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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Operation Fence (Part 2)

My new ‘Roman’ fence (it wasn’t built in a day) stayed propped up with various bits of stakes etc, and was often laying on the garden for weeks as the weather and work conspired against me. As a friend noted, it wasn’t going to keep anything out.

I finally got all the posts in. A couple of pieces had to have some length taken off the legs to bring them down near the rest of the fence. Some posts went through the legs of the bedhead, some tied to the sides.  Mostly wooden stakes as the plastic ones I bought were too thick to go through the bedposts. Then the adding of the netting.

Got nice black plastic net for around $20 for 10m at Bunnings which was better than chicken wire as it won’t stay pushed up if they try to go under (a few sections I’ve added a length of wire at the base to keep it down), but being black it fades from view. I’d have had to paint chicken wire. The netting will need a few more cable ties added once it has relaxed into place a bit more but it became a race against the sunset to get it on.


There are three gates which simply lift and rotate around the stake through their post.  This means I can push the mower through the back, or open the front to add pine bark etc.


So far so good. The petunias are flowering (apparently petunia buds are yummy…) and the chrysanthemum is covered in buds.

Next job, to extend the garden to the fence, and add a couple of clematis.


See part 1 here







Operation Fence (part 1)

I’ve been gardening here at 28 Gumtrees since I was 10.  Over the years I’ve  grown and shown daffodils and chrysanthemums,  grown just about everything, built gardens, destroyed gardens, planted, removed, and planted more trees. However when I bought the place 6 years ago my focus turned to the inside, and the garden was left to fend for itself.  Around the same time, the wallabies started to come in, although it wasn’t until the drought hit 4 years ago that I really noticed them eating anything but the lawn.  Very few plants are safe from a hungry wallaby, and once they discover a plant they will return to it over and over.  I have, or rather had, a lovely little self-sown hebe that was about half a metre high that suddenly was not allowed to have a leaf. However, the parent plant, just 2 metres away was barely nibbled. While I stripped floors and rebuilt kitchens and painted everything in sight the garden struggled. Between the weather and the hopping lawnmowers I only had to mow about 8 times a year, mostly to get the weeds around the lemon tree (compared to the 50 times a year average before the wallabies).  The twitch (which they don’t eat) took over the garden beds, and things either survived or died, pretty much unnoticed.


Before Christmas last year I decided this had to be the Summer of the garden, and the weather (and the loan of a trailer!) co-operated nicely.  Project Resurrect began with 7 loads of green waste, and a number of loads of pine bark. My plan was to plant what I had, and only grow things that could survive the wallabies since without installing a few hundred metres of fence, I had little way to keep them out.  I started poisoning the grass, then gave up and just dug holes in the weeds in an effort to “Plant Everything” before it got too hot.  I got about  3/4 of the pots in, and dumped pine bark on the weeds to make new garden beds.

I removed 6 trees (5 of them dead, 1 almost so),  got some bargain plants through exchanges and markets and was determined that I was not going to start “collecting’ plants like I had in the past.  I once had about 30 different dianthus (wallabies’ favourite food it seems) and I haven’t seen an ixia or muscari flower in 5 years.  While I was willing to put a few fences around some trees until they got big enough to be out of wallaby reach, I was determined not to end up growing a bunch of wire cages. If it wouldn’t survive without minimal attention from me it wasn’t going in. However, when I planted out the two chrysanthemums that have been struggling along in tiny pots for a couple of years right beside the path that Rufus uses to come and go at night, I was not prepared to go to water them the next day to find they did not have a leaf left between them!  This combined with the demise of the long awaited liriope flowers before they even broke bud made me snap. I started planning how to fence off a part of the garden without spending money.

I thought of using scrap timber I had on hand to build rectangular frames for chicken wire, then attaching them to posts I’d have to buy, but I wasn’t loving the idea of all those straight lines around my flowers.  I thought of chicken wire or plastic mesh around star pickets (until I priced them at nearly $15 each!), but wallabies have a habit of just leaning on wire until it sags, so I’d need a lot of posts, and it would look a bit like a poorly made chicken run. I almost got some (give away) lengths of iron balustraude, but they would have had to be carted up a hill, AND cut before I could fit them on the trailer to bring home –  which was a bit beyond my skills and strength.

Then, someone posted a headboard bench seat –  you know the type –  wooden bedhead, with the footboard cut in half and attached as arms each side and a few planks to make a seat.  

