Fully Fern-Ished Garden

Kangaeroo Corner has now got a fully fledged fern in place, with the amazing Alex Endo planting a dicksonia tree fern this morning.

The fern went into the back entrance where the nandina had been.


Alex, who specializes in Aussie plants and creating gardens filled with Australian native plants and a magician who conjured up a magical transformation on Kangaeroo Corner a little over a year ago, also pruned the garden and got it looking even sharper.


It was important for me to have a dicksonia because they’re a tree almost synonymous with the Dandenong Ranges, where I grew up and still have so many fond memories.

And it looks magnificent.



And we got a bonus! We got the tree fern because our earlier dicksonia had been choked by the nandina’s aggressive roots.

I’d actually un-rooted the dicksonia and had it ready for the garbage pile until I saw the roots of the new fern.

They were not too different from the old one, so I asked Alex to have a look at the old girl. He thought there may be a possibility of rehabilitation, so we’re gonna give it a go and hope for the best!

All in all, an absolutely magnificent day!

A Fern Native Action

Some massive changes at Kangaeroo Corner this week, which is pretty apt for the early summer, but there has been some man-made actions, too, with a tree fern poised to take center stage.

As mentioned earlier this week, the nandina had to go as it was killing all the other trees.

We got a bloke in who meticulously removed the tree.

He gently cared for the golden wattle and alpine cedar gum located precariously closely to the powerfully spreading endemic plant.

And it seems he has saved these two trees.

We then had a powerful typhoon that sent ceaseless rain pounding down on us for about 36 hours.

It was good for the garden, especially the lawn, and it looked especially verdant once the rain had stopped.

That gave me enough time to have one last look at the dicksonia fern we did have.

I thought it may have just enough white root left to be able to save it, so I dug it up once again.

It didn’t look good, but I crossed my fingers and put it back into the pot, hoping for the best.

I then removed another small plant that was taking nutrients away from the sometimes struggling jacaranda.

I got to see the pale white of a healthy root ball.

And that meant the fern was wasting our time. I knew after seeing what a healthy plant’s root system looks like that it was dead.

I immediately withdrew it from the pot and in its place went the red pincushion protea we picked up last weekend.

It’s currently flowering and looks sensational. It will probably get a ground berth next spring, but for the time being, it’s home will be a planter.

Also looing sensational is the grevillea, which appeared to have died in the late-winter, early spring only to hang in and flourish once again this year. It bloomed six times last year. It still looks flimsier than it did this time last year, but is clearly healthy.

The white feather honeymyrtle is also thriving!

I bought tall stakes for many of the trees in the garden as they have grown so high and are starting to bend.

The stakes weren’t as robust as I had hoped, but I will keep my fingers crossed that they will suffice.

Bringing me some of the greatest pleasure of the garden, though, are the kangaroo paw.

Not only is one of the original plants that I thought had died come back to flower again, I also managed to grow some from seed.

Of the dozens of seeds I brought back from Australia last year, almost all died. Only the native wisteria and kangaroo paw made it.

And if at the time of purchase I had been given the choice of only one being able to grow to maturity, it would have been the kangaroo paw, hands down.

So this has made the seed experiment a raging success, even if 99% of the seeds failed to grow (though almost all propagated).

Even more pleasurable is that the kangaroo paw grew in two places: several that I potted together in a large pot; and a couple that sprouted from 100 yen shop growth pods.

The latter have been outside since chilly February, so have done an exceptional job to make it as far as they have.

Tomorrow will also be a garden day as we get the mature tree fern. The tree fern is an Australian native closest to my heart as it is a plant symbolic of the Dandenong Ranges area where I grew up.

More will follow, I’m sure. All in all, the garden is bringing immense joy.

南天は難点…Or, Farewell Heavenly Bamboo!

Kangaeroo Corner, our garden, is basically filled with Aussie native plants, but there were a few trees and plants there when we came to live here, and they have largely remained, including the nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo. Unfortunately, her presence in the garden proved far from heavenly.

The nandina, or nanten in Japanese, is a very popular plant in Japan, where it is native, as it is throughout east Asia.

Despite its name in English, it’s not a bamboo, but a shrub.

But it grows like a bamboo–fast and powerfully–and that’s why we’re saying good-bye to her.

Today we will call in an arborist and ask him to remove the nandina.

The nandina’s roots extended throughout the garden filled with Aussie plants.

One of them wrapped itself around the tree fern’s root ball, effectively killing it.

And the nandina roots were spreading toward other trees, too.

So there was no other option.

Out she goes. I feel a bit guilty. But less so after I learned that she is also toxic to creatures.

And, in her place, will be a new attempt at growing a tree fern.

And I’m adding this photo from the morning ride just because I love it, even though it has nothing else to do with the entry. Also got some great pheasant shots that I will add to yesterday’s post!

Postscript: The nandina is being removed as I write and the situation is much worse than I had imagined. Just as it had done with the tree fern, the nandina’s roots have strangled the root balls of at least the golden wattle and possibly the alpine cider gum, or both. I couldn’t look. Both threatened trees had appeared to be thriving. Removing the nandina may also kill these trees, or one of them, probably the golden wattle, based on proximity. It was heartbreaking. But, taking the troublesome tree out of the equation means the others may still have a chance. They would have been doomed otherwise.

A Pheasant Start to the Morning

I got a delightful start to the morning with a not-quite-chance encounter with a beautiful green pheasant near the Tama River.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to cross tracks with pheasants in a few places.

