Swales & Whales

How amazing to have both swales and whales at Tillellan. Mrs P saw whales from the back yard today as we worked in the top of the garden finishing the tropical area.

A few weeks ago I made a bit more of a proper A-Frame for finding the contours on the property and determining our swales for the fruit trees. I had already put a really rough version together with some poles and twine to mark out swales for the apple orchard at our community garden. There is a lot of swale marking about to occur both at the community garden and our place, so I thought an improved model that I can fold up easily would work best. Much easier to put in the back of the car or on the roof rack.


I didn’t use the top hinge in the end. Instead I used wingnuts on all three cross bars much the same as my art easel made by my father-in-law. It’s easy to put up and take down and with the top wingnut I can hand the plumbline from it without tying knots.

It was also easy enough to put together with the few tools and power tools that I had handy and available. I still have a great deal of sorting out to do with regard to tools and equipment. This can now take place over the next few weeks now that our original garden is nearly all packed up and transferred over to the new one.

As I wrote previously, it has been a very frustrating process for me. But today, with the Little Eagle soaring high over the hillside and a nice spring day surrounding me, I actually looked at the block and could see the progress beginning to quicken. We have emptied a number of plants out of their pots the last couple of days and made some extra space. I filled in the trenches that I had dug out a couple of weeks ago for the water and electrical. Mrs P planted out some comfrey in the little, hard to get to, nook between the retaining wall and the neighbours fence.

With every little bit of progress on the place it is starting to take shape. Quicker and quicker. The vegetables in the garden beds have taken well and are green and vibrant. So they should be with a soil base packed with worms and nutrients.

I thought I was mad at times carting bags and buckets of soil from our house. I wanted to seed the soil with worms and organisms from a place that has been worked with love and I wasn’t expecting to see a return on the investment so soon. But it appears that the hard work will be worth it.

The jarrah floorboards that my Father-in-law had purchased from a salvage site and stored for years and years in the shed in anticipation of renovating the house were of no value to the builders. They were in a very poor condition really and with the new demand for wider, older style floor boards the local mill is actually producing them again. But I kept the old salvaged ones. There was just too many of them and I felt that they would come in handy. I moved them twice. If I had to move them again they were going. I have since realised that they will make ideal raised garden beds and despite not having raised garden beds in my original design I have concluded that:

  • given the resources at hand – enough floor boards for several beds,
  • the proximity of the stored floor boards to the final place of resting (end use) is very, very close,
  • the fact that they are jarrah and flat and will raise a garden area high enough,
  • I won’t have to move them very far to construct the beds,
  • and that the garden area closer to the house will be highly productive and intensively used…

it was kind of a no-brainer that I should use them for garden beds. Much the same as my Father-in-law had started to do, only he’d made them much too high. It was like the answer was always there.

So, again – as mentioned previously – despite having a design for the garden, thus far it is creating itself. I suspected this may happen once we came and were a little more intimate with it, starting to work and watch and see what is happening.

I discovered a motorbike frog on a yucca near the edge of the garden. Reluctantly I removed the yucca due to its proximity to what will be the hedge grown between us and the neighbour. Plus the thing was so damn spiky and dangerous to be around. Probably why the frog looked very content taking a rest in it.

I also neatened up a Sydney Wattle that had grown large near the neighbours shed. This was quickly mulched up at home and returned to the place today to mulch the tropical garden area.

Much to Mrs P’s bemusement and puzzlement I have also planted about three Sydney Golden Wattles (locally a declared pest) on the block. I grew them from seeds and they absolutely flourish in our climate and environment. Probably a good reason for them to become pests! I plan to manage these trees by pruning them before seeding and using their limbs and leaves as mulch for the garden whilst their roots bind the sandy soil and cultivate nitrogen for surrounding plants.

I have also grown other wattle (acacia) species and had them planted out, but the Sydney Golden Wattle has taken my wife a little longer to get her head around.

At our current home garden I also had a large, potted agave which I was either going to leave here or move. I started to move it out of the way and realised it was covered in tiny ‘pups’. I instantly had a picture flash into my mind of the rock embankment and a couple of large, beautifully formed agave plants bursting out from the bank adding a bit of scale to the embankment, which is a good 15 metres or so from the back of the house. They would make a good contrast with the other succulents such as the Aloes that we are amassing there. I smiled to myself, plucked the little plants from the parent plant and put them into soaked newspaper to develop their roots further.

This garden is creating itself Mr P.

Stand out of the way…



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