Green chandeliers

Yesterday I went to look for a jade plant and found that they were strangely expensive, so I bought a similar but cheaper plant, as well as a bushy, dark-leafed euphorbia with cute little flowers. I’m surprised how much difference the two of them make to their little corner; suddenly there’s a pleasing range of shapes and green tones. I’ve realised, however, that the strong light is going to bleach everything that goes there. As the not-a-jade-plant can take both sun and shade, it might be smart to buy another and rotate their positions.

I’ve started dealing with the white wall, firstly by filling one spot with a nice sturdy flowering bush that had been less usefully filling space elsewhere. It only reaches halfway up the wall, but it’s growing. The other major white area is between the ylang-ylang and frangipani. It’s a bit of an awkward spot, both in terms of available space and the question of how to make a nice visual connection between the trees. The frangipani has grown quite a bit and is tall enough to wear some hanging pots now, so as a quick solution I think I’ll buy some potted creepers and dangling succulents. I already have one of the latter hanging from a lamp, and it looks very nice, a sort of green chandelier (as a bonus it is now sprouting ferns). Hanging pots obviously won’t block out the wall, but they’ll at least break up the white and ease my botherment while I think about longer term solutions.

Also, a tiny caladium that I thought I’d killed has come back — hooray!


Garden plans

There are two things I’d like to have more of in the garden: shade and bushiness. Our high, white front wall reflects the light and heat, as do the tiles. The trees shade their own little spots with varying degrees of authority, but the middle of the yard is completely exposed. I’ve got one place against the wall where another tree could go. I’m thinking about a palm, as they’re supposed do well in pots.

I’d also like a greater visual appearance of shade. I’ve realised that a lot of my plants (the coleus aside!) are about the same medium shade of green, or lighter. Some darker ones would add the appearance of depth and coolness. I’d like to find an ivy to grow over the wall, it would both stop the glare and provide a dark green background for the other plants. Next door has a perfect ivy, in fact, but I haven’t seen one for sale.

I’ve also realised that I’ve bought too many rangy or twiggy plants and not enough dense ones. Some areas are fine, but in other places there’s a slightly bothersome excess of visible branch and stalk in proportion to leaf. As well as looking a bit scraggly, this of course doesn’t help towards either the effect or the actual presence of shade. I’m thinking of replacing a couple of the allamandas, which keep growing rangily, with other plants — but they’d need to love the sun very much indeed.

I’ve at least brought a bit of water into the picture, with a lily pot and another water-plant with tall leaves and flowers on curious zig-zagging stalks.



Day of the coleus

The garden is starting to grow up now and look quite good.  In the photo below you can see what the Coleus got up to while I was away. The Giant Pinwheel Flower is in the top right.  The Rangoon Creeper, which you can’t see, is up and over the fence and flowering, which makes me happy, as it was a tiny little thing when I bought it and I wondered if it would survive. It’s one of my favourites of the plants I’ve encountered here, with very pretty clusters of flowers that change from white to red over a few days (white, red and pink appearing together at once), and a delicious fragrance like a sort of minty jasmine. There’s a ginormous one climbing in a tree in another house in the street.




Shopping towards Cythera

For a while I’ve been thinking that my garden needs a statue or two, so I went over the road to the flowerpot and birdbath shop to enquire about the prices of some concrete cherubim. As it happened they were having a sale, so I bought a little putto sitting on a ball on a pedestal playing a trumpet. The first thing I did on getting it home was break it. It’s very heavy and I tried to use a wing as a handle to get a better grip, and the wing broke off. I fixed it with epoxy and now the putto has a dramatic scar where the dark-coloured epoxy leaked out. So now I have not just a statue but a romantic ruin.

I’ve been told the rust on the frangipani is normal — the neighbours’ frangipanis have it too, apparently it happens every year when the leaves get old.

