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Winter Cheer

It’s winter here, and though in Melbourne we don’t get snow, it does get very grey and cold and wet and dreary. And a bit depressing.

I often used to get my mother a plant for Mother’s Day — usually a cyclamen or a flowering begonia, and last year, in May, I bought myself a red cyclamen. It lasted for months and months and I found it really cheered me up.  I’d come out into the living room and the morning sun would be shining on my plants lined up along my wide window sill — and if there was no sun, just grey gloom, the cheerful red flowers of the cyclamen really brightened the day.

Now in the new house I not only have a couple of cyclamens in bloom, I have this gorrrrgeous red zygocactus (aka Christmas cactus) that a friend  gave me when I moved in. She gave me two — both of which she’d grown from cuttings from her own plants. The first one to flower was the lovely soft pink one that I blogged about in May.

As soon as that one finished flowering, I popped it outside in the cold and brought  the red one inside, and it’s started flowering now. Isn’t it beautiful? Beside it is a little Chinese Money Plant that another friend gave me as a tiny baby plantlet, an offshoot of her own plant, and it’s thriving and is now having babies of its own. In fact about half of these pot plants were cuttings or gifts from friends.

Here are the plants ranged along the bookshelf in my bedroom, looking out onto the grey bare trees outside, and keeping me cheerful no matter what the weather. 

That little splash of red beyond the claret and white cyclamen and the maidenhair fern is an anthurium, which has glossy green leaves and red bracts. As you can see, everything is doing well. 

A Progress Report

. . .  on the house, that is, not the current book I’m working on, though I am working on that, too.

The unpacking in my new house is proceeding, albeit at a slow pace. Weirdly, although I have much more storage in this house than I had at the old house, it’s been hard trying to decide where everything goes. I’m talking mainly about the kitchen, which is where I’ve been doing most of the unpacking. There is plenty of space — it’s the organization that’s the tricky bit.

In the old house I had a walk-in pantry, and everything was at my fingertips. I had a wall of narrow shelves for herbs and spices, and two walls of deeper shelves for everything else. Now I have a cupboard that is called a pantry, and drawers for everything else. And my herbs and spices don’t quite fit into this drawer . . . 

As much as anything it’s a reorganization of my mind. Do I want these plates stored in a drawer in the kitchen or on the other side of the bench in the old dresser I brought with me from the old house? And then, where do I keep the things I used to store in that dresser? 

Decisions, decisions. . . 

But the unpacking and reorganization is helping me continue the decluttering process, and I’ve already taken several boxes to the charity shop.

I haven’t touched the many boxes of books yet. I plan to get new bookshelves built first. At the old house there were two full walls of bookshelves that I built myself (using metal brackets fastened to the wall) and they’ve gone now, so even though I have a number of free-standing bookshelves (nine at last count — four over 6ft), there still isn’t enough space for all my books. So the culling will continue, but not just yet. The books can wait — as can the setting up of my guest room — this is it at the moment. 

Speaking of the old house, I guess I was grieving a bit at leaving it after so long, but the new owner sent me photos of the house as it was a week after I’d moved — and it’s a shell of its former self — literally. So that helped me to let it go. The photo below is of the room that used to be my bedroom. 

Thank you to all the people who’ve commented on this blog and written me emails wishing me well in my new home. I’m very happy here now — it’s warm and comfortable, and beautifully light. Even though it’s been cold and rainy or overcast for days, I still don’t have to turn on lights in the daytime. And my indoor plants are thriving.

As is Milly who is currently outside  on the deck, keeping an eye on the birds sitting in the trees in case they decide to trespass on her territory. 


Plants and plans

A friend dropped in at the end of moving day and brought me a couple of zygocactuses that she had divided from her own plants. One is coming into bud and the other has just started flowering, and it’s so gorgeous so I brought it inside. That’s it on the left.

Mum grew zygocactuses but all of hers were the same hot pink and I never knew they came in different colors. This one is soft baby pink and each morning it has more flowers. Don’t you love how small things can make you smile?

I don’t have the wide windowsills of my old house, where the plants thrived in the morning sun, but I have put a low bookshelf under my bedroom window and filled the top with my plants and they cheer me up each morning.

It faces west, though, and I’ll have to find somewhere else for them come summer or they’ll get scorched. But in the meantime, it’s lovely to wake up to flowers and plants.

This new house also has four large planter boxes and I’m going to grow vegies in them. They already have some herbs — amazingly a couple of basil plants are still going strong, despite the cold — and when I bought the house 3 months ago, it had tomatoes growing in one of them. I’m planning to plant broad beans in that one (because you shouldn’t grow tomatoes in the same place twice in a row).

I also have something called perpetual spinach, and a variety of silver beet seedlings. They’re currently sitting in the window and I’ll plant them as soon as I get a moment. I love winter greens.

When spring approaches I’ll be planting more vegies. I’m thinking maybe even potatoes. I grew them a couple of times in the old house and had several wonderful crops of potatoes.

Isn’t it funny how a new situation can spark you up? My old garden was much bigger and was getting a bit out of control (i hear my friends snorting at that understatement) but this one is small and very manageable. Milly isn’t impressed, though — there are no creepers to hide under, and scare critters from and no colonies of little skinks (tiny, sweet lizards) that she used to watch with fascination.

And though I hear magpies singing most mornings — which is a truly joyous sound to wake up to — there don’t seem to be many other birds in this garden. I’m hoping to change that, though, Stay tuned. And if you want to hear the sound Australian magpies make (they’re not the same as magpies from other countries) click here: