climbing trees, gardening, and mobilo

January 21, 2013

family life

3-52 2013

This week…

We’ve had some hot, hot days – 38 to 44 degrees celsius. And some cooler days (20 degrees) in between the hot spells.

The eldest boy taught the other two how to climb the lilly pilly tree. That tree was his domain, but he happily taught them how to climb. He supported and encouraged them and was genuinely happy that he had someone else to share the tree with. I see a teacher in this boy. He loves knowledge, talking about ideas, and interacting. It’s where he shines. Other parents are astounded with how kind and patient he is with young children.

The youngest boy is a “yarner” as we say in Aboriginal culture. He loves a story. His interest extends to movies, and he would happily spend his days watching movies. But at 10 o’clock in the morning when the day is cooler and there is plenty of scope for play, I told him to find something to do that did not involve a screen. He grumbled, a lot. I simply said “from boredom, comes great creativity, you’ll figure it out”. He found the Mobilo, and with his eldest brother, they built a star ship. They played for an hour with the star ship, and then they went outside to continue the game with role play.

The older dogs have been very generous with sharing their bones with the puppy.

I always feel whole after a few hours pottering in the garden. I learnt to garden from my father and grandfather, and from the age of 8 I tended our large urban vegetable garden myself. My mum had depression so meals were in short supply at times. The garden provided a fresh supply of food but it rarely got to the table. My brothers and I took the produce straight from the plant or out of the ground, washed it under the garden hose, and ate it. To this day I prefer to eat raw vegetables. These days I grow some vegies and herbs in pots. It’s not our main source of fresh food, it’s more of a hobby. The satin bowerbirds usually get to the crops before I do, they even eat chilli.

The youngest boy enjoys helping out around the garden. Not because he is particularly interested in plants but he enjoys the interaction and being of service. His dad has been taking him to swimming lessons this week, and on one trip home he said “I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with mum this week”. So we spent an afternoon in the garden together. We saw the hanging planters advertised and thought we would give them a go. There are roma tomatoes in one bag, and lebanese cucumbers in the other. The plants poke out of a hole at the bottom and grow down. We also got a hanging strawberry planter. When I read The Lorax the next morning to this boy, he instinctively cupped his hands to catch the Truffala seed.


About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

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14 Comments on “climbing trees, gardening, and mobilo”

  1. phrogmom Says:

    this sounds like a wonderful week! i have been wanting to try the hanging plant growers! you will have to let me know how it goes!


    • hakea Says:

      Hi phroggie

      I have to wonder whether they are a gimmick, but I’m trying to be positive. Our beagalier gets into everything and she is quite partial to eating tomatoes, so we’re wondering if we might get some for ourselves with this method? I will definitely let you know how they go.


  2. Hazel M. Wheeler Says:

    Ah, I am jealous! Here in Oregon, there is frost on the ground– even now at 3pm in the shadows, frost. My garden is too cold to even whisper a come-hither, much less call out to me.

    Your post reminds me of my plans for summer, sharing the garden patch with Kiddo. It’s so true that growing food expands a child’s palate, especially when they are snacking out of the garden. Our peas disappeared last year while Kiddo and a playmate were outside playing… just gobbled up fresh.

    Lovely how you remind the boys to play first, then turn to media later. And so sweet that your youngest could just know he needed more time with you and say something….likely knowing that his need would be met. But looking through your pictures–you are a brave mum, letting your big one up atop the playhouse. I think that would stop my heart!


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Hazel

      That’s my youngest on top of the cubby. He’s usually fairly wary of heights, but just this week he got bolder and climbed on the roof of the cubby to get onto the tree. My middle boy who is totally risk averse and plans for all contingencies also climbed up. My eldest is the dare devil and the trail blazer – he’s the one who stops my heart on a regular basis. I would love to be that nimble.

      Wow! Frost at 3pm. I can’t imagine that type of cold. In the winter we go out. I rarely go into the garden then, although our temperatures are mild compared to yours. We keep busy with soccer and bushwalking in winter. I don’t like bushwalking in our spring and summer as the snakes are plentiful and feisty, and we have some of the most venomous in the world. So, when people who follow the seasons of the year talk about winter being a time of hibernation and looking inward, it’s the reverse for us. We hibernate in the summer when it is frequently too hot to move.

