Monday, August 3, 2015

Reclaiming and letting go...

Eight days ago we handed Charlie-the-dog back to his owner. 
We've been his caregivers for eight months while his master was deployed to the Middle East and over that time we got quite attached to him and he to us - but never could we have imagined such a joyous reunion between a dog and his master as the one we saw when Charlie and R were reunited. 
Charlie whimpered, barked, and cried with joy, R cried with joy, Mr E and I wiped away our own tears and found we could not speak. When we drove away our hearts sang with praise for the love R and Charlie share, even though we felt a hole in our own hearts at no longer having him. 

As soon as he'd arrived to stay with us Charlie had taken up complete residence on our back deck so it was no longer a place where Mr E and I could sit and share coffee, read or relax at the end of the day. 
Now with Charlie back in his own home once again, and cradling our loss of this lovable fellow, we decided to put all our efforts this weekend into reclaiming the deck and spending time on our individual gardening pursuits - Mr E with his bonsai, and me with a few new herbs and flowers.

We've also been part of a Dengue Fever Elimination trial in our town which meant the past four months our home has hosted a mosquito release container - believe me when I say you could not move outside without walking through a wall of mozzies!  Last week the container was removed and though we still have a lot of the stinging blighters around they are far fewer day by day... returning to what little bit of gardening we can achieve in this rental home was a blessing. 

Mr E's first attempt at propagating azaleas for bonsai a couple of months ago has been quite successful with new shoots appearing on his cuttings. They've been in an artificial 'greenhouse' for about 8 weeks now so they're almost ready to be planted in ceramic bonsai pots very soon...

On Saturday he began the propagation process over again with another azalea plant...

...a white one this time.

Meanwhile I refreshed my old pots and filled some new ones with herbs and flowers. The basil I'd sprouted from the seeds of last spring's harvest, and I purchased small punnets of of parsley, thyme, rosemary and mint at Bunnings for potting.

There's so much green from all the palm trees here that I thought I'd nurture some colour in pots - things like succulents, lavender and petunias are now on our front steps. I planted some petunias in an old tea pot without any base holes using a drainage idea that seems to be working for now...


 French lavender and a petunia seedling in the tea pot...

Last year when Mr E took me up to Cooktown I saw the most gorgeous purple flowering shrub and hoped to find it someday so I could have it in my garden. On our wandering through the Bunnings garden centre on Saturday afternoon I found it! 

Geisha Girl (Duranta Repens) now sits on the back deck where I can admire it while sipping my morning coffee...

I placed more pots of petunias on the deck as well as a few of the herbs...

...and planted plenty of coriander seeds around the aloe vera that grows in an old styrofoam box under the palm trees. More coriander seeds (we eats loads of coriander) were planted in a second foam box which also holds a broken stem from the Kalanchoe that's been planted in an empty tomato can. You never know, it might just strike if I look after it...

Final step was to scrub down our white cane chairs, buy some bright new seat cushions, and carry our round garden table up the stairs to the deck. I added a vanilla citronella candle and my much-loved-$1-from-the-op-shop-chicken-table-topper before Bob-the-dog settled comfortably beside the table on his hessian mat as though we'd been doing this for years...

From the deck we can see the mango tree which is already laden with new fruit. This time next month we'll be able to pluck some of these lovelies - though they are very early this year due to our region having it's driest wet season in history ...

My friend Heather told me there's a saying up here that if the mango trees flower early it will be a bumper wet season. I hope so. We really need rain...

As you can see, in the front yard there is no grass at all. In fact it's so dry (and hot, even now in our tropical winter) that our bird bath split in half...

...and our pineapple plant will not bear fruit.

But with plenty of regular and patient hand watering the Mock Orange tree I showed you back here is still soldiering on and has new growth...

 The sun was going down so I quickly dug out a project of mine from 2012 that I'd never used and made notes on all the things we'd planted during the day...

"My Garden" journal...

Mr E and I ended the day sharing a glass of French red and a platter of nibblies out on our deck watching the sun set...

We still miss Charlie, but life goes on. Moving forward, even by reclaiming the deck and planting some flowers, was the best thing to do, and now we have a place to take in the view every sunrise and sunset.


  1. I read your blog on a regular basis and I have never commented to say Thank You for the many beautiful patterns that you so lovingly share with us all. I just Love your designs, and your posts brighten my days. Thanks from a regular reader Janice

  2. Vuestra terraza ha quedado preciosa. Es realmente acogedora.Yo podría sentarme allí a terminar mi hussif :) .Gracias por compartir esos momentos. Muchos besos. Saludos también al señor E.

  3. Thank you for the lovely garden journal tutorial. I enjoyed reading your post....

  4. Delightful post! It is amazing when a dog and his master reunite. It is nice that the back porch area is yours once again. Wonderful plants, flowers and herbs that you planted. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful creative day!

