Reclaiming my Garden

I like before and after stories…. they are a record of our achievements, a chart of our progress – and thus an inspiration to continue to try and reach our goals…

I love beautiful gardens…I bought our current house, I am sure, because I fell in love with the garden. The little house we are in is on a 2000 metre block. Half the garden is bush and fruit trees, the other half is (was) beautiful English style gardens. The people we bought the house off were diligent gardeners (My neighbour tells us the reason they got out of bed in the morning was to pick the next weed), the lawns were immaculate and looked like bowling greens, the plants pruned and pampered. Sadly I do not come near their standard! Also the garden was watered via a pump from the local creek and I don’t think they ever took any notice of water restrictions.
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This is our garden when we bought the house…can assure you it doesn’t have a bowling green for a lawn any more…
I did say I loved beautiful gardens, but I don’t necessarily like the hard work involved! And I don’t really have a green thumb. I have lots of gardening books and do my best but the garden has never looked the same. Also I tried to be more ‘water wise’ and the grandfather rule that allowed you to have a pump in the creek expired when the pump did, so we have been just using hand moved sprinklers ever since. So all these factors meant after initially embracing my beautiful garden I became discouraged when things died due to my more prudent (read legal) watering regime and me working near full time. Extremely long hot summers and lack of motivation meant my garden struggled….
When I went to Europe I saw some beautiful gardens. Monet’s Garden, even on a hot day was just beautiful.

This is Monet’s Garden…. I doubt I can get a pond like that but surely I can have some nice flowers?

Then travelling down the Rhine, I fell in love with the window boxes. Everywhere you went were magnificent colourful boxes of flowers. So many cities were just a riot of colour.

The floating flower markets in Amsterdam were just amazing…. and the window boxes in Germany and some of the city gardens were beautiful…

Then in Slovakia we did a home visit and a little Russian lady showed us her vege garden that was filled with every sort of edible plant using every corner of her long yard. I noticed she had a small corner (about a square metre) filled with Gladioli – which was her one concession to the need to feed her family.

A Backyard vege garden in Slovakia…

So I came home inspired to reclaim my beautiful garden. It may never reach its former glory but it can be better than the neglected place it has been recently. While we were away the grass had grown everywhere so we needed it all whipper snippered before I could even begin.
Sadly I dont have any before photos…but I have taken photos to plot my progress… I decided that every day I had to do something in the garden – and almost every day I have managed to do that. I find once I make these determinations I get a really anxious feeling if I dont stick to these plans. So my ‘One Bite at a Time’ philosophy does work – even with gardens that look like a jungle! And it is odd that altho I am a procrastinator, if I have started a project I really do stick to doing something every day. Even if it is only ten minutes I do it. And until I do it each day I am anxious about getting it done – I can see my obsessive compulsive tendencies coming out!

I have a self imposed ban on certain Hardware and garden nursery stores. I tend to buy far too much stuff there – including plants that I let die. I do have a soft spot for pot plants so I have quite a collection. And who can resist some of those beautiful planters? Anyway I have had to lift this ban so that I could fix up my garden. But I have tried to be sensible and only buy what I need and generally I have been fairly good – just a few minor transgretions….

