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Decision made and happy lease renewal

So I have been agonising over a particular dilema the last few months. I have had two jobs between which I have been dividing my time. Two jobs which have been gobbling up too much of my life outside of work hours. For both jobs I had been offered similar full time hours however only one of them could offer a perminant full time position and hence more job security. I had to choose between a situation with which I was familiar and where I was already estabished and had made friends and a position with greater job security and ongoing work. I have just been beside myself the last few months trying to figure out what the right answer is. Anyway recently I made the decision to take job security over famialarity. With the wedding coming up and the lease on our rental house due I finally decided that this was my best option.
Its so frustrating because we have just had no spare munneh this year!
Well this hasnt stopped me from gardening. I have had a bit of a lull over the winter months and coming up to the date of our lease expiry. Thankfully our lease has now been renewed for another year though! So wahoo! I can continue gardening and over the weekend I planted more of my clandestinely collected and propagated plants out into the garden.
I have been collecting photos of the creatures I have come across through my work and in my garden. Now I do know my common pests and diseases through my studies and somebcommon insects from  encounters as a child but some creatures I wouldnt have any idea about…like this guy. I have never seen this before

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If anyone happens to know this fellow please let me know !

Friendly insects…well that depends

I am always reminding my students that the organism, plants, insects, birds whatever in their garden do not exist solely for their pleasure or irritation.

I often begin a session on plant pests and diseases with the comment that “you are not at war with the insect and plant kingdoms!”

It’s amazing how many people actually think that way. That the plants that have flowers we enjoy and produce food that we eat  live to serve the human race! People actually believe there is such a thing in nature as “good plants/insects/animals” and “bad plants/insects/animals”
I have actually encountered this type of thinking throughout my horticultural career. Maybe it’s just me but I have a lot of difficulty thinking of an aphid for example as inherently  evil just because it’s food source happens to come from plants that I either enjoy for their various aesthetic attributes or its a plant that also happens to be my food source.
Is it just human nature to attribute human intelligence to things out side of themselves, that effect them in one way or another?
The whole theory behind, “friendly insects” and “unfriendly or bad insects” seems to be embedded with that mentality of “if you’re with us, you’re against us” The insects that feed on other insects, are not doing so to help us out.

Guess what? Plants that produce beautiful flowers and parts that are tasty to humans, do not do so, just for the benefit of the human race. Nine times out of ten, the parts we think are beautiful or tasty, are actually part of the plant’s reproductive system. Simple enough to understand that right? You’d think so, but people do live in their own narcissistic little worlds… *looks sheepish for a moment… as she sits furiously blogging her opinion to the world?*
Apparently some god supposedly gave “Man” dominion over the earth and all of its creatures… I am not even going to go into the numerous, misogynistic and prodigious fallacies of that little piece of biblical rubbish, even though there are still people who seem to have it embedded in their psyche. <insert rant here>
Ahem…well I just mean that I don’t personally feel the need to wage war against and dominate nature and am of the opinion that we as humans are merely just another species; part of a greater cycle. A cycle that involves many billions of other species, that help maintain the balance of the planet’s ecology. Well seven billion humans consuming the earth’s resources can’t be good for that balance. Maybe we are the ‘pests’?
In any case for me it is not logical to go out into the garden and obliterate thousands of organisms just because one particular group of them happens to be feeding (we will refrain from the word “attacking”) on the same organisms that are the source of my food and pleasure.

I have seen gardens that have been bombarded with every herbicide and pesticide, guaranteed to wipe out ecosystems in a matter of moments. These are abominations of perfection! Not a single blemish on that rose bud or apple, perfectly plump, luscious fruits  and vegetables abound. Not a single dandy lion dare’s turn it’s sunny face to the blue sky in this garden no sir!
There is not a single vertebrate creature here to upset this paradise of human created bounty! Nope, no aphids here…No caterpillars, snails or earwigs. No bees either, no spiders, no lacewings, no worms in the soil…You have conquered nature?
. You have killed everything, eliminated all of the competition to your existence all of the competition to those things which you have decreed should be allowed to live, your plants.

