Need a happy memory? Check your garden.

Hello to anyone reading…

Are you a gardener? A plant obsessive?

If not perhaps you will read on anyway and let me know if this method works for you too.

One of the many benefits of learning to identify plants is how they seem to be able to trigger memories once you can identify them elsewhere.

As a child my Grandma would teach me the names of the plants in her garden. It wasn’t formal… Just simply sharing a joy and passion with a loved one.

Being able to identify a tree or shrub or flower has had an interesting effect…

Nearly all of the powerful memories I recall involve plants or gardens. It is as if my mind seeks out plant life as a marker to remember by.

Lately as I drive to work this gorgeous Cassia Fistula is in bloom. What a stunner!

I stopped to take a photo (not just because this is a favourite tree) because each time I pass a new memory surfaces!

How curious!

Two little girls having a teddy bear picnic under a yellow waterfall of flowers. Jam and cream sandwiches Bare feet. A beloved best friend.

A white and brown Jack Russell who used to trot along with me as a teen. Scorching heat. Red dirt. Bright blue sky. Yellow spinifex.

As my sister’s dog she didn’t like me much either. But she would follow me and guard anyway. My little protector. As if she sensed the chaos within. I felt safe with her.

We planted a Cassia to honour her when she passed away.

Standing in an orchard next to a man who I have always been told I mirror (“Put a beard on her and she’d be her father”).

I see the leaves of a small tree that doesn’t fit with the fruit trees. He frowns. Ah bloody hell I poison and poison that thing and it keeps coming back!

I start to laugh and cannot stop. He looks horrified to hear he has been poisoning a Cassia fistula that Mum keeps giving TLC to try keep alive.

Does this happen to you too?

I wonder if you can store a happy memory to keep by focusing on a plant?

When the Cassia at our block flowers I think I will bring my husband out to kiss me under the tree.

Worth a try surely 😊. Cmon Cassia grow please.

Going Home

Do you remember somewhere as a child you felt truly safe?

My childhood sanctuary isn’t made of bricks and mortar but of bark and leaf and earth and fruit.

The old mulberry tree has always been the perfect cubbyhouse

The house itself is insignificant compared to the gardens…

As children we spent most of our time outdoors, so it probably shouldn’t have surprised me as an adult returning home to find in being in this garden helps my stresses melt away.

This has become my goal… To establish a garden which evokes within the same calm.

What is a farm without the “aggies”?

Do you focus on things to be thankful for?

Hello everyone…

Well it is heading towards Christmas… That chaotic time of year where it is easy for the black dog (depression) to sink it’s teeth in and refuse to budge.

Worse somehow are the moments where you KNOW you should feel happy but instead you feel numb or angry or just exhausted.

Black dog by Matthew Johnstone

If you’ve never read M Johnstone’s books they’re worth looking at.

Which brings us to the question… How do you be present when depression has you numb?

A common idea is a gratefulness diary. To put in words and images what you are thankful for in this moment. To record it and acknowledge that ok right now you might feel nothing but the depression will ease eventually and one day you will read the words and see the pictures and feel again.

On that note it’s time to share what I’m thankful for today…

1. Thank you to the neighbour who planted this red flowering gum on the verge. I drive past it almost every day and the red of the flowers never fails to make me slow down and look.

2. The WA Christmas Trees (Nuytsia floribunda) are in bloom! Nothing says Christmas to me like this native tree. I’m yet to grow one for my block. Tricky to establish as it is a parasitic tree but so worth the effort. One day soon this will remind me to feel hopeful and excited for the experiment to come.

3. THE Jacaranda driveway! On the drive to my block of land I pass this. It is the reason I grow Jacaranda trees and persist with getting them through the first few winters (they don’t like our frost but once established are fine). Absolutely beautiful…

4. Hobbies and work to keep me busy and too tired to worry… An assortment of succulents growing for my Mum in Law. Trenches I’m digging for the downpipes to capture water for the new tank. And of course the progress on our home. Almost there. Keep hopeful!

Best of all…

I am thankful for being able to share these places and photos with you all. Perhaps an image might give you a boost today too.

I’m thankful for my family who keep me company on my neverending “plant hunt”, encourage my enthusiasm when it is present and push me to keep trying when it is not.

What are you grateful for today?

❤ Nat

A little colour to lift the spirits.

During the long, hot days of a WA Summer it is easy to focus on the negative…

The flies! Sweating. Dusty. Hot cars. Sunburn. Did I mention the flies?

Do you take the time to find things to be thankful for? Not always? Me neither.

And yet today I found myself thinking of winter gardens elsewhere in the world. The gloomy depression that can settle within us from a lack of sunlight.

Instead of the bad this inspired a different perspective. An opportunity to share some brightness from our part of the world to yours.

From Western Australia with love.

