blogging

Lavender

Farming and rural communities are doing it tough in these times. Most of us recognize that.

You will be be delighted and surprised at the hidden gems found in many country towns and rural areas that were formerly overlooked by the overseas obsessed traveling public. Amandine Lavender is one such gem near the central Queensland coastal town of Bargara.

Those seeking a safer alternative to traveling overseas can not only support farming communities by making a day trip but also include rural towns, as holiday destinations.

Amandine Lavender Farm, Seaview Road, Bargara.

Around four hours drive north of Brisbane, Australia, or five minutes from the famous Turtle Rookery at Mon Repos, you will find Amandine Lavender farm, along Seaview Road at Bargara. See how the lavender is grown and utilized into a vast array of therapeutic and beauty products on sale at Amandine’s gift shop. Online ordering is coming soon.

Formerly a family sugarcane farm dating back 3 generations, the falling price of sugar encouraged the owners to diversify into growing lavender and developing a new business venture. The owners have transformed a pretty potting shed and garden into a flowering lavender paradise.

Amandine Lavender Products

The lavender product range includes soaps or oils, sprays and creams as well as soothing lavender sleep and relaxation balm, excellent for tension headaches, which I carry in my handbag at all times. Old favorites like sachets of dried lavender for pillows, wheat packs, or to hang in the wardrobe to keep pesky moths away from one’s clothes, are also on offer.

At Amandine farm, you are encouraged to pick as much lavender as you can carry in your hands, to take home with you. Enjoy the relaxing scent of freshly cut lavender in your own home for days after your visit.

Then when the flowers started to droop, cut them and hang them upside down to dry out. They can them be used as dried flowers or sprinkled in sachets for the wardrobe or undies drawer. Lavender foliage can be trimmed and used for propagating new lavender plants.

How to Grow Your Own Lavender

Amandine has self-guided propagation activities in their garden potting shed but you can always grab an information leaflet and try cultivating lavender, at home.

When to Pick and Trim Lavender

Spring flowering lavender should be cut in Spring whilst the winter flowering forms should be picked in autumn in order to take advantage of the best time to grow lavender from existing plants.

Cultivation of Lavender

Cut a leaf tip of lavender, about two inches, or 5 -8 cms long, dip the end in a rooting powder (available from nurseries or larger supermarkets), and place in a good quality potting mix. Water it in, then cover and seal with a plastic bag, setting it aside for a few months.

After several months, you will be delighted to find you have created new lavender plants of your own, at no cost.

Lavender plants do prefer a dry soil; they don’t like to moist ground for too long. That is why they prefer coastal climates and have not problem tolerating windy conditions.

Conveniently, these are the conditions we have at the home by the sea. I will be potting out some more of these hardy and highly perfumed beauties soon.

Lavender is the plant the keeps on giving.

Amandinelavender.com.au

Opening hours may vary due to Covid. Ring ahead to check.

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History & Traditions, Philosophy

Living History 100 years ago

Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.

In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.

It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.


She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.

Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?

If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?

Which one would you choose to keep?

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Environment

A Frog in My Garden

With the long awaited arrival of the recent rains, an old visitor returned to our garden. I do believe it is the same frog I wrote about him a few years back: –

green tree frog

I had a delightful green visitor in my garden. I found him hiding in the inner dark and cool realms of a motor scooter’s seat compartment, where he has been, apparently riding back and forth to the local train station for perhaps, several weeks. My daughter took some shots seen here, naming him Mr Schneider! Not sure of the reason for that. She is quite imaginative.

Green Tree Frog or White’s Frog

Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea

This frog is native to  Australia and introduced to New Zealand.

He is quite a cute character who can apparently live up to 16 years. The males are smaller than the females and are the only ones to produce he characteristic croak at night, especially in summer when they breed.

The presence of frogs in the garden, it is said, is a good indicator of the health of the local environment and as such, I was really pleased to see this little guy. He is of course very welcome if he is keen on eating all the spiders, cockroaches and insects that make us cringe.

While commonly seeking shelter and availing themselves of still water in human habitats, like toilet bowls, potplants, tanks and swimming pools, an interesting fact is that frogs can scream to ward off predators, and change colour according to their mood, much like a chameleon. Even in the short space of time we observed him, he certainly seemed to  lighten in colour.
It is important to remember and to teach kids, that the touch of a dry human hand is extremely caustic to these frogs, indeed most frogs, so you must always have wet hands when handling them.

Our task this morning was just to guide him to a safe spot, no more hitchhiking on the motor scooter. So whilst capturing him on the old digital camera, he headed for the pot-plants in the window boxes on the front wall, and after a light mist with the garden hose, he squeezed himself into the hole in the side of the self watering pots.

green tree frog

The main danger to the green tree frog is the destruction of its habitat through wetland clearance and drainage.

We can all support the habitat of frogs by welcoming them into our garden.

And that is something every single one of us needs to ponder about.

Less frogs= more insects= indications that the environment is suffering.

Community

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!

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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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Community

We are Building a House

I have never done it before.

Build a house, that is.

My husband has built a house before, with his father, so for him, this is not so special.

For me, this is my first and last time to decide how a new house might look from the ground up. I will never do it again. This is it.

new house
An example of the style of house we will build

There are so many things to decide. We have to chose absolutely everything – colours, tiles, mortar, grout, locks, window frames, cornice, shelves. For every part of the house and every single thing in it, there is a choice. A good thing, right? But it makes my head spin, just a little bit.

Sandgate foreshore

A Block of Land

First things first.

