Tag: jacaranda

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.


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.

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.