#20 Tongues in Trees
A new role model barbie, Maidenhair Ferns, Permaculture Principle 7, Cairns Birdwing Butterfly, This Week in Books
Welcome to Tongues in Trees Number 20!
Next month we will transition to monthly newsletters which you can read here on Substack or watch on YouTube.
Good News: Barbie delivers a new role model
Plant Profile: Maidenhair Fern
Permaculture Principle 7: Handy Herbs
Wonder: Cairns Birdwing Butterfly
This Week in Books: Bee Aware
Free Read: Buzz Around Your Backyard with this Handy Pocket Book
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Barbie has delivered a new role model to shelves that signals a shift in thought.
Jane Goodall says she’s been suggesting this doll for a long time in a bid to give girls a role model that encourages them to follow their dreams of working with nature and conservation.
Barbie created the doll using 75 percent recycled plastics that would otherwise have ended up in our oceans. It was launched just before World Chimpanzee Day on July 14th to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Jane Goodall’s first journey to Gombe National Park in Tanzania.
Jane Goodall is known for her pioneering work with chimpanzees. She is a primatologist, conservationist and anthropologist. The new doll comes with a chimpanzee toy.
It’s great news that an iconic toy like Barbie is departing from the traditional fashion-conscious image to career-focused inspiring women and even better news that this doll is encouraging awareness of conservation and science-based research.
I have had my current Maidenhair Fern for ten years. In that time it has moved house with us twice and almost perished a number of times. Right now, it’s growing more vigorously than ever because we’ve moved to a climate with more consistent humidity.
There are around 250 plants in this genus and their common name comes from a volatile oil that can be used to nurture hair.
Maidenhair ferns prefer a shaded position, making them ideal as an indoor plant or in the understorey in your garden. They like humus-rich moist soil.
I keep mine in a self-watering hanging pot in part shade under the eaves and water it with the dregs from my children’s water bottles to maintain consistent moisture.
When it dries out it looks dead but I’ve found that a good drenching and some attention yields new leaves and new growth.
Maidenhair ferns like soil that is slightly alkaline so they also benefit from a light application of lime every so often.
Keeping Herbs Handy
When I started studying permaculture I was bound into the vision of a large sprawling edible garden that needed space for multiple elements. Now I know that permaculture is really about the principles that link living to the garden and ultimately to nature.
The seventh principle “Patterns to Details” is often detailed in terms of zones which are set out to maximise convenience as well as success. You may only have room for one or two zones but that’s okay. Every little bit helps.
Setting out the zones will give your garden design a pattern which you can then fill out with details.
Zone 0 is the home and has potential to be one of, if not the most rewarding of the zones. Zone 0 should contain plants that need attention frequently or are used frequently and this is why my Zone 0 contains herbs and leafy greens.
I have herbs on my kitchen windowsill, a set of tiered pots by the back door containing lettuce and edible flowers, numerous self-watering hanging pots containing mint species under the eaves and a number of scattered terracotta pots near doorways containing other herbs.
These details allow an easy harvest when I am preparing food as well as early observation of any pest or disease issues as I see them during my daily routines.
Think about what you use or want to use frequently in the kitchen and then observe your zone 0 to find a spot for each “detail plant” that will start your permaculture pattern.
As I sat outside enjoying the sunny day, black wings flew through my peripheral and I turned to follow them. My immediate thought was that it was a Willie Wagtail, but I was wrong! It was Australia’s largest butterfly. I’ve been planting their host vine in the vain hope of capturing one on film and here she was.
I followed the female Cairns Birdwing Butterfly, camera in hand, hoping against hope that she would rest for a moment. She did! She decided to visit the red pom poms that are one of the only flowering plants in my garden at the moment.
As she fluttered and sipped I snapped numerous shots of her amazing visage. She’s so big!
The males are smaller but more colourful so they get a lot of the attention in photography. As I viewed her photos I noted with wonder that her open wings were sprinkled with gold dust.
She’s truly wonderful and I think, deserves as much recognition as her more attention-grabbing mate.
This week in books features a field guide. This amazing little pocket book has introduced me to a whole new world of pollinators.
When you think “bee”, you probably think of the European Honey Bee, but there’s so many other bees that are spectacular and effective pollinators.
My personal favourite is the Blue-banded Bee which is featured in the graphic above.
Click here for a free read of my review. If you’re not Australian, I’m sure there are equivalents in your part of the world and there’s no better way to connect with nature than with a field guide in hand!
See above the graphic for free reading link.