09 June 2013

A memory of friendship


This orchid opened this morning – a beacon of brightness on an otherwise bleak and wet winter day. The annual flowering of this plant always brings to mind John and Gillian Unicomb. They left the orchid behind as a thank-you gift more than ten years ago, after they'd had a holiday in our house during one of our absences overseas.

John and Allen were at high school together. Then both went on to a lifetime of work in the theatre – only working together once in their late 50s when John played an outstanding Willy Loman in a wonderful production of Death of a Salesman, directed by Allen. Gilly and I first met in Hobart in 1971. We were neighbours and had our babies together the next year.

Sadly, John died earlier this year. So the annual flowering of this orchid brings lovely memories of a very dear man – and of the power of friendships.

05 June 2013

My winter garden

Here are just a few corners of my too-big garden - showing some of the plants that brighten my heart on these (relatively) cold winter mornings.

We call this the butterfly bush (with some ornamental ginger on the left). The white flowers only appear for a couple of weeks at this time of the year. For the rest of the year, it's a pretty unimpressive plant. I cut it right back to the base after flowering. Otherwise it would grow too leggy.

Outside Allen's office window is a little group of fishtail palms. There are at least four climbers living on it. The latest to take hold is this philodendron (at least, I think it's a philodendron - the climbing sort, not the tree type). 

My golden penda tree (below) is full of berries. In the warmer months it will be awash with gorgeous yellow blooms. It's a Queensland native, and  I know the birds visit the flowers for nectar, but I haven't yet seen any birds coming for the berries.

That's one of my smaller poinsettias. It puts on a good show every year, when the overhanging frangipani (or plumeria) has lost its leaves.














I have only a small collection of bromeliads - all in pots, so they won't get waterlogged during our summer downpours. I have placed them along a path that leads from the house to the studio. That way anyone staying out there can enjoy them - as can I when I use the studio.

Most of the bromeliads have grown 'pups' over the last season. I guess they're pretty happy in this spot, which faces north (the prime position for any plant), but has a number of large palms and other things providing some shelter on hottest days.

This year I've moved my herbs and a few greens up to the topmost terrace, right outside the living-room. Too often I would forget to pick these before dark - and then have to wander down to the unlit vegetable garden with just a torch to guide the way. So now they're conveniently located just off the front terrace, and well lit by the exterior lights on that side of the house.

Here you see rocket (behind a small border of ornamental plants). Herbs are on the other side of that little gardenia you can just see at the top right of the photo. The boxes have various oriental greens coming along - for stir-fries. A lime tree provides shelter from the hot western sun.

At the far end of this same terrace (below) is one of two teak rocking chairs that my mother loved to sit in during the year she spent with us.

Also in the photo below is a ponytail palm I inherited from Zoe. It needs more TLC than a working mum can provide. And on the plant stand behind the rocker you might catch a glimpse of my largest Christmas cactus. It's just coming into flower. (There are a few more of these amongst the bromeliads in the photo above.)


Finally, on the pergola outside my bedroom window, a delicately blue-coloured thunbergia is colonising part of the roof as well as the pergola. (This is also one of the climbers that's up in the fishtail palm.) Officially this is now a weed, and shouldn't be planted too close to bush areas, as it can get out of control. But here it's well contained by the parking circle on one side and paths on all other sides. I just have to climb up and cut it off the roof now and then, so it doesn't choke up my gutters. The lovely flowers are well worth that trouble.











About 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.