      We were talking about growing peas the other day. If these upside down planters work we may try peas in them. Nothing nicer than fresh peas and green beans – oh so yum. I grew sweet corn and artcihokes as a kid, and they are nice raw also.


  3. InsideJourneys (@InsideJourneys) Says:

    I like that name, “lilly pilly.” What kind of tree is that?
    The garden is definitely a great place to bring the family together.


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Marcia

      This tree was in place when we bought the house but it has doubled in size since we have been here. We used to be able to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge (80 kms away) from our back deck and now we can’t because the tree has grown so much.

      The lilly pilly is a native to Australia. It grows pinkish fruits in the autumn, usually around April – it’s in flower now. The fruits are “bush tucker”. The Aboriginal people had six seasons of the year, and when the lilly pilly fruit fell it signalled the time to mend their cloaks for the cooler weather ahead ( When ripe the fruit has a subtle sweet flavour and the best way I can describe is – if pink had a flavour it would taste like a lilly pilly.

      When the flowers fall, the cubby house is covered in white flowers and it looks like snow.

      My kids get excited when the lilly pilly fruits, and their friends come around to eat them too. The dogs eat the fruits that fall on the ground. You can’t buy lilly pilly fruits at the green grocer. If I could get enough fruit together I could make lilly pilly jam. I planned to last year but all of the fruit on the big tree had a worm in it. We’ve never had problems with the fruits before, but it rained a lot in the season last year and that may have something to do with it. We have a few smaller bushes with better quality fruit but not the quantity.

      About five years ago we put the cubby house in front of the tree and the kids now use the cubby as a starting point to climb the tree. This tree is part of our family for sure.


  4. Michelle Says:

    So enjoying your posts! Project 52, what a great idea. Looking forward to the other 49.


    • hakea Says:

      Thanks Michelle. I’m enjoying this too. It’s nice to reflect on the good stuff that happened through the week. I’m wishing I did this when my kids were little. Strictly Project 52 is a portrait of each of your kids each week. But as I have worked in child protection and my husband was a mental health nurse for 20 years I’m not keen to show my kid’s faces.

      Thanks for dropping in.


  5. Julie Says:

    Hello Hakea,
    I am intrigued by the hanging baskets too – between my chooks, snails, dogs and kids I rarely get a strawberry and they often get mildew here on the coast too, so I have been wanting to give the baskets a go for better protection and air flow.

    Did you try the lilly pilly jam? If your fruit is that tasty, the jam would be fabulous. I am jealous of your large tree. Our street trees are lilly pillies but they are all still quite small.

    Cheers, Julie


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Julie

      Thanks for dropping in.

      Our dogs eat our strawberries. Now that they are hanging up the satin bowerbirds will have more of a chance to get them.

      Hopefully the worm won’t get into the fruit this year and I can have a go at the lilly pilly jam. I’ve not seen a lilly pilly tree this big in the suburbs.

      Do you remember when Aeroplane jelly came in lilly pilly flavour? It was the best.


  6. eof737 Says:

    Great photos and sounds like a lot of fun. 😉


  7. phrogmom Says:

    can you give me an update on the upside down planters? we are getting into planting season here and i am trying to decide if i want to take the plunge!!!! thanks!


    • hakea Says:

      Hi phrogmom

      Given the amount of neglect that my garden receives during the school terms when I am working, I have found that the plants do better in the ground!

      The cucumbers died within a week, they thought they were overwatered. The tomatoes are flowering now, but they are not as robust as the tomato plants that have self seeded around the garden. The self seeded ones are subject to pillaging by the three muttlies and kids with cricket bats and swords and still doing very well.

      The plants seem to struggle because their natural instinct is to grow up, but gravity is against them. That’s what I think I’m seeing.

      The strawberries are doing quite well, but the ones on the least sunny side have powdery mildew. We have had a lot of rain and grey days and that doesn’t help.

      In summary, for us, they are a bit of a failure.

      The joys of spring. Wishing you much springiness phroggie.


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