A Luculia Winter

I’m a mass murderer of luculias. At last count I’ve killed six of them, though one of the six died because it wasn’t potted up correctly at the nursery. I reckon I could get off that with a grievous bodily harm rap.
They’re picky bludgers. Don’t like wet feet but don’t like to dry out either, don’t like a chill breeze, like a warm sunny position but sheltered from frost and the harsh afternoon sun, don’t like to have the soil around their roots disturbed. It’s fair dinkum like planting Goldilocks. I’d almost decided I didn’t even want a luculia in the garden but that would be giving up. Fancy being defeated by an angiosperm.
About a month back I planted another one near the front window, just across from the rabbit hutch. Basil (named after Manuel’s Siberian hampster in Fawlty Towers) watched me carefully with his little twitching nose up against the bars of his prison cell. As I put the luculia in the ground I was reminded of the joke about the bloke who goes to the dentist and, just as the drill is descending into his mouth, he grabs the dentist by the nuts and says “We’re not going to hurt each other are we?” These were my words to the luculia – or something similar.
“If you show even the slightest sign of withering” I muttered “I’m going to feed you to that rabbit over there”
Basil’s little pink eyes lit up.
Basil is a beauty. Never thought I’d say that about a rabbit. But he has a personality. I often wonder if pets develop their own personality or if they simply mimic their owners. If they do mimic their owners then we have a serious problem. When he’s let out of his hutch in the morning to run around his wired enclosure, he darts about like pop corn in a hot pan; complete lunatic.
Basil is something of my companion when I’m in the garden. I have to wander past his hutch as I go to and from the shed. I often stop and have little chats with him. He sits there most attentively twitching his little nose. He’s a great listener.
“What would a person with a hyphenated surname do,” I recently asked Basil “if they were to marry another person with a hyphenated surname? The feminists have a lot to answer for.” Basil seemed to agree with me. He went off to the corner of his world to ponder my query.
Over the last few winters Basil and I have been on a marvellous football journey. He’s loved every minute of it.
“Cats by twenty points at half time” I tell him as I stroll past his cage. He gives a little hop of delight. Who would have thought a rabbit could be a Cats fan? But that seems to be the way of the world now. Everything is turned on its head.
The newly planted luculia is keeping me guessing. It‘s about to flower. Small but healthy clusters of buds are forming at the tips of the branches. As winter arrives so will the flowers – at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. But at the same time the leaves are developing a very distinct droop. A post midnight, 15 pots droop; a wet-cigarettes-at-Waverley-Park-in-the-1970s droop. I don’t quite know how to read it.
“Are you dying or not?” I asked it on the weekend.
Basil is eyeing it off. I see him squatting in his cage staring at the luculia like it’s a birthday cake. And don’t think for a moment he wouldn’t enjoy eating it. He loves jacaranda leaves so luculia would also be a tasty treat. At least I think it would.
About the same time I was asking the luculia how it was feeling the Demons were closing the gap on the Cats at Kardinia Park on Saturday.
“Are you dying or not?” I asked the Cats on the TV screen. The Cats had the wind but the Dees had the bluster. Geelong was never going to lose this game, but I just can’t read them.
Perhaps their fate and that of the luculia will follow a similar path this winter.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Lovely piece, Dips. Liked the way Basil darts around like a complete lunatic when released from his hutch. Do you have him in training for Stawell perchance? Someone has to avenge the family honour. Do you let Basil come inside to watch South Sydney in the NRL? Then again, rabbits are probably not that keen on rabbito’s.
    I thought of you on Sunday, when thumbing through the Footy Record before the game. There was an article about boundary umpire Adam Coote who ran third in the Gift this year.
    “It’s probably a little bit bitter-sweet,” Coote said this week. “Looking back, its a pretty good result to run third, but when you’re there and in the mix, you certainly want to win.”
    Says it all. I hope Basil does you proud next year – or he’s rabbit stew.

  2. PB – Coote’s run at Stawell was extraordinary givent that he had run about 15kms just a week or so before with his umpiring duties.

    From my experience he’ll get over the feeling of despair at losing in about 300 or 400 years.

  3. He should get a rabbit to confide in

  4. Great read, Dips. You’re truly unique

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    A post midnight, 15 pots droop; a wet-cigarettes-at-Waverley-Park-in-the-1970s droop. I don’t quite know how to read it. “Are you dying or not?”

    Dips, I ask myself the same question most Sunday mornings. I’m glad you didn’t name the rabbit after Basil Zemplis. It wouldn’t have any personality. Great stuff mate :)

  6. John Harms says

    Dips, on Basil’s response to the half-time lead: is he a punter?

  7. JTH – too right. He takes a punt every night that the foxes won’t get him. I’ve seen the bludgers lurking in our front yard. A tasty rabbit is ice cream for a fox.

  8. Gigs, good to see you have made the Home and Garden Daily News – http://paper.li/Craft_Parade/1329651274
    And in the same month Tony Birch made the Miles Franklin shortlist. What a month for the Knackers!

  9. Phantom says

    Phosphate intollerance Dips.

    Stop peeing on it.

  10. Andrew Fithall says

    Well done Dips. I think I shoul;d tell you the Dips i see while I read this lovely article is about thirty years older than the Dips I know.

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