And I remembered an idea I had to make a gazebo for the back garden, but rather than build a railing, I wanted to use the timber and metal bedheads that I often saw at the Tip shop and garage sales. I wanted bedheads like mine, timber posts and black ironwork.

So  I set off for the Hobart Tip shop-  bedheads please…  They had one.  One. A narrow piece of metal, missing the side posts… Not worth bringing the trailer over for.  So instead I went home and hitched the trailer to get some bark – and thought I might as well look in Mornington Tip shop,  maybe get one there to start the collection.  $50 later –  and the trailer was fully loaded with 11 bedheads plus another bit.  Dropped them at home,  carted them down the back, hitched the trailer up again, went and got some pine bark,  brought that home,  disconnected the trailer and went back to Bunnings to get stakes and cable ties and wire and most importantly…  spray paint!

Operation Fence had begun.

Step one: Get some consistency. With only 2 bedheads that actually matched in design, and one that was bright blue, another gray, and the rest strange combinations of  sun faded and scraped black the first step was to spray them with flat black paint

Then, test out the placement. I discovered I had an extra piece which when inserted meant I could extend beyond the current garden. If I’m going to all this effort I want every centimetre I can get.

Test run

See part 2 here

Measuring time.


1978 Nov
This is a photo of my Dad, in 1978, 3 years after we moved here,  with Rhododendron “White Pearl” making a great comeback from it’s hard prune.(It was about 25 years old at this time).
This is White Pearl this year.2015OCT31 079a

2015OCT31 101a



Garden mystery

I have a viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum) in the middle of my back yard. The first few years it was there, it grew, then we had a drought and for the next few years it actually got smaller each year until I thought I had lost it. Then suddenly it started growing. And Flowering. When it flowers it looks like it has snowed on just one plant. It is gorgeous, stunning and everyone  would comment on it.  This was it in October 2012. Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum

But just two years later it is a very different plant.  I haven’t pruned it, but the lovely spreading shape has changed dramatically. backgarden 28 gumtrees

It starts out covered with flowers, but every day there seem to be fewer on display. Rufus

I just  don’t understand what has happened. Rufus

It’s a complete mystery.


A creature of habit?


12 months ago Rufus spent most of July in my yard while his foot healed. He is obviously a creature of habit, or else he remembers that the food was good (I supplemented his systematic destruction of my garden with wallaby pellets), because he’s been here most days for the last month, and again yesterday and today.   I don’t think he has become ‘dependent’ upon the pellets (especially as they weren’t offered for 10 or so months), but he certainly has learned what it means when I hunt him down in the yard, wave my closed fist at him and then walk back up to the clothesline lawn. He’s usually there before I get back to the door. If I stay to watch you can see the indecision – avoid human, or eat….. He has learned that “It’s just me” is code for, stop hopping away you stupid creature, I didn’t know you were behind that bush either!

Despite the yard being very very green,  the lawn (which I’ve only mowed a couple of times in the last 18 months!) is rather well trimmed, even the weeds that usually grow around the lemon tree are very low. Nothing is really growing (except the ixias, and apparently they are very yummy!)  It’s been very cold, extremely windy and very wet over the last few days and apart from looking very pathetic sitting out in the storms, he has vacuumed up every pellet offered in moments, showing every sign of being very hungry (although obviously a long way from starving, let’s just call him ‘big boned’.) So this is just to share a few photos and videos from the past couple of weeks.

Rufus in the rainThere’s a Mountain behind him, being covered in snow and it’s raining.

A couple of videos:

Coming up for dinner

I smell pellets…


rufus fluffyNot fat, fluffy!

2014AUG02 010aGimme food!


rufus claws Check out those claws!

I can just reachNo, it’s okay, I don’t need to move, I can reach them….

Rufus 3

Lawnmower update

I’ve been accused of not posting enough cuteness, so be prepared for a picspam. (And don’t worry, there’s a happy ending)

Rufus was first seen in daylight (wallabies are nocturnal) in Dec 2012. I mowed the lawn the week he appeared. I didn’t mow again until October 2013. (I don’t usually get a fortnight off, let alone months).  I didn’t mow much though, Rufus was here at least every week if not more often.