They’re beautiful birds, the males are at least, and I loved being able to catch a glimpse of them, sometimes up close.

And being a photography aficionado, I was keen on getting a good shot.

I’d tried with my mobile phone camera, but the photos weren’t much chop.

They were grainy and out of focus, and it was hard to get a decent picture.

But I saw pheasants in a few places on a ride yesterday and mentioned it to Mrs. Kangaeroo, who implored me to take a decent camera on my morning ride and get some good photos of the pheasants.

And today I listened to her.

And I was blessed with a wonderful encounter with a pheasant.

Turning onto the cycling track from the Tama Ohashi Bridge, I noticed a little shadow off the track in the distance.

I knew it was a pheasant.

I rode up to the bird slowly, removing the lens cap and extending the zoom to get as close as possible.

I was amazed to be able to get within a few meters of the bird and fired off some shots, having little concern for whether they were good or not, but just trying to get the images.

A bloody jogger staggered along, apparently deliberately huffing and puffing loudly and scared the pheasant.

The bird fled, but only to the bottom of the embankment and not into the bushes and out of sight.

I got to take lots of photos, albeit at a distance.

There were a couple of other places where I fancied my chances of getting a shot, so it was time to go.

I scattered a few handfuls of the bird seed I had brought with me and rode off.

Unfortunately, that was to be my only encounter with a pheasant this morning.

And even worse, the photos I took weren’t nearly as impressive as I had thought they would be when I rode off after taking them.

Still, it was good to get some shots, and a wonderful experience to come up so close to such a beautiful bird.

Update: Got to see my new little mate again today (the day after the above photos were taken) and got even better shots.


Getting old is not much fun, nor, as the late, great thespian Bette Davis once famously said, it’s not for sissies. But I’ve becoming increasingly conscious of age over the past few weeks.

My eyesight is going: quickly and rapidly. I’m seeing less in the dark and rain, vision is cloudy and peripheral vision untrustworthy.

Arthritis in my hands is making even the most minor of tasks a tough one.

And my professional life, such as it is, is slipping from disaster to disaster.

All these things are adding up to fill me with fear and trepidation, which has become paralyzing, and even worse, kept me away from one of the sources of dealing with such feelings: cycling.

Riding a bike has proven to be a physical, mental and spiritual cog in my well-being since I regularly got onto the bike about a decade ago.

Without cycling, I eat more to run away from confronting issues, get fatter, hate myself more and then eat more to cope with the self-loathing. It’s a vicious circle and one I have never really broken, only redirected by getting onto a bike.

Experience has showed me that times like these will eventually pass and that these struggles turn out to be decent periods of growth in the long run.

I’m sure that will happen, but equally convinced that my own actions will be crucial in bringing about such an outcome.

And now I am too dominated by fear to take the action I need to. So I am doing what I can and plugging away until that drive I need to make things happen appears.

In the meantime, I’m really throwing myself into Kangaeroo Corner, our garden.

May wasn’t as warm and sunny this year as it is for most years, so the floral extravaganza I’d expected in the second year of having a garden hasn’t panned out.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without its pleasures.

Most pleasing of all has been the resurgence of the kangaroo paw, which I had given up for dead.

The flower came back bigger than it was last year. It was totally unexpected and brought great delight.

The jacaranda feared dead has also made something of a comeback, though it still has many bare branches where leaves did not re-sprout, so I am giving her a bit more time.

Our tree fern, which I desperately wanted to thrive because of its symbolic value for someone who grew up in the Dandenong Ranges, has died, though I am loathe to say so and still cling on to hope for a miracle considering that a stick we put in a pot a couple of years ago has resumed its life as a grevillea and may even flower this year.

But we have been presented with an amazing offer of a more mature tree fern that we’re going to take up.

First, though, we need to rip out a nandina heavenly bamboo (nanten in Japanese) that had always been in the garden. It’s kinda lovely, but it’s fate was decided when I removed the tree fern from the ground a couple of months ago and found that the nandina’s roots had extended several meters and literally choked the Australian native’s life support system.

The nandina is scheduled for removal this week and the new tree fern can be planted at a later date.

Also bringing good news is the Snow-in-the-Summer, which is the name used in Japan for the melaleuca decora, commonly known as the white feather honeymyrtle.

A couple of blossoms appeared on this tree last year, but this year, the entire top tier of the plant is turning a fluffy white.

It looks great, particularly at a distance.

The rainy season appears to have started, with wet weather forecast for every day this week. It’s a bleak, gloomy time and matches my current mood.

Still, at these times, perhaps it couldn’t be better to remember that it’s an ill wind indeed that brings no good.

Bouncing in All the Wrong Places

Despite the presence of kangaroos and their proclivity for jumping, there’s a bit too much shaking and bouncing going on in and around Tokyo, with dozens of earthquakes shaking their nearby Izu peninsula over the past week or so.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake that crushed large parts of Tokyo and Yokohama, killing over 100,000.

And that quake was preceded by quakes in the same area that they’re happening now.

Tokyo is overdue a natural disaster with earthquakes and volcanoes frequently smashing the metropolis every few decades in its roughly 4 1/4-century existence. (There have been a few man-made disasters that ravaged the city, too.)

Anyway, my approach will be to have the emergency bag ready, and to stop sleeping naked.

At least the garden will be looking nice if the Big One does hit.