We have been so very desperate for rain in many parts of Australia, and finally the rains have arrived. They have come late in some areas, have received far too much in other areas, and not quite enough in still other areas. But the raindrops have been falling. Yay!
Rain is appreciated also by the thirsty plants which respond with a flush of growth and some with flowers.
Raindrops are also a photographer’s delight. After the rain is the best time for photographs.
The photo below is a microcosmic world in itself. The leaf forms are a metaphor for our planet, the raindrop a metaphor for the oceans, the individual drops the rivers and streams running into the oceans, and the minute hairs the people of the world, dependent on the water drop for life.
Some organisms are 90 % water. 60% of an adult human body is comprised of water.
Water is essential resource for life. Raindrops are precious.
Unfortunately, some creatures like the ones below also like the rain.
They are not so welcome.
Create a post sharing your interpretation of this week’s Friendly Friday prompt –
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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.
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.
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?
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?
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.”
Nandinas are also very tolerant of clay soils and there are loads to choose from.
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.
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.”
Named after British explorer, James Cook, this place is as far from its namesake town locality as it could possibly be, so what is there to see in Whitby?
Join me for a walk and see….
You may have read about my previous visits to New Zealand, but it is Whitby, a suburban area, located north of the capital, Wellington, that featured on our walk today.
There is strong evidence of middle income suburban New Zealand, here, but Whitby also offers some unique but lesser known features, which I was to discover on a family walk among its well manicured streets.
Coniferous trees relish a cool, temperate climate, quite different to the sub-tropical flora my kin might see at home.
Seeing them along dotted along the littoral fringe and stream that bisects this town, our minds filled with thoughts of hobbits and elves and ‘Middle Earth.’
Well, we were after all, in New Zealand!
The path, to the right, next to the tunnel of trees, along the littoral fringe.
Plants like the Protea, above, and this spectacular hydrangea bush, that I struggle to grow back home, relish the cooler, more wet humid climate and seem to grow like weeds!
What is that definition of a weed?
Just a plant in the wrong place!
But it is not all trees and flowers we spotted on our walk.
The Kiwis are not at all overly formal in their manner, their sense of humour being evident in this unusual garden statue.
Who wants a regular garden gnome, anyway?
Besides being named after the British birthplace of explorer, Captain James Cook, the attraction about Whitby for me, was found in the unique, natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Visible from practically any street in this locality, it is easy to be mesmerized by the distant mountains which remind me of convolutions of a green Giant’s velvet brain.
Our walk encompasses a stop at a flat-topped Spinnaker Summit Lookout, at which the mandatory photo stop was required.
The mountains of green velour on the far side of the lake look as if a giant laid down a carpet and then slept on it, failing to smooth the grassy covers when he arose from his slumber.
One feels like you could rub your hand over them just to feel their soft, velour texture.
I have never seen hills like this anywhere else in the world.
It is said that New Zealand has some similarities to Norway, well, maybe not in this area…..
A backdrop of mountains and hills like the convolutions of a green velvet brain
A walk around a suburban area often gives one a feel for the personalities who live there.
The diversity of boutique letter box designs was a delightful recurring theme in Whitby.
I would like one of these letter boxes!
Walking further from the lake and Summit lookout, we spotted several Tui birds relishing the blossoms, hunting, as they were for some food.
This species of honey-eater is not under any threat, having adapted well to the urban environment in the North Island.
Wiki states that apparently the early European colonists called it the Parson Bird but, as with many New Zealand birds, the Maori name ‘Tui’ is now the common name.
After a good hour of strolling the suburban streets, Miss H and the young ‘uns were getting that glazed look in their eyes that said,” I’m soo bored” – you know the one that teens do so well, thus, a extension to our walk was quickly made to Adrenalin Forest, Porirua, on the outer edges of Whitby!!! Now it was the kid’s turn to dictate the direction of the “walk,” as the “Adrenaline forest” is an aerial obstacle course consisting of flying fox, high ropes, climbing through barrels, nets and steps, suspended above the ground, which makes for a fun and energetic few hours. The kids are harnessed with two dual locks, so it is impossible to remove both clamps from the harness at the one time, making it a perfectly safe activity, even for the most reckless individual. Furthermore, the attendants give full instructions and a good dose of practice on ground level before starting the course.
I venture to say it is a kids only activity, as I didn’t see any adults participating in the course.
The parents/carers were all down on terra firma, shouting encouraging thoughts above, who were hanging by the harness up to 60 feet above them in the tree tops.
The course becomes incrementally more difficult, and Miss 11 who was part of our group, piked out at Level 3, and had to be ‘rescued’ – which meant that an attendant had to climb a ladder and disengage you from the course.
Miss 13 and 16 kept going till Level 4, but were exhausted afterwards. A real endurance activity for some.
The Adrenalin forest is loads of fun if you are ever in Wellington, or Whitby surrounds.
Kids have exercise, fun, learn new skills, conquer their fears and the bonus is they are sun safe (in the shade) and cannot check mobile devices whilst they are up there!! I noted there was limited seating, (and nowhere to purchase refreshments) for adults who are watching, and the constant looking upwards was a posture most adults are not used to.
Like me, I suspect most of them could use a neck brace of sorts afterwards.
Something the young 19 year old me would not have to Ponder About