Tag: Aussie plants

Saving Things For a Rainy Day

The magical beanie given to me by the wonderful folks from Four ‘N Twenty Japan

It’s drizzling and miserable weather today, which provides a wonderful opportunity for an update as my customary lunchtime ride can be substituted.

Lots has happened since my last post, but there’s little time to write about it, so this is a bit of a summary of the past couple of weeks.

Perhaps most important is the passage of the first anniversary of my garden, Kangaeroo Corner, earlier this week. Amazing Alex, his mate, Mrs. Kangaeroo, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law built the garden as I was out with a broken leg at the time. It has since become one of the great joys of my life.

In some ways, Kangaeroo Corner is thriving. But I have to admit to a tad of disappointment. I have messed up every single one of the plants that I most cherished when we first put them in the ground: the kangaroo paw (because of the kangaroo connection), tree fern (because it is such an iconic presence in the Dandenong Ranges) and jacaranda (which Mrs. Kangaeroo specified because she strongly associates the tree with Australia) are all apparently dead. Might be a bit early, based on last spring’s late flourishes, but I’m not holding my hopes too high.

That leads to the next event: seeds. I planted a pile of seeds that I brought back from Australia last year in the hope of being able to grow them. I’ve had them in humidity pods with constant light (and heat in half of the pods) since mid-February, with the exception of some everlasting daisies that I took out after they germinated and transplanted into pots. (And subsequently killed more than half of by putting them in a hothouse in the middle of an unseasonable stinker).

Growing numbers of seeds are starting to germinate. The golden everlastings have sprung up, as have a couple of native wisteria, many dwarf wattle, a honeysuckle banksia and….hope beyond hope, lots of kangaroo paw! For the time being, I’m leaving all of the little seedlings in the pods. With the exception of the golden everlastings, none of them look particularly robust. And the transplanting process is messy and cumbersome, so I need more dexterous hands than I’ve got, so it will take a dual day off with Mrs. Kangaeroo to get this going properly.

Speaking of which, the Kangaeroos got to go into town together for the first time in ages earlier this month, and got to celebrate the occasion with a visit to an absolutely amazing gyoza restaurant, Kofuku Gyoza Sakaba in the central Tokyo district of Uguisudani. For just 1,180 yen we got all-you-can-eat dumplings served with side dishes of pickled cucumber, kimchee and salad. The dumplings were huge, juicy and utterly delicious. Despite having an appetite that is ravenous pretty much all the time and a gullet with seemingly endless capacity, I couldn’t get through the entire meal. Simply scrumptious!

Work has been an ongoing nightmare, more because we are so busy than anything else at the moment. I fear that the staff shortage we’re facing may be by design.

I got to take a long-awaited ride with some Strava mates last weekend. The people I met have been long-time associates and always highly supportive. I’ve always wanted to meet and finally got to do so. As just about everybody I have ever met through cycling has been, they were excellent people, indeed! We had a wonderful ride to Yokohama, a great feed at Yokohama Zebra and parted with promises to ride together again more often. I really felt blessed.

Finally, cherry blossom season is upon us. The blossoms have bloomed at a record speed this year. They’re not quite in full bloom in western suburban Tokyo yet, but with near-constant rain forecast for the next four days, I got out this morning to take some pics in anticipation of not being able to do so during this year’s season.

Everlastings Love!

Everlastings seeds in the humidity pods

Everlasting daisies have become the first plants I’ve potted after starting to grow them from seed.

I planted the seeds in humidity pods on February 19.

They germinated in a flash, with buds clearly visible within a week.

They were starting to grow too big for the pods, so I decided to move to the next stage of the challenge to grow Aussie plants, which was transplanting in larger pots.

I had 15 pods of everlasting seedlings to transfer, so I prepared the bigger pots for them using the recyclable pots I bought from the local Daiso.

I filled the bottom of the pots with perlite for drainage, and added a layer of peat moss.

I then filled the rest of the pots with soil especially for Australian native plants.

This is sandier and drier than the normal soils I have used before, so I hope it helps in the growing process.

Transplanting the seedlings was, of course, more difficult than I had expected it to be.

The humidity pod kits come with tools that are crafted to enable forming holes for planting and digging the seedlings out of their individual pods.

