Monday, February 6, 2012

Nature Red In Tooth And Claw

Always A Good Friend In The Garden

On Saturday night it occurred to me that when I went back to work and my friends asked me what I had been up to during the weekend, I would be forced to reply, "Well my dear, for the most part I have been engaged in a campaign of death and destruction, a veritable orgy of killing, and I am very pleased with myself as a result.  Bwa ha ha ha!"  This was because Mr Shoestring and I had spent a large part of the day in quiet pursuit of the demon bag moths which seemed to be destroying the conifers at the front of Shoestring Cottage.

At first when we moved to Shoestring Cottage I disliked the three tall, thin conifers which grew alongside the front wall.  After some thought though it seemed better to leave them where they were for the time being.  After all, nature abhors a vacuum and if I took them out what would replace them?  Ha, weeds, that's what!   So they were left alone and I eventually changed my mind and decided I looked their symmetrical appearance and imposing stature.  

Imagine my horror when one of them began to lose its foliage.  Each week I would leap out of the car upon our arrival to inspect the latest developments (or setbacks).  At first I thought I was imagining it, but over time it became obvious that the front tree (of course it would have to be the one in front) was very unwell indeed.  So much for conifers being virtually indestructible, here was proof that my thumb was black rather than green.

Asking my friends and acquantances, nobody had ever had any problem with defoliation on cypresses.  Upon close inspection the only possible reason was the presence of lots of tube-like, cigar shaped grey insect cases.  

I am not sure what is inside these but imagine it must be some sort of caterpillar which eventually will emerge as a moth - and probably the one organism which adores feasting on conifers.  There were a few of these on the middle cypress and none on the far one, so it seemed a possibility that they were the cause of the problem.  A laborious period of labour followed whereby a ladder was brought and all the horrible things were picked off the tree.  (They must be capable of travelling long distances because I even found one firmly affixed to the roof when I was up there painting recently.)  

Wherever I looked on Saturday there was murder and mayhem.  Look at this praying mantis, suspended upside down and feasting on a poor little green winged moth.  And then there were the slugs - not just a family of them but a veritable city of them all breeding madly all over the garden.  There was nothing for it but to send them to oblivion, sadly.  

So on Sunday Mr Shoestring and I decided it was time to finally do the walk to the top of the mountain, which we had been vowing and declaring to do ever since we moved in - and that was over a year ago.  We set off from the town domain and climbed to the transmission mast at the top of the mountain along a very steep walking track through the native bush, and what a beautiful view there was from the summit.  We saw wild goats racing away madly down the road as we came down again, and there were so many beautiful ferns and trees on the walking path when we turned back along the mountainside.  At the top of the mountain a cold wind was blowing but it was warmer and less windy as we came down again.  We took a side-walk to a waterfall (by this time we has been walking for hours and a little detour seemed inconsequential).  By the time we climbed down again we were footsore and our limbs were nearly seizing up.  We looked forward to a soak in the bath, but were very pleased with ourselves.  

View from part way up the mountain

My mum recently cut back her lavender plants but before she did I harvested the flowers to dry, and spent time this weekend stripping all the tiny blossoms off the stems.  How therapeutic and relaxing this was!  In time it would be fun to make lavender sachets but for now the blossoms are filling bowls and scenting the cottage.  I fear Mr Shoestring is glad to see the end of the process because it became rather time consuming and addictive, the stripping off of the flowers.  I was happily muttering away to myself as I attempted to remove every last tiny blossom and shreds of foliage seemed to fly all around the room, very mysterious.   

I recently told my dear mama that I planned to make a wind chime with old pieces of cutlery, since the garden was already full of old pieces of china hanging on the trees and off pieces of trellis.  The next time I saw her she presented me with a random selection of cutlery from her local op shop so there was no need to search out any pieces.

Here is the end result, courtesy of Mr Shoestring.  It looks very effective hanging in the old cherry tree and the sound is very pretty.  There was a little bit of cursing involved, but not too much.  

Today Monsieur and Madame La Poste visited and we had a good session comparing our many and varied WIPs (Madame La Poste taught me that this stands for Works In Progress), and the dream projects which keep us awake at night.  Also Madame La Poste donated this beautiful violet tea cup to Shoestring - isn't it the perfect match for the other two recently acquired treasures?

And as we are both working feverishly on our crazy quilt projects Madame La Poste also gave me a selection of treasures to use in my forthcoming crazyquilt projects.  

 Antique mother of pearl buttons and glass trimmings

Beautiful mother of pearl buttons with inset letter and bee

More treasures - and another bee!

Another short working week coming up, and then Art Deco Weekend - life doesn't get much better.  Then sadly the return to real life and autumn.  Sniff.  

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