Tag: grevillea

Procrastination Propagation

Winter is probably the worst time of the year to try to grow plants from cuttings, except, like for me, you’re desperately trying to avoid doing something unpleasant and you’ve been handed unseasonably fine weather.

So, instead of taking a trial test for a potential new job as I could have done sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours, I looked up how to propagate a grevillea.

It seems the process is pretty easy (at least from the standpoint of the pros giving the advice online), but a lot of the available information was for the southern hemisphere and Australian conditions.

And, then I found some information in Japanese that saved the day. And, lo and behold, it came from Alex, the amazing bloke who designed and built Kangaeroo Corner in the first place.

One of our three thriving grevilleas has been getting busy and taking the vitality from the main trunk despite flowering proficiently, so I wanted to cut off the branch causing this problem. But I decided to make some cuttings in the process.

Following the advice in Alex’s blog, I prepared two mixes of mostly kanuma pumice with a bit of potting mix and dead leaf. I then cut off about 20 grevillea cuttings, stripping the leaves down and dipping the ends in rooting hormone.

I planted these in the pots filled with kanuma pumice, thoroughly watered them and then placed the pots in plastic bags. I then moved the plastic bags into the small greenhouse we have on the north balcony of our flat. Now I just need to wait 6-8 weeks for the cuttings to take root – if they do. I must occasionally mist the leaves and will generally keep watch on them without expecting too much.

I was inspired to try this by the Stick, which has thrived despite literally appearing to be little more than a 30-centimeter-long stick this time two years ago. Even last year we needed to protect it with a cover to get it through the winter. Doesn’t look like it will be a problem this year.

So, why did I need to do all this? Why not just throw myself into the test? Well, last night, Mrs. Kangaeroo and I went to see Maneskin, a rocking Italian band that was sheer brilliance! I raced home alone first and had ample time to take the test. I’m scared. I don’t want to fail. I know the employer and that they are a decent company with decent people. But they are also extremely detailed-oriented, which I am not. I don’t want another failure, but I am psyching myself into one. I had built up resolve only to learn that while we were at the concert, the talented young woman hired at the start of last month has been fired by the psychotic boss. Not even five weeks into the job. I felt partly responsible because the first job I submitted to her came back untouched, which the psychotic later brutally abused me for doing, saying that my work was unfit for submission to the client. Her response was savage. And it was that brutality that prompted Mrs. Kangaeroo to urge me to seek greener pastures. Then, when that opportunity presented itself, I was too scared to take the action needed. I went for a quick ride and felt like I could understand a little while brutalized abuse victims don’t simply flee.

So, while the greener pastures are on hold for another few days at least, the prospect of an even greener garden continues (though I am probably going to have to give away any grevillea that may successfully grow as there is no more free space in Kangaeroo Corner. But I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.)

はじめてのオージープランツ図鑑 (Alex’s book on Aussie plants <Japanese>).

Alex’s Garden Party <Alex’s blog in Japanese>. (And an explanation in English)

異彩を放つオージープランツの寄せ植え講座 (Alex’s lessons on Aussie gardens <Japanese>)

Welcoming In Winter

Like it or not, and I’m firmly in the “not” camp on this one, winter is here again, but I’ve been kind’ve happy to see how well Kangaeroo Corner has held up this year as the cold sets in.

This year is the second year of our garden and for the most part it has thrived.

That’s especially fantastic considering the harsh summer we went through, followed by an Indian summer that extended deeply into the autumn.

I’ve previously experienced summers in Japan as hot as those of 2023, but none as dry.

The lack of rain might have been welcome from a cycling point of view, which it was, but not for the garden.

The lawn became a dustbowl and it took large amounts of money, effort and worry to deal with.

Ultimately, it seems like patience would have been the best approach, but I’ve never had the time for patience.

The lawn I had been so immensely proud of, and which sparked such envy among the neighbors, was destroyed by the summer heat.

I’ve tried reviving it since in the cooler weather, and for the most part have done OK, but the lush turf created by the zoysia strain we initially used is gone.

I wasn’t a great fan by the spring of this year as zoysia goes dormant and leaves the lawn brown for half a year.

I’ve tried a blend of many different grasses this year and we’ll see how it goes.

I had some troubles getting the strains to germinate, but noticed the tall fescue that was unresponsive for nearly all of the autumn has not only finally taken root, it looks great.

Unfortunately, it’s only a tiny patch of less than 30 centimeters square.

