Wheelchairs, native plants and a virus

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Me and my Teddy Bear!

The drive to Adelaide was fine until Port Wakefield then it rained all the way in for the last 150 klms. I had written about our trip and the problems we encountered but somehow or other it just didn’t save, and I don’t know why.  However, that aside, after some delays we brought Alan home and he has now been with us since late Saturday. He is quite frail and since he is on heavy doses of Warfarin ,this means that he has to go for blood tests every few days – something we were not told.  We were also not told that he can barely walk so I have managed to get a wheelchair for a while and that, at least, will allow me to take him out and about without worrying about his stability. However, he is family and he is here and we  will look after him and  try to keep him  as active as we can. I have to take him to the hospital tomorrow and then I am going to take him on a road trip over to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. I want some new plants for the new area I have prepared and  we can have lunch – if we get away from the hospital in time.

The eremophila are doing well (I think – well they are still alive) and I want to look at some native bushes. I do not know much about plant names but my Native Plant book calls them – ” Correa Reflexa” – Native Fuchsia / “Pomaderris  Obcordata” /  Wedge – leaved Pomaderris and I will take the book with me. They are Arid – low rainfall plants so they should be available in the Gardens. If they are not, I am certain they will have something similar. I did not get the opportunity to find out since  it has been raining for most of the day. If I had been on my own I would have gone through to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, but the thought of pushing a wheelchair all the way from the car park to the shop and nursery in the rain did not really appeal to me. And the oddest thing is that the temperature climbed to 40c  in other areas and sparked off several bush fires, one in South Australia and one in Victoria.  After Easter, I will try and organise the trip to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden.

Quick update : I have influenza and  quite painful – but provided I don’t sneeze or cough, or talk too much I am fairly good. It’s sort of like the old comedian joke ” It only hurts when I laugh”. I feel like (and probably look like) an idiot wandering around with one of these medical face masks on and if you should go to my doctor’s surgery, he insists that you wear one – and no, he’s not Japanese. Modern trend I guess.

PS. It’s still raining.

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Thunderstorms, dogs and sleep!!

I think a lot of the problems we have here is that we lack imagination. Let me qualify that! When we leave Europe and come to the  far flung fringes of the Southern Hemisphere, we tend to bring our ideas of gardening with us. So, we plant the flowers we are used to, we plant good old European Lawns – in essence we seem to make every attempt to recreate the kind of garden we left behind – the kind that our parents lovingly tended and we, their children,  spent our youth in. So we plant our garden ,  watch things die and come to the conclusion that the problem is not enough water, so we water the plants and lawns with copious amounts of water  morning and afternoon. However, with the drought of recent years and water restrictions  the cost of continuing with this has become prohibitive. I have gotten rid of  lawns and replaced it with weed matting and treated coloured pine bark (red)  I have tried roses without much success and out of the dozens that I bought three are hanging on for dear life. I have planted  other pants and watch them burn up and die in the sun – despite watering mulching and soil treatment that didn’t work. So, native plants it is. I have started with two Sturt’s Desert Roses and two Sturt’s Desert Peas.  I have also planted four  silver leaf Eremophila – two out front and two  at the back. I will wait to see how these all survive before I do anything else. A neat European style garden and 40c heat just don’t go together.Not up in this little corner of the Commonwealth. And it’s only taken me 20 years to figure that out!

Chienna on her Futon.
Chienna on her Futon

Oh what a joy! We had a major thunderstorm last night. It started about 1:30 am and I was up and trying to comfort a dog who believed that the sky was falling. The vet had given me medication (ACP  10 mil.) to calm her down so I gave one  tablet to her. I also brought both dogs into my room so that herself would not be wakened. The little man curled up on my bed and went back to sleep. Chienna kept pacing up and down and stressing out. I really feel sorry for her and the combination of noise and pressure  really gets to her. The way she stresses out and the constant panting, I am surprised she doesn’t have a heart attack. But she doesn’t want to be comforted or reassured because when we try to hold her  she breaks free and continues her pacing and panting until the noise and the pressure stops- which it did around 4am but by then she had started to clam down.  She settled down at the foot of my bed and we all went to sleep until my alarm went off at 6:30. I gave them their sticks, let them out and went back to bed for an hour.

Arid lands` and Isolation

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The upper area of the Spencer Gulf with the Flinders Ranges off to the left.

I enjoyed my visit to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. It has a well stocked shop and a small, but interesting nursery with a good range of native plants – and the prices were very reasonable. And I became a member.  It’s a 150 klm round trip but it does have a nice dining area – it is a good morning out and a nice, peaceful drive.  I bought 4 small (1.5 metres) silver leafed Eremophila  and have planted two out front and the remaining two in large planter pots. We will see how they go. I think I have mentioned before that the term “Full Sun” really does not consider the  heat of this area. Two days of 40c and they are dead, irrespective of water and mulch.  So I thought it is time to go to the Eremophila and see what we can do.

