A project to keep the ‘black dog’ at bay.

What is a home without a frog pond?

Well the frogs may not be here yet but the pond is waiting for them.

20180602_162535_HDRWe don’t use garden chemicals often (hubby will sometimes use White Oil) so in our old house we had frogs galore.

There is nothing like sitting outside in the evening and hearing the frogs calling.

Plus frogs eat a lot of garden pests so it is a win for the garden too.

We may not have a house yet but we decided making a pond was a necessity.

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Inexperience meant I’ve put the overflow pipe too low at one end, so on the opposite side the pond liner shows when the pond is filled. Arrgh.

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The water drains from the overflow pipe before it fills enough. Ah well. Needs more plants 😊

I dug the pond and lined with chicken wire to act as a support to hold the concrete in place. Hubby mixed and I poured and smoothed. Paper mache at it’s finest.

Once cured we lined the concrete with white sand and then a pond liner sheet. People said this was overkill but we thought we may as well go all out the first time.

Then we began rock patrol. It took three small trailer loads of coffee rock to hold the liner down and in place (I folded it under on the edges). Plus a few wheelbarrows full of gravel to fill in the gaps in the rocks.

And finally some reeds in pots and submerged rocks to give the tadpoles (hope hope) somewhere to hide.

And now…. We wait.   🐸

Six on Saturday

Hooray it is Saturday!

Time to head on over to The Propagator’s blog and scour through the many beautiful gardens and sixes on offer. It is becoming something I really look forward to.

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

My six this week…

1. Pincushion Hakea at my son’s school. I’ve never really been a fan… Now I’ll have to pop over to Zanthorrea Nursery and get some for the block.

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2. The Sundews are growing again! Only about the size of a thumbnail right now but by spring they will be flowering and even more lovely.

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3. Acacia iteaphylla beginning to flower. This is the first year we have had flowers. They are 2 years old now.

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4. Best wishes for survival to my mulberry which had to be transplanted (was growing where the new water tank is going). Hubby wants to hack it back but it was from a cutting so I’m not too worried. It will either live or it won’t.

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5. Woohoo new leaves on the Macadamia. It seems to be settling in well here.

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6. Mmmm 😊. Nothing says winter is here like the clover cover crop starting to grow. This is a mix of ‘dalkeith’ and ‘bindoon’ both subterranean clovers.

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That’s my six. Thanks for checking them out. I can’t wait to see what others post.

My ‘Escape to the Country’ is no longer just a dream!

I must admit one show guaranteed to make me feel good regardless of how rough my mental state is “Escape to the Country”.

The plot is always the same… Busy stressed city dwellers search for a change and connection to the environment and community lacking in the ‘big smoke’ (city).

It feels like a lifetime I’ve been waiting for our turn to come. We have the block. 5 acres of rocky hillside in the Wheatbelt.

The community.

The gorgeous little school Mr 4 adores and Miss 3 is itching to begin next year.

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You know a good school when it encourages kids to get their hands dirty

And now it is finally starting. We got our fire assessment. BAL 19 woooohooooooo! No more clearing required thank goodness. So in a week or so we begin the long process of new home building.

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The plan for our little house. A 3×1 with a huge patio.

Today at the gate chatting to some Jehovah’s Witnesses I realised I’ve had more locals stop for a chat here than in the many many lonely years I’ve lived in the city.

One current thought doing the rounds about depression is a lack of connection being a factor. I find myself agreeing.

One of the biggest connections I have been missing is a sense of place. A piece of earth that is mine to set my roots. The more our block takes shape the more calm I feel.

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The first and only rose. A climber called “Tiffany” hubby gave me for Valentine’s Day.

Something as simple as stacking rocks for a dry retaining wall makes me feel relaxed in a way my medication doesn’t. Every bit of work gives me a sense of building a home. Somewhere safe.

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Start of a dry stack retaining wall

A connection to the land is something I’m sure other garden lovers relate to.

Do you ever think without your garden you would feel lost?

Experiencing depression from another point of view.

Please be aware this is not an easy read. If you are feeling vulnerable skip this post please.

For those who haven’t guessed already I manage depression. I also manage suicidal thoughts. The usual point of view for me is as the patient.

This week I’ve been the carer. The friend waiting and praying.

I’ve had a taste of what it feels like to watch someone you love struggle to fight their demons.

And it is shit. It hurts.

I’ve cuddled my friend’s four year old son and coaxed words out of him.

“Are you feeling sad?”,

“Can you tell me why you feel sad?”.

Thinking of my four year old son as he whispered…

“I miss Mummy”.

I’ve replied to texts where it is so clear depression is making my friend unable to SEE the world the way it really is.

“I’m so sorry Nat, I know you think I’m a failure”.

“I understand if you don’t want to be my friend anymore”.

Oh how this hurt to read.

Because I have been there. I KNOW those feelings intimately. The bullshit whispers in your ears

“worthless”, “burden”, “better off without you”.

I KNOW the feeling of believing those words are true and not being able to see any other perspective.

