12 December 2009

Pet palm peeves

I never actually decided that this will be a gardening blog! I figure after a few months I will settle on some kind of organising motif, and then start being a bit more disciplined in my entries. Until then, I go with the flow...
Now this is not a particularly impressive corner of my garden. That's my studio-office in the background, one of my favourite spots – a cosy snug little room in winter, as all the walls and ceiling are wonderfully insulated (thanks mainly to neighbour Robbi, who refitted the original cedar garage for me more than ten years ago now), and a nicely shaded and comfy room in summer, too, with airconditioning as an option on truly awful days when there's work to be done, the weather is sticky-hot and an afternoon nap is out of the question.

The reason I'm sharing this view here, though, is because those awful messy palms (Alex's, I think) are the bane of my life. There are three of them in that patch of garden on the left. And OK, they do provide some good shade on hot afternoons, since they lie just west of the studio (whose little paned window on this side is out of view here). And yes, I once saw a lovely little sugar glider sail into the top of one of them on a summer's evening, to feast on the flowerheads up in the top. But mainly, their canopies are the preserve of fruit bats, who just recently left a trail of awful dollops on a sun umbrella out the back, so I'm down on fruit bats at the moment too. Otherwise, these tall old palms are just an abomination, trailing down messy fronds on all sides, which are too high to get at for cutting down, and that don't actually fall until they've hung there for several seasons. And then they come crashing down indiscriminately, sometimes flattening favorite things underneath. Even now, I have a Mt Everest of these dead fronds piled up at the bottom of the paddock, waiting to be burned once the wet season makes that safe. And don't mention compost, because it would take 10 acres of open land to successfully compost the amount of palm fronds that fall out of my palms every year. And right now, the palm nearest this path is dropping onto the pathway several kilograms of palm nuts every day – big yellow marbles almost the size of golf balls. So walking down the path can be life-threatening, especially for AH whose footing is not that sure anyway. I sweep up at least one large bucket of the balls every day. In years past I would hire someone to get up and cut down these nut clusters before they fell. But now the trees are so tall that no one wants to go up there on a lean-to ladder. And of course, as with many areas of my oh-so-interesting garden, there's no easy access for substantial vehicles, like hydraulic lifters for chainsaw-wielding maniacs or those giant pencil-sharpener engines that eat up tree trunks and spit out green compost. If there were, I'd soon be cutting down just about all the overgrown palms dotted around the hillside between house and garden areas below. These were all planted by the German retiree who built this place 22 years ago – the same guy who put in singapore daisy as groundcover. (Say no more, right?)

There, that's my grizzle for the day. Maybe I need another label called 'old lady gripes'. Or, like Sister NB, a pot in which to collect a coin for every grizzle on at least one day a week. No, don't encourage me.

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.