Last Sunday's Garden Day at Gigi and Scott's property 'Westwood' was inspirational.
'Westwood' sits comfortably on both sides of Australia's famous Dingo Fence (called the Dog Fence, locally) and is a typical large semi-arid cattle property. Blue-grey scrub blends into native grasses, with improved pastures in some places.
An extensive vegetable garden and orchard keeps this family well-fed and healthy. No chemicals are used. Fertilisers and mulches are home-grown using plentiful cattle and poultry manures. Vegetables are protected from bird and insect attack by means of tents made of fine mesh.
A family of talkative guinea fowl sound the alarm whenever a King brown snake slivers into the garden. Then they round up the snake and drive it out through the boundary fence or into netting. Apostle birds also have a distinctive snake alarm call.
Today -- on the home front -- we saw our first brown snake. It was 1 1/2 metres long and disappeared beneath the house. I confess to feeling anxious regarding the safety of our dogs. Our first gecko in the house was, on the other hand, a delight!
But back to the Garden Day. Apart from guinea fowl, Gigi has a collection of rare and exotic hens and ducks -- and a very special pet rooster that loves being patted. One breed lay chocolate coloured eggs. Then there are pet kangaroos, a Siamese cat and of course, cattle dogs. This is a place where life is good for all creatures great and small -- plants included.
Although the temperature hovered in the mid 30s C, a large group of people came from far and wide to partake of the warm hospitality given by Gigi and Scott. Plants were exchanged; conversations and laughter flowed easily as friends shared hints about plants and gardens.
On the way back to Mitchell we detoured to Orchard Hill where I discovered three new flowering plants. There's always something happening in this particular patch of bush. Aside from the flowers, the aroma of red sand and blue-green herbage filled my nostrils: an aroma typical of the Australian bush on a hot sunny day. This is the Australia I love.
Katie turned 16 this week, a fine age for a very special and dearly love Siamese.