  5. I'm so happy for Charlie and his owner. What a wonderful bond. Dogs don't forget. Your day sounds really delightful. Thank you for sharing the pictures of your wonderful plantings. My favorite might be the bit in the tomato can. =) Congratulations to Mr. E. on his wonderful bonsai success. I look forward to seeing it in its pot. Your teapot was a great idea for a planter. Sometimes I do something like that, with layers of stones in the bottom. Is that what you did? I also loved seeing your geisha girl. I've not seen that here, but I haven't looked much in the garden store the last couple of years. I find it disheartening that everything dies here in the winter. I noticed yesterday it's time to trim about six inches of basil stems! It got big while I wasn't looking. =) Thank you for yet another free project - you are so generous! Letting go and reclaiming - there's a metaphor for life and salvation in there somewhere. =)

  6. How special to witness such a beautiful re-union and also to have had the honour to have looked after such a loyal dog! I can't begin to imagine your weather being so hot in the winter! I do hope you get the rain you so need soon. I think it is lovely to have a special outdoor place where you can sit and relax. We often comment on how the holiday we didn't have so that we could afford and Hubby could make our decked area is the best holiday we ever had!! xx

  7. My mum had only had her dog less than three months when she ended up in hospital and Lucy moved in with our two dogs for over 4 months. I was really worried she might not remember her, but when we took her back she raced down the drive, into the house and jumped on my mums knee with a huge grin on her face, only matched by my mums grin, Lucy looked at us as if to say I'm not going anywhere. It was lovely :.)

  8. I loved reading your story about Charlie and I loved all your garden photos. I was thinking about your water shortage. Do you use/save your water when washing dishes or after a bath? A few years ago when we had a very dry summer, we were advised to re-use the dish/bath water to put on the garden. Even if a bathroom was upstairs the bath water could be scooped into a bucket for the garden, or even for flushing the toilet. When I lived in Greece many moons ago we kept the bath water for washing clothes, usually things like Jeans etc and the rest went on the garden :) Hope you get some rain soon.

  9. Gosh Jenny, come to N.Z. we get rain. Where I live in the middle of the North Island it is damp and cold all Winter. I look out the window today, it is grey, cool, and wet. Think I will progress on further with the Hussif you so kindly shared with us. Loved your "doggy" story. Hugs Shirley

  10. What a gorgeous post Jenny... Enjoyed reading, especially about the wonderful reunion between Charlie and R.

    Hope to download the Vintage Kitchen when we get to Rockhampton.

  11. I'm way behind on reading your blog. I just wanted to say that I'm so happy that Charlies owner came home safely from his deployment. Your gardener adventures look great!

  12. Well it sounds like you had a busy weekend. I had to look up the Dengue Fever Elimination trial as I didn't know anything about it. Wow!
    Maybe you two need to get a Charlie of your own. Our Bitabit has been sick all weekend and we are contemplating taking her to the vet or not.
    Your mangoes look wonderful. As does the rest of your plantings. Things are drying up here after a very rainy first part of the summer. For the next 10 days the forecast is 100 degrees or above. At night it doesn't get below the upper 80's. I like your little gardening book. So like you.

  13. Great reclaiming of the deck! Geisha Girl is very pretty. Bob looks so happy on his mat!

  14. Bless you and Mr. E for stepping in (and out) to help Charlie and R. I have seen some of these reunions, and they are the very definition of joy. My sweet girl, Emmie, originally belonged to my son-in-law, an Army helicopter pilot. He and my daughter got a second dog after they were married, but when he was deployed the two dogs had problems getting along. Things escalated during deployment #2, so before deployment #3 my husband and I took Em. She has been happy living with us for the past five years, but has never forgotten Josh. Just last month we met up with them at the beach for few days and took Em with us. I believe she set a speed record for an old dog running up a flight of stairs when she saw him.

    Cindy in NC

  15. What a lovely day despite your sadness. So good to know that he was happy to go home though. Beautiful garden pics Jenny even if it is dry. xx

  16. Your deck and garden looks lovely! I sense your need to have green and color around you when you are outside, Yes? I also need have that need! I have many plants on my deck, which is 9 feet up off the ground. We have deer that travel through our back yard and they eat everything! So that means I have to plant on my deck~~no garden. :( I have a few herbs, a couple tomato plants, a pepper plant(which has yielded exactly 1 pepper!) and some flowers.

    How kind of you and Mr. E. to doggy sit for Charlie. I am sure his owner knew he was in good hands.

    Prayers for you today, sweet Jenny.

  17. Glad your friend returned safely to Charlie, lovely of you to doggy sit for them.

    Your flowers & garden look gorgeous. I love the Geisha Girl it's a beautiful colour and wow a mango tree! Your winter sounds better than our summer but I suppose here in the cool North of England our climate keeps the lawn green. We had a gorgeous sunny day yesterday but it's been absolutely pouring today even though it's very warm. Well we don't need to water the tomatoes & flower tubs tonight.

    I would really struggle in a hot climate. We're finally visiting Australia & New Zealand on a cruise next year, better do that awful long flight before we pop our clogs! It's in November so hope it's not too hot! I was exhausted in Italy & although I love the lifestyle, the food & the scenery there the climate would kill me.

    My you were brave to do that Dengue fever trial. I hate using that jungle spray, the smell is really awful so you wonder what it does to you.

    Take care & enjoy your deck.


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