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SOJOURN AT KARLA'S - Nov 26 to Feb 25 2017

I have been so lucky that my first house sit has been somewhere so beautiful. And for three whole months to boot. 

Enough time to sort out the excess of personal belongings I managed to bring with me despite selling, giving away, donating or throwing out the majority of my belongings. I have a rented small 2x2m shed to store photos and a few personal items in. Things I couldn't bear to part with. My many potted plants have gone to dear gardening friends and I know they will be valued, thank you.

I managed to bring with me about 8 car loads of goods. This of course needs to be filtered down to one carload when I leave for the next house sit at Dayboro. To this end I have, of course, bought a larger car! Yet to be collected due to an error in ordering by the car yard. Oh well. 

Living at Karla's is like living in the middle of a gorgeous ultra neat botanical garden with wildlife and chookies thrown in. It's tranquil here - no traffic noises. Cicadas sing outside at dusk, the rooster crows at dawn along with the dawn chorus of local birds; little creatures rustle around in the undergrowth but don't show themselves. Bush turkeys have room to do their thang without being a nuisance in the immediate area. They fly from my giant tree top to another, so long as it'a a bit downhill. Quite a sight.

The garden is filled with texture, colour and artwork. It's beautiful and nourishing to the soul. Something I rather need at the moment.

I have been here three weeks but not had much actual time to work in the garden due to other commitments but have managed to plant some corn, snake beans, okra, sorrel and asian greens. This weekend is taken up with an appointment and staff Christmas party (Karla generously encouraged me to invite visitors). I will also be able to entertain my own family here for Christmas, something I haven't managed to do for many years due to the small area of my own home.

Some pictures of my favourite places and plants around the garden....

Looking back up the drive towards the Quail cage, adorned with Jasmine, under one of the large Poincianas. Karla's quail have managed to incubate their own eggs and there is one surviving baby.

Some of the flowers about the place. Coreopsis I think (correct me on any errors) and Salvia  There's pineapples growing all over.

Brazilian Red Cloak plant (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) per Christa - thank you :)

Texture and colour everywhere.

Ixora and Shasta daisies.

Beautiful Gaura and Crepe Myrtle to attract the bees. 

Places to sit...

Ponds of water for the wildlife...


Some of the garden art....

And my favourite, the trio of magpies....

Zucchini really like it here - four or so plants provide me with a constant supply.

As do the eggplant....

Yakon, one of two good sized clumps...

Flowhive for honey bees....

Looking down towards the Taj Mahal of chook runs....housing five old chooks and a beautiful rooster.

Quiet nook under the shade of trees....

My absolute favourite variety of Rosemary growing in abundance....

The giant ancient Poinciana out the back, underplanted with a wide variety of colourful plants....

And the wicking beds planted with cucumber, toms and zuchinni (thank you Karla) with added corn, Lebanese cuc, sorrel, rocket, snake beans and chinese greens. Really liking the wicking beds and the sturdy climbing frames.

Really nice quick growing cuc and mini caps planted by Karla.

I'll be here long enough to benefit from the crops I have planted and maybe have some still growing for Karla and her family on their return. 

Hoping to get stuck in to the other two raised wicking beds in coming weeks along with the other vege beds down the side of the house. Wonderful to be somewhere with fresh rain water to drink and veges and herbs to crop for dinner each day :)

A few storms have come through...mostly wind but some nice rain with it.

Boxing Day 26/12/16

What a beautiful morning. It's been raining and things are moist and cool. The local birds are happy. So much bird song - wish I knew the names of them all.

After a hectic week at work and Christmas celebrations with family the last two days, I've had the chance this morning to spend some time trimming and cropping in the kitchen garden behind the house and decorative area under the giant blooming Poinciana, while the wicking beds refill. Very pleasant :)

The Snake Beans are growing very well on Karla's incredibly sensible climbing frames. Love them.

The corn, asian greens, okra, zucchini and rocket are all growing well, despite a few slugs and caterpillars.

The Okra is blooming.

I am loving the wicking beds - I think these necessary on a big property like this one where it is too difficult to get around to watering by hand often enough. A lot of work goes into maintaining acreage to the degree that Karla and Bruce do. The gardens are a real credit to them both. I am doing my little bit keeping the back area trimmed and neat but the entire yard is a two (or more!) man job.

And here is the beautiful and dignified Walter with his harem of pretty girls - the pale one, Florence, is his favourite consort. No eggs. Don't know if they are just too old or in a hiatus at the moment.

And almost forgot - here is the dear little water dragon that inhabits the back garden. Not warmed up when I found him/her this morning and quite approachable.

