Petit Paradis in Collage

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The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.

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There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Hollyhock

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The unfamiliar weed in our garden had a different presence about it. So it was left to develop.

From experience, I’m a true believer in resources and teachers appearing when required. Another real-life example of this is the gradual growth of a plant in our backyard that was a little different to the mallow plants that often pop up. I let it continue to grow as there was not much else growing whilst transitioning over to the new garden site.

Eventually it started to bud up with flowers and I suspected it was a Hollyhock (Alcea rosea). I did have some seeds given to me a year or two ago but none grew successfully. It may well have been a seed that found its way into the garden from a failed pot and managed to grow. Eventually it flowered and dazzled us with its incredibly bright pink flowers.

We began to utilise the flowers for using in our kombucha mixes and as a tea for the Little Fellas to assist with persistent coughs. It’s incredible versatility has assured it a place in the garden at Tillellan. Once it has set its seeds I will propagate plants for further planting. The Hollyhock has proven itself to be hardy in our summer garden as the chickens have scratched away mulch and removed soil from the base of the plant. It has endured and thrived. Not surprising given it is a relation of the Marshmallow plant which is growing quite abundantly at the Tillellan garden.

We have made use of the flowers as mentioned though we have not tried the leaves yet given it is a single plant and I am wishing to save its seeds.

I recall seeing similar plants in my first garden, petty french. I enjoyed those flowers back then too, but little did I realise that Hollyhocks have some very versatile uses.

So, I have found a new plant to carry over to the new garden at Tillellen.

Further Reading:

Five Uses for Hollyhocks

Health Benefits of Hollyhock

Further Health Benefits of Hollyhock

 

The Throwing of the Seed

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The new garden is bolting.

Seeds are ripening and reaching for the sky. It is coming to a close, the initial burst of vigor. Underneath this cloak of leaves and seeding pods are pumpkins and melons. Growing, engorging themselves towards mature fruit.

Mrs PP and the Littlest Fella took delight in scattering marigold seed around the garden beds on Monday. Sowing the seed in the simplest of ways with the most rewarding effort.

Despite light showers it is still requiring regular watering and this is the crucial time to get regular water to it so that fruits develop. 

The tradies are amazed at how quickly the garden has ‘shot up’. Now seed sowing is required so that we get a good crop of greens and vegetables during summer.

Australian Bird of the Year 2017

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The Guardian is running the Australian Bird of the Year poll for 2017 in partnership with BirdLife Australia. The finalists were narrowed down based on recommendations from Guardian readers, Guardian staff and BirdLife Australia. Now The Guardian is calling on the Australian public to select their favourite native bird from the short list.

The poll will stay open until 9 December, after which time the winning bird will be announced. If you feel the best Australian bird has been ignored, The Guardian have included an option for you to add it yourself.


 

I voted for the Grey Butcherbird.

There are so many wonderful birds on the list, but I have a soft spot for the somewhat drab, Grey Butcherbird. I vividly remember when I was a nine year old looking out my bedroom window and seeing a scene very similar to the one in the picture above. A curious looking bird sitting on the fence that I couldn’t work out what it was. Soon it was joined by a parent who kept returning to feed it. I was intrigued. I was hooked. I started to read about birds and look out for other birds, paying more attention to the ones that visited our garden or my school ground.

A few years later I met a wonderful lady who was prepared to let me tag along on some birding adventures. I saw a great deal more of WA over a couple of years and had many camps and surveys.

Some 34 years later I am still observing birds and teaching the Little Fellas all about them.

The Grey Butcherbird folks. Not to be underestimated.

Further Reading:

Birdlife Australia Facebook Page

Home Cooking

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Mr DIG asked me, amidst preparing dinner. . . 

“Do you like cooking then?”

( Dear Reader – Do you like Mr DIG? He asks good questions don’t you think? Makes for diverse blog posts! )

I had to think about it.

“I think so.” I replied.

Though I really wasn’t sure anymore. I used to enjoy it but since the Little Fellas came along – plus Gran with all the challenges that the Taste Monster brings to the table – I really think the answer is more ‘Not so much.’

Then it got me thinking about why this was so. Why I continued.

To which the answer came, because I still want to know what is in our food and what my family is eating.

It takes time, there are dishes and pots and pans to wash and the appreciation from the gathering at the table is more often lacking and instead insulting and damaging to the soul of a home cook. But they are healthy, they do eat most of their meals despite being distracted and eating with their hands from time to time. And I care. And I’m stubborn. In a good way, I hope.

Gran is better off too. Though a recent chicken salad with home made mayonnaise and noodles was so uncomfortable to sit through. She looked disinterested and miserable. She is trying to kill off the Taste Monster and its destructive ways with her blood sugar. But the misery. Oh the misery.

I cook with care and with love, but it’s a hard task at the moment. The immediate rewards are few, but I’m in for the long term gains.