It took a while to learn the processes involved and this trial and error probably killed off a few plants.

I also removed some of the weaker looking seeds in the individual pods to enable to stronger pods to grow.

Eventually, I potted all the plants, some of them well, others terribly clumsily.

The seedlings had been exposed to constant light since they were planted.

For the first time in their lives, these babies would now see the dark.

I left them in the back office overnight.

When I woke this morning, it was wet and windy, so the regular ride was put off, and attention diverted to the everlastings.

I gently carried them to the outside hothouse, where I will keep them for the next few weeks, by which time I hope they will establish firm root systems that will enable them to be planted. I hope to be able to give some away to friends. I watered them with a misty spray from the garden hose.

I planted a separate set of golden everlastings a week after this batch, and they have started to germinate, too, so I should be repeating this process, too.

Of the many varieties of seed I planted, the only other seeds that have budded so far have been some of the desert peas. These are strikingly beautiful flowers, so it would be wonderful if they work.

Otherwise, I am fearful. I expect too much, too quickly! Germination takes time, and I need to realize that. And the seeds may not germinate, even though they are in pods with constant lighting and sometimes warmth. It’s all a fun process, though.

Gentle Soul

During a brief visit to Australia last year, after a separation of about 40 years I got to meet a schoolmate who I had greatly admired as a teen-ager, and he referred to me as someone “who always was a gentle soul.”

It was one of the, if not the, nicest things anyone has ever said about me, in my opinion.

Having something like that said about you would likely impress most, and I was deeply moved.

It touched me enough that I remember it now, months later, when I struggle to recall anything that has happened just hours earlier.

Unfortunately, even had I truly been a gentle soul as a youth, my track record in life provides little to suggest the assertion is a correct one.

In fact, given any authority or responsibility over anyone or anything, I have almost singularly been a cunt. I was a terrible bully as a manager, have struggled to make and maintain friendships, survived some relationships only because I was blessed to have encountered saints and was an abject failure as a father. I can’t even be gentle to myself (even though I thoroughly excel in self-indulgence!)

And I don’t see a great deal of gentleness in my mind even now, as an old man. In fact, more than gentle soul, there is a great deal more arsehole.

My mind races and I am full of fear, anxiety, bitterness and anger!

But….I have moments when I feel gentle. I got one this morning as I worked in my garden. I love my garden. My parents loved gardening. Dad did part-time gardening jobs for rich neighbors for all the part of his life that I knew him. I should have developed a natural affinity for horticulturalism.

But I hated gardening as a youngster and had no interest, apart from a brief attempt at growing flowers a couple of decades ago.

Moving to Kangaeroo Corner, Mrs. Kangaeroo chose our apartment because it had a garden, which she felt we needed as a place for me to maintain and repair our bicycles.

She later found the amazing Alex Endo, who creates Aussie native plant gardens in and around Tokyo, as I have written about on a few occasions.

And the transformation began….I am smitten by my garden. And being in it makes me feel serene. (Except when I think of how to keep the lawn green in its entirety, in which case I will wake in terror in the middle of the night.)

I don’t often feel that calm….maybe when going out somewhere with my wife (except shopping) and being with my pet dinosaur (when she is calm). And, of course, when I cycle.

Spring is approaching and I look forward to learning and enjoying more in the garden. It’s already starting to look pretty bloody good.

Maybe it will make me a truly gentle soul in my dealings with others?

Wattle Happen Next?

The first blossoms of our wattle tree

It’s becoming increasingly clear that spring is not too far away, and the wattle tree in Kangaeroo Corner is giving hints of something about to spring into action.

March, which starts tomorrow (der!), is traditionally a coldish month, with a warm day every few days here and there.

This winter has been mild, especially when compared to the chilly one last year.

But it’s still too bloody cold for too bloody long for my liking.

Nonetheless, starting today we have a week of relatively warmer weather forecast.

And I’m excited for the garden, particularly our wattle tree, which looks poised to burst forth in a wash of gold any moment now.

Neighbors a couple of doors down from us also have a wattle tree and the blossoms have been vibrant for a few days now, but our tree has little more than buds, so I am living with a large dollop of envy!

