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Van Stadens 2013.05.29

Needed to be a bit earlier today as Jenny’s helper was working for us today. It didn’t quite work out that way as Jenny’s meeting only started at ten and she needed him till then. I had to prepare the brush cutter anyway and then it turned out that the new blade didn’t fit so we couldn’t do the planned cutting of the first bike track.

Of to the arboretum which looked stunning in the early morning light, everything still in order except a small tree in “The Gem” had fallen over because it was no longer supported by the chicken wire and needed to be trimmed.IMGP2613 “Mark’s marsh” also looked good.




To our amazement Tony turned up for a tour of the arboretum and he was full of praise and showed interest in what we are doing. After he left we carried on trimming shrubs, digging over and removing old wire till it was time for tea. We also fixed last week’s leak, it must have been the glue because this time it went ever so smoothly.

We delivered the new planting bags, had our coffee and with our helper returned to the arboretum and I got him to clear around “The Gem”. I could barely keep ahead of him cutting away the vegetation while he followed digging over. Ellie in the meantime busied herself behind “Niel’s nookie” doing pretty much the same including getting rid of another Bohemia.

We are pretty chuffed with the result. Of course not finished yet.


We rewarded ourselves with a leisurely stroll along the path and this is what we saw:


The Sterculia near “Bob’s burial” is in full flower, a sight to behold.


Our freshly planted little Aloes in “The Gem”


The impressive Albizia overhead


The Leucodendrons along our “Rudi’s Ramble” are getting pretty tall.

Finally, on the way out we made our usual stop at the first circle where Ellie did some more weeding while I tried to get my head around this upgrade of the entrance. Fourteen massive strelizias, fifteen scraggly coral trees, haphazard rockeries, remnants of an entrance gate, it will take more than a few willing volunteers to make it something special.

Van Stadens 2013.05.22

No pics today, too busy for that.

The day started of with a meeting with Goodman, mainly to get permission for the biking trails which he was quite happy with and to meet the new students. It remains to be seen whether the students will be a help or will take up even more of the staff’s time.

We also discussed the flower house and he is well aware of the situation. The person doing it is not very knowledgeable but Tony is supposed to check up. It will also be one of the things the students will do.

Jenny joined us and we decided that the best way to deal with the scraggly ericas and proteas near the entrance is to do a controlled burn. At our next meet we’ll work at the first circle to take down some more strelizias and at some stage we must also do something about the keurbooms and Podylaryias there.

Off to the arboretum, connect hosepipe and switch on tap. No immediate leaks. I start on digging holes for the gateposts while Ellie does some more clearing of the fence. After a while I check for water and sure enough there is another leak a bit further on and I dig it out and it is the usual ripped out sprinkler issue. The meeting took quite a bit of time so before we know it teatime arrives.

Kirk is there, he returned the chainsaw and has donated a new chain. Comes in handy because I take it along to cut some branches in “The Gem” (our new name for the arboretums greenhouse). I dig the hole for the second post and Ellie makes good progress clearing.

After lunch we take the ladder along, I put the top post across the entrance and secure it, put a hook on the nookie door and take all the rusty chicken wire off the one side. It looks very clean now but I wonder how I’m going to justify buying new wire.

I prepare a peace of pipe with joins to repair the leak but when we put on glue it sets in no time and I cannot slide the join in place so grrr, next time better. I blame the old glue.

We clear out all the old rotten wood from the bottom section, put it in the trailer and generally clean up. Ellie is nearly finished preparing the beds, I fashion some kind of rockery, she plants some bulbs in it and we return the ladder to the Fovs room, phew, an intense day.

Next week we will have one of the workers helping us as Jenny won’t be there. We plan to get him started on the biking trail with the brush cutter, hope the saw fits.

Van Stadens 2013.05.15

Been a bit slack lately, I think I missed the last three trips, two of those were walks and only one was a ‘work in the arboretum’ Wednesday.

It was Rob’s first day this year that he employed two helpers to remove Podalyrias which have resprouted and he needed the broad pick so the first thing we did was to find him and deliver the pick.

Last week we fixed a leak just beyond the tap, encasing the leaking joint in concrete hadn’t worked so instead we had put in a new join and it was fine this time.

IMGP2532We also had uncovered a break in the pipe near the old shade house and we put a new piece in so we can test it next time around when the glue has set and discover the next break. We will get there one day. While I prepared the join Ellie filled in the previous hole and then dug out the two remaining slabs to be taken to the nursery.

We also had made a start last time to remove the chicken wire roof off the old shade house so we continued with that. It was a lot of snipping especially because we wanted to preserve the wire so we can reuse it to protect trees and bulbs from marauding porcupines.

At lunchtime we got some aloes in the nursery and proceeded to plant them in the beds.


Ellie got playful with some rocks and planted the small aloes amongst them while I raked some paths and removed some old shade cloth.


As usual we ran out of time, even more so because on the way out we still wanted to do some weeding in the ‘Brunsvigia patch’ in the first circle. Even though the soil is nice and friable after the rain it was still quite a job to dig the large tufts of grass out, it looks a whole lot better though.

IMGP2523The setting sun made for some beautiful light on the Ericas which we admired before setting off for home.