Pushmi – Pullyu


Yesterday, Jackie made an unfortunate discovery in the Weeping Birch Bed. Roughly half this plot has been raised on top of the concreted area that we think must have been laid for Post Office vans in the past. It was therefore only a few inches deep. This also explains why water escapes from the un-cemented brick retaining wall. This meant that the border of the back drive had to be further plundered to lift the level. The Head Gardener began the task yesterday and I finished it this morning. The toad that I disturbed hopped away at the speed of an Olympic athlete. The warm weather must have kept it awake.

Jackie planting chrysanthemums

This afternoon I supported Jackie in replenishing this bed. She made a support for the honeysuckle, plonked a fuchsia, and planted various smaller plants, such as yellow chrysanthemums. I helped spread the new topsoil, dead-headed some roses, and divided the libertia.

Libertia division

UnknownThis latter task required the application of two forks in  emulation of Dr Dolittle’s Pushmi – pullyu; the insertion of a fairly useless sharp knife; and strenuous manual prising and tugging.

For those unfamiliar with this creature, Wikipedia informs us  that ‘the pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push-me—pull-you”) is a “gazelle-unicorn cross” which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. In The Story of Doctor Dolittle, the grateful monkeys in Africa persuade it to accompany Dr. Dolittle to England to earn money for him (in Doctor Dolittle’s Circus and Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan.) The pushmi-pullyu usually only uses one of its heads to talk, reserving the other for eating (thus allowing it to eat while speaking without being rude) and claims that its great-grandfather was the last unicorn.

In the 1967 film, the pushmi-pullyu was instead portrayed as a double-headed llama. The doctor can immediately speak to the pushmi-pullyu, knowing that llamas speak a dialect of camel language.’

I did my best to persuade the garden’s insect life that we are now into October, but they just carried on regardless. Perhaps the talking llama could have interpreted for me.

Honey bee drinking from verbena bonarensis

This honey bee simply continued siphoning nectar from a verbena bonarensis.

This evening I burnt much of the recent clippings in the incinerator.

Sunset and bonfire

The rays of the setting sun frolicked with the smoke from the fire.

As is often so, Jackie made enough sausage casserole yesterday for several meals. I was more than happy to sample it again today, with crisp carrots and cabbage, and creamy mashed potato. We had both enjoyed a beer whilst watching the incinerator, so we abstained from drinking with the meal.

Now I am going to watch a recording which will let me know how Wales got on against Fiji in the Rugby World Cup.


  1. I remember the days when every backyard had an incinerator but no more. We have bushfires in Sydney; maybe that’s the reason. I’m not sure if they’re banned but no one here burn in their backyards anymore. Maybe they do it in the country.

    Good pic of Jackie working amongst the flowers.

    1. I remember those incinerators too, and at primary school too when every afternoon the grounds would be full of smoke as our rubbish was burnt off! We can burn off here, but I believe there are places now where you can’t even have a slow combustion wood heater.

      1. I have cancer in my lungs so I’m glad the air quality is better now that there’s less burning in the suburbs. We still get smoke from bushfires though and of course in the winter when people use their fireplaces though there’s less of that too.

        1. Oh my goodness I’m so sorry to hear that Mary..and very glad the air quality has improved around you! We live near forestry where they burn off the undergrowth occasionally, the smell does get everywhere, often I have to rewash the clothes if I hung them out on the wrong day.

          1. Yes, the Aussie bush does need burn offs now and then. Living in the country won’t guarantee clean air in this case. Our green waste is collected once a fortnight. The council make compost with it.

      1. That is so thoughtful to check with your neighbor! I heat with a wood stove, and the past few weeks have needed a fire to take the chill out of the house in the mornings. I am grateful the wind usually takes the smoke away from my only neighbor.

  2. Like Pauline I was taken by the smell of the smoke and the “plonked fuchsia”. I once saw a house for rent in North Carolina with the address of Plonk Road. I would have loved to have lived there!

  3. I imagine all real estate comes with an unpleasant surprise. So glad you and Jackie just keep saying, “well, we can take care of that…” Let me tell you, I’ve taken out liriope and it took a great deal of digging and prying. Sounds like your grassy stuff is the same…

  4. I remember similar gardening problems from years ago – it is no easy task but so satisfying when completed. Just love the photos here Derrick – especially the ones of the honey bee and the bonfire

      1. The same as me–I thought so! So, help me out here … while I have no trouble with focus for more distant shots (such as birds), I often have trouble getting it to focus properly on the super close up shots such as bees. Any advice? Am I missing a setting or something?

        1. It took me ages to suss it. Opt for P on the settings dial. You then have macro, normal, or MF. The one I use most is normal. Resist getting in too close to the subject and you will find the boxed area, even if quite a small part of the image, will blow up beautifully. Macro is a little more tricky, and I haven’t managed to work MF successfully. Let me know how you get on.

          1. Thank you! I’ve been trying to use the macro setting for the super close-ups but it would go in and out of macro. I should have known about the P setting. Duh!! Believe it or not, I’ve been practicing close-ups this morning with bumblebees on the same verbena in your shot! It’s still blooming in our garden and the bees are easy targets because the cold has slowed them down. I appreciate your help!

  5. The garden certainly keeps you busy! Nature’s gym 😉 And hooray for leftovers. Even those of us who like to cook enjoy an evening where we don’t have to prepare a meal.

  6. I actually enjoyed your analogy using Dr. Doolittle’s Push me Pull you, the bee photo and sympathize with the struggle of taming gardens, Derrick. 🙂

  7. Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    derrickjknight posted: ” Yesterday, Jackie made an unfortunate discovery in the Weeping Birch Bed. Roughly half this plot has been raised on top of the concreted area that we think must have been laid for Post Office vans in the past. It was therefore only a few inches deep. “

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