So motivated to reclaim my garden I started at what I thought was the easiest part. The pot plants on one of my verandahs. I have thrown out a lot of plants that really werent that flash (yes actually thrown them out), repotted everything, tidied everything up and moved all the emply pots nd pots where plants have died to my newly claimed potting table. I held a survey of people who used the verandah (my husband) and asked what needed to be done to encourage him (and me) to sit out there more often. When we bought the house I fell in love with the verandah and imagined sitting out there with cups of coffee – which of course hs rarely happened – so a survey was important. We tidied up the table so newspapers could fit (instead of pot plants) and tarted up the couch so it looked more inviting to laze about on. So mission accomplished…
My newly tidied verandah with an inviting (I hope) couch and a breakfast table…
I used to have a vege garden but that had been neglected for years. I decided with raised garden beds it was easier for me to manage – and out of the reach of chooks and ducks. So I ordered two new raised garden beds. They have taken ages to fill as they are quite deep. All the whipper snippered grass has gone in there, all the pot plants that have died and the pots sat there with potting mix in it – and layers and layers of my own rabbit poo mixed with hemp bedding (beautiful compost). I hope to be able to plant them soon – just waiting for the bunnies to produce a bit more poo! My garden bed that I started before I went on holiday has just produced its first lettuce feed – and eating your own produce is great motivation!
The last week or so I have been working on a small garden bed along the drive way… overgrown with lavender and self sown hollyhocks (dont you love Hollyhocks? They always remind me of my Grandpa as he always had them in his garden).
My Wisteria has turned into the man eating plant out of the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ this year and is galloping over an archway. The area underneath reminded me of my Mums shadehouse where she kept her potplants. Out on the farm with limited water her shadehouse was under the high tank stand, with tamarask tree lashed around the outside and this giant orange creeper that grew over the entire tankstand. It was cool and shaded inside and this area felt the same…. So I have tidied it all up, bought some new plants to go in pots under there (yes I am addicted to buying plants online – did I mention that before?) and t now looks lovely and inviting….
My lovely Wisteria shadehouse and a climbing rose at the top. A herb and lettuce garden and some of my geraniums I have potted up (with a couple of ducks in the background ready to swoop for snails)…
When potting up my many potplants I took a lot of Geranium cuttings….. Several of my friends also collect Geraniums so we are doing a bit of a swap meet in the future….
Thats the progress so far – still have a few more areas to go but it is slowly taking shape. I want to finish the main lot of work before the real heat hits as I now I will lose motivation once summer arrives…
Looking again now at my photos when travelling inspires me again to reclaim my garden…. I will update you in the future when I have done some more…

The world of podcasts

I work night duty a couple of nights a week caring for a severely disabled boy while his foster parents sleep. When he is unwell I have a busy night but when he is well I spend nine hours in a darkened room with a limit on the activities I can do to keep me occupied…
I used to mainly play games on my iPad but feeling a bit bored with that (did I really say that out loud?) I looked around for something else I could do.
My daughter suggested I download some movies – so I have downloaded a couple of old series (watching West Wing series one at the moment) and that has been good.
However I then thought of podcasts. I had heard about podcasts for a long time but hadnt really investigated them. Not knowing where to start I went to the ABC (as I knew they did them) and had a look around. I discovered that you can subscribe to them, they are free, that they download to your iPad automatically. So I subscribed to ‘Conversations‘ as I often listen to them on the radio…
Then I googled podcasts and was astounded at the whole new world that appeared before my eyes. There are hundreds of podcasts available on any topic you can imagine. So I am now also subscribed to ‘All in your Mind‘ a Radio National series on Mental Health and ‘The History of England‘ which is up to podcast 164 and has been going since 2012. The added advantage of some of these podcasts (like the History of England) is that it also has a website that has added stuff you can read or download.
Overnight I have listened to three podcasts which have been interesting, educational, have made me think and reflect and have made me laugh. It also means I can say I am working at two things on my list – learn more history and not play computer games so much. So a win win.
My  podcasts tonight were from All in your Mind – a distracted mind. It was very interesting discussion about the current information overload and how multi tasking makes us inefficient and tires out our brain. But it also said that daydreaming is good as it is a reset for the brain – so my brain must be reset a lot!! It also said lots of stuff I do know but cant seem to d,o which is things like using your calendar and become more organised…. and that we need to practice developing a longer attention span and filter the information we receive to ensure it was accurate information (aint that the truth!!)
Conversations was with Rajana Srivastava – a Melbourne oncologist and writer. She talked about her early life and choice to become a Dr and also about telling people the truth about life and death. This was also an interesting discussion about being truthful to patients and allowing them to plan for their death…. Surely it is our final right to know if our death is imminent so we can choose how we die?
The final podcast was about woman in Anglo Saxon England… Seems like woman had more power at different times in history and that the women’s liberation movement has been around longer than we imagine. It also seemed pagan women had a lot more power and that the Christian church was very bad for women’s rights…. well at least that is what I took from the discussion!
So an interesting range of podcasts that kept me awake and entertained for a number of hours. And what a lovely free resource this is…. I guess they can be as dry or as interesting as the presenter. The History one is very chatty and done in a conversational way like he was sitting over the other side of the table chatting to you. And at the end he personally thanks any donors and gives shout out to people that have asked questions…
If you find any interesting podcasts on getting organised and not procrastinating dont tell me! I want interesting things to listen to!