In January this year, I had bed and breakfast guests and somehow he managed to show up, irregularly, but at least once for each guest’s stay. On Australia Day weekend I had a BBQ and we laughed as one of the guests had to come in the long way round because Rufus appeared to be guarding the front steps. And that was the last time I saw him. The neighbour who often saw him coming across her lawn asked me a couple of weeks later if I’d seen him. No, not even the usual piles of poop that showed he was around at night if not during the day. There was a dead wallaby on the side of the oval just down the street but the council took it before I could look closer.

Two months went by and I started to plan the things I could plant in the gardens that wouldn’t get chewed before they could grow. I started to plan gardens that didn’t include cages to lock the vegetables in.  And then on April 7th I opened the blinds to see this:


(That’s the view between the monitors from the study.) He’s sitting in his buffet – the garden bed I had dreams of planting out again. He wasn’t too impressed at my attempts to weed it; he kept looking at the empty spots and glaring at me.

He’s been back twice since then. Not often enough to keep an Autumn lawn under control unfortunately.

Now, a lot of people up the hill (backing onto the reserve) put out vegetable scraps etc for the wallabies at dusk. I’m the only person I’ve heard of who gets to enjoy them in daylight (Yes, on farms you see them across the paddocks, but I’m in suburbia!).

He apparently likes to get good reception – one visit he spent a lot of time tucked up close to the house and the temporary aerial stand.

This morning I went out to hang the washing and realised I was being watched.

Then he came up and sat below the bedroom window so I managed to get a few photos.

Relax, that’s his TAIL.

He does a good rabbit impression too.

In the afternoon I took him a handful of pellets, because I still have some from when he broke his foot. It has healed well. Despite still looking quite swollen, he doesn’t favour it at all and moves around very naturally. Quite a change from the way it hung limply, obviously both bones broken through.

Despite the dire predictions of the wildlife park that if I fed him while he was injured he would become dependent upon the food, he hasn’t, but he has remembered that when I toss things on the lawn he doesn’t have to run far away. In fact he let me get the closest ever; I even walked behind the chair and sat on the lawn on the other side of the clothes line to take some more photos.

Check out those claws.

Of course there is one concern. When I got back at dusk I glanced out the window to see this.

He’s standing below the study window staring up. He stayed there until it was too dark to see him. I think I’m being stalked… for pellets.

If you like Rufus please leave a comment here, and share this post. I could do with the extra hits 🙂


26 Million dollar table

This Summer there were a few days that hit ‘roast’ on the thermometer. On one of them I hosted a few friends  for a BBQ on the terrace.  I don’t think any of them realised what a miracle it was that we were seated at a table.


See this was my table.


And this was my table the day before…

2014JAN12 003a

And this was my table leg…

2014JAN12 005aNot only had the bottom broken off, but further inspection found it soft and spongy all the way up.

When the leg first started breaking off I thought I could maybe cut all the legs shorter and put on castors. But when I realised the extent of the damage I was devastated. This was MY table. I bought it from a clearance table when out shopping for a 1/5th of the original price and somehow managed to fit it in the car. I then had a prolonged ‘discussion’ with a man in K&D who insisted I didn’t want to varnish it as I would have to sand and recoat it every year. He insisted I should ‘oil’ it. I didn’t want to oil it, I wanted a table I could wipe clean before eating off it.

I pointed out that the tin of oil he had handed me instructed one to “sand back and recoat every 12 months” and that having grown up with wooden boats I certainly hadn’t had to revarnish them every Summer. I finally walked out with my can of marine varnish. I loved how that table came up.

2009FEB22 013

That was 8 years ago.  It was re-coated in the third year.  It should have been redone a couple of years ago but somehow it never made it to the top of the job list. (Funny that, since I was stripping and varnishing floors and painting walls etc that year.) There were a couple of cracks in the top that were starting to lift with the rain. Two years on these were serious rifts in the wood. But it was usable. At least it was until half the leg fell off.

‘Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability… ‘

Well I thought I did, until I tried to replicate the angles cut at the top and bottom of each leg. I turned it, turned it again, picked it up, looked at it closely, stepped back, held straight edges across the angles,  but I could not find a way to cut the new leg to replicate the old. I ended up coming inside and phoning my reno guru who talked me through how to cut them – which still didn’t make much sense. I walked outside, picked up the new leg, turned it  around and wham, there was the angle, so easy to replicate. Don’t know why I couldn’t see it before, I tried holding it every way possible.