But good food for thought.

Most of the Kangaeroo Corner trees thrived in the heat and even the tree fern that we had to shield from the sun for months has now bounced back with a vengeance.

The jacaranda assumed dead in the winter has soared skyward, as has the Stick, the name I give to a grevillea purchased through the Mercari online flea market site and apparently kaput by the time we planted in March 2022.

Plants grown from seeds, those that survived, have been amazing! We’ve got a dwarf wattle, several hardenbergia, including one that looks like it will form a wonderful display if it blooms, and loads of kangaroo paw, including several handed out to neighbors.

Our major failure has been the hairpin banksia, which I so desperately wanted to succeed, but it succumbed to the summer and poor care (overwatering?) once I’d transplanted it in the autumn.

I bought a new and cheap hairpin banksia from Mercari, hoping to replicate the success of the Stick. It has held on so far, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Anyway, in what has been a generally bleak year (but an improvement on 2022), the garden has been a bit of a godsend. And the birds have loved it, too!

Here’s hoping the winter won’t be too hard on it.

Summertime Blues….er, Browns?

Summer in Tokyo this year was just how I like it: boiling hot and dry, probably the driest I have experienced in 35 years of living in the Japanese capital. But while I loved the heat, my garden in Kangaeroo Corner had mixed feelings, especially the lawn that went from vibrant green to burned brown.

Trees thrived! Most delightedly, the jacaranda we had written off as dead in the spring powered back into life and is now one of the tallest growths on the block. The “branch” silver wattle goes from strength to strength and the golden wattle beside it is flourishing. All the grevilleas, bottle brush and myrtles grew in the dry heat like crazy. Even the eucalypt given the imposing task of trying to survive in what I’d termed the Corner of Death has prospered.

Although death proved to be the outcome for the vast quantity of seeds I brought back from Australia this year, the summer was kind to some. The kangaroo paws thrived and I was able to give many out to neighbors. Next spring should give our neighborhood a real Aussie taste. Hardenbergia, often called the Australian native wisteria, also thrived and we have have it climbing up the fence and around a trellis.

Even the dicksonia, planted in direct heat in a boiling summer that should make it struggle, did as expected for a while, but after we placed it under a makeshift shade, the tree fern has plugged away steadily.

Unfortunately, the spectacular summer didn’t leave all feeling well. My cherished lawn virtually died overnight through, I suspect, fertilizer burn. Anticipating the rainy season, I covered the lawn in fertilizer in early June before we were to hit 30-degree temperatures daily and hoping that the rain would work its wonders on the grass.

Armed with a new lawnmower, I then gave the lawn a crew cut. Well, the rains never arrived. The searing heat and over-mowed lawn proved fatal to the grass roots and within days what had been a verdant strip of land had turned into a dustbowl.

I’ve tried everything since to revive the lawn including aeration, raking, re-seeding, over-seeding, using a sprinkler, watering, not watering, shading, exposing, organic fertilizing and more. Nothing worked. Voracious pigeons didn’t help, either. Finally, this week, after almost two months of an ever-growing patch of brown began to sprout the odd shoot here and there. We’re still gonna have 30-degree or more temperatures daily for the next week or so, which is prompting me to hold back on planting new lawn seed. But it does give me a lot of hope.

Gardening is right up there with cycling for me now. I have had my confidence sapped by an inability to step up to the plate with what life has pitched at me over the past few years. The garden gave me back a bit of a boost last year when I saw it do so well. As summer passed and the lawn deteriorated, it has a terrible effect on my state of mind. Too fragile, for sure, but I was already struggling. While the garden on the whole has done spectacularly well considering the difficult conditions, as always my mind is drawn back to the negative and downbeat, which has been the struggling lawn, a metaphor of myself. Mind you, I got to learn a lot about lawns (most of which I have already forgotten) as a result of what went on this summer and hope that I might be able to revive it. Same goes for myself!

Bested by Busyness

Little things in life have kept me scrambling and stumbling in such a way it’s hard to get much else done.

Work is always much busier in the warmer months.

This year has been particularly demanding as our tyrant boss drove more staff out of the door and their tasks were often imposed on me.

Early morning starts have been the norm and I’m often exhausted by the time the sun sets.

Health hasn’t been great and the teeth I neglected for decades have come back to haunt me with a vengeance, which will result in two more of them being pulled out later this week.

