-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mowing update

I can't get over how fast this year is going.  It seems like only a few weeks ago that we had the mowing done but it was actually 4 months!

Michael kindly sent some photos so we could see the finished job.  The orchard looks same as last time except that the trees are in their winter / no leaves coat.

orchard after mowing - 2 orchard after mowing - 1

This time he also mowed up in the olive grove, and that's looking a little more exciting - the olives are looking like proper bushes now, giving me hope they might one day appear tree-like.  His main focus was clearing around the fenceline I think, which Dave had run out of time to do last trip.

olive grove after mowing - 6 olive grove after mowing - 5

Next trip I want to get some more plants in around here to take advantage of it being fenced...  I was thinking of Agaves, but not sure they will be practical around the olives, so perhaps will need to look for some other succulents that are hardy enough to grow with zero support.  Hmmm.  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cotton trees and vanilla beans

We recently went to Mauritius and while there I came across two fascinating plants that I would love to try and grow one day.  Both were at an old colonial house that is now a restaurant and sugar mill making its own rum, called St Aubin.

The first plant was cotton.  I'd seen cotton before in Mississippi, but it was a shrub, waist high, with little wads of cotton you picked about the size of cotton balls.  Well, it turns out that if you leave it long enough, cotton plants grow into beautiful trees.

This tree at St Aubin is over 100 years old - but it is beautiful, with a bottle shape and canopy with enormous seed pods and bright pink flowers that reminded me of magnolias

st aubin - 07 - cotton tree  st aubin - 08 - cotton tree
st aubin - 10 - cotton tree  st aubin - 09 - cotton treezoom

Being realistic I know that I am never going to have a tree like this at Amherst.  Not just time is against me, so are the winter frosts.  Still, according to this really helpful blogpost, you can grow them OK as shrubs in Sydney... and I reckon if I got creative wrapping with fleece I could probably help the shrubs survive at least a couple of winters with hope of them getting at least a bit tree like?  Hmmm...  

The second plant was vanilla which to my amazement looked really similar to a french bean, in the sense of it growing like a vine.  I think this would be great for growing in a light bathroom where you could ensure it'd stay warm.  There's no need to worry about bees not being able to get in, since they're hard to pollinate naturally anyway - but there's a way to manually do it by removing a membrane and folding the top of the plant flower over.  Orchids Australia put a bit of a dampener on the concept but I still reckon its worth a try.

st aubin - 03 - vanilla