Petit Paradis in Collage


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.


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.



We don’t need to go too far out of town to be able to see Kangaroos.

They mingle in the fields with cattle and sheep, grazing on the grass and lazing under trees in the heat of the day.

Much the same as our guinea pigs and rabbits. Eat, eat, eat, slumber. Rpt.

Our rabbits and guinea pigs have their work cut out for them. They really are working animals for us, as well as pets. It’s not uncommon for us to arrive home to a bag of green waste from my Dad’s garden or pruning material from friends. As the grass rapidly encroaches on the hillside at the back of Tillellan the day is drawing closer for the g-pigs and rabbits to get into gear and keep things in check.

The grass, though not a favourite element of mine if requiring regular mowing or trimming, is proving useful in keeping the sand down. It is also going to be a solar energy trap for us. As it grows and grows it will be a food source for our animals which will convert it into manure, eggs, meat and such things. All very, very handy stuff.

In maintaining the grass (not to be confused with lawn) I usually trim it down and leave the clippings in situ to fall between and build up the soil. Recently I have also raked up a bit and used this to cover areas of sand to keep it down.

I’m also keen to get the quail onto some grass and dirt. They are doing fine, but I think they will benefit from having some regular, fresh grass to pick at. I’m sure we will notice the change in the quality of the eggs. Much as we do with our own chicken eggs in comparison to other sources we receive eggs from. Free-range, bio-dynamic or organic. For some reason, our own chooks provide us with bright, orange yolks. We love them.

Perhaps that is the secret ingredient.

In Praise of Honeysuckle

When I go out onto our raised deck I am hit with the perfume of Spring.

Honeysuckle has always been in this garden since we moved in. It was just a small evergreen vine with leaves. I even confused it with a native plant until it got more water and care and took off with carefree abandon. It lives a rich life in the edge world of our lower garden, west side of the house and the deck. 

The last two years it has reached new heights. The top of our deck. This past year I have encouraged it so that it provides a nice wind break from summer easterlies, an additional shelter and support for the grape vine and delights us with its perfume and when pruned – which is frequently – is a tasty treat for the rabbits and guinea pigs.

petitparadis honeysuckle

After observing its growth and  experimenting with its uses I am also keen to get some propagated to use as a living mulch at Tillellen. I would rather a battle with Honeysuckle getting out of hand than the Madiera Vine which covered nearly the entire back half of the block before the  trees were cut down and mulched. Madiera Vine still has a strong presence in the garden, popping up in different spots. I know it is also an edible, though we have not had it in the kitchen yet. If I try it and like it, we may just eat it to extinction from our garden!

But given its usefulness, plants like Honeysuckle are pretty much kept in check. Especially when they are a handy addition to the diet of our animals. Plus we collect the blossoms from time to time and put them in salads, green tea or a herbal tisane.