Curiously, the hardest thing has been listening to people who have never experienced mental illness or suicidal thoughts talk. Phrases like…

“Just think of your family”

“You have so much to be grateful for”

Made me feel physically sick to hear.

Do they not realise she IS thinking of her family?

Do they not realise when you are suicidal generally you BELIEVE you are doing your loved ones a favour by going away (even if it is utter bullshit).

That’s how I felt. That if I died my husband would be free to find someone better. That my kids would have a new Mum that was able to give them what they deserve. In my warped view I was helping my family by getting rid of a burden. Me.

When my friend asked for help and went to the emergency room my response was…

“I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! Thank you!”

For some reason I got strange looks for saying this!!

When someone scrapes the courage together to drag themselves into the doctor and admit they want to die it is courageous.

It shows they love you.

It shows they are considering you.

It shows they are trying.

It shows they want to get better.

It shows they are willing to swallow their pride for you.

It shows they are giving you a chance to help them save themselves.

Take a whole minute to think and you’ll realise they could have said nothing.

Be grateful they gave you this chance and grab it with both hands.

It has taken my own experience to understand that when someone says…

“I am sorry, you must think I’m such a failure”

They aren’t fishing for compliments or attention.

They need a reminder that their view of the world is skewed by their illness.

It doesn’t take much to say…

“No. That is what your depression thinks. That is not what I think. You have nothing to apologise for. Nothing you can do or say will EVER make me see you as a failure. I love you”.

I just want my friend to be ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday

Hello fellow garden lovers!

I’ve been following The Propagator’s “Six on Saturday” for a little while now and have been loving seeing all of your photos.

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

So here are my 6… fresh from Western Australia.

1. New recycled ‘seats’. I almost cried when I saw these cut up for garden waste clean up in the city. Who in their right mind cuts down an old Moreton Bay Fig?! No way were these babies getting chipped. Three trailers later and help lifting and I have new seating for the garden.

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2. My Goji berry bush has SURVIVED 😊. grown from Aussie organic berries from a health food shop (means they weren’t irradiated and would grow, Biosecurity treat a lot of imported foods).

I had lots of plants but the kangaroos and rabbits loved them to death. But this one is coming back! Hooray!

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3. The experiment that wasn’t supposed to live. Black Sapote. Still living in above 40 degree celcius summers and frosty winters. Huh. That’s cool. Would be twice the size but my kids snapped it in half.

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4. The second time the paintbrush lily has flowered at the block. So pretty.

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5. The pineapple collection. I love as it gets cool the leaves turn a gorgeous red. Not the right climate for fruit but they have survived frost here and are pretty anyway. All grown from the tops after my kids demolish the fruit.

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6. A WA bush block is never complete without grasstrees. This one is my favourite because when you walk close you can smell the honey in the beehive.

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Thank you for reading my 6. I look forward to reading and gardening vicariously through yours.

Nat

 

Dear Mariella

I want the world to read this. This is my little attempt at sharing seeing as I don’t use social media. Anyone who reads and does use other platforms would you please consider sharing?

It’s 2018 and the stigma surrounding mental illness is still alive and strong.

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Dear Ms Frostrup,

My name is Ida Väisänen. I’m writing this blog post as a response to your column ‘Dear Mariella’, on the Guardian’s website which was titled ‘My husband recently killed himself and I can’t face being on my own’, published 20th of May 2018.

For context, I will copy in the exact question posted by a lady who had recently lost her husband to suicide.

“It’s only been a few weeks since my husband took his own life, but now the reality is starting to sink in and I feel completely overwhelmed by fear about what the future holds. I’m nearly 40, no children, and was with my husband since I was a teenager. He was my first real boyfriend and my best friend, and his death came as a complete shock. Aside from feeling immense guilt about his death, I was already anxious about living and ageing…

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When your garden echos how you feel inside… Desolate.

Well thank you whoever in government introduced BALs (bushfire assessment levels) into Western Australia… And yes you can replace the word thank with a choice one starting with F.

To those who don’t know this new law means if you’re building a new home in a bushfire prone area you have a choice… Either add 40 grand to the cost of your house in fire proofing… or watch as a machine clears your garden.

I’ve been quiet. My garden at the moment echoes how I feel.

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Empty. Like me.

20180520_153045_HDRI kept what I could. We’ll probably still have to pay for fireproofing. I feel gutted. Practical brain says it is necessary as I don’t want to put my family or the firies at risk. But my trees! The shade!

My black dog is keeping me company lately. Sitting on my feet and chewing my legs out from under me.

I probably should end on a positive. Show new growth in the garden. Resilience. Trying again. Because it is there… At the block and within me.

The second ever paintbrush lily flower, first red pelargonium flower for the red/bright garden, mulberry cutting from our old home loving it’s new garden.

But THIS is the reality at the moment…

It will pass eventually.

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Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

Dear Jon

The two things that got me through the worst of my depression.
Gardening and Jon Bellion.

Personally my favourite is Maybe IDK but I’ve been enjoying running to “Don’t ask cuz I don’t know” lately as my depression has kicked me hard.

Headphones. Time out from the ferals (kids) and a “date with Jon” as my hubby calls it.

