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

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 😊.

 

Do you make time to search for treasure?

There are days where hard physical work is a godsend to keep my mind away from difficult thoughts (Don’t you just love depression … And yes that was a bitter sarcastic tone you heard).116

And then there are bad days. Mental illness doesn’t always visit alone. Sometimes it has company. My depression has a companion called autoimmune arthritis. I don’t like either of them very much.

What has this got to do with treasure?

On days where I’m in pain and feeling low I have a choice. Let the hopelessness bury me. Or allow myself be human and be kind to myself. Yes I am faulty. Flawed. Weak. Hurting. Lazy. Uninspired. Self absorbed. But aren’t all people at some point?

So I pamper myself with a treasure hunt. Do you work away in the garden and miss the little things sometimes? I do.

Feeling sick is a wonderful reason to take time to enjoy your garden. Go for a very slow wander and inspect all the plants. Search for flowers and mushrooms and all of the things that on busy days you may miss.

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The first of the tiny orchids. This flower is only about 1cm across! I love searching for treasure.

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On bad days it helps to slow down and make time for yourself. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself as best you can. And focus on tomorrow being a new day to try again.

After all you never know what treasures are waiting in your future…

Today the sun came out for me. My meds began to work ever so slightly. I could breathe. My friend and her kids came with us to our block of land. The joy of a road trip with friends. No rush. Nothing fancy just enjoying a happy moment.

And then we stopped the cars…. What on earth is that? Walked for a closer look…

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A curious “lump” in the middle of a road. We stopped to check. An Echinda!!

This is only the second Echinda I have seen in 33 years of life. None of the kids had seen one before. I went to scoop him off the road thinking a car had clipped him and off he waddled! I had no idea Echidna could waddle so fast!

How we laughed. The kids peered out the windows and demanded to know why this was not a hedgehog. 20180621_120516_hdr.jpg

These moments make it all worthwhile. Treasure. Just waiting for us all to stop a while and look for it.

When is the last time you searched for treasure?

 

Slippery Dip Falls

FR Berry Reserve. Just the name makes me smile. Actually being there eases every ache from my heart. This is my depression free place.

Once upon a time a couple found a book in an op shop. Family walks in the Perth Outdoors…

Ok that couple was hubby and I. But in my heart finding this book was the start of my fairytale.

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Photo courtesy of DPAW.

Family Walks in Perth Outdoors

We come here multiple times a year. After the winter rains and at the start of spring are the best times to visit.

This is why…20180610_144253_HDR20180610_143838_HDR20180610_141436_HDRMost flowers aren’t out yet but little Miss 3 found a carpet of trigger flowers…20180610_141005_HDRAnd Mr 4 found some ‘rainbow’ sundew which took me right back to my fairytale.

20180610_141440_HDRSee the granite outcrop way up high in the top left of the photo? We trekked up there once with our dog and a backpack with a ‘picnic’. On top of the world hubby went to find me a piece of ‘rainbow’ and came back with the string of sticky flowers and a little box with a ring.

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The flowers from a sundew… Nicknamed rainbow. It is sticky and as kids we would wrap it into crowns to wear.

Every story needs a twist… This memory has one too. After a picnic of sandwiches and chocolate cake (and lots of champagne!) we got lost in the bush! Two young lovers drunk and happy. In that moment we didn’t care less that we were lost in the bush because we were together.

At my worst, highly depressed and struggling to walk with an autoimmune arthritis I grieved this special place. I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back.

But here we are.

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Our kids love it here too. I am reminded no matter how bad I feel there is always a place I can go where every step is a reminder of a happy memory.

Thank you for letting me share my favourite place in the world.

Do you have a place you can trust to make you feel safe and happy?

 

 

 

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?

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