Our inter-state visitors arrived yesterday afternoon and will be here for a few days before setting off further north, then into the Northern Territory and Alice Springs. At least it will be a lot cooler than a few weeks ago.

Mid spring is the best time of the year to  travel up into the Flinders Ranges – everything is still green and there is a massive abundance of wild flowers. Then summer comes and everything is burned off.  My problem over the last week has not been the heat but the wind, which has hardly let up for weeks. I have never known for it to be so breezy.  Provided it’s not a North Wind, it does have a cooling effect but the  disadvantage is that  around this place all you have to do is sneeze too hard and leaves come down by the bucket load. I left a fairly clean place and came back from Adelaide to find everything covered in leaves again. I mean I understood ; spring – leaves grow;  summer – leaves develop and flourish; Autumn – leaves start to die and fall; winter- leaves come down. Is there something wrong with this logic?

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Still in the middle of nowhere

Depending on how the Eremophila do I will go back to the Arid Lands Garden again – only next time I will take a camera with me. This could be as early as next week, but I doubt it – although I will be going down to Adelaide next week to  pick up my brother-in-law (my sister died two years ago) and bring him here. His carers are going away on holiday and since there is no one to look after him, he will be coming here. He has serious heart problems so John is coming down with me to help if we run into trouble. It will be a long, slow drive back. I will also be good to have John spell me on driving – it will be a 930 klm round trip. It  will depend on time if I get to the Gardens. If not I will try and get through in a few weeks. I hope the dogs behave for the ten days he is here!!! But then, the dogs live here – he does not  :o)

Oh and it’s not really in the “Middle of Nowhere” the photograph was taken from the pathway of the Botanic Gardens as was the one above but they do serve to illustrate the isolation of this area.

Eremophila and Arid Lands

20130313_115345In some things I kind of follow “dog rules” particularly the one that says ” never refuse the opportunity to go for a ride in the car”. Ok, I sort of draw the line at sticking my head out of the window. I believe the Attitude Adjustment Organisaton – commonly known as the Police – tend  to take a dim view of that sort of thing. Anyway, it is 5:30 am and I am about to go for a shower. My younger  son telephoned me yesterday and  said that  he and his partner (Trish/Patricia)  are going to Adelaide  and would I be interested in coming down with them. He’s a systems engineer and I always thought he had brains and  then he asks such a foolish question. Trish is going to a training course, Andrew is going into the Head Office, so they will drop me off in the city and pick me up later in the afternoon. That kind of works for me.

On Saturday  my older son and I are going to drive to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden. I want to look at some native plants – I don’t have a problem with native plants and shrubs,  only with Eucalyptus  trees in urban areas.  The above photograph was taken in front of the library and I asked what that silver plant was and all they could tell me was that it was a native shrub. I went to the Garden Center and they confirmed that it was a native but they didn’t have any. That  being so I decided to go through to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden, which is the  native arid plants center for this entire region. John and I will go through tomorrow and as an added inducement I promised to buy him lunch whilst we are there The Botanic Garden has a lovely cafeteria.

Had a good day in Adelaide and managed to get most of the things I wanted done. There were other things I would have liked to have got done but they will have to wait until another time when I  am down there with the car. We were back home by 9pm.  This morning (Saturday) John and I will drive through to the Botanic Gardens. Later this afternoon we have visitors from  inter-state who will be here for the next few days. Busy weekend.

Clay, Steps and Abandoned Dogs

The soil of this area is very shallow and beneath the shallow top layer of soil is heavy clay. This, I understand, is not conducive to trees with deep roots – so we end up with shallow rooted trees – i.e. Gum Trees. The bun fight  – native vs exotic  – has been lost and council will start planting  native trees.  They have, however, admitted that a lot of the planting in the past was inappropriate to an urban area (understatement!) and they have promised that they will be more selective. But that’s all well and good, but they are still messy and nothing will grow near them. There is too much oil in the bark and the litter and  all of that is toxic to anything that tries to grow near them. But anyway, the council will  plant native trees and accept the mess as part of the price of being environmentally  responsible. But here’s the thing, with all this mess and litter being carried into the drains and clogging them up, will the council accept responsibility for any flooding that occurs because of this?

20130313_092514I have tried to break things down and dug deep put in extra topsoil but still plants do not survive. Well some do, but most don’t and the slightest wind and everything is covered in leaves and by the time I get round to cleaning them out, it’s generally too late. In a week I can fill up most of a 6×4 trailer with leaves, bits of tree and assorted and associated  litter – and that’s just my back garden. Because of the high levels of heat and working, I have not  used the blower on the back garden for a couple of days, so I have leaves everywhere. I’l try and get them done ver the next couple of days. And yes, I have used large amounts of Gypsum to try and bread up the clay.