We recently purchased a block of land in a new development that was close by the water’s edge. We wanted to be near the water. Two people, done with raising a family, growing old in a house by the sea. Sunset walks along the water’s edge. Cool breezes in the sub-tropical summer. Sounds idyllic? We think and hope so.

You can almost see the Glass house Mountains from here

Selecting a block of land wasn’t as easy as we thought. I was very fussy about micro-climate and orientation. After living for many, many years in a house that was like a furnace in summer and a freezer in winter, I knew I was going to be particular about aspect. And I was lucky. I found one that ticked almost all the boxes.

schnauzer at beach
Rebel is looking forward to a #Seachange

The block in question was already registered with the governing body, as opposed to buying a pile of dirt way behind a barbed wire fence and shown only on a paper plan to prospective buyers. Whilst I was particular on the right environmental aspect, my husband was definitely not going to buy anything he couldn’t step on and feel, with his own hands. So we were lucky. We found it. First step done!

designing A house

Next we had to find a design we liked. Will the design we picked fit on the block of land, we wondered? My idea of this, might be a little different to local councils and also the idea of the land developers which is different to that of the builder. Negotiations await a pen pusher’s whim. We wait for that.

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Our land has two frontages, that is: it faces a street on one side and a smaller lane way on another. This is great because it gives us uninterrupted sea breezes and views.

However, there are certain rules about how close the house can be situated to the street and neighbouring houses, called setbacks. They don’t want you to build your house right next to the road, as they did in years gone by.

Knaegemoelle, Denmark – in this beautiful house you could reach out the window and touch the cars going by

What colour and materials will the exterior of our house be? How many windows? What type of fence will the garden have? How many plants will we get? The developer has a say in that too. It is called the covenant.

Banksia
Banksias love the coastal conditions

The developer in its wisdom, wants to keep selling their land for a good price and thus, they want to maintain certain standards for the houses getting built in their community. But when is a house really your own to design?

Soil Testing

The land was previously low lying land that was filled and raised by creating an artificial lake that opened to the sea. This is coastal land – a tidal area now filled in with soil and a lake.

Our block

This means the soil test showed the soil is saline and highly reactive. That translates to more expensive foundations for the house and raised garden beds. But who wants their house walls to crack when it rains, or doesn’t rain? It has to be done that way.

Inspired by Anne- Christine

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Something to Ponder About


Australia

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge -Coral ish colours

It was just too tempting not to join in again this week with Friendly Friday, given this stunning example of coral ish colour just outside my door.

thesnowmeltssomewhere.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/friendly-friday-coral-colors/

Join in with Snow this week. At the above link

Next week Something to Ponder About will host Friendly Friday with a new prompt.

Community

Resilience in Nature – Spring has sprung

Winter is a beautiful time of year here in the sub tropics of Australia. The nights are cool and brisk, but the days are sunny, clear, and warm (about mid twenties in Celsius degrees).

I love this time of year, no humidity and it often feels like we have skipped winter, and gone from Autumn directly to spring. This is my morning view.

banksia

At least when I look out my window, I see the beautiful specimens of Wattle (Acacia species) and Banksia (Giant Candles).

Banksia plants come in many varieties and were named about the Botanist on board Cook’s ship the Endeavour when it discovered the East coast of Australia in 1770. Banks and his colleagues made many drawings on these glorious plants, and thus were named after him.

Banksia have an interesting adaptation to the harsh Australian climate. They do not have flowers, but instead a large cone that holds nectar (food for the many Lorikeets and nectar feeding birds). Following this, the cone develops into a seed pod, protecting the valuable seed within until it is one day exposed to high intensity heat (such as found in a bush fire).

Upon being burnt, the seed cone will open, releasing the seed contained within. The Banksia plant is then free to germinate in not only a potash rich soil, but in an area with very little competition from other plants for sun and moisture.

Wattle blossoms

Australia’s official national floral emblem, featured on the coat-of-arms. Possibly the best known amongst the Australian plants. With 600 or more kinds of wattles, they can be found in every part of the country, from well-watered areas to the arid Centre to the cold mountain regions.

The wattles are usually the first to appear after bush-fires and can be found growing in the most remote areas, from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright growing trees. The individual flowers are always very small and massed together in pom-pom heads or rod-like spikes. Whilst most wattles are spring-flowering, there are some that bloom all year round.

1st September is Australia’s Wattle Day.

WATTLE
Wattles belong to the genus Acacia, in the Mimosa family.
There are over 600 different species distributed throughout Australia with shapes varying from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright trees. It is often called ‘Mulga’. Whilst most are early spring and summer-flowering, there are wattles that bloom all year round.

Which is really clever and definitely something to ponder about: the resilience and endless adaptation of nature.

Community

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge – Macro

Macro photos are an insight into another world. The camera allows us to freeze that moment for later inspection. Hidden in the weed known as  “pigface” was a small insect that I captured with my old Nexus 4.

“A weed is a plant in the wrong place” – Gardener’s saying

 

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Each week has a different phonoegraphic theme

Join in at Sally’s Blog Lens and Pens

New Zealand
Community, Gardening

Floral Friday Challenge (when it is saturday!)

Floral Friday

An excuse to post some of my favourite floral pics is not needed:

Daisies

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Gazing at photos of some of my favourite flowers, is the next best thing to seeing them for real.

Something for the eyes to feast on and the mind to ponder about today.

See more at floralfridayfoto.blogspot.com

woollymuses.wordpress.com

ceenphotography.com