My garden is a tale of two parts: trees and bushes are generally thriving, even the grevillea and jacaranda feared dead over the winter, though the large tree fern is showing some slightly alarming signs now that we have had weeks of unbroken 30-degree-plus days and next to no rain.

That same dryness tells the other part of the garden story.

The lawn that had been a source of great pride last year has been obliterated and largely turned to dust.

I over-fertilized, which burned the lawn, and this was exacerbated by the lack of water and excessively low cutting.

Worries over the lawn are keeping me awake at night (among myriad other mindless worries), but I hope I will be able to work through it.

The kangaroo paw and hardenbergia grown from seed are thriving. Even the only dwarf wattle that survived is doing well.

All in all, though, I’m feeling a little out of sorts (as usual). Not sure what it is. But I was blessed this morning with Biblical skies, and being able to get some shots I didn’t want wasted led to a blog entry.

No Time to Paws

Work is dominating my life at the moment and I have little time for anything else, yet we are fortunate that our kangaroo paws are leading the way in a thriving summer garden.

I’ve detailed my attempts at growing Australian plants from seed. While most failed, the kangaroo paw, the ones I really wanted most to survive, are flourishing now. I’ve even managed to give away a few to neighbors, which was really awesome! I hope to be able to spread the joy even further. All this is even better as I thought that I had killed my original kangaroo paw last year, but one of them remained alive!

And so is the hardenbergia, the native Australian wisteria. I’ve separated this into pots placed at various points along the fence at Kangaeroo Corner and the exposure to extra light has seen the rapidly winding their way around the fence posts.

A delightful surprise also came with the re-sprouting of a dwarf wattle, one of the many that had thrived in the growth pods only to succumb to the elements almost immediately upon moving outside.

Other delightful news from the garden include the thriving jacaranda, feared dead over the winter, but looking very healthy now, even though it did not flower this year. Maybe in autumn?

And there is the grevillea! We used to call it the stick because it lost all its leaves and we had given it up for dead. It is now thriving! We have three doing well and a cutting that looks like it might also make it, too. The most successfully flowering grevillea, which I had also feared was struggling over the cold months, continues to sprout flower after flower, which is magnificent.

And the silver banksia is showing signs that it may even flower.

Kangaeroo Corner is bringing great joy in the fleeting moments that I can get to spend there, mostly in the early mornings. The lawn could do better with the rainy season affecting it and the pigeons (well, Oriental turtledoves to be precise) are loving my futile attempts at re-seeding, which equates to a free feed for them if I can’t catch them pecking away and shooing them off.

Also starting to get blueberries! Go well with a morning yogurt.

Cycling remains a mainstay of well-being, but arthritis in my hands makes it too painful to ride for too long, so I am limited to fairly short rides.

Today, I’ll head off to a gathering of Brompton riders, which should be great fun and will be my first time to join this gathering since the pandemic.

Even the tea tree is flowering!

Glistening…

The miraculous kangaroo paw given up for dead at the end of last summer

Today greeted me with the pitter-patter of raindrops (and a hefty dose of demotivation), so I spent the predawn hours vegging out with the idiot box on and gazing into the garden, appreciating the raindrops glistening on the leaves.

In days of yore, I wouldn’t have been deterred by the not-quite-drizzle level of the rain and just gotten on the bike.

I should have done it today, too.

The star performer of Kangaeroo Corner, the grevillea purchased at a Gyomu Super

But I am struggling to see and have lost my nerve, particularly when cornering or riding on potentially slippery surfaces.

It was enough to keep me sedimentary.

So was a demoralizing public shaming in the workplace yesterday.

So out of touch with reality is my sense of self-worth–sometimes I clearly over-estimate my value and others I am the polar opposite–I don’t know whether my problems stem from me or my tyrannical boss (who has terrible relationships with all employees).

Raindrops on the leaves of the tree fern…these tiny tinges of delight…小さな幸せ…are among the great joys of my life

I’m reacting in the only way I can by trying to control what I can, which means no angry outbursts and striving to be cooperative and constructive, while being grateful to my employer and generally respecting my situation by doing the best I can.

Raindrops on the petals of the leptospermum laevigatum look glorious

It’s not working particularly well, to be honest.

But the rest of the other shit is out of my control.

And I need to find a less toxic environment as it is having a severely detrimental effect on my well-being.

Thank God for Kangaeroo Corner, then, because it brings me so much joy.

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.