My (current) Life Goals



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I did think about calling this my Bucket List but that implies it is a finite list to be ticked off before you die. This is more my current list of things I want to do or achieve – this list can change by adding or taking things off it, some are things that will always be on my list (like travel) and some of the things on my list are very whimsical and light hearted….

Just a little side track from my list to show you how my mind works and why I get distracted and take ages to accomplish anything…. I started this blog about 5 hours ago – thought it might take me 30 minutes to finish. But then once I started writing I thought of the ideal banner for this page (the one above)…. thought I will make my own banner for this …cant be that hard…..

So I looked thru my photos and found something I liked. Too easy! OK now to do the writing on it. Publisher. That’s pretty easy…. so I did the photo and the text and saved it as a jpg. Uploaded it but it was tiny and I couldn’t make it bigger…. mmmmm OK we will use Word. Did it again but it wouldn’t save the picture with the font on it – would just save the picture. mmmmm did some gardening while I pondered. I really want that Banner now so wont let it beat me. OK ask Dr Google. Watch a You Tube on how to put Fonts on pictures. Too easy…. Followed the instructions. Font on picture. Save. Upload. Once again picture with no writing. Can it really be this hard or am I just dumb? (Don’t answer that!) OK back to Dr Google. Search for suitable Apps. Find one. Doesn’t work on laptops only iPads. Found another one. Download. Have a play for an hour or so to figure out how to use it. Finally a Banner made and uploaded. It doesn’t look that wonderful for five hours work… but I did it myself…..

(I can hear you all screaming at your Laptop telling me the easy way to put writing on a photo!! I would love to know – and if you a good App I can use…then I can do more banners in the future)

So back to my list (not in any order of importance just as I think of them)

  • More Travel – this means I have to keep working to pay for it…but my work is pretty rewarding so can probably manage it. So many places I want to go to – but I hope the US and Canada next time.
  • Learn History – I’ve always liked History and travelling thru Europe there were so many places and sites I saw that I wished I knew more about. I was wading thru a 10 volume ‘History of England’ but that can get pretty dry – and I have just discovered podcasts. (Have found these podcasts with accompanying website – check it out. History of England)  I can sit at work and listen to podcasts on all sorts of subjects – currently doing the War of the Roses. I have found a History or Europe and a History of the Roman Empire so lots to listen to!! lol
  • Write my Family History/Photo Book – I’ve tried many times to write my Family story…. but I get overwhelmed by the hugeness of the project…. I have just started again so hopefully it will eventually be finished!!
  • Write my own Family story – The stories of our ancestors are important but so are our own stories. My children will think my memories are great to have – even if I think they are a bit boring! I can remember my Mum saying that nothing she could tell me about her life was very interesting – but how I wish she had written those memories down….
  • Reclaim my garden – I love beautiful gardens but have completely neglected mine for a couple of years. I saw lots of beautiful gardens in Europe (including Monet’s garden) and just fell in love with the breathtaking window boxes particularly in Germany. I also saw the best back yard vege garden in Slovenia (or do I mean Slovakia) where we went on a home visit and an old Russian lady showed us her back yard which her family lived on for the year.
  • Get fitter – Any of you that have been following my blog in the past know how much I have struggled with motivation to get fit. You may remember that I got walking poles and started doing walking before I went to Europe. I did manage to lose weight and did get fitter – and I am so glad that I did! I did so much walking when I was in Europe and I know if I hadn’t done that walking training  I would not have managed so well. But since I came home my walking poles have stood beside the door (mocking me!!) and not been used. So I want to get back to walking regularly – just to improve my health – and maybe I can listen to my History podcasts at the same time!
  • Volunteer – I want to do some volunteer work…. not sure in what area yet. There are so many areas that I feel I can contribute in some way….. I first really thought about being a volunteer when I had a pretty scary day at the Breast Clinic at a local public hospital a year ago…. a volunteer tea lady ministered to a roomful of anxious women plying us with smiles and cups of tea…. and I just thought ‘what a wonderful thing to do’….. I did go onto the volunteer website and there was just so much choice and so many different areas and types of volunteering…so need to put some more thought into it before I decide.
  • Scrapping – I need to find my mojo with Scrapping. All my scrapping stuff is jammed into a small room and so I have very little space to get organised. So that room needs to be reorganised so I can find stuff. My time spent with my scrapping friends is very valuable and so I should be achieving something in that time apart from talking, eating and drinking!! Besides I have about 1000 photos of Europe to organise.
  • More ME time – I just need to have some ‘chill out’ time. I find it almost impossible to just sit and read without feeling as tho I should be doing something more useful. I have cleaned and tidied up the couch on our verandah to make it look inviting so I plan to sit there and read – or do nothing…. When we bought this house I loved the verandah – and yet we hardly ever sit out there… so I have tried to remedy it by sprucing up the table and chairs so we feel more like eating out there and just ‘vege out’ there!
  • Start making Bread and Baking again…. I made some muffins the other day and remembered why I stopped baking – and went and bought a new Mixmaster…
  • Go to the movies regularly…I never go to the movies…need to make it a habit.
  • Spend less time playing computer games – listen to podcasts instead.
  • Catch up with friends whenever possible. These days our lives are so busy and it is so easy to not see good friends for ages… and there will come a time when we wish we had made more of an effort. I cant imagine lying in my death bed wishing that I had spent more time working or cleaning – but I can certainly imagine that I might wish I had spent more time catching up with friends and family..

