What a summer! Hot and incredibly dry. In fact there was basically no rain from November to the end of January. So, how did we fare in the garden?

Let’s deal with the bad news first. Unfortunately we experienced evaporation in both the pond and dam, well above previous years, causing water levels to sink to the lowest they’ve ever been. We also lost a number of young fruit trees, which was very disappointing.

Now it’s cooler, and the long dry spell has lifted, we replaced the lost fruit trees and also increased the number of new trees, adding 5 bananas, avocado, lemon aspen and elderberry among others. We still need to fence off the food forest to protect the trees from curious and at times hungry wallabies. And the next phase of planting will include some smaller under storey varieties which will be protected by the pioneer trees above.

We are also planning a row of various myrtles – lemon scented, cinnamon and aniseed – to act as a screen between the Spice Trail and compost/ container area. This is the working garden space, and at times is not always pretty, but an important practical component of the property as a whole.

THE BEES ARRIVE!

Three hives have been added to the gardens, two traditional Langstroth hives and one natural Warre hive. We’ve just experienced a very dry summer and as a result the bees found it difficult to gather pollen and nectar. While the hives were stable, and the bees happy, but the hives didn’t expand as much as we might have expected under normal weather conditions. We are still confident that our first harvest of honey will happen next spring. We are fortunate that the bush surrounding the property has both autumn and winter flowers, ensuring a natural food source for our buzzing friends. Plus, there’s a mass of tea trees on the property which make for great honey production.

If you see the hives during a walk around the property, please stay a good distance away and definitely don’t touch them. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. They’re playing an important role on the property and we can’t wait to share pictures of our first harvest with you.

Bee Hives

Bush Regeneration Progress

Last year saw the start of bush regeneration work as part of a program to address invasive plants and support koala habitat. The pictures below show the progress made in so far. The strangling vines are dying back, enabling the trees underneath to not only survive, but thrive.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the garden activity undertaken over the last few months.

We’ve harvested some of the turmeric and weeded the pineapple grove. We’ve take out the plants that didn’t survive the dry, and replaced them with some new ones. We managed to fill a high-sided trailer with spent palm fronds and cuttings from the gardens. Pruning is one of our favourite activities! We’ve fed the citrus and staked up the Meyer Lemon which has already started fruiting. The old grapefruit tree looks like it’s laden with fruit too, and this winter should see a bumper crop of amazing grapefruit. If you’re staying at The Lily Pad over winter, feel free to pick your own grapefruit for breakfast or salads.

Now it’s not entirely related to gardening, but we thought you should know about this…

While we’re still sourcing plants from Daley’s Nursery, we have also discovered the fantastic Burringbar Rainforest Nursery which a little closer to Byron. If you haven’t visited Burringbar, it’s a great place to take a short drive from Byron. You can visit the lovely Fallen Leaf cafe for hand made teas and browse Heath’s Old Wares for antiques and rustic homewares.

At the local butcher shop, Burringbar Quality Meats, you can buy the most amazing homemade hot pies. Worth the trip alone. The beef pies are made from the butcher’s own cattle, locally reared and grazing just a few minutes’ drive away. The free range chicken pies are just as delicious and they come in four different varieties, including our favourite the classic mornay.

Main Photo Credit: Chillies growing in the Spice Trail, by Amber Minto Photography

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