YOU SHOULD HEAR

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Honestly, I’m sure you’ve hear of Jon Bellion. If you haven’t, I’m positive you’ve heard at least one of his songs. I nearly jumped out of my car seat when I heard All Time Low on the radio here in Australia.

Not only does he have a crazy voice to match incredible sound production and creativity, but his lyrics are so moving and different and powerful, and that’s one of the reasons why he’s honestly one of my favourite artists ever. I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to start writing this blog post.

I can’t remember exactly when I first heard Jon, but I know that it was a few years ago. The first song of his I ever heard was called Guillotine. To this day it’s in my Top Five songs ever, and I don’t foresee it moving from that place any time soon.

His lyrics…

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Three steps forward in the succulent garden… 2 steps backwards mentally.

Do you ever see progress right in front of you but it feel like your moving backwards? That’s where I’m at. On the edge… Is it two steps back or a giant slide back down into the pit?

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So today I’m showing off my succulent garden. In all it’s unpolished and unfinished succulenty glory. For me. To remind myself I am going to be ok.

It doesn’t matter if like my garden I am a work in progress. Sometimes awkward and rough and unpolished is lovely in it’s own way.

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So here goes. A tour of the work in progress 😊

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This area was where the machine piled the cleared scrub for the house and shed area. Last winter we burned it (except for the stubborn remnants of a tree in the far left). And I noticed it left a lovely semi circle area with rocks at the boundary. So began the idea for the succulent garden. A semi circle gravel area for a table and chairs or maybe a swing surrounded by a dry stacked coffee rock wall with a mass of succulent (and other plants I like) on the other side.

Most of the plants are scavenged. From roadsides or friend’s gardens. But that’s my favourite part. Growing them up for their new home.

Yuccas, Euphorbias, Aloes, Orbeas, Kalachoes from cuttings. I even found a needle Agave growing near our old house in garden waste someone had dumped in the bush. I am a bit of a scab when it comes to finding plant treasures. My favourite experiment was the tiny little piece of Euphorbia tirucalli I picked up at the Zoo. Popped it in a pot of sand and it didn’t look back. Can’t wait to see if it survives the block.

I do have three gifts. Two peppy trees (Agonis Flexuosa “Lemon and Lime”) which are a lovely bright green. And my favourite… Kleinia “trident” which I was given because some of the proceeds go to beyondblue and anyone who knows me knows BB is close to my heart and has kept me alive.

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Isn’t he beautiful! I’ve alternated the Kleinia with Sedum “Gold Mound”. The yellow and grey will look fabulous one day.

Which brings me to my idea for the front of the succulent garden. I’ve grown many Jacaranda trees from seed and plan to run them all the way down the hill. Closer to the fence I’ve planted some Hardenbergia for extra purple.

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The very first Jacaranda between the house block and the succulent garden. Many more to come.

It’s a long term dream. But one day I hope for a garden full of colour.

Even on a low day like today when I can’t quite see progress in myself. It is still there. Just like my garden I have to be patient and keep trying and working and experimenting.

It will be ok. One day.

Cultivating curiousity and hope in the garden and the mind.

When my depression hits hard it is easy to stop caring.

Get out of bed? What for?

Start the day? No thanks.

So I aim small. Go outside. Make a cup of tea and go sit in the sun. Just wander. Look and maybe water the pots.

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Smoke at the start of burning season. Worth sitting outside for.

My husband would struggle to get me to leave the house so he started encouraging me to collect seeds and cuttings on our walks. Bribery. Leave the house and go hunting.

We would put little miss in her pram and collect as we walked. Ooh a Jacaranda seed pod. And a kurrajong seed pod here. Our toddler son would scan below verge trees for seeds.

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Sandalwood seedling. I cracked the seeds in a vice before planting. Have planted next to Acacias as I read they need a host plant. Not sure this is correct.
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Tipuana tipu seed grown

My experimental project gave me purpose where I had none. Hubby collected plastic pots from a bin near his work. I washed them and began to experiment. It cost nothing but gave so much in return.

Garden experiments kept me alive.

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Seed grown Jacaranda 2 years old. Survived the frost and 40+ degree summers with water once a week.

My father in law showed me how to snip the end off a mango seed to grow.

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Mango grown from seed. New experiment to see if it can survive a frost planted against a sea container to keep warm.

It has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. To grow plants from cuttings and seeds for our 5 acres.

Watching as a cutting develops new shoots gives me hope.

Seeing a plant survive where it probably shouldn’t facinates me.

Why would I want to die when I have a massive project to spend my life experimenting with?

My favourite success of all has been our Moreton Bay Fig trees. We climbed old trees to scoop a few tiny seedlings out of crevices in branches.  I have nurtured them.

Of all my plants these give me the most hope for my future. Why? Because they are long lived. Even though they won’t be massive in my lifetime I want to live to see them grow and change.

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Moreton Bay Fig. My baby ❤. Same age as my son and a constant reminder I have things to live for.

The three we planted are the same age as our son (he is now 4). They remind me constantly of my children. To try and try and try again because I want (like the trees) to be around to see them grow.

What do you do to cultivate hope and curiousity in your life?