Happy New Year 2017! Let's hope it's happier than the last one.

Fair swap with the chookies. They get a big mess of Collard and Asian greens for breakfast and I have two of their eggs made into the yellowest omelet. One of the chookies is an escape artist and likes to get herself outside the fenced run. Naughty girl. She's always there waiting in the morning to be let back in.


VIDEO taken this morning when I went down the hill at dawn to check on the dragonfruit flowers. Walter in the background greeting the morning along with all the local birds.

NOTE: There don't seem to be many if any fruit forming on the Dragonfruit. Must need hand pollinating.


Well - here it is already the end of January. We have had some incredibly hot periods, heat waves, and the aircon has been given a workout. I go out to garden around 6am and by 7am I am bathed in sweat. Karla's wicking beds have proven their worth. I fill up the reservoir once a week at weekends and only had to top water new seedling about three times. Some things suffered a bit in the heat (Sorrel didn't like it but the lettuce seedlings have proven surprisingly resilient) but on the whole everything is growing well.

I have been harvesting corn and while the cobs have been small (weather conditions???) they are the tastiest I think I have ever grown.

The Bok Choy has been growing brilliantly but it now succumbing to the humid conditions with the plants rotting off at the bottom. Never mind, I well and truly had my moneys worth from $2 worth of seedlings.

The Snake Beans - all the plants have grown well but some are producing smaller fruit which goes to seed remarkably quickly. Never seen this before. There are still more fruit than I can personally use and they have been going to work for the clients to eat.

The long cuc Karla planted earlier is still growing but not producing. The Lebanese Cuc (below) I planted later has given a few good fruit.

One of the fruit was left out in the sun all day after picking and became wrinkled. Christa suggested a simple pickling process of vinegar and sugar to create sandwich cuc. 

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Comment by Rob Collings on January 2, 2017 at 8:19

Wow, the blog has lots, lots more... nice photos Lissa, I wonder if there will be a platypus shot before the end of blog?

Comment by Lissa on December 12, 2016 at 18:22

Cheryl - just give me a reminder before the Jan GV and I'll bring you some cuttings. I'm not organised with a calendar for 2017 yet to write notes on.

Comment by Lissa on December 12, 2016 at 18:19

I know, I know Andy. It's hell. Ok, so it's like living in a beautiful botanical garden with birdsong laid on, rainwater to drink and vege beds to potter in.

I just need to get myself organised for the next move. So many things to do on my two days off each week.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 12, 2016 at 9:30

What a tough gig Lissa.  LOL.  Fabulous spot to de-stress for a while. 

Comment by Susan on December 12, 2016 at 6:01
Wow Lissa, it looks like you are going to have a very adventurous life set in some beautiful places. I loved Karla's place when she had a GV. It was a gorgeous and peaceful spot. I'm sure she will appreciate coming home to a productive Vegie patch.
Comment by CHERYL SLAPP on December 12, 2016 at 5:46

The Brazilian Red Cloak is such a pretty plant.  A while ago I ordered a couple of cuttings on line but they didn't strike, maybe I left it too long, who knows but must remember to get a piece from either you when I catch up or maybe Karla when she returns, whichever comes first.  

Comment by Lissa on December 12, 2016 at 5:11

Thank you for the name of the flowering plant Christa :) One of my workmates took home a cutting.

Yes, it's going to take a bit of getting used to setting up in different homes and gardens. I used to enjoy travelling for work staying in different places so hoping I get used to this.

I was down at the chook run and the neighbour was walking past and expressed interest in using my house sitting services. This is certainly a popular service that's for sure. I designed business cards online yesterday and have ordered some magnetic signs for the car. I'm beginning to see that I won't have much trouble filling the calendar. 

I plan to be like Johnny Appleseed and leave behind more in the plant line than was there in the first place.

Comment by Christa on December 11, 2016 at 10:10

Oops, forgot to mention that purple plume flower is a Brazilian Red Cloak plant (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) I used to grow it years ago at Petrie. It grows by cutting, and I used to cut it back hard in winter. 

Comment by Christa on December 11, 2016 at 10:01

Beautiful gardens, Lissa. It will take some time getting used to changing your daily routines. Lovely colorful photo's of the sitter gardens.  Hope all goes well with you new car. 

Comment by Lissa on December 11, 2016 at 8:48

Thank you girls :) Missing my own yard, pets, bees etc but not exactly suffering here!

Talking to the neighbour over the fence and she's also looking for a house sitter. I expect there are certain times of the year that everyone wants to go away, but it's looking good for continuous sitting so far. I'll have to get some cards made.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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