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.

Retrofitting the Suburbs *


petitparadis retrofitting the suburbs

Self-reliance. . .

It has always been an economic foundation of every society in history, it’s just that in the super-charged affluence of the past couple of decades we’ve managed to suck it dry and shift everything up, into the monetary economy. And when you get economic contraction it’s just natural that people start doing things again at home and on an exchange basis. We call this the re-localisation process. This re-localisation movement will shift power and respect to older and rural people with self-reliance skills. People who can work physically. People who are applying permaculture principles. Whether they are doing that consciously or unconsciously.

– David Holmgren

This economic contraction that David Holmgren has been talking and writing about for some time now is kick-starting the household and local community economies. That is, it’s operating outside the monetary, formal economy. Folks are working their jobs and also doing a bit on the side as a means to both get by financially, diversify their income streams, support larger families (kids, elders . . .) and do something that they enjoy.


Further Reading:

Lunchbox/Soapbox: David Holmgren on Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability

The Story of Change

The New Future


* retrofit

  1. Add (a component or accessory) to something that did not have it when manufactured.
    “motorists who retrofit catalysts to older cars”
    Provide (something) with a component or accessory not fitted during manufacture.
    “buses have been retrofitted with easy-access features”
noun: retrofit; plural noun: retrofits
  1. an act of retrofitting a component or accessory.
    “uninsulated and oddly designed dream houses that are badly in need of a retrofit”

Rabbit Welfare

petitparadis kit outing

Today the rabbit kits are thirteen days of age. Their eyes had now opened and they are moving about.

One of the kits was making its first outing into the hutch from the nest. Prodding Blackberry for a bit of milk, though Blackberry was not willing to allow such a treat without the other two kits partaking as well. Good mother! She has done better this time around and has taught us that intervention is possible and that kits can be handled if done sensibly.

Part of our success appears to be the very early handling of the kits by Mrs PP and getting our scent on the kits so that Blackberry had some sort of reference and familiarity. When Mrs PP attends the hutch to check the kits she allows Blackberry to greet her and smell her hand first, then she can handle the kits easily without Blackberry fretting. 

It was a good thing that we managed to do this because one of the kits was not getting fed adequately. Possibly due to its size, though it certainly wasn’t the runt, which sadly did not survive. To save losing any more kits we would regularly move this smaller kit to the ‘top of the pile’ in their nest so that it was closer to Blackberry when she came to feed them. This approach has apparently worked due to a healthy three remaining kits and would not have been possible without the early intervention and ‘marking’ of our scent on the kits as soon as practicable. There may be something further to this approach, but that is our explanation.

Some of our recent dealings with the rabbits have gone against the information that we have found on-line. We can inform ourselves to some extent but there is also still much to be learned from real life observation and thinking things through.



Nothing but Flowers . . .

This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town?
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we’d start over
But I guess I was wrong

Talking Heads (Nothing but) Flowers


petitparadis backyard

I’ve been looking at our greater backyard through the eyes of a tourist.

Mr DIG’s stay has meant the occasional trip out and about. Happy little forays into nature to escape the troubles and pressures and stresses around us presently. I’ve enjoyed the moments of serenity and poise rather immensely and have found myself with not only a renewed interest to get out into the further reaches of Nature more often, but also with a deeper gratitude for the incredible beauty close to home, or within reach.

“There is so much about modern agriculture that I do not like, but scenes of hay bales in open fields with trees or rolling hills is quite therapeutic for me to look at.” I told Mr DIG.

We have meandered through lake, beach, forest, farmland, river and urban environments. Had long chats with tea, coffee or chai over random and varied subject matter.

After such a long time away from some of the things I have enjoyed in the past it feels as though there is an approaching opportunity to bring them back home and discover them again.

Beyond the backyard is a natural world of inspiration that can be used to create a magical backyard at home. As the song (Nothing but) Flowers addresses, we are not likely to free ourselves of urban settings too easily despite our love of Nature, but I think we can make them something special and worthwhile and nourishing. The infrastructure and community is there, we can benefit from modifying it to suit our new needs and desires.


Further Reading:

The Great Southern Region

Southern Forests

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.