I am sure there are lots more things I could add to this list…. but this looks a fine start! So I need to be more organised and less manic about how I achieve the things I want to achieve. At the moment I  am rushing from one project to another – perhaps afraid my manic phase will finish before I have done all the things I need to do…. but perhaps this time I have my ‘One Bite at a Time’ philosophy to keep me on track….

I challenge you all to make a list of the things you want to achieve and we can all work towards them together….

Well Hello there Blog….

How I have missed you….. I have thought of you often as I was jaunting around Europe… and even more since I got home….. So many times I have found myself writing blogs in my head – but being the procrastinator that I am – I haven’t put anything down on paper.

So here I am – a blank page in front of me, so many things to write and not sure where I should start!

As is my want, whenever I am faced with a large task or many tasks I tend to become overwhelmed and not do anything. However I have found that in more recent times I do tend to adopt my ‘one bite at a time’ philosophy more frequently, and so do break the task down and at least start making some progress instead of avoiding the task altogether and finding other things to do….


I have noticed my life tends to fluctuate from me being very unmotivated and not doing anything, to being almost manic and trying to do too many things at once…. I cant remember if that was always the way I operated or if it is something that has developed over time – it certainly seems to have happened over the last twenty years.

I can also get very obsessive about things once I start doing something – whether it is just paperwork, family history or playing games on my iPad – once I start I get very absorbed in things and very single minded about finishing something I have started. This can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing. When absorbed in something I tend to neglect everything else and feel very unsettled if I am not working on my current passion.

At the moment I am quite manic and am trying to do several different things at the same time. This is good I hear you say? It isn’t really when you just rush from one project to another – doing a bit on something and then doing a bit on another…. so you end up with many different things on the go, you lay awake at night planning all the stuff you have to do the next day (or next week) and meanwhile you live in the clutter of several tasks that are half done that you are working on.

I blame my holiday of course for this manic behaviour…. Five weeks away from home seeing the world and removed from the daily hum drum of life you gain a new perspective on many things…

I think the biggest change is that I am stepping back from a hobby I have been very active in for over twenty years. I decided that there was so many other things that I wanted to do or achieve and so I needed to spend less time with this hobby to create time to do other things… It was a tough decision but I am really excited about the many other things I want to do.

Trouble is – I did spend a lot of time doing this hobby but I doubt giving it up will really give me the amount of time I will need to do all the new adventures I am planning to do! So some juggling of time will still be required – but meantime I am very motivated to do many of the things on my to do list! So that is a good thing – so long as I don’t burn myself out in two months and go back to being the unmotivated Me that I can easily become….

So, Dear Blog, I am sorry I have neglected you for so long… but I promise I will come back here again very soon…..