More Verticordia (feather flowers). These made me laugh because they were covered in bees and down the road was a honey farm called “Bee Happy”. Appropriate somehow 😊

Cannot get enough of this gorgeous yellow!

Tamarix aphylla. Ok so it is a weed here. But this was in a city garden not a rural area. So pretty.

Christmas is almost here! This is a WA Christmas tree. Nuytsia floribunda. Some are in full bloom but this one is still on it’s way. To me this semi parastic tree means Christmas.

Grasstree (Xanthorrhea preissii) in flower. During the heat of day these flower spikes are covered in butterflies and bees on our block).

And the Everlastings ❤ These seem to pop up everwhere on our block. They are rough and papery to touch.

Six on Saturday… December 1st. In for a scorching summer!

Hello everyone (fellow gardeners and black thumbs equally welcome).

For those that follow Mr Propagator’s Six on Saturday you know what’s coming….

For those who have yet to meet Mr P, check out his blog here and join the SOS crew (because we’re awesome).

Righto… Into the garden.

1. Jacaranda season begins ❤.

Blue skies. Weather is heating up. Single days of 35°c but not week long heat just yet. It’s coming. Purple blossoms everywhere you look. Nothing says Christmas is coming like seeing the pop of purple in every fourth yard.

2. Gailardia ‘Goblin’

I’ve never grown blanket flowers before. This one was in the shade of an Acacia and is liking it’s “hot but not baking” spot. Such a happy flower. I will grow more.

3. Honeycomb from hive one of two.

Hubby added another box to the bee hive and cleaned out a little honeycomb for the kids to suck the honey out of.

It is amazing to see the bees break these down and reclaim the wax rather than produce more from scratch.

4. Irish Strawberry Tree.

Mislead by the common name hubby dearest decided to buy this Arbutus unedo for me. I’m curious to see if the fruit is as bad as others say. Nevermind. Look at the gorgeous new growth! Worth growing anyway because it makes me happy.

5. Mulch! Tis the season to be mulching.

Given summer here means weeks of 35°c we use layers of cardboard and paper scraps from home. Then a thin layer of pea straw held down with some mushroom compost. It seems to keep most plants alive. Fingers crossed.

Carob in it’s new coat.

Flower bed in progress. Ready for the heat. Love the portaloo in the background hehe.

6. Bauhinia (orchid tree).

Flowers from our neighbor’s bauhinia tree. Seed pods over the fence are fair game once they ripen 😊. I’ve got seedlings potted on from last year’s seed ready for our block in Autumn.

Well that’s me for this week. It may be hot but the sun does good things for my mood mostly. Maybe in 3 months when I’m over Summer I’ll feel different but for now I’m enjoying the colour.

Hope to share in your gardens too.

❤ Nat

Wildflower season begins! Otherwise known as managing depression and pain with gentle walking and a huge dose of gorgeousness.

Orchids! Sundews! Leschenaultia! The wildflowers of Western Australia are starting to bloom.

Be still my heart. ❤

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White Caladenia orchid

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I need distraction and gentle exercise. Fresh air and all the colours of the rainbow.

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Donkey Orchid

Bushwalking at a snail pace to hunt for native orchids and treasures emerging is a balm to my soul (and the very very sore joints).

Enough words… Time to just look and enjoy.

I hope these flowers from my block of land in WA make you feel as good as they make me feel.

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Chorizema sp.

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Climbing Fringe Lily

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Purple Caladenia

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Cowslip orchid

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Wheel Sundews… Not long now and these will have tiny orange flowers 😊

I just want to share photo after photo. These flowers are small but oh so beautiful and there are more photos to come. Watch this space 🌸.

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Stackhousia sp.

 

Using gardens as armour from the world.

Do you have a safe place you retreat to when you need to protect and guard yourself from harm?

My safe place is my garden. At times people have given me a confused look as if to say what good is a garden when you’re depressed and suicidal?

My answer is often about distraction and keeping busy and waiting out the pain but the deeper truth is my garden is quite simply a place where I don’t have to judge or hate myself.

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Banksia sessilis in flower. Usually spiky and irritating but in flower I see the good.

Sometimes depression makes us angry at hurtful towards ourselves. It doesn’t help when people can’t understand and make comments such as why have you become so selfish? Courtesy and politeness cost nothing. Or you have it easy look at what the rest of the world struggles with. For me at least that just becomes evidence used within me to keep building the case against myself… “Why I am not a worthwhile human being”.

Utter bullshit we learn eventually… provided we are given support to survive and time and knowledge to learn to recognise what is happening within.

My garden doesn’t say anything. I can be a mess. I can swear or cry or just sit and stare and it makes no difference to my plants. They are still beautiful regardless.

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Arctosis “Hannah”. My favourite.

