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2013.06.26 Van Stadens

Strange day, got a lot done and yet it didn’t feel like that. Got underway quite early and happened to arrive at the same time as Rob and Jenny who went to Ms White to talk about aliens. Not very conclusive as she does not seem to have a grip on reality.

We cleaned and sanded the table by the Xhosa huts and Ellie proceeded to give it a first coat of Nova14-meranti. Looks promising.


Off to the arboretum to install the fixed bit of pipeIMGP2693 near the nookie. We also checked on the bees and they were gone after the last poison attack.

Filled the big bucket and cleaned another picnic table with Ellie’s secret recipe, I doubt very environmentally friendly and went for tea, this time not in the Fovs room but by Wesly’s bench to commemorate that it has been a year since his passing.

It turned out to be extremely pleasant by the edge of the dam, watching a grebe and a pair of yellow billed ducks. Jenny had picked a beautiful arrangement to put by the bench for the occasion.


I checked on the float which was still going full tilt in spite of the level being where we want it. There is not enough travel on the arm to close it so I have to either dig it in substantially or lengthen the pipe so it is in deeper water, that’s for another day.

After tea we were a bit undecided and ended up walking the River Walk to put the 2km sign up. Great was our surprise when we found a 2km sign already on the trail at 1.5 km if that makes sense. We seem to be working at cross purposes here and need to talk to Goodman.

We had enjoyed teatime so much that we also had lunch by the bench and it was difficult to get going again but the second bench was not going to varnish itself. Just like last week there was a group of Muslims at the picnic site and they were again most unfriendly, this was compensated by Ben, one of the neighbours near the railway bridge who had come to the reserve to cycle 25km and I made him aware of the new tracks. He was most appreciative and will tell all his cycling buddies.

Last but not least the chainsaw was put to good use cutting the last strelizia  in the entrance circle down. I didn’t think I would be able to spare the pellie patch but thanks to some expert hinging cuts the tall branches fell just where I wanted them. The saw ran out of petrol with five branches to go which necessitated another trip back to the fovs room for a refill and the last branch fell at 15.45 with all cleaned up by 16:30. Probably will get some comment but we think it is a great clean-up and it opens up lots of possibilities for landscaping.


Ellie hard at work cleaning up after me


Dwarfed by the many, many branches


The last one falls, Timber!!

Van Stadens 19.06.2013

After Sunday’s relaxing time trying out the cycle tracks and picnic for fathers day it was back to the grindstone today. Started off with some corner post supports in the Gem, some bee killing, removal of more wire mesh and broken pipe moving on to cleaning up last weeks logs and branches of the Widdringtonia. Ellie also cleaned the surface of the picnic table by the Xhosa huts in preparation for some varnish.

After tea we continued with what I had started last week and widened and mowed the Fynbos Ramble including around Wesley’s bench. It looks a whole lot better again. It was quite a bit of work so we had to finish off after lunch.

Goodman had confirmed in the morning that he wants the Strelizias in the entrance circle cut down so we went there to cut a few branches off and ended up doing the whole thing. Next time we must still cut the stumps a bit shorter and poison them before going on to the last and biggest one.

It got quite cold and windy so we returned to the arboretum to plant some Agapanthus in the Gem before doing the usual in the Fovs room.

IMGP2680On the way out the cat had found a good vantage point.

Van Stadens 2013.06.12

Some great surprises today, as we entered the reserve we noticed that a lot of the proteas and ericas on the left had been cut down. Obviously Goodman has decided that this was better than taking a chance with a deliberate fire. There are a lot of seedlings coming up already so soon it will look good again. We then drove round the reserve on the other side of the N2 to see if Pottaman had kept his promise and yes, he has done a sterling job mowing the tracks, just right for cycling and too narrow for a car. The debris might make it a bit difficult to ride in the beginning but hat will soon rot.

On arriving at the arboretum the usual routine, connect the hose, switch on the water and check for a leak in the lower pipe. Surprise, no leak, more about that later.

Ellie planted a few things in ‘The Gem’ while I got some rocks out of the soil near the albizia to be used for a rockery some other time. They are rather large so a wheelbarrow might come in handy when we get to move them. Ellie also added some more rocks to the pond’s edge and we declared that finished.

We discovered that the bees nest has been robbed and whoever did it left quite a mess in ‘Neil’s nookie’

Not much to do further so we decided to cut down the dangerously leaning tree near the entrance. For that we needed the chainsaw so off to an early tea to collect it. I also loaded some poles in the trailer to cut bevels on them to take signs. Much easier at home. Also figured out how to put the saw blade on the bush cutter.

The tree went quite well, sharp chain and soft wood go well together and we quickly had a pile of firewood. Jenny arrived to nail more signs to the trees, soon there will be no more trees without signs the arboretum and Ellie showed her what we have done lately while I was off to the Fynbos ramble to try out the brush cutter. I was a bit disappointed that the new saw does not cope too well with the grass, perhaps too many small teeth?

After lunch resumed wielding the chainsaw, this time on the strelizias in the first circle, dying to cut some more down but I restrained myself and just cut the existing stumps shorter, quite tiring so we decided to call it a day after that and returned to the arboretum to clean the hosepipe up.

What? No water from the tap. Turns out that we had not closed the stopcock on Wednesday and Ellie had inadvertently closed it  in the morning. No wonder there were no leaks. We quickly connected everything again and it didn’t take long for Ellie to find the leak, quite a way from where we fixed it last time which makes me worried there might still be an intermediate surprise. Anyways, we dug it up and put a stopper on the pipe. We are now very close to finished.

Now it had gotten quite late so we swiftly returned all the equipment to the FOVS room, quick cuppa and off home.

Van Stadens 2013.06.02

This was an our monthly meeting, announced as a gardening exercise. Better turnout than usual with Keith and Cathy, Michelle and Rasheed joining us.

The plan was to weed in Jenny’s circle, it took a while to get everyone in gear. Neil got going with the chainsaw to trim some smaller strelizias, Susan did her own thing cleaning up a strelizia behind the flower house whilst Keith and Cathy got stuck into the rockery in front of the flower house.

After a while Neil and I went to the first circle to cut down one of the large strelizias, while doing that the chain came off and that was the end of chain sawing. We carried on with the handsaws and managed to finish the one strelizia before also tackling the one by the gate. It definitely gave a better idea what to improve around the entrance.

When we finished we quickly went to the arboretum to take all the old chicken wire to the road, let’s see if the staff will clean it up.

On return the rest of the crew had just gone to tea so we joined them and Ellie made use of it to have an impromptu meeting, discussing Wessa, cycle tracks and various other issues.

Afterwards most of us still paid a visit to the arboretum to look at the flowering Sterculia and what else we had done, especially with ‘The Gem’ Don’t know if it was the bleak weather or the wintry look of the vegetation but there was little enthusiasm, especially Michelle was less than impressed with the whole setup. Makes one think if it is all worth it.

Lastly we still had a look by the entrance in spite of the biting wind and ideas were bounced around such as making the rockeries more horse-shoe shaped and putting gabions by the gate. We’ll discuss it with Goodman when we next see him.

When all had left Ellie and I returned to the arboretum to unearth the next leak which we found right in front of the nookie and we decided that we would make this the end of our pipe fixing quest. From here we will lead a smaller pipe to a tap by the nookie so we’ll have water by ‘The Gem’. When we left Rob and Jenny were still out in the forest nailing more name tags to the trees.