Actually you have destroyed the balance of the ecosystem in your little kingdom, called ‘garden’.

The minute you stop spraying those chemicals around, the entire artificial system will collapse, because often the creatures which are so successful at decimating your crops are also the first to recover. There are so many of them for a reason.

There is also a phenomenon known as ‘resistant population’. Simply put, some insect species  have become resistant to the chemicals we spray to destroy them. A number within a population will be resistant to the chemical. You will kill off all of the weakest specimens, leaving a small number of the resistant population to breed up and recover to continue feeding on your plants. Artificial as apposed to natural selection. Darwin had something didn’t he?
The consequence is that you must then find another method to which they are not resistant.
Now this post is getting rather long so I will cut it short here and leave you with a picture taken in my garden this morning.

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I’m not sure if this a winged adult aphid or a parasitic wasp feeding on the aphids, it’s easy for an untrained eye like mine to confuse the two. I’ll need to have a closer look some day soon when I have time. Watch this space

Busy spring

I have a busy October this year. I have something on every Saturday of the month. I haven’t been on a plant thieving walk for at least three months. Working, volunteering, visiting and decision making has consumed much of my time.
Well this was the only free-ish Saturday I will have this month, so I took some to take some new pictures of my garden. With spring really underway ow, my stolen/free plants have really taken off.
Now my garden is a bit weedy at the moment so here are some close ups of what’s in flower.

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Cornflower.

 

 

 

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This Cineraria is winter straggler, still flowering into spring, but despite looking the worse for wear that loveley blue is still as vibrant as it ever it is.  The plants were left over from a planting we did with the community garden.
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This Osteospermum was ‘acquired’ on one of my walks. It was a stray growing closing to the foot path which quickly disappeared into my plant bag.
and here’s white one I got a little further up the street

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Here’s a small section of my garden, looking a bit weedy and neglected. I have grown everything here myself from bits of plants and cuttings from my walks and bike rides or from projects at Uni. The roses were here when we moved in.  The blocks which form the edged were from my sisters old house, when she was selling it. 

Decisions decisions… and what does natural selection have to do with it?

I have lots of trouble making decisions. I mean if you haven’t already, have a look at my earlier post about the Begonia festival and my big begonia dilemma. I spend so much time agonizing over whether or not I’m making the right decisions, that more often than not I don’t actually make the decision myself, I just allow circumstances to take over and go with what ever happens.Some people think, that that’s just going with the flow. For me, going with the flow can be scary, but making the decision myself is even scarier. I mean what if I make the wrong choice and it has a hugely detrimental impact on my life?
What if I buy the wrong begonia and I get home only to to decide that I wanted the other color. What if I wanted that other color so badly that I neglect the one that I did buy and it dies, because I made the wrong decision in the first place? What if I put that plant in this pot and I decide later that I should have put the other plant in instead?
What if I chose the wrong job and it doesn’t work out…Means I won’t be buying any plants for a while, because I’ll be figuring out how to pay my bills with no job.
I was going to talk about natural selection wasn’t I? Well I forget what I originally wanted to say about that, but I just now had another thought. I sometimes wish that I could be cold and neutral and make selections and choices based on my own survival and not be plagued with so many doubts.

Plants and animals don’t really make the choices though do they? It’s just evolution and is that sort of like going with flow after all? On a more cosmic scale I mean. Plants and animals don’t really have a choice about how they adapt to their environments.
I mean a gazelle being chased down by cheetahs isn’t running along thinking “OMG why didn’t I grow fangs and claws instead of long legs and a small brain!” I guess my point is the gazelle just didn’t make that choice and the cheetah didn’t choose to be a super powerful and speedy killing machine, but then neither is he/she agonizing over why he has to kill to survive.
I’m not saying I have to kill to survive by the way, LOL I just have bills to pay.
I’m just saying that…well I don’t really want to say that I wish I had no choice and thus no anxiety or guilt over decisions made for me. Who wants to live without choice after all? But who wants to have to be dealing with the anxiety over whether or not your choices are right?