All about putti



And back again again

Came back to BKK last night. The garden is mostly ok. The chalice vine had a flower, but I missed it; the jade vine seems to be growing fine, and the rose looks great with several blooms. The pinwheel flower tree is also blooming nicely, though growing towards the sun and getting quite asymmetrical, so I’ll have to turn it around and possibly try to straighten it up. The coleus has reached monster size and shows definite signs of collapsing under its own weight as promised. The maple-leaf hibiscus has so much scale bug that I just had to prune it, but it was very floppy and lanky and needed pruning anyway. Sad to lose the flowers, though. The insects seem to love its new shoots and buds. And the frangipani is covered in rust, like it was when we moved in around this time last year, so have to try and do something about that.

I’m planning to tail this year off easy. I updated the sculpture page on this site. I want to set up an Etsy shop, for which I’ve done most of the preparation of photos and info, and finish those snails. And I might not try to do too much else. Probably work on a sculpture piece I started in Australia. But I want to read, do a bit of exercise, and catch breath.



I love this cover for The Victorian Railways Magazine, November 1925, by F. (Frank) Hedley Sanders (b. 1902). If my writing is sometimes steampunkish, I need look no further for explanation than my upbringing as the daughter of a steam railways fanatic…

I can’t find much about Sanders online. He seems to have been best known for his illustrations for Home Beautiful, having been described by writer Peter Cuffley as “the man who captured, with pencil, pen and brush, the Australian ideals of house and home” (though he was American-trained).

The electric train with its calm and cosy lighted windows has the higher ground, but the steam engine — that gutsy, barbarian, oh-so-nearly-alive edifice of moving parts — thunders forth from Pluto’s realm puffing, “There can be only one!!”




I wish I could have got a photo of this: two young fairywrens sitting on fence wire in cold weather, one with its wing around the other. Their father was hopping around, looking anxious — you could hear him saying “Get off that bloody fence and come inside where it’s warm!” — and indeed they all flew back to the nest.



I’m back after a great time at Conflux, the Canberra speculative fiction convention. I haven’t been to many conventions, and this was my first small one — quite a contrast from Loncon! It was friendly and relaxed and there was plenty of opportunity to chat to people.

My big news is that “Under Construction”, the sculpture of the little minotaur building a maze, won the E.G. Harvey Award for Australian Speculative Fiction Art, sponsored by the Harvey Australia Foundation. The award came with a beautiful glass trophy (pic below). I’d like to thank the foundation for its generosity, the judges of the award, and the organisers of the convention for all their great efforts!!



Another utterly unexpected outcome of the convention was that I sold all the pieces I exhibited. More thanks to all the people who bought something or who just liked the work. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the positive response to the art I’ve made so far, and in consequence of being overwhelmed am also feeling inarticulate, but basically I’m happy, grateful, and hopeful for the future!

ETA: It seems to be the little fella’s lucky week. He just won equal 2nd prize at the Lot 19 Spring Sculpture Prize in Castlemaine, Vic. Lot 19 is a wonderful art space with studios currently hosting 26 artists, and as well as the Lot 19 prize there are several prizes donated by sponsors. I’m a bit knocked over as it was an excellent show and I didn’t really rate myself with a chance. The winning piece was the delicate, tender abstract work “New Life Hanging in the Balance” by Domenica Wallace, and Jane Creenaune won the other second prize with her bronze “Semaphore III”.


Made it!

Finally got home yesterday morning.

On my last day in BKK I made two more snails: Sir Pass, a fast and determined snail, and Flying Sir Cus, who is currently Sir Falling Over, though the foundry might be able to fix that by making the metal thicker on one side. I really wanted to give Cus a helmet like this, but it wouldn’t fit, though I’ll try again when I get back. Anyway, that’s all the snail knights for now (though I have ideas for more!) All these ones need finishing properly. The snail bodies are easy to make, but to get the shellmets looking good could be a bit fiddly.





Delayed by another day. Problem with the hyperdrive or something. Supposed to leave tonight.

Thought: Life as a process of lowering one’s expectations.