most important to you in your life ?

What then would you circle as things you would rather worship/value?

What else do you think should be included in the darn list?

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Something Important to Ponder About

Friendly Friday: Photo Walk

Come and take a Friendly Friday Photo Walk with Snow from The Snow Melts Somewhere

My starting point for a walk. Overlooking Shinjuki’s Concrete jungle.

Snow and I co-host a Photo Challenge, Called Friendly Friday, alternately each Friday (Saturday for some time zones). Although I have linked the response to this week’s prompt of a photo walk, to an earlier walk I took through the Gyoen National Park in Shinjuku, Japan, this prompt from Snow was one I couldn’t resist joining in with again.

Hosts are allowed to join their own challenges, aren’t they?


Japanese know their horticulture and how to make it a work of art. The trees perfectly frame the pond and the manicured trees int eh distance. In a week or so, these trees would turn brilliant red. Oh how I would love have seen that.

A row of Japanese mountain Maple trees – more LOTR trees,

A fellow Aussie blogger liked my comparison of these trees to Lord of the Rings.

Here is some more, Chris!

trees

No problems to sit here for a while and absorb the ethereal light.

More spam of my absolute favourite Sycamore, (or Plane trees – thanks Manja)!

Proof it is a real kind of Photo Walk
Friendly Friday
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Sunday Sayings – Building Bridges to Happiness

clasonsborg

We all live on planet earth and everyone wants their own space. We are all individuals yet we share our world with billions of others.

Timeless words

As a social species, we depend on others to live in this world. Yet we will be alone in the world if we do not have a bridge to other folks. Individuals need a community and we need other lives interacting with our own. Other people may annoy or irk us, they may love or hate us, but without others, we are lost.

Building on the discussion of Empathy last time, I found the following proverb and quotes timely and really grabbed my attention this week.

A bridge has no allegiance to either side

– Unknown

Why then do we, as people, or citizens, feel the need to take sides?

jump joy happy
A jump of Joy

We all want to be happier. Why wouldn’t we?

Happiness is the supreme goal for most of us. Life is more enjoyable and colourful when we are feeling happy.

Could each of us as individuals, at times be that bridge to someone’s happiness?

The following quote suggests we can.


You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How?

By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

-Dale Carnegie

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Imagine what might happen if everyone spared a few kinds words of encouragement to a fellow worker or to a lonely acquaintance. That rainbow of acceptance could spread right across the world.

Should we start spreading a wave of happiness by following Carnegie’s words?

This week, I am going to try it. Will you try too?

Cylinders Beach Stradbroke Island
A small ripple can build to a large wave

I think we could make a difference in our little corner of the world.

Build a bridge of happiness around you.

#OneWorld Let’s change it.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Proverbial Friday beginnings

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Thursday’ on my blog. I became fascinated with traditional proverbs and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, proverbs come to us from past generations and from across all cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

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From Amanda


Heavenly Gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen – Japan

Bolstered by the large and eventful breakfast, which I wrote about here, and visiting Tokyo in Crimson Leaves Season, we were keen to explore a traditional garden, on our first day in Japan. At the top of our list was the Gyoen National Garden, a green oasis that is completely amidst the busiest commercial district in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Garden
Gyoen National Garden, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Background

Originally a residence for one of Japan’s feudal Lord during the Edo period, the Gyoen National Garden fell under the control of the Imperial family in the twentieth century. Although much of the garden was then destroyed during World War II; you would never know it, as Gyoen is nothing short of a tranquil, well tended masterpiece of Japanese horticulture.

Traditional Japanese Garden Design at Gyoen

With the NTT Docomo building towering stoically above Gyoen’s tree line like an old world Imperial Guard, it is easy to remember the Shinjuku-Shibuya metropolis is never far away. However, the hard concrete lines of modernity are significantly softened by the more natural lines of the leafy foliage and traditional Japanese garden fixtures.

Very photogenic.

NTT Docomo Building from Gyoen

The Gyoen Guide Map offers us the chance to fully comprehend the scale of the park and orientates ourselves to ensure we see all the individual gardens and differing botanical features contained therein. Entrance, (with guide map in English), costs 200 Japanese Yen.

We don’t want to miss anything!

Gyoen’s Shinjuku Entrance Gate

chrysanthemum shows

The small fee we pay to enter the garden is truly value for money, as the day we visit there is also a special floral display of cultivated chrysanthemums, which attracts the attention of many Japanese citizens.

How glorious are these?

Light rain only enhances the organic beauty around us, as the raindrops linger on the leaves. This delights my daughter as it makes for excellent photographic opportunities.

And we have the ubiquitous, clear-plastic umbrella to shield us. Very Japanese.


“Maple trees can be seen in large numbers around the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the [Gyoen] park’s eastern side. The colors typically appear from mid November to mid December. “

Tokyo Tourist Guide
One small Maple tree showed its Crimson coat. In a few weeks time, the others would too.

Our arrival is a week or so early to see the majority of crimson leaves in Tokyo, for the temperatures are unusually warm. Despite this, I find the trees are magical and remind me of a medieval Northern forest, or a scene from a Lord of the Rings novel.

The leaves are still golden and green, but soon to be crimson red.

Pavilion

Each path within the garden invites in us, a different mood, vista and experience.
You can see hanging bouquets of chrysanthemums in the display in the background.
Despite the overcast conditions, the Pavilion was a place of tranquility and reflection, in more ways than one.

The carp pond

No Japanese garden could be complete without a Carp pond – and Gyoen has one.

Again the city reminds you it’s not far too away.

Carp pond – Gyoen National Garden
A serene spot to reflect, meditate and rejuvenate in Gyoen. Lucky Carp fish.

Autumn avenue awesomeness

However, for this sub-tropical Australian resident, the ultimate heavenly experience is yet to come when I discover the avenue of Sycamore trees, a feast for local photographers. It is such a delight for me. I truly am in awe of these trees and their burst of colour.

Photography
What photographer wouldn’t want to capture this?

This is Autumnal earth, resplendent in shades of sienna, brown, rust, bright yellow and green, all coalescing in an intense and harmonious collection of wholesome organic beauty.

The child in me wanted to run and kick up the fallen leaves, throw them in the air, rake them into a pile and jump on top of them. An Autumnal experience that exists only in my dreams.

Gyoen national park is a Japanese treasure, particularly if you visit at Crimson Leaf Season
Stunningly picturesque

Never before had I seen an avenue of trees that captivated me in such a way and I didn’t want to leave. [You have to remember we don’t have such deciduous trees in my home zone, so I’m super excited.]

sendagaya gate

Reluctantly, after several hours exploring and a gazillion photographs taken, we walk towards the park’s Sendagaya gate and find yet another magical path through the trees.

There is a special light through here. It is hard to define and see in the photo, but it is there.

Gyoen National Garden – A perfect spot to sit and ‘Ponder About Something.’

Linking to Friendly friday photo walk a challenge hosted by me and Snowmeltssomewhere

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 #aroundtheworldWP