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.

Poulet Poulet


Isn’t she lovely? Our little chick chooks are growing up fast and their typical Barnevelder plumage is just starting to creep in. They will be beside themselves when we move them to the new garden.

These little ladies will have an ample work load when they finally make it to Tillellan. In the meantime they have been scratching up a party in the backyard and really having a good bug hunt in the garden. The advantage of these chickens, so I am told by Mrs PP, is that the chicks are easily sexed at a young age. This being the case, the three tall standing Emu-like creatures among them are probably future roosters. It’s a heads up I guess.


petitparadis hollyhock

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 Looming Clouds of Overwhelm

What a time. There is so much going on that The Looming Clouds of Overwhelm are deepening and darkening. Suffice to say that, being this close to Christmas, we will not be moving house until the New Year. And then some.

overwhelm    əʊvəˈwɛlm/  verb

1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, especially water.
2. have a strong emotional effect on.


Despite The Machete of Prioritisation cutting through our projects and hobbies some six years ago now (post  early parent-hood), it has further slashed at various commitments and projects over the last few years. Having the Two Little Fellas and Gran is adequate in and of itself to keep yours truly occupied. Some years ago however, I made the decision that even if I passed up some of my hobbies* (just to keep my head above water on a daily basis) that I would at least do ONE piece of art each year for Christmas and to mark  the closing of the year. I decided also that the artwork would be a visual chronicle of the Two Little Fellas growing up over the years.

This year is the eighth work of art I have done and I have to say that the last three pieces have been an absolute struggle to do. There are simply too many other priorities that pile up in the last half of the year. I usually have the concept in my head by mid-year, if not twelve months in advance, but to capture our fast growing young boys at a particular point in time, I really only start to crank things up around October/November.

Not this year.

There has been too much going on with the renovation, school, community, work and preparing to move – whilst stripping away the backlog of material items that surround us. Too frequently now, my days at home turn up and I’m too tired to fully apply myself to anything properly. Not good.


Music, not art, has always managed to pull me through the tough times. Especially playing guitar and creating my own music, but there has been no time or space for this, so I’ve turned to listening to music – and I’ve hit it like a drug-starved addict recently**. I’ve been listening to a wide range of music that has passed me by the last couple of  years. Actually, as it turns out, according to the publishing dates of some of the music, its been decades. Who would have thought?

So, as The Looming Clouds of Overwhelm gather to hang like dust-covered chandeliers demanding attention and a good dusting off, I have music pouring into the air as I set about ticking things off my Busy List.

Oh, and the artwork? It’s nearly done ( . . . like the house ). So in anticipation of our dear pet Luna the Grey having her next lot of kits within the next week I have a snippet of this years artwork for the sharing. Voici – 

luna petitparadis

The complete piece itself is a celebration of our house here and the many wonderful years and memories it has given us. In the New Year we will depart for Tillellan so it seemed fitting to feature our petit paradise house as a prominent part of the artwork. I will post a full image when it is completed. Each year is a little different with the artwork style. I have used collage with this years artwork.

  • Actually, writing is another hobby which I have clung to by maintaining this blog,  as a matter of therapy really. . . and thankfully, a way that I can capture what is occurring – because sometimes it doesn’t happen verbally! The best way for me to detail my thoughts and experiences is with writing.

    ** Another ‘vice’ to add to the list that I didn’t realise I had. Dark Chocolate, Writing,    Listening to Music. One day I hope to add Sleep to the list. Who would have thought?!

The benefits of stooping low

petitparadis paddock

6:45 am Early Morning Training

One hour and ten minutes of squats – while picking up horse manure and hauling feed bags of the stuff to the ute. Then off-loading at the house garden.

It wasn’t as much of a marathon effort at last time as I was limited as to how long I could stay. But I wanted to fit it into the day because, I like to keep the paddock relatively clear for the owner so that I keep getting invited back. I prioritise the areas where the vehicles have to pass over so that at least they are not squishing into cow pats and horse dung unnecessarily. 

This time around there were some further observations. Most of the dung was already starting to break down and was quite crumbly. I wasn’t so surprised after the recent rain over the last few weeks. There were also dung beetles, which I’d seen evidence of before but not as active and prevalent as they were today.

It was great to get out and get some air while the day was just starting. A bit of peace and some bird song. Just before it was time to leave the sun was getting quite warm and the flies were starting to come out. A good time to depart.

This lot of manure is likely to be for the next crop of corn. The pop corn is just starting to look like flowering and I have another corn variety I’d like to squeeze into the growing season to keep the seed fresh.