Poor wombat

This morning we discovered our poor resident wombat had been hit by a car. We live on a dirt road and it can be quite slippery but everyone is aware of this lovely boy making his slow pilgrimage each night. He had three burrows on our property.  We are all devastated.

Wombats are nocturnal animals and lack the reflective eye shine that most animals have when headlights appear. They move so slowly and sometimes look like a large grey rock on the side of the road. They are adorable, everyone loves them. We will miss this fine creature. Be careful when you drive at night and early mornings. We love our wombats here on the mountain.

Mountain Perils

Living on the Mount can be serene and immensely beautiful, however, it can also be very perilous. A silent kangaroo – camouflaged; a wombat hole, deep enough to fall in to and….

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this sight which greeted us a few doors down the dirt road….

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A shallow root system and high winds toppled this tree onto its owner’s driveway missing their “For Sale” sign and water tank! Take care this winter, everyone on the Mount!

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Happy Valentine’s Day from a secret friend

We have a tall, dark, 6 foot stranger living in our garden. We thought we heard him a few weeks ago. We thought we saw him a few days ago. Then today, here he was staring straight at us. He kept looking at us as we stood in shock. He had never been so close before. We were a little frightened at his stillness. He was hungry and thirsty; he was big and strong. He looked straight at us today, on Valentine’s day. He even left a few deposits!

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Due to the recent bush fires in our area, kangaroos are coming closer and closer to houses seeking a little fresh grass. Colin came out to look; Whitey cat was too use smelling the flowers to notice.

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See you later big guy, but please don’t surprise me behind the camelias!

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Edna Walling Cottage

Edna Walling was one of Australia’s best known landscape gardeners. Both a gardener, writing for the1920’s publication Australian Home Beautiful and an accomplished photographer, she was commissioned by many distinctive owners, including the Murdoch’s of Cruden Farm.

Last night we stayed in a cottage in the Dandenongs, one hundred kilometers from our own home on the Mount, surrounded by her signature garden features – walled gardens and sweeping stone stairways. It was a delightful stay. The cottage was charming and our hosts friendly and accommodating. The property, known as Mawarra is referred to in many publications as one of her greatest achievements.

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Edna’s memoir recalls the eureka moment when she suddenly understood something fundamental about how to develop her design style. At this time stone walls as a design feature, had rarely been used in public or private.. She was to describe Mawarra as a “symphony in steps and beautiful trees” and predicted that it would “weather into greater beauty as the years went on – she was right.
(Harding, Sue. The Unusual Life of Edna Walling, 2005, Allen & Unwin, 72-3.)

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She also incorporated sundials, rock gardens, garden seats, sculptures and garden rooms, to name but a few.

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The beauty of the surroundings is enhanced by her garden features.

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a delicate, pink clematis

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It was the stone walks which captured my interest as well as the stone steps which meandered throughout the property.

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We both enjoyed this quiet and distinctive retreat. It made us appreciate what we also have in our garden – own own stone walls, garden rooms and flowering specimens.

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A wonderful experience and what a historic garden to wake up to each morning – a sheer pleasure.

Plymouth Rock Attack

Recently I have been thinking about updating you on the happenings in our “chicken world”. My last post alluded to our duties as chicken owners – weekly chores, feeding rituals and the joy and companionship of chickens.

We currently have seven chickens and one rooster. Mainly Plymouth Rocks, either dark or light barred. They are a beautiful American breed, docile, friendly, albeit slow to grow – we have had our latest batch since January and they have only just come into lay during the winter. Plymouth Rocks do well in a cold climate and here, up on the Mount, it can get to below zero. They survive very well.

Since we received our first Plymouth Rock Rooster, Book-Book, we have had a rather traumatic time looking after our beloved roosters.

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Poor Book-Book was taken by a fox one Saturday morning right under our very noses, two years ago. He was a magnificent boy who protected his girls and paid the ultimate price.

