Belinda Jeffery news and events

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1 february 2013

Goodness, what a sad and sorry welcome it has been to February in our part of the world. After the terrible bushfires of the past weeks that have devastated so many people and communities, and harmed so much wildlife, we’re now awash in floods. What a country this is - beautiful, wild and so heartbreaking at times.

Storms raged over the weekend, but fortunately we woke this morning to a wonderful calm, and even a few rays of watery sunshine. I’ve spent the day cleaning up the garden which is full of branches and leaf debris. The winds were ferocious and I’m so grateful that overall we’ve fared well. For although we live in one of the flood-prone areas, we’re up high, so apart from a rather forlorn and soggy garden there is no other damage, unlike many of our friends who have had huge trees uprooted and have been without power for days…And then of course there is the awful flooding of homes. It’s such a terrible thing, and my heart goes out to those poor people, many of whom experienced similar flooding only two years ago.

On a brighter note, one thing I realised as I’ve been cleaning-up, is that slowly but surely our garden is turning into an urban orchard and bird sanctuary, and I’m so chuffed that it is. We now have golden and Tahitian lime trees; three varieties of lemons; navel and blood orange trees, and two very healthy mandarins, alongside a mulberry, olive fig and lychee - all of which I bought as dwarf trees, however like so many plants in our sub-tropical climate they’re now about three times bigger than they’re meant to be! Still, I’m not complaining as that means more marmalade and jam this winter.

Our veggie and herb garden have been going well - or perhaps I should say that they were going well until the battering of wind and rain. However, it’s amazing how resilient so many plants are, and our dash outside during a particularly heavy storm to stake the corn and tomatoes has paid off, as despite looking somewhat dishevelled they’ve bounced back remarkably well. We must have looked quite a sight as we both dashed out in our swimming costumes and garden boots, and got absolutely soaked to the skin. Still, with the sticky humid weather it was actually rather lovely to have a dousing!

Unfortunately, other parts of the garden haven’t fared so well, and some of our grevilleas have quite a few broken and torn branches. However, as I worked to clear them up I was really pleased to hear the gentle hum of bees in the flowers that remain. They’re so short of nectar, what with the fires and now this wet, that I’m glad they can still find some sustenance here.

On that note, we actually planted quite a bit of our garden densely with low bushes and natives to attract birds and bees, and it would appear to have worked. At last count we had 62 different species of birds that visit throughout the year. Although sadly, our neighbour arrived this afternoon carrying a box with two exquisite rose-crowned fruit doves in it which had flown into his window and broken their necks. I’ve only ever seen photographs of them and I can’t tell you just how incredibly beautiful they are, and how sad we all were that they had been harmed.

And now I must away, as I haven’t even thought about dinner yet and I’m ravenous – although I have to admit, I’m also absolutely knackered after my garden marathon, so I suspect an omelette and a salad will be about the extent of my cooking endeavours tonight!

Warmest wishes,

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