Tag: gardening

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!


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.

Paws and Reflect

Possibly the most meaningful part of my Australian seeds experiment arose today when I transplanted my kangaroo paw seedlings.

The great experiment, which I expected would result in me proving to have a green thumb and presenting all my gardening mates with exotic plants has proven only that I am all thumbs.

I’ve killed nearly everything I planted, even the everlasting daises and golden everlastings that appeared to be growing so well.

I bumped them off by putting them in a hothouse on a boiling hot day, then giving too much fertilizer to the plants that survived.

A desert pea also looked promising, but I over-fertilized that, too.

I have a tray full of dwarf wattle ready for transplanting, a single honeysuckle banksia that can probably be nurtured under growth lights a little longer and a heath banksia that appears doom after being affected by mold.

Given the nature of my blog persona and the role of kangaroo decorations in the garden, though, it was the kangaroo paw that I most wanted to succeed.

It’s a pretty ominous role to be assigned, actually, because every plant in Kangaeroo Corner that I have most wanted to thrive–tree fern, jacaranda and mature versions of kangaroo paw planted when the garden was started–have all died or struggled.

Anyway, I started today by placing a layer of stones at the bottom of a pot, covering it with a layer or nutrient-rich potting mix bended with peat moss and then covering that with soil especially for Australian native plants.

I then gently removed the kangaroo paw seedlings from the growth pods where they had thrived over the past few weeks.

With customary clumsiness, I managed to kill off a couple of seedlings along the way, but eventually planted them all in the same pot.

I then gave the pot a good dose of water and left it in the sun with lots of prayers for success.

Last year, I killed the kangaroo paw in the garden through over-watering amid the summer humidity, only learning later that my treatment was almost the guaranteed method for ensuring the lovely flowers from Australia’s arid regions would wither and die. Oh, well. Live and learn and sorry to the adorable plants.

Potting the kangaroo paws topped off an absolutely outstanding day that would have been perfect had I been able to spend it with Mrs. Kangaeroo, but it still came bloody close to perfection anyway.

I woke early, cleaned and oiled my bike and headed off at a fierce pace, backed by a gentle tailwind.

I made it to Tokyo Tower where I met many old friends for the first time in years and had a wonderful surprise of having a packet of Iced VoVos waiting for me: a gift from a Melbourne friend who has since headed off to a separate part of the country.

Later, a group of us went off to the nearby ANA Intercontinental Hotel and had an enormous buffet breakky, where the interesting and enjoyable conversation continued.

We spent a couple of hours reminiscing, but then had to go our separate ways.

I wanted to get home quick as the dinosaur was in her cage and was probably itching to get out and about, and I was still a couple of hours away.

I rode back in the delightful spring sunshine.

Fortunately, there was almost no wind, which was a blessing as we have had strong winds daily for weeks now.

As I rode along Koshu Kaido, headed for home, I realized I was looking at a record unique for me.

My average speed for the ride was exceeding 30 km/h.

It’s not unheard of for me over short distances, but I was still over the 30 km/h mark with more than 50 km ridden.

I only had 20 km to go on terrain I knew well and felt confident I could maintain the speed.

I’ve never maintained such speed over such a distance, my most notable record of sustained pace being a 180 km-ride at about 28 km/h a few years ago.

But that was when my cycling was thriving.

The past couple of years, my cycling ability has declined thanks to injuries, illness, aging, priorities, weight gain and opportunities, to name a few factors.

So I felt chuffed to be presented with this chance.

And the glorious sunshine was making it even more appealing.

An amazing, unseasonably clear view of Mount Fuji threatened to thwart my attempt at this record, though.

As I hit the Tamagawa Cycling Road for what I regarded as the home stretch, I stopped to take a photo.

There will be other chances to create cycling records.

Seeing Mount Fuji with the opportunity to take a photo is a rare blessing that demands addressing.

So, I stopped and took some shots.

It was totally worth it.

And when I got back on the bike, I got to maintain the speed I’d been looking for.

It was a delightful reward when I got home.

But not as delightful as the pleasure-filled greeting the dinosaur gave me when I got back and let her loose.

We spent the next few hours playing together, vegging out and eating.

I’ve even managed to save a couple of Iced VoVos for Mrs. Kangaeroo (but probably only because I managed to pick up some Choco-Chip GariGarikun, which I hope might be the seasonal flavor for the early summer).

She should be home any minute now and I am looking forward to seeing her.

Wistful Wisteria

There’ve been better times than the past week, and hopefully the climbing hardenbergia comptoniana planted today augurs a rise out of the doldrums.

I couldn’t sleep, so as soon as it was light, I got out into the garden, moving the lawn, weeding and my efforts culminating in re-potting the hardenbergia comptoniana, better known as the Australian native wisteria, which had grown too much for the humidity pods.

Most of the seedlings have failed, so hopefully the wisteria will be a shining light.

There’s still the promise of kangaroo paw and dwarf wattle.

Not much else promising going on. Work absolutely slaughtered me this week, imposing another huge wage cut that I have decided to contest.