(The neighbors have a British son-in-law who shares a surname with me and welcomed me warmly when I moved in because of this, and maintained very friendly relations thereafter, so it’s a friendly jealousy rather than a spiteful envy.)

Golden wattle, known by the academic name of acacia pycnantha, is Australia’s national flower.

Our tree, and most of the others found in Japan, Europe and outside of southeastern Australia, are silver wattle, or acaia dealbata. I can’t tell the difference, to be honest.

And it also has a significant role in Japan in March, where March 8 has been designated at Mimosa Day to coincide with International Women’s Day and referring to mimosa, the name given to the silver-leafed wattle mainly outside of Australia.

More to follow on this topic for sure.

Open Up Your Eyes, An Everlasting Bud!

Kangaeroo’s Aussie seed experiment is moving forward, and today resulted in its first buds.

Seedling growth came from an everlasting, a pink, yellow and white flower native to Western Australia.

I potted everlasting seeds last weekend in humidity pods.

They’ve been growing under lights daily ever since, except for Tuesday night when the power plug short-circuited.

I’ve checked the pods daily to see how they are developing, so was delighted to see the little leaves sprout. Might have some stronger seedlings in the works.

Once they have grown big enough, I will transplant them into pots and move them into the hothouse outside.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to plant some and give the rest away.

Otherwise, Kangaeroo Corner is also providing some good news.

Parts of the garden are continuing to thrive.

The wattle, which sprung forth from what was left of a branch, appears poised to burst into flower.

Neighbors are also growing a wattle and their tree is already awash in the beautiful yellow blossoms.

More concerning are the one of the grevillea and tree fern, which appear to be struggling from the cold even though we have had a mild winter.

I’ll keep on weeding, watching over them and hoping for the best.

The Fountain of Strewth!

The Fountain of Strewth

Has Kangaeroo mentioned that he’s got a garden?

And he loves it!

Just in case he hasn’t, let me remind you again that Kangaeroo Corner is a little Aussie plants garden in comfy outer suburb of Tokyo.

And playing a prominent role in that Aussie garden is the Fountain of Strewth.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing untoward about the fountain (which is actually a bird bath with a solar-power water sprayer, but still….).

Except, of course, that few Tokyo homes have a fountain.

But this is a little special, and that’s where the strewth factor comes into play.

Despite looking like a classical antique work, the bird bath is made of plastic and was as cheap as chips.

But it’s the actual fountain (well, water sprayer), where the real wonder is.

Kangaeroo has tried several of these solar-powered sprayers over the year or so since the garden first sprouted.

They were bought from Aliexpres.com, purveyor of puerile plastics, and most of them performed with the lack of reliability that could be expected.

Except for the current fountain, which went into operation in August last year and has not stopped pumping whenever sunlight has hit it since, even after being frozen over in the sub-zero temperatures last month.

And the birds love it! We get pretty much daily visits from the birdies, though the neighbors aren’t too keen on that development.

Without doubt, the Fountain of Strewth is one of the Seven Wonders of Kangaeroo Corner.

Let There Be Lights

Kangaeroo Corner has got one of the greatest gardens in Tokyo, at least according to Kangaeroo, and one of its features its the extensive lighting.

Alongside the mostly Aussie native plants adorning the garden are plenty of garden ornaments of Australian native animals and birds.

The kangaroos, koalas and various types of avian life such as a kookaburra, cockatoo and galah, are lit up using solar-powered garden lights.

Much to Mrs. Kangaeroo’s chagrin, Kangaeroo adores these garden lights.

And the growing length of sunshine each day as spring approaches affords each lighter with a greater charge of its battery, which keeps the garden well-lit, well past the onset of darkness.

And while Mrs. Kanageroo was off working over the weekend, Kanageroo took advantage of the fact.

It is is nearly always easier to apologize in Japan than to ask for permission.

As a result, Kangaeroo Coven now has a new set of lights, and they were put in place for all to adore well before any objection could be made.

And the lights are brighter and more powerful than ever before, literally focusing a spotlight on the garden’s centerpiece, life-sized kangaroo sculpture, highlighting the kookaburra sitting in the old wattle tree and shedding light on the garden overall.