Once it was cut I needed to replace the bolts. This was the tricky bit. I thought I would have to figure some new way to bolt all the way through, but amazingly Bunnings had exactly what I needed – furniture bolts (and an employee who could tell me how to install them – put a nut or two on the top section, then use them with a spanner to screw the bottom section into the leg.)

2014JAN12 007a 2014JAN12 008aI eyeballed the angle for drilling the holes for the bolts and no one was more surprised than I was when I got it right the first time – the bolts slid into the table bracket like they had been made for it.  I’ve also put plastic ‘feet’ on the end of each leg so they are no longer sitting directly on the cement.

TaDah! Dinner is served.2014JAN12 017

Later I pulled the table back into the carport and dug the bad wood out of the cracks, scraped and sanded  the varnish back to raw wood. The biggest of the cracks had almost rotted out the entire piece –  the ends of the slats were barely resting on wood at all. I knew my skills didn’t extend to replacing the edge of a circular table, so I stuffed the hole with wood glue and sawdust, clamped it, let it dry, stuffed in some more, let that dry and then filled the top with wood filler.

2014MAR28 006

I thought I would probably have to paint the edge of the table black to hide all the filler, but  after the first coat of varnish it was not that noticeable.

2014APR26 012

Eight coats of varnish later and the table is back to it’s former glory… although it’s a different colour. Much more like teak and a range of tones  instead of the solid gold that it used to be.

I like it.

2014APR26 011

(Yes, every time I tried to take a photo it had been raining.)










You’ve met Rufus McWallaby before.

aRufus McWallaby

(Rufus from Macropus rufogriseus (Red necked wallaby), and well, he has a fluffy sporran)

Since just before Christmas he has spent quite a few days (and probably a lot of nights) on my back lawn.  He’s a very welcome visitor as I haven’t had to mow a blade of grass in seven months, even if he’s a bit jumpy (sorry, it’s hard to resist that pun), meaning I have to avoid the garden at various times or risk sending him skittering out onto the road.

Plus it’s kind of flattering that he thinks my place is a safe place to stay.

Since we finally got some rain this month I haven’t seen him in daylight –  I figured he was finding enough food up the hill. In fact I was even starting to think I might have to mow some edges soonish.  Then this weekend a neighbour came in about 11am to tell me she had just herded “your wallaby” across the road from her front yard.  She said she usually sees him cross the road and go into my yard about 6 in the morning. When she saw him in her shrubs late in the morning and went outside she noticed he seemed hurt. (Please note he is not the only wallaby around here – driving in last week after dark I caught 2 smaller wallabies munching on my front lawn, and 4 or more have been seen in the school grounds at night). But she knew it was my wallaby because it had a black face (all Bennett’s wallabies do!) She also  thought it was a pregnant female.  I think Rufus might be insulted by that)

I finally found him hiding between some trees. He was very definitely hurt, couldn’t put one hind leg to the ground, and was favouring one forepaw as well on the same side. He was very nervy, not even letting me get my usual 15m away. Obviously every move hurt.

So I called Bonorong Park who sent two volunteers to capture him.

I kinda assumed someone would arrive with a tranquilizer gun, and then he’d be put down. Wallabies are incredibly easy to stress out and he’s no baby, he wouldn’t take kindly to being handled or enclosed. But apparently even vets can’t fire a tranquiliser gun within 200m of a dwelling (which means even if he was out in the reserve up the hill they’d have had to catch him first!) – stupid laws.  So  three of us armed with a  couple of hessian bags tried to corner him and grab his tail. Now, I know this strategy works with small wallabies, I’ve done it often with the joey I raised. But he was tame, and half grown, and he still managed to knock a grown man out cold once. Even though Rufus couldn’t put one foot to the ground, he could still move the other one! I kept visualising the broken leg I’d get if I was standing behind him trying to lift his tail. It didn’t matter anyway, he was too agile, and my garden has too many trees and no corners. All we were doing was stressing him out and putting him through more pain. The volunteers suggested I ring them again once he was weaker and had slowed down.

Rufus went back to hiding under a bush (I felt like the world’s worst person for ruining his sense of sanctuary here, he’d never ever hidden under the bushes before) I cried at the thought of having to watch him slowly succumb to the pain and whatever other injuries he had received (We assume he had a run in with a vehicle).