And that has shattered my well-being, though the gorgeous Mrs. Kangaeroo, thriving garden (for the most part), cycling and the bloody TerrorDactyl are among the drivers to keep on going. My neighbor also brought me great delight, presenting Mrs. Kanageroo with some delightfully pretty roses from his always beautiful garden. There’s lots of little bits of happiness wherever I look. I just need to focus on finding them.

Blowout! Even Fartilizer Couldn’t Help

Well, strong winds have put paid to a lot of my experiment in growing seeds from Australian native plants, and even fartilizer couldn’t help.

Gale-force winds daily for pretty much the past week made life tough for the little seedlings on the patio at Kangaeroo Corner.

Watering, care, and even magical powders were not enough to save the golden everlastings, with one or two sickly looking seedlings barely hanging on and the rest returning to their organic origins. Two of the three desert peas that seeded were blown over and destroyed. They’ll get an Aussie garden burial anyway, in some form or another, so their role is not done yet.

Some of the plants in Kangaeroo Corner haven’t responded to the wonderful spring quite as hoped and I have gotten into the fertilizer and other forms of care.

I discovered ACID NATURE Otsuniwa, a business selling fertilizer low in phosphorus, which is important for Aussie native plants, and was delighted with their response, which was to send me the fartilizer pictured above.

I had always pondered over how I might be able to turn my talent for flatulence into fortune a la Le Pétomane and thought something like this might be a good opportunity for a new career, but ACID NATURE Otsuniwa worked out earlier how to package and sell the product. Oh, well….so it goes.

Seeing the literal blowout of the golden everlastings and desert peas as a learning experience, I’m going to keep the seeds sprouting in humidity pods inside the sheltered domes for as long as feasible.

The experiment could still turn out to be fantastic as there is a fairly large array of kangaroo paw growing. The outside kangaroo paw have so far failed to germinate. Native wisteria and dwarf wattle seedlings are also growing with gusto, so it hasn’t been a total failure. Far from it. A thoroughly enjoyable experience even if results haven’t been what I had initially dreamed. Otherwise, the garden still looks nice and I am really loving it. Our (Japanese) wisteria bloomed this year for the first time in three years, and it is a delight that even the wind hasn’t managed to blow away yet.

Golden Girl

La Cangura is the name of my bike, a beautiful gunmetal and gold-trimmed machine from Orbea, a manufacturer from Spain, hence the name (which means The Kangaroo in English).

She looks delightful in among the canola, the yellow hues of the bike and the flowers a wonderful match.

Just wish I was having as much luck with my flowers and other plants in the Kangaeroo Corner garden.

I’m relatively new to the gardening caper, only having really taken a great interest in it since Amazing Alex made the Aussie garden for us in March 2022.

While the garden is, for the most part, thriving, as I noted a while back, the plants I really wanted to flourish–kangaroo paw, tree fern and jacaranda– all died.

A grevillea we picked up from a local supermarket was our first-year miracle, blooming six times and looking absolutely wonderful before suddenly taking a turn for the worst about a month ago.

With the onset of spring, I expected the existing plants in the garden and the new seedlings I have been growing since around Christmas last year to all thrive and create a lusciously colorful slice of paradise.

Yeah, good luck with that one.

Anyway, we got back in touch with Alex and received some advice on fertilizer that we hope will give the trees a bit of a lift.

Fertilizers designed for Australian native plants are also on the way and should arrive today.

My seedlings are looking sickly, so I took the feeblest of the lot back inside and reinstalled them in the humidity pods under the growth lights.

The great seed experiment has not really paid off well at all, but it is still far from over.

Patience, never something I have been overly endowed with, is now being required.

The weather is not being a great friend, either. This week has been alarmingly windy and I am sure it is not making things easy for the plants, either.

A few delightful success stories from the spring so far have been the blossoming wattle, the cherry blossom plant and the wisteria, which is now verging on full bloom if the wind doesn’t blow away all her petals.

None of these plants bloomed last year, so they are clearly enjoying the conditions at Kangaeroo Corner.

Let’s hope other plants will end up doing the same.

Blowin’ In The Wind

Tokyo spring tends to be windy, and it is blowing up a gale in the suburbs of the Japanese capital right now.

This morning I got to fly for a few kilometers, backed by a tremendous tailwind.

Of course, barring a meteorological miracle, where there’s a tailwind, there’s almost always a headwind that needs to be addressed.

So, while the first stage of the ride literally flew by in no time, the home straight was a much greater grind.

Still, it did allow me the time to stop and take a look at the late-blooming cherry blossoms, with a stretch of the Asa River adorned with yaezakura and kizakura.

Getting strung out by my garden, too. Some of the seedlings are struggling, and so are a number of my Aussie trees.

We received recommended fertilizer today, but it wasn’t the type designed for Australian native plants that I had expected, which needs to be lower in phosphorus than regular fertilizers.

I have ordered some Aussie native plant fertilizers, but hadn’t received notice on when it would be delivered, so I contacted the seller. Hopefully, it will work the wonders I’m expecting.

In the meantime, I’ve moved some of the struggling seedlings back inside and under the growth lights. I’m praying that will give them something of a pick-me-up.