Here’s a pretty flower. By the way this particular rose bush is currently being devastated by millions of aphids as we speak. Think I’ll have to kill for the rose’s survival…

DSC_0331Taken with my Nokia D90

Procrastination and Tetris

Seriously lacking in motivation today. I have work sitting here to do and absolutely no inclination to even look at it! This is work from one of my day jobs that has spilled over into my time because I have the two jobs and no time for anything!

It’s like Tetris, all these little blocks which are bits of my life tightly packed into a small space and if I don’t find room for all of it, it’s GAME OVER BABY!
So now there’s work for me to do at home. Paid work I might add, even though as someone who has NEVER had a job where she was lucky enough to work from home, I still feel guilty about putting all of the hours I do at home on the time sheet. Especially when I am so totally lacking in motivation.

So here I am procrastinating and about to lose my Tetris/life top score.
Even during my workout tonight I had to literally drag my ass around the gym, talk myself into ‘one more sit up, one more set, one more minute’ just so I could come home and not feel guilty about having my dinner and the glass of wine I’m about to have.
THEN just when I think, I’ve motivated myself enough to get to half an hour running on the treadmill after all Pat from Optus rings me to offer me a brand new Samsung Galaxy 4G phone upgrade and so I hop off the treadmill and procrastinate some more getting a new phone. Wasn’t that keen on my iPhone anymore anyways.
I have run out of things to say now so I’m going to have to stop procrastinating and do some real work

Here’s a random photo. Caught this handsome fellow the last time I went to the Zoo aeons ago…Ah those were the days, so much time on my hands

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Taken on my Nokia D90, love my camera.

Long time no post…why?

 

Well I have been busy busy busy! With two jobs, organizing my wedding, university, general stressy life stuff and two visits to hospital for my darling dear (hubby to be).

University Studies So at uni I just completed a subject called Managing Urban Landscapes.

The title is pretty self explanatory, but the University Handbook says:  “Students will study policy, planning and process issues; landscape and park typology and classification, community consultation; structures, systems, classifications and contractual relationships in urban landscapes; landscape documentation, project planning and implementation; management of urban vegetation; sustainability concepts and benchmarks and case-studies/examples of urban landscape management practice”.

It was one of those horrid weeks of torturous intensive study. Have you heard of incentives? The subject runs for a week and is basically an entire, term’s worth of lectures and assignments, condensed into a miniscule amount of time, with a nerve-racking oral presentation at the end of the week.

A week of eight-hour a day classes, followed by about six weeks on average to get thousands of words worth of essays and assignment writing done and handed in to pass the subject. Horrid, horrid!

On the bright side it does get the unit knocked over very quickly and 12.5 points closer to my degree so, not really complaining. Just whining a little. I don’t mind admitting however that I am slightly intimidated by the brains of my fellow students. Bright clever chappies all of them and most of the time I am left thinking that, I am just not capable of the heights of complexity of thought that these people are!
Nevertheless I have gotten my marks back for most of the work for this subject and it seems I will pass comfortably enough which is fine with me.
I have just one Unit to go to finish this degree, another intensive in November. Green Infrastructure for Livable Cities. Should be interesting, I do hear that the teach is a bit of a hard ass when it comes to marking though LOL (you may imagine that LOL was accompanied by a slight edge of hysteria)

The fact is I am finding I am getting very tired of study so November will be a good place to stop I think. At this point I will be able to exit with a Graduate Diploma under my belt.  Which I am very happy to have achieved at this stage, considering I was a very early high school drop out and have managed since to claw my way up to a post grad degree.

Wedding

Headless Dress

Yes this is a headless photo of me trying on my wedding clothes. Evidence of what has kept me from blogging! I do love green things so this is a custommade emerald green taffeta lace trimmed corset, the skirt is a creamy off white silk dupion with black lace trim on the bustle. the outfit was made to my rather voluptuous measurements, the bustle at the back is just a  modest layered and lace trimmed affair. Modest because I am lacking in a bit of height and a more accurate Victorian bustle, worn with a bustle pillow or cage makes me look like a round chicken.
Both skirt and corset are from Visage n Vice in Melbourne, the designer is Gallery Serpentine in Sydney. I’d like to take a moment to gush about the people at Visage n Vice who I must say are lovely lovely people who are very helpful and just generally quite wonderful I haven’t enough words to express my appreciation of the establishment.