I checked (from the windows) a few times to make sure he hadn’t left the yard (No gates even if I wanted to close him in). Then mid afternoon he had vanished. I went out to try and see him, and rounded the corner to find him struggling to his feet a few metres away, up against the house (directly under the study window). I backed away and he settled down again – right in front of the A/C outlet. He didn’t bother moving when it started blasting freezing air at him an hour later (But I felt guilty about my heat.).

I went into the city and got some wallaby pellets. I figure he’ll be less likely to leave the yard if food is abundant.  Of course everywhere I scattered them he’d move to another part of the yard.  He was clearly telling me he didn’t trust me any more. Sunday night I saw him in torch light, he’d found at least some of the pellets.

Monday morning he was still in the garden (in fact he was sitting  right where my lillies should be coming up). Then he moved up near the house again. Then he got startled and crawled under the agapanthus for hours. Finally saw him actually eat in the late afternoon. I was starting to think his back might be injured,  He never straightened up into classic wallaby pose.

Early this morning I found him under the clothesline, standing up straight in the torchlight. He was under the window this morning, so I dropped some pellets near him which he moved to.


Then he moved to a dozen other spots around the yard, eating constantly and sitting up in all his classic positions. He stripped leaves off the rosemary and the plumbago, ripped the grass out from between pots, even tugged at a geranium stump.

His hind foot is very definitely broken.


He keeps it off the ground and it dangles limply at the toes. Bonorong say they have seen them heal (to a point) without treatment, if they get somewhere and don’t move.  So long as he stays in the yard he should be safe, but if he tries to go up the hill again, he’ll have no chance against the traffic (or even a dog).


If he’s sensible I won’t get to weed this garden (yes, that’s a garden, the lawn is 3mm tall and evenly chewed) until after Spring! But most of me doesn’t mind that I won’t get any seedlings in. Not when there’s something even cuter to look at.


The Unexpected Guest

Ever notice how plans change when unexpected guests turn up for the day?

Yesterday, I decided to make a start  weeding the garden of horror in the back while it was in the shade (disgustingly early in the morning this time of year). I even soaked it the night before.
Up early, into garden gear, look out the window to check the sun hadn’t reached it yet and a surprise guest who wasn’t there 20 minutes before had arrived.



“My garden (this is the only green grass for miles), back off!”

So, obediently *I* weeded the up the side garden instead. Wouldn’t want to upset a visitor.


 (Short floral interlude here from above the pond because believe me you don’t want to see the side garden. I should have just hired a hay baler)


 “Yes, I’m still here, so stop sneaking up to check through the bushes.”

A couple of hours later I look out the window and the sun drenched garden appears wallaby free so I pick up the load of washing and head out the door…


“Yes, of course I’m standing on the other side of the garden! You scared me half to death coming around the corner like that. I was having a nice relaxing nap under the wisteria and then you come barreling down the path and nearly step on me. I could have had a heart attack!….. What do you mean I should go further down the garden? You’re going to hang flapping sheets on the line and you’re saying I’ll freak out? You’re the freaky one, you’re the one standing there talking to a wild animal.”

(Just to prove I’m not making this up)

So, about 30 minutes later I look out the window and guess who has moved back to his favourite tree for a sleep?


(Wildly flapping washing be damned, there’s green grass here!)

At one point I went down to untangle a sheet and we both got a scare
because he’d moved to the edge of the garden nearest the line and neither of us saw the other until I rounded the tree a metre from him.
Less than an hour later and he was snoozing under ‘his’ dogwood again.

Hours pass, clouds gather and I check his position. No sign of him.


I even walk down the long way so I can see if he’s up near the wisteria – nope. So I’m standing at the line, thinking I’ll put the hose on again after I get the sheets in so I can pull the weeds tomorrow when one of the said weeds moves rather strangely, almost like it’s being pulled from below.


I thought I told you before, these are my weeds and you need to accept this and back off, crazy human.”

 You’d be more convincing if you didn’t look like you’re inhaling poppy seed, you addict…

Dusk begins to fall, and he wanders across the yard for dessert. (Ever had a guest who comes in and then raids your pantry and eats all the best stuff?)



He finally departed around 9ish, leaving me plenty of manure for the garden. (Seriously, I live in the suburbs, 7 km from the city centre next to a highway.

Why am I feeding the overseas misconception that we have roos jumping down our main streets? Because apparently when we have the hottest, driest Summer on record, it becomes true.

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