With much sadness and anxiety, we sought to replace him. This time we rescued another Plymouth Rock who had been locked up for most of his life. He loved it here on the Mount staggering about in Dick Emery style- shaking his leg to one side. He was quite hilarious to watch.

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20130910-204515.jpg We took Pecker to the Vet (his name was the source of some amusement!) and nursed him in the laundry out of the cold. But we lost him last November.

We waited to see if we could exist without a rooster. By January we could no longer do without one. Venturing far and wide, we finally found a breeder and homeward bound we went with a trio – a rooster and two hens. These little chickens took a long time to grow.

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We modernised our current chicken house for them.

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So here they are, the current clutch, led by the beautiful Long John Silver.

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Then it happened. As Colin filled their feed tin this afternoon, Long John Silver lurched and jumped at him! Swung round and attacked again. I could hear him calling out – Colin that is! Our beautiful boy has turned into a nasty teenager! Will he grow out of it?

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But we still love him. If you have any advice on how to manage a volatile rooster, please let me know!

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What a winter, but what a wonder…

Ten years on the Mount and what a winter we’ve had. Last weekend we tried to burn our ever increasing pile of winter debris, to no avail. Instead we set about trimming the abundant camellias – one of which shot over the roof of the house! I salvaged its ruby blooms.

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What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. (John Steinbeck)

It’s been a winter of mists, fogs and log fires. Nothing new here really, but this year every weekend brought with it the wonder of winter! In early August, I raced up to the Mount when I heard there was “snow on them there hills”! I have done this a handful of times over the years, much to the bemusement of friends and family. The last time we had snow on the back deck was August, 2008 but each year, the Mount, at elevation 1013m, is dusted with the soft, white ice. We are 750 metres, so often we just get sleet.

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One weekend we ventured to our favourite country town, only to be confronted with thick lunchtime fog!

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Daylesford on a not so clear day…

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Brrrrrrr, I can hear you exclaim! Yes indeed, it is quite chilly.

Top five mountain garden tips for winter
1. Weed, weed and then weed again
2. Rake those leaves and clear those paths
3. Watch the bulbs emerge
4. Visit the camellias or pay homage to any floral friend – they love to be admired!
5. Smell the clean, intoxicating air
But there’s one more
Head for that log fire at the end of the day!

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Emerging camellias

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The beauty of winter can be seen in every turn. The sparsity of foliage is countered by the abundance of those beacons of colour; those buds and blooms that wink at us around each corner of the garden. We can only be in awe.
Thy knowest, winter tames, man, woman and beast. William Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew.

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As we prepare for a few more chilly days, wear our coats, scarves and gloves, may the wonder of winter be kind to us!

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Today’s view from the back yard deck. How is your winter (or summer) experience?

Deep Winter Blooms

Up here on the Mount, winters are very interesting indeed. While the rest of the surrounding area is bathed in sunlight, here we wallow in mist and cloud cover. It’s not so bad really. I love the cold and especially the distinctive half-light of the mountain. Ten years ago it was during July when we first saw this house and garden. It was the the shimmering droplets of rain on the trees and winding pathways which attracted us the most.

However, the mountain is ever changing. Just when we think it cannot get any greyer, the garden invites us to admire its unexpected colour. In deep winter, bursts of colour illuminate the low light.

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This little begonia has been flowering for months. However, apart from this. The natural cycle from dormancy to delight begins.

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The weeping apricot which we see from our lounge rooms window has begun to transform itself.

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Further down the path, this giant, pink camellia has burst into bloom.

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Yes, it’s all pinks at the moment!
Hellebores are coming to life. They are the true winter rose!

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More pink camellias.

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But wait – I spot a red one!

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Tulip bulbs are ready of go!

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The view from the back yard deck in winter.

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Despite the lack of sun shine, the vegetable patch seems to be thriving, albeit it, slowly.

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To our northern hemisphere readers, enjoy your wonderful summer. As we keep the heaters running and the wood chopped here on Mount, we can glimpse the preludes to Spring.

How’s your summer or winter experience?