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Gardening essentials and adventures in shade


Now that the rains have come -- and decided to stay -- the garden that was suffering so much is now very much alive.

My windsocks, having been shredded  by the fury of the Summer storms, had to be replaced. But this time around I'm older and wiser in way of windsock management.
Here's a tip: fly your socks at the end of a detachable flexible rod -- like an old fishing pole and keep the tail free of any where it could  catch. If there's a snag, the sock will find it.  So fly em high with as much clearance you can engineer. And have it so you can detach the rod without having to mount a major limbing expedition. 
But underneath... ah, underneath... the joys of the wet!

The image above shows how my junk mailery is registering. These rolls of newspaper were laid to rest in the garden only a few months back and the rotting and rooting evident in the image tells us a lot about what newspaper logs  can do when you give them the mulching/ Hugelkultur  nod.

I am on a winner. There is  so much activity and biological excitement under foot that the garden  seems ready to wet itself despite the rain.

I found a worm today where a few months back, only sand ruled. That's one helluva a sign. Worms. They don't come easy on beach sand.

Adventures in shade I -- Frangipanis

The sharp turn to verdancy has encouraged my wandering mind. When part of my trellis  collapsed in the big blows in January I began to rethink my dependency on it as a shade and climber frame...
18 months ago I built a bamboo trellis to shade my vegetables during the Summer heat.
I grew Choko vines over it and it worked a treat as the veg underneath were protected from the worst of the sun's rays and heat.
But this year the Choko vines weren't vigorous because of the dry conditions and I didn't get much shade coverage at all.I'd entered a vicious circle...
Then Ex Cyc Oswald blew parts of my trellis  down....
The grape vine I planted under it is slow to grow ...and my beans have been tardy in climbing skyward.
But I'm wondering -- given that deciduous trees aren't common  in the sub tropics -- whether I can secure my shading needs by growing Frangipanis at intervals in my garden beds.
  • Cut them back in the cooler months (Frangipanis are so easy to manage. Just break them to shape and height  with your hands or asharp knife.)
  • Grow creepers over them
  • Frangipanis are so easy to strike and any number could be cultivated. 
  • Frangipanis grow really well here on the Moreton Bay coast because they'll thrive in the sandy conditions. Other local tree species that tolerate the sand -- eg: melaleucas and such -- put out their own toxins or grow too big.
  • Frangipanis are drought resistant
I suspect that a Frangipani root system isn't invasive ..and a vegetable garden framed by frangipanis  in flower would be visually stunning.Imagine the play of colours. You'd be able to control shade levels by simply snapping off branches here and there.
The only drawback -- which may be a plus -- is that they are slow growing. But even when small they'll shade, and even when small I should be able to grow stuff on them especially during those months that the branches are leafless.
My partner came back from Bali recently singing the praises of the Frangipanis there and it got me thinking ....What else can you do with this tree besides look at it and smell it?
Is there a downside?
If I harvested  tall franchipani branches I could initially use them as garden stakes which may then root -- as happens with mulberry and bamboo cuttings.  Around here harvesting an array of frangipani colours and stems is as easy as visiting your neighbours and asking for a snip.Its' like going shopping for colour patterns and flower shapes.
Consequently I have bordered my vegetable garden -- my Summer 'Shade' garden -- with frangipanis and will use my trellis while I wait for them to grow.  The functional utility of these frangipanis may be still a question -- but hey! with an arbour of sweet smelling luscious flowering trees  to look forward to, spending time among the growing vegetables will be even more satisfying. 

Adventures in shade I I -- A Bush House.

I suspect that many may not know what a bush house is. It isn't 'a' house in 'the' bush. A bush house is a shade house/fernery that was very popular in Australia up until the Second World  War.
At their most popular between 1880s and the 1930s, towards the end of the 19th century, sawn timber structures of lattice or trellis work displaced more rudimentary rustic construction. As late as the 1950, R.G. Edwards considered the bush-house to be the only truly original Australian contribution to gardening.[Sim, Jean C. (2002)  Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens. ]
There is a handy gallery of shade house images from the Qld State library . The lattice work in most of the structures is very intricate but my  interest is  primarily on the "more rudimentary rustic construction" like this one below.


So I've collected a lot of odd timber and metal bits from around the yard and built myself the frame of a bush house. Supplemented with collected tree branches and trunks, my rustic version is now coming together as a centre piece among clambering vegetables.

It's floor will be loose stones -- blue metal in fact -- and I'm gonna rig up  the graden hose for cooling off outdoor showering on hot days.  A choko and other creepers will  soften its rudimentary construction and turn it rustic -- and I'll add a scented creeper for sensual effect. 

Underneath I'll sit myself down  in the shade to watch the garden grow -- for now, sweet potatoes, rambling zuchinis, pumpkins and cucumbers -- while I sip tea and contemplate existence. 


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