Ultimately we need to recognise that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with other species.
– David Suzuki
With the renovation of Tillellan and the clearing of the back of the block we have taken over stewardship of a part of the family history and a piece of urban land that despite its urban-ness, prior to the clearing of the block, was a real refuge and welcome habitat for local animal species.
Gradually these have started to return despite the fact that the earth is still relatively ‘bare’ to my standards. We have nearly accomplished a temporary ‘skin’ over the ground of various edible plants, weeds, groundcovers and of course kikuyu. This will hold the sand in place until the next phase of development – hopefully to come early next year. In the meantime the creatures have begun to return. Insects and birds were some of the first, although the birds are still moving through the garden area rather than living in it as such.
The King Skinks never really departed. They took shelter under the house during the extensive renovations and eventually set up residence in the various piles of salvaged timber and rocks. They are increasing in numbers which did occur as a curious thing. We only really had a few living under the house previously, but talking to one of the neighbours he revealed that he used to catch them and relocate them to the golf course down the road. He quit doing that some years back, so it now makes sense that the local population in the backyard has grown and we are actually seeing young skinks around the place.
As the vegetable garden grew and created a small jungle I started to notice a Western Green Tree Frog had also taken up residence. Probably after being kicked out of a previous home during a bit of clearing near the neighbour’s boundary. Also known as the Motorbike Frog due to the male’s mating call sounding much like a motorcycle changing up gears in the distance.
Next came the bobtail or Blue-tongued Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) It also took up residence amidst the rockery where the morning sun hits early and there is plenty of nooks to hide in.
The current bird list for the block can be found here.
Over time we will no doubt see more and more life return to the garden as specialised pockets of land begin to take form and attract specific species.
We drove out to our friends farm today. We were hoping to pick up an A-Frame chicken coop but we never did.
It was way too big and wide for the trailer and was in disrepair. Unfortunately, the time needed to patch it up could be best used to build a new one. I’ve had to be really careful about how I use my time and, although we could really do with an extra coop for when we move the chooks, this project wasn’t going to cut the mustard.
It was however a good opportunity to stop and get off the merry-go round of madness for a brief moment and take a cuppa with friends while looking out over the farm. Besides, we managed to fill the trailer with boxes stored at my parents house on the way home, and shift them over to Tillellan.
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.
27th Nov – Vine Moth caterpillars are large and conspicuous on the vines.
28th Nov – Warm breezes with scattered showers. Overcast days. Light by 4am.
30th Nov – about 40 adolescent Ravens were congregated at sundown near the mown down patch of watercress this evening. I am taking this to mean they are grouping together before moving out and finding their own territories. It is not the first time I have noticed this. Very close to the local tip where ‘food’ is plentiful and competition is less.
And so now, with the end of November we move from the Nyoongar season of Kamabarang into the hot, dry season of Birak. The Season of The Young or The First Summer.
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.