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Welcoming the cool...

Greetings beautiful people, all over planet Earth.

Orange Backed Robberfly cooling off on my house timbers

Well Im pleased that Summer is almost over. Again it was a very hot, dry Summer, just like 2023 was, which is a shame because usually this time of year, rain is here. We had none of that in this area again, so surely it can’t get any worse than what it’s already been. At least the change in season is good to look forward to. 

Despite the heat, Ive managed to put down all drip irrigation around my home and gardens and let me say it’s been a total game changer. I wish I had done it sooner! The plants and trees have responded so well to the drip irrigation, and have flourished even when it’s over 40C outside days on end, and it’s so much better than watering by hose. So not only are they cumbersome and beautiful now, their growth rate is staggering, and it has saved me hours and hours of watering each day by hand in the heat. 

Below are some cuttings of pomegranate that have been sitting in my tropical cage enclave for the past 6 months with very healthy root systems. I can’t wait to plant all these out. 

Here is some mulberry cuttings with also very healthy root systems. There is a blood red plum also, plus some ajwa dates grown from seed.

This year due to the heat we had some fires in our local national park. It could be seen from my home and one day in late December I took this shot facing east towards the fire with my long range lens.

Doesn't look like much but for those living close by, this is what they saw every night.

Nothing short of living on the cusp of Mordor.

Mordor in the real?

Anyone living next to a national park, will know that these fires can burn for weeks and weeks on end, if not months if there is no rain to put them out. This was burning for well over two months and progressively got closer until it rained out in the mountains. What a blessing!

During the hot summer months, there are plenty of birds that will flock to my gardens to come and have a drink. My first job of every day, just after I wake up is filling up all the bird bowls, plus the kangaroo buckets for them to water. If these buckets are not filled to the brim, every day, there is a risk that birds are not able to resist temptation and will fly in them to have a quick little bath and are unable to fly out and will drown.

There was a few close calls and I rescued a total of four birds this year who all made hundred percent recoveries. This happened when I went away over Christmas despite it being very cool for a couple of days. As soon as I arrived home, I ran out to the buckets to check for birds and there was one struggling for life. I pulled her out and she sat on my finger for about a half an hour, and then I put her in the tree, and she rested there for a few more hours, eventually, she recovered, and she flew off.

Collared Sparrowhawk who flew into my window

This is a sparrowhawk above. He unfortunately flew into my kitchen window a few weeks ago, and as soon as I heard a thump, I ran out. Usually birds die straight away after doing this, but he was still alive and struggling, so I put him up in the tree without any fight from him, and he sat there for the entire day until about 5 pm, and then he recovered enough to fly off. Its a tough life in the real natural world!

Below is a dream. A dream that I have been waiting months and months for. I cannot believe that I have a mango growing in my garden. I bought the Bowen mango tree as an experiment to see if even the tree would grow. Not only has it grown, but it has produced its first fruit after careful nurturing.

After pollination by the ants, I covered this mango with a chiffon bag to protect it from insects, birds, etc in October. It has stood the test of Time. Now in mid February, and it has suddenly changed colour and will not be long until I can pick it. Every time I go outside, I cannot resist but smell this mango. This mango is one of the best smelling mangoes I've ever smelled, and it is irresistible. If only all the mangoes in a store could smell this good, I doubt anyone would ever dislike mango.  You could bottle the aroma!

Sunsets have also been spectacular over the summer. So despite being no rain, and that being a very frustrating, debilitating aspect of gardening and life in the desert at times, there are some wonderful moments of the glory of planet Earth. Sunsets in the bush  are one of them.

Gorgeous sunsets with zinnias

I have to also give credit to the beautiful zinnias in my garden that, despite the brutal heat, they have thrived and provided nourishment, comfort and a place to live many insects, spiders, and bees. And every now and then some beautiful butterflies. For the first time in my life, I had the incredible monarch butterfly visit my home. I have never seen one of these butterflies in person and they are huge. The one that you see below is approximately the size of my palm.

The beautiful Monarch butterfly enjoying some nectar

There's been a huge amount of changes that happened in my life in '23, and having the chop with all my hair was a significant one. I never thought it would happen, but it did, and it feels good to have some change! I donated my hair to a charity for children with cancer as there is a company that makes wigs for them.

Below is me and a visit from my brother's dog when my parents came to visit for my birthday in January. It was another hot day!

Loving my new 'do!

Cutting my hair off is a literal weight off my shoulders! It's only after you chop your hair off do you realise how heavy it actually is, and once I had the chop, I not only felt a lightness, obviously, but I also felt some spiritual lightness as well. Perhaps hair carries energy from life that we have accumulated? Either way I felt so good after it.

Blue Banded Digger Bee enjoying the cool also! On stupendously hot days, the amount of interesting insects that come to the door is amazing.

I also finally finished my bath and have been blissfully having a bath every single night, and it is particularly enjoyed in the hot weather. I still have some minor sealing work to do but to have a bath now in my bathroom is a good feeling!

November was an incredibly busy month for me, as I had organised, funded, and put on a huge Christmas event for my local town and surrounds. We had just under 600 people attending with fireworks, amusement rides, and the AC/DC cover band Acca Dacca.

My girl Mel and her partner enjoying the fireworks

I have had some new additions growing in my garden and one is the Armenian cucumber. It is very popular in the middle east as it is pickled or eaten raw and it is very delicious. It is not a watery cucumber but it has a very flavoursome composition. I like to eat it raw and to also pickle some.

Early December was a big job of resealing my beloved Log cabin. For the most part, it was easy enough to do until I got bitten by a tick. Thankfully, it had only latched on for a couple of minutes, and did not have a chance to bury its head, but it's still gave me a bite, and it took about a month to heal. Thankfully, I have had no other physical symptoms! But it will teach me for wearing flip-flops around my house. Everyone thinks that snakes and spiders are the most scary things, but sometimes the most scary things are the things that we don't necessarily see straight away!

It was also a very abundant year for cilantro. Cilantro is one of, if not my most favourite herb, and I grew it in mammoth amounts in my garden. I didn't realise how good it grew here, until I actually grew it, and below is a picture of all the seeds that have yielded from this season. So it is safe to say that I have plenty of seed for next year.

Although it didn't rain here this summer, we did get teased by some hard thunderstorms. One rolling in look very promising, and I thought it would bucket down, and it did for about five minutes, and then it rolled on again, but the lightning and thunder that it brought with it was harrowing. Just the look of it. I knew it was going to be an ugly storm!

I have never grown onions before, but this year I managed to grow a couple from seed. This is a beautiful purple onion and it tasted delicious. I love onion and still have seeds so I will try again later this year.

All in all,  it has been quite a productive year, particularly after I had put in the dripper system as it has made a huge impact on the growth rate in the garden. Prior to that, the garden was merely surviving and probably wasting a lot of water. Although it has been disappointing, not having any rain again, I am hopeful that the drought will break, and we will have rain to come this year. 

Love Andulairah xx

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