Cleaning Air

I’ve been interested in cleaning the air in our house for some time. Years in fact. During the renovation I was particularly concerned with the possibilities of off-gassing from the building materials. Where possible we tried to reduce or eliminate these. For example, with our choice of floor finish (natural oils and wax) instead of polyeurethane seal.

There are numerous plants that do well indoors and have been scientifically proven to cleanse the air and produce oxygen. Sometimes despite the presence of daylight. I had three that were easily propagated and that we already had in our garden. Before our move I began the process of increasing their numbers with the intent of having them indoors to increase the inside air quality.

Now that the renovation is nearing a satisfying end it is time to bring in the armies of plants that we’ve been propagating with the intentional purpose to clear the air of any off-gassing from paint, building materials, oils, varnishes etc etc.

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 Aloe Vera – Aloe barbadensis

petitparadis spider plant

Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum

petit paradis snake plant

Mother In Law’s Tongue Snake Plants Sansevieria

Fine, Humid, Hazy

It’s been really muggy the last few days. We had a shower of rain Tuesday night which freshened the garden up – then the sun came out.

I’d like to report that I’ve progressed things in the garden and built new garden beds, sorted out the animals and got things ready for autumn planting . . . but no, this has not occurred.

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On top of the usual chores around the house, the growing list of jobs such as finishing the tidy up of the other house, and sorting things out in our new house to a respectable level . .  well, it keeps falling back. We’ve had visits and further trades folk calling in to tidy up loose ends.  Visitors for Gran to look over options for mobility and comfort and ease of living.

In essence I’ve simply given up with setting and working to a deadline for getting the house on the market. I have one, but I’m not attached to it by any means.

So really, just so you know, I haven’t gone away. I’m just mostly off-line sorting stuff out.

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.

Refuge

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.

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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.