Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Robbo Spud - make-over starting in earnest.

Today Judy and Allan Hollis and friends turned up with trucks, trees, bobcats and other equipment to commence the landscaping around the "Big Potato".
The first thing I would address your attention to is the red soil - both on the exposed roots of the trees (still on the truck) and also where they trees are about to be planted. That's what real Robertson soil looks like, folks.
No wonder things grow well here!

Allan was here two weeks ago, rendering over the original doorways, if you recall. That work has now been completed, as you can see. Not quite a perfect colour match, but it is pretty good.
Dorothy Baker, President of the Robertson Chamber of Commerce, is saluting the first of the newly transplanted Maples.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we hope that a working bee will take place, with local Girl Guides and others, assisting in planting other shrubs, shovelling mulch and roadbase material for paths, etc.
Here is one of our "secret weapons" for what makes the soil so good - a Giant Earthworm - uncovered by the excavator when digging holes for the trees. This is very likely to be the "Giant Earthworm" first discovered by J.J. Fletcher at Burrawang in 1886 . If I am correct, then this would be Notoscolex grandis. Apologies for the poor quality image. I should have used a flash. Sorry. I forgot to check the image at the time, and I have needed to lighten it somewhat, in post-production. This worm was approx 30 cm (15 inches) long.
This worm is still alive, and in good condition I am pleased to say. I did not touch it, as they have a tendency to break in half- as a defence mechanism - if touched - a process referred to as "autolysis" by the specialist writer R.J. Blakemore, in "Eucryphia" (Vol 54 - July 2001). A quick search on the Internet revealed that word to generally mean "cell death as a result of self-digestion". It is a term much used in wine-making, it seems - with a much more general meaning than the way it is apparently used by earthworm biologists such as Mr Blakemore. Bob Blakemore has published some 90 papers or more on Earthworms, and may indeed be Australia's leading expert in the field, even though he now appears to be working in Japan. I am not about to dispute his use of the word "autolysis".

Regardless of the precise use of the word, the reality of worms splitting in two if handled is not disputed. "Fletcher said “It is somewhat difficult to extract these large worms from the ground without injury to them, hence some of my largest examples are in a fragmentary
condition.” (Fletcher 1886 - as quoted in Eucryphia above)

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