You may remember that I did say that I had ordered Dog Steps for the little man to get up on his bed. They arrived yesterday and I am very impressed. I thought – the description was not all that clear –  that they would be some kind of moulded foam, but not so. They are  moulded steps that I have to put together and then  cover them with a lambswool covering – pretty cool, I thought. And 70 pounds (31.7 kilo)

Was down at the shops yesterday and helped the manager with a distressed dog that had been abandoned outside the supermarket (again).  I looked after the  girl whilst he tried to contact the RSPCA – without success. We finally telephoned the council and the pound sent a van to collect the dog. Hopefully, it wont stay there too long before it is fostered out pending adoption.  However, the best thing would be for the owner to come forward and accept responsibility because it was not a young dog and she looks as she has had a few pups.  A very friendly and placid thing she was.

Gardens and dogs – too much heat.

My HumanIn South Australia we are used to the heat of summer – that does not bother us too much – but the last couple of years we have experienced high levels of tropical humidity. This means that it is 35c during the day but only dropping down to 29/30c at night. Most people are getting tired through lack of sleep. Many, like me wake up in the morning as tired as when we went to bed. The overhead fans  drying things out. It’s all right for the dogs, they have an air conditioner and are fairly cool.  The humidity at this level and for so long is not what we are used to and it’s draining. We had the door open and the nets up (keep the flies out) so the dogs could wander in and out at will. It has been so humid and  draining that we have had to close the door just to keep the heat out and the cool air in. And the tiles of the laundry are  cool. We are used to arid and dry, not hot and humid. Today, for example, the temperature is 38c but that’s ok – it’s hot and we can deal with that – not sure about tomorrow though – 42c.

Needless to say, the dogs have been inside most of the time. We closed tot doors to keep the hot air out and they bark at the door when they need to go out.  They have been good and spend much of the time “resting” and having differences of opinion as to whose turn it is for the raised bed. We have two inside a large one and a small one and they argue over who gets the large one  :o)

According to what we have been told, this is the last  of the string of days over 32c and by Thursday we should  be down to mid to high 20s again.  As I said at the start, I don’t mind the heat, but the humidity is draining. The garden is suffering because although I water at night after the sun goes down, I have already lost  many of the vegetables I planted when I thought the very hot weather was over. Most of the flowers, with the exception of the Lavender, have survived. The Lavander might, but it looks decidedly  unwell at the moment.  Of course it being the hottest day of the week thus far, and I get a call to come into work. Oh well, I suppose my extended holidays had to end sooner or later.

Someone sent me this photograph so I thought I would share it. If I have breached copyright o something, I am sorry and I will remove it if asked.

Sunset, dogs and trees

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The end of the Road – Really!

I went looking for some polystyrene this afternoon and discovered that the pet shop has a sale on this  Thursday and one of the items is a collapsable ramp that I can put outside so the man can walk up  rather than jump up the stairs. I know I am probably going slightly overboard but  he’s my man and it’s  part of my job description to look after him. Anyway, depending on how the unit looks  and works, I might end up buying two.

My car goes in for repairs ( excuse me, didn’t you do that last week?) and hopefully the fuel gauge should be fixed. First time was to determine the problem (took about an hour) Parts were ordered and I took the car back  at the end of the week ( Last Friday) but he couldn’t do the job because my son, who borrowed the car for a while, very kindly filled the fuel tank – and you can’t  replace things in the fuel tank when it’s full of fuel. I have had to drive around for a few days and today is the day it goes back in to finish the repairs. I don’t think it should take all that long to do and I should have it back by lunch. – Car back and repaired…

Went down to the sale and had a look at the dog ramp, which wasn’t too bad. Didn’t get one though because  they decided that this – and a few other things – were not part of the sale. Anyway, came up with a new idea. Went to the garden shop and bought kneeling pads and wrapped them in  carpet and they fit just neatly and let him get on and off his bed without trauma. Good. However, herself decided that they were not good enough so she got out her sewing machine and, using some spare material she had left over from something, made two “pillowcases”  One to  put the pads into and one to change. This is the person who just “tolerates” the dogs, but  maintains she is not a “dog person”. This is the same person who went to the craft store and bought a heap of material and made a dog coat for the little man when we first rescued him  – he had to have all his own coat cut off because it was so matted and she didn’t want him to be cold. But, she doesn’t really like dogs all that much  :o)

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Messy Native Trees

This weekend we have a fundraising venture for the Royal Flying Doctor Service at the “Collage of Technical and Further Education” – TAFE. It’s the first day back for the new semester so the collage  will put on a  barbecue lunch for the students and staff.  We will cook and serve it and TAFE will give us a donation. I think it is going to be a very busy month.  And the Saga of the Native vs Exotic Trees still continues. If you look at the mess and look over the road not only is there a mess, but nothing else grows near it.  I don’t like native trees planted along  pathways and medium strips.