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Mixed bag

It takes discipline to maintain a blog, if you don’t do it right away it tends to be forgotten. Not that it matters, the one and a half people who read this and don’t post comments won’t mind anyway.

So, back to Wednesday. I had made a platform for our trailer so we could take a double decker load of plants back to the nursery.  Ellie has been re-potting like crazy, she finds it easier to take soil and plants back home and do it in her spare time rather than “wasting” it on a Wednesday.

First thing though as we arrived I pruned the Pelargoniums at the entrance circle so I could take cuttings, plant them in trays and put them in the misting house. We were pleased to find that the heating element was still working and our fish tank thermometer showed 24.5 degrees which is ideal. Between Neil’s tray of Clivia seeds and Patrick’s tree cuttings the misting house is filling up very fast.

While Ellie was doing the offloading I fixed the loose plank and safety sign at the greenhouse and watered the succulents there. The greenhouse is in need of some reorganizing though, perhaps next time.

The alien crew joined us at teatime, afterwards they (Rob, Cathy, Keith) proceeded to the main picnic spot to do some serious ringbarking of bluegums while we fixed the Dell pipe properly, planted some Leucodendrons and Zantedeschias before going to the arboretum to do some cleaning up.

After lunch we met Didier Duc and his wife to discuss the cycle tracks and the incorporation of the tracks in the greater scheme of cycle tracks in the area to form part of the Three River Trail. They might be able to help us make the tracks less bumpy and thus more cycle friendly.

Lastly we returned to the nursery to help Rob to protect the Strerculia from porcupine predation and to locate the camera to see if we can get a better picture of the critter.



The arboretum looks quite pretty at the moment with the Ericas flowering but further has quite a wintry look.

Woodridge walkabout 2014.06.18

Today was all about the Woodridge Eco committee’s visit to the reserve and the topic Ellie prepared was an alien trees.

On Saturday we had also visited the Reserve for some recreation by cycling the various cycle paths which have been very well mowed by Pottaman. I must admit that they are rather bumpy but still a much better way to enjoy the Reserve than by car. Afterwards we fixed a broken wire in the misting house and photographed most of the plant labels in the nursery for our plant list on the website.

So the first thing to do was to check up on the misting house and why it hadn’t sprayed, the problem turned out to be a dodgy switch on the control panel and once that was sorted out it all worked fine. We showed Goodman and he was most enthusiastic and organized for Patrick to get some cutting of various trees going during this coming week. It will be interesting to see how that will go. We need more trees because sadly the trees Jenny has grown for us on the farm have succumbed to severe frost.

Good to see that we got the planting soil we had asked for and even some more soil by what we call the West Bank of the entrance circle.

Early teatime so we missed Cathy, Keith and Rob who were doing more Podalyria hacking and then the Woodridge group arrived some of whom we had met before.10321109_10152159401681603_766305717733454342_o Ellie gave them an introduction to the Reserve and then we set off on our walk from the Flower House to the Arboretum and back showing them various plants and also all the bluegums surrounding the Reserve and the effect on the vegetation. Strangely enough they were most intrigued by the wild dagga.



We also showed them the sorry state of the Xhosa huts and tried to interest them in taking on the Bryophyllums in the nursery as a project and visited the Protea cynaroides patch to discuss the seedheads.

The students made it quite difficult for us with their many questions but it was very rewarding to interact with such an enthusiastic group.

We ended off with a very pleasant lunch by Wesley’s bench and the Tilapia dam before the final group photo:


Rob et al still managed to cut down a bluegum tree on the main picnic side even though there was no petrol for the chainsaw before they had to leave in a hurry while we still managed to repair the misting house enclosure with wood salvaged from the old picnic benches last week.

The final act was a quick weed of a section of the traffic circle where the grass is proliferating, we seem to be winning though.

Van Stadens 2014.06.11

A beautiful winters day, very fresh to start of with but warming up quickly.


A trailer full of repotted and bagged plants was offloaded and given a place in the shade house and general nursery. Later Ellie, Cathy and Rob replaced another piece of groundsheet in the nursery and moved the Strelizia nicolai there. We can now move more plants out and still have comfortable walkways.


A bunch of general maintenance stuff, the dead tree along the path near the Albizia had fallen over blocking the path so that, along with some Chrysanthemoides, was removed.

IMGP6661 Mark’s marsh needed refreshing so we switched on the water, I am a bit worried because the pressure seems not to be quite there. Porcupine diggings by Bob’s burial were filled in and cut keurbooms removed from behind the Gem. Plenty more work to be done.

Misting house:

IMGP6659The misters were still working and the plants looked good.

Showed Tony and he was most impressed.

IMGP6680 Unfortunately heater not working so I took off thermostat and later found the problem as the mechanism full of sand and ants. Cleaned it out and seems to be working again so will put it back next time.

Took the old vrot picnic benches, left behind the shed to vrot some more, apart to salvage some wood to fix the loose fibreglass sheets to the frame. Turned out to be quite a job as all the nuts were welded to the bolts so had to do some angle grinding first.

Thanks to the “experts” telling us last year that we could leave the bunnytails in the circle we now have thousands of seedlings coming up so we still spent an hour weeding away. Every week a section and we should be able to keep up.

More plants need repotting so we filled up some bags with soil to take along and on the way home stopped at the sawmill to collect some bags of sawdust to ‘sweeten’ the soil only to realise when we got home that we had forgotten to take potting bags Sad smile

Van Stadens 2014.06.06

Now that I got this fancy blog up and running on the Van Stadens website I’d better get up to date.

Last Wednesday was busy as usual, we had a bit enough of just working in the nursery so on arrival Ellie just offloaded the plants we brought while I tried to dismantle the valve in the misting house. To no avail as I couldn’t get the rusty screws out without damaging it. The timer worked and there was voltage on the coil but the valve just didn’t open. I decided to leave everything on in the hope that it would miraculously start working.IMGP6637
















After tea Ellie, Rob, Cathy and Keith carried on clearing around the Dell while I busied myself in the arboretum with the felled Keurbooms but it was not long before Rob came racing in his car to tell me that Ellie had pierced our precious pipeline with her fork. Luckily we still had a joiner so the problem was sorted in no time.

The traffic circle is in dire need of weeding, last year’s grass seeds have germinated in their thousands, who is going to do that is anybody’s guess. I did a small section as I needed some light work with my nasty cold.

Just before going home checked up on the misting house and to our amazement it was working!

This Saturday was our work party, only the faithful few turned up, all 8 of us. Perhaps just as well as we had a jovial committee meeting and afterwards got going naming and organizing plants in the nursery. Got through a lot of work and it looks real promising. In between we went for a walk to the Dell to show everyone what has been achieved.

Lastly we checked up on the arboretum, with all the work going on in the front section the arboretum is getting neglected, the Bryophyllum needs some attention, hopefully we can get the Woodridge eco club to give us a hand there.