Symbolic pruning


All my roses are pruned, and I’ve helped quite a few friends with pruning of theirs.  I really enjoy pruning, but I understand many are intimidated by it.  A few simple guidelines are all you need.

Make sure your tools are sharp, and disinfect them between each bush.

Prune out dead and diseased wood and foliage, crossing branches and inward growing branches (generally in that order).

Cut back the bush by a third to a half, depending on how vigorous it is.  Try to cut just above an outward facing bud.

Spray the bush and surrounding soil with lime sulphur to kill over wintering spores of fungal disease.

That’s all there is to it.  Really.

While you are pruning away, you can use the time to think about what you want to prune from your own life.  We all have our own version of dead wood and diseased foliage.  Like the rose bush, our new spring growth might be healthier and more shapely if we can do a little symbolic pruning of our own.

The deadwood that I would most like to prune from my life is my general aversion to exercise.  Spending more time in the garden would have the double benefit of a better garden in spring and more energy expenditure.  So I will be spending the last days of my freedom from work (far too short!!!) weeding, pruning, raking, and generally preparing for a new planting season. I have about eight new roses due fairly soon, and its going to take some creativity to figure out where they go!

The confused diabetic

Diabetes, emotions, food choices

I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

It was my best friend’s birthday but she died a few years ago.  Then, the glucose reading.  Enough to set me off on a day long bender, starting with crepes for breakfast around 10.

Around 3 I started drinking, and I shall not reveal exactly how much but suffice to say my hangover is extremely well deserved.  I accompanied this with most of a wheel of Brie, and biscuits, and for dinner I ate a whole pizza.  Yes.  All of it.  I did no exercise, unless you count lying on the sofa laughing hysterically as I watched The World’s End for therapy.

This does nothing for one’s beauty sleep.  I’m up earlier than usual, and steeled myself for the reading.  Here’s the irony.  After all that, it was only 0.3 over yesterday.  I was expecting much, much worse.

So now I’m really confused.  Does anything I do in relation to this damn disease matter?

The despondent diabetic

Diabetes, Emotional management

I had a good day yesterday.  I did some exercise, had a very safe lunch with a lovely friend, did some work on the new novel, did some preparation for the job interview I have on Thursday, and had an equivalently safe dinner.

Why, therefore, is my blood sugar over 8 this morning?

I could cry.

I find these illogical variations very distressing and de motivating.  All I fancy now is to go and eat something that I WANT to eat, like pancakes in maple syrup, or brick sized slabs of toast, or how about a croissant oozing with cheese?

If there is no correlation between what I do and these readings, then WTF am I on this lifelong path of deprivation for?  WHAT DO I DO???????????????

Life without roses

winter flowers

The great joy of living in Australia is that in winter, we still have amazing flowers. I admit that I can get a little carried away about roses, but winter tempers me in more way than one. Winter in Australia is like no version of winter northern readers will ever have seen before. To remind myself of this amazing botanical bounty, I visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) a few days ago. It was slightly above frigid, and very overcast. Not very promising conditions for a garden visit, but it was totally worth it.

The ANBG is one of the few botanical gardens which only grows native flora. A visit to the gardens means you can walk along the spine of eastern Australia, from the wet tropics all the way down to the southern tip of Tasmania. You can pop over to my home state of WA, via the red centre. And even in winter, you will find flowers. Here is a selection from my walk.

Many Australia native flowers are dainty, like this Baeckia crassifolia, found in the rock garden.

Baeckia crassifolia.  Photo by the author

Baeckia crassifolia. Photo by the author

What they lack in size they make up for in mass. Many other species such as thryptomene, ti-trees and that ubiquitous but still lovely bouquet filler, Geraldton Wax, employ the same strategy of floral abundance.
The standout performers today were the banksias, named for Sir Joseph Banks whose wife gave her name to the Banksia Rose. Banksias come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from extremely large shrubs to hybridized dwarf cultivars. They are usually in the warm colour range, oranges and yellows, although you can also find pale lemons and deep rusty reds.

Banksia ericifolia ‘Red Cluster’ (below) makes a rather tall sparse bush, and has very long reddy orange flowers.

Banksia ericifolia 'Red Cluster'.  Photo by the author.

Banksia ericifolia ‘Red Cluster’. Photo by the author.

Banksia integrifolia has a lovely lemony flower, and attractive greyish new leaves but can be a large shrub.

Banksia integrifoloia subsp integrifolia.  Photo by the author.

Banksia integrifoloia subsp integrifolia. Photo by the author.

If you don’t have that much space, you could try the varieties called Stumpy Gold or Birthday Candles. If you are really space limited, you could try one of the native heaths. This one is Epacris impressa.

Epacris impressa or common heath.  Photo by the author.

Epacris impressa or common heath. Photo by the author.

The last two samples of winter colour come from the ever reliable Grevillea species. I planted Lady O in my last (more spacious) garden, and can fully attest to her frost hardiness and general beauty. Finally there is Grevillea lanigera, demonstrating its fauna friendliness.

Grevillea 'Lady O'.  Photo by the author.

Grevillea ‘Lady O’. Photo by the author.

Grevilliea lanigera with insect.  Photo by the author.

Grevillea lanigera with insect. Photo by the author.

I’d like to end with something I just snapped on the way to the library, a stunning floral arrangement made with natives that was waiting to be picked up from outside my local florist.

Banksia arrangement.  Photo by the author.

Banksia arrangement. Photo by the author.

Who says winter can’t be beautiful?