Some days I can work until I’m exhausted and can sleep. Other days I just walk through the 5 acres and look at plants with a cup of tea in hand.

My garden is a protective space.

It gives me simple enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.

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Euphorbia milii yellow form being gorgeous

A purpose and goal I can achieve or try again tomorrow or next week without pressure or guilt.

Adventure and anticipation hunting for wildflowers.

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Acacia cyclops ready to flower. Anticipation

Peace and quiet.

Something to connect with others about which doesn’t have to involve mental illness.

Projects and interests and passions.

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Hovea trisperma (low growing common hovea) has come out in flower at the block).

When depressed, I lose hope of ever feeling these things. But in my garden I can sometimes find those emotions. It reminds me those feelings are not lost just buried at the moment.

Being in my garden reminds me to turn off the phone and just exist for a moment. Just be in my safe place and let all the expectations of the world fall away.

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Native wisteria (Hardenbergia sp) has come back after being eaten by roos.

I will return in time. I’ve missed all of your gardens in the Sixes on Saturday most of all.

For now I’m in my garden letting it protect me until I feel a little better inside.

Happy Saturday fellow gardenistas.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday… a family effort.

Hello fellow gardenistas (if that’s not a word it really should be!).

It is that time again. Time to visit the Propagator to see all the glorious sixes and add your own for viewing pleasure!

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

My six this week is partly my garden and partly my parents in law. We share cuttings and plants often so I love coming to visit and see what surprises are in store…

1. Aloe sp. I have this at the block but this is the parent plant in bloom.

2. Crassula ovata. Another parent plant. I have grown so very many plants from pups from this plant. I love the flowers.

3. Not a plant but definately in the garden. The woodfired smoker my Father in law made (he is a steelworker). Pork roasts, soaked in brine, smoked for hours and then boiled and cooled. Mmmmmmm. He made us one too for our block. Food and gardening is the best combination.

4. Lantana montevidensis (the non prohibited groundcover species) in flower. I love these even if they don’t smell very nice. Common Lantana (L. camara) is a declared weed in WA.

5. Euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa’s Head). I grew this one from a piece broken off my Mum’s plant and gave it to my Father in law. He loves it and it has just thrived in the shady spot he keeps it.

6. My little friend at the block. I was collecting coffee rock for the dry stack retaining wall this week and this little cutie was hiding under a rock. I took a photo and then replaced the scorpion and the rock. 20180629_12585120180629_125917_Burst01Well that’s my neck of the woods for this week. I look forward to checking out all of your sixes too!

Helena Pipehead Bushwalk… Or how NOT to bushwalk with arthritis!

Hello everyone,

Let’s be honest here… Reading about someone’s epic fails is sometimes more fun than spectacular photos that make you feel inadequate 😂.

So here’s one I prepared earlier in the week. All dosed up on medication for my autoimmune arthritis and walking better than I had in months… it seemed like a good idea to pack a picnic and take the kids for a bushwalk.

We chose Helena Pipehead Trail in Kalamunda National Park. 13.5km along the Helena river and past the dam on return. On paper it sounded good…

Medium difficulty. Mostly graded tracks. Good boots. Gentle exercise for my joints. Even better for my depression. Get outdoors. Exhaust the kids. Sunshine. Nature. River. All good?

It was great too. Until we took the wrong turn on an old track down to the river.

 

Hubby decided it would be easier to climb up through the bush than to back track.

Our kids took one look at the scrubby bush above and said no way Dad.

And yet… I agreed. I can walk! Woohoo let’s push ourselves and climb up a steep hillside with a 3 and a 4 year old. Hmmmm!

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Note to Arthritis sufferers. Climbing from the river below to up here is incredibly stupid!

The less said the better really. Miss 3 got her ponytail caught up in a particularly challenging climbing vine. My knee gave way and I went sliding down through mud to the kid’s delight.

Native bush plants and my kids were introduced to some truly spectacular curse words. For those not familar with West Australian bushland we have some truly horrible spiky plants. Lovely to look at. An utter pain to trapse and scrabble through.

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Drosera macrantha (climbing sundew). The one and only photo before I slid down in the mud.

When we finally reached the track and  stopped to admire the view we saw a different kind of display… Is that a wrecked white car?!

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Because every good walk trail requires a random car pushed off a cliff. This has been here for ages we found out.

Nursing bruised knees and covered in mud and scratches, we gave the kids piggyback rides back to the car and decided to try again next week (and stop at the chemist for some painkillers for me).

Trying to find positives I looked inside. No matter how much of a fail the walk was it did help for a little while. Exercise and sunshine does give me a time out from depression. Even a small reprieve is worth seizing.

Thankfully we passed these Hoveas on the way home which made the trip worth it don’t you think?

Some days things just don’t quite go to plan do they? If you have a failed nature experience to share I’d love to hear it. Realistics unite 😊.