I am not at all a bridezilla type, the preparations for my wedding have all been very cruzy and laid back like me. My darling dear has also been very supportive and tolerant as well, which helps.

Work
Work has been insane! I have two jobs between which I must very shortly choose. The community garden project I worked on for the second half of last year and the  first half of this year has turned into a horticulture/community/volunteer trainer type role. I run classes for training volunteers on Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings for people recovering from mental illness in basic horticulture, OH&S, equal opportunities  and the rights  and responsibilities of volunteering.
I have become part of the volunteer committee for the community garden as well, to provide guidance for the very new and green garden volunteers (no pun intended), who will hopefully get to a stage of being able to manage the community garden without me.
At the other job I am writing training resources and assessments for Certificates II and III in Horticulture. Which has been at once a great experience, extremely boring and a big steep learning curve! So I have to choose a job, because I am spreading myself too thin right now and I don’t like the stress of it all.

At the same time I realize that there is pretty much no job security in the training sector. That is the very definition of ‘sessional’ though isn’t it? A definition I suspect will become even more relevant once, the Liberals get into the full swing of running the show, particularly where skills training like horticulture are concerned. I expect that the funding for primary industries will disappear in no time at all.  So I intend to broaden my skill set, there are a few things I’d like to do to enhance my career prospects once I have obtained my Graduate Diploma.

 

 

Mawarra and Edna Walling

During my garden design,  graduate certificate I had to write a five  thousand word essay about a favourite garden designer. I chose Edna Walling, because, reading about her, her strong  personality and design philosophy, her whole outlook on life, really, struck an identical chord in me.
In the research for this project I was very lucky to be invivted to one of her most well known gardens, which at the time was in private hands. Mawarra has all of the elements of my ultimate garden fantasy in one perfect harmonious design. Beautiful stonework, hidden green hidey holes, lots of autumn color and lots of different shades of green, hidden features, like little cherups peaking from amongst the foliage, a reflection pool, whose mysterious depths are hidden beneath a blanket of Azola (duck weed).

cherub                              

 Edna Walling regarded the garden at Mawarra in Sherbrook as one of her finest works. Describing it herself as, ‘a symphony in steps and beautiful trees.’ In the Italianate tradition the garden follows a great axis with side axis, leading off along the contours of the terrain, leading to all the wonderful hidden features of statuary and stonework.

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 The stone work at Mawarra is the work of Edna’s master stonemason and long time associate Eric Hammond. Little bit s of Edna’s personality can be seen throughout Mawarra there are leaf strewn path ways for the children and the child within, with carpets of colorful autumn leaves to kick through, reminiscence of gumboots, autumn leaves and winter puddles. Edna’s love of  children and dogs was well known. You can feel her presence there as you wander down the hidden pathways.

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This stairway is known as Twenty Shillings Walk. It is the point in the Mawarra garden where Edna’s involvement ceased. There was a dispute over twenty shillings, a transport fee for the stone used in this stairway. The owners were refusing to bear the cost and so was Edna! Being a woman of such strong opinions if she believed she was in the right she was not at all afraid to voice that opinion or to act upon it.
As a result of this dispute over twenty shillings the Mawarra garden was completed after this point without Edna’s input. Eric Hammond stayed behind as he did on so many occasions to complete the stonework for Mawarra.  Standing at the foot of these stairs one can almost imagine Edna waving her arms at the hapless client and storming off never to return. Leaving poor mister Hammond standing awkwardly t one side.  

So Mawarra was completed without Edna and it was always one of her bitter regrets. Later on in her life Edna was able to revisit the garden, when the property changed hands and Edna made peace with Mawarra, one her greatest achievements.

Mawarra is a wonderful garden, since my visit there it has been restored to its proper glory and the owners opened it to the public as part of the Open Garden Scheme earlier this year. Sadly I didnt get to visit again, perhaps next time.

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