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Schefflera Amate for shaded spot in garden

September 10, 2020 — BarryK

I posted recently about searching for a screening plant suitable for a spot in the garden that does not get direct sunlight for most of the year:

I received some suggestions from David (Sage in the forums) and from dogle. Dogle suggested the Irish Strawberry Tree, which was a case of synchronicity, as I had just purchased one the day before. However, it does seem that it wants more sunlight, so I planted it in a different location in the garden.

I just stumbled across the Irish Strawberry Tree the day before yesterday, while browsing through the plants section in Bunnings, and recalled having read about it many years ago. It is fast growing, hardy, can be pruned to a hedge, or grow into a small tree, and has edible fruit.

The fruit is stated to be insipid by some online writers, however, as dogle pointed out, it is necessary to wait until it is fully ripe and then it has a nice taste. Information:

Anyway, onto that fully-shaded spot. Today I found Schefflera Amate in Bunnings, in the "Shade Plants" section, a small pot for AU$9.99. Info:


Will put it in tomorrow. What I need to do is take photos of this in a year, then two years! Very interested to see how it turns out as a screening plant in that spot. 

Tags: general

Correct pressure for dripper irrigation

September 09, 2020 — BarryK

I thought that I will post about this, in case someone is googling for information about installing a small dripper irrigation system in their garden. They might find my experience useful.

It is just a small area, with ten Veri-Flow drippers and 13mm pipe. There is an automatic timer and pressure-reducer and filter:


Except that when first connected up, there was no pressure-reducer. Result: those drippers sent jets of water up into the air higher than me!

This surprised me, as I have put in dripper irrigation before, and haven't used a pressure-reducer. However, they were in rural locations, where the water pressure from the tap was quite low. At my current premises, it is very high.

The Water Corporation in Western Australia states that they supply pressure anywhere between 15mH (147kPa) and 100mH (980kPa). But I can't find a figure for where I live.

The automatic timer is specified to work between 100kPa and 800kPa. This is it:

So I bought a combined pressure-reducer and filter, which is what you see in the above photo. Here it is:

Put it in, started the timer, ah, now the drippers have jets of water "only" about 2-3 feet high! Very interesting. The Pope Veri-Flow drippers are rated to be adjustable between 0-60 litres/hour -- well, that "0" is wrong, they can't be screwed down enough to cut off the jet of water.

So I examined the specifications of the pressure-reducer. It has 180kPa output. Very interesting, it means that the water from the tap must be well above that, maybe in the order of twice.

Bunnings have a pressure-reducer rated at 100kPa output, that is a direct screw replacement for the one I already have. So, off to Bunnings again:


That did the trick! So, the lesson learned here is that for a very small dripper irrigation system, what we want is 100kPa. Perhaps with a bigger system, with many more drippers or sprinklers, the flow through the pipes would naturally reduce the pressure to something acceptable, or perhaps a higher-rated pressure-reducer would be OK.

Or, if I was using sprinklers, and actually wanted large sprays of water, then a pressure-reducer could have been dispensed with.

It was a fascinating little exercise. 

Tags: general

Screening plant for fully-shaded Mediterranean climate

September 06, 2020 — BarryK

I have been having fun putting in some plants in the garden. Standing at my front door and look to the side, I can see my neighbour's front porch. What I would like is a screening plant, fairly dense, about 1.8 metres (6ft) or thereabouts high. Problem is, that spot in the garden is on the south side of the house, in the Southern hemisphere, fully in shade for most of the year. In mid-summer, it will get some sun, for part of the day.

I live on the outskirts of Perth, Western Australia, about 3km from the coast, and the climate is mild, usually described as Mediterranean, or similar to California, for example:

Today I put in drip irrigation, so can take care of keeping some moisture in the soil over the upcoming summer. Interesting, the climate in the South West of Australia has been changing, with more rain in the summer: is alarming that this has occurred over a small time-frame, just 16 years.

Anyway, I need to find a suitable screening plant, that will tolerate having only indirect sunlight for most of the year. I want to be able to prune it so as not to grow as high as the eaves of the house, and to keep it dense. So far, I have settled on two possibilities, Sweet Box (Sarcococca Confusa) and Dwarf Umbrella (Schefflera Arboricola).

Sweet Box


Dwarf Umbrella

There are two completely different plants going by the common name of Umbrella Tree. The one that interests me is Schefflera Arboricola, native of Taiwan, which doesn't grow as tall.


...hmm, that specimen is above the roof-line. I would have to prune it to keep it at 6ft, and I wonder if that will turn out to be a struggle, to keep it under control.

Haven't decided yet. Whatever is chosen, it will have to be available locally.

EDIT 2020-09-13:
I chose Schefflera Amate, see post:   

Tags: general

Xmas and New Year best wishes

December 25, 2018 — BarryK

Here is Santa trying to deliver in Australia:


Another year gone by!

I will be taking a break at the start of 2019, for a couple of weeks. Will probably still do a little bit of EasyOS development, 'coz I am addicted. But very light, and won't be getting onto the Internet much.

After the break, the plan is to bring out EasyOS version 1.0. It is positioned as an "experimental distribution", so I have an "out", it doesn't have to be as polished as the mainstream Linux distributions.

I would like to thank you guys who have helped with testing during 2018. The feedback has been extremely helpful and has resulted in many improvements and bug fixes. 

Tags: general countdown

June 02, 2018 — BarryK

A few days ago, I impulsively placed an order with Amazon for three more books on OpenEmbedded and Yocto.

I already have two books, one of which is a light overview and I donated that to the local library. OE/Yocto is very complicated, and I want to move a bit further up the learning curve. Online docs are not enough for me.

After placing the order, I read this:

Australians have enjoyed import-duty-free purchases under AU$1,000 for many years. A long time ago, there used to be import duty, now it is coming back.

July 1, 2018, 10% GST (Goods and Services Tax) will be applied to imported goods. Apparently, Amazon USA has a problem with complying, so will redirect Aussies to -- unfortunately, the local site has far less on offer.

However, I searched and found the same books that I had ordered from the USA, and slightly cheaper. For example:

...odd, they give the UK distributor as the default supplier (AU$71.29), whereas it is available cheaper from Amazon AU (AU$63.79). Price works out about the same as USA, except it is cheaper as postage from Amazon AU is free.

Anyway, if you want to buy from, you have until the end of the month!

Tags: general

Merry Xmas 2017

December 21, 2017 — BarryK

To all you guys who are reading this, have a nice Xmas break! Like these guys:


Wallpaper is from this collection:

I would like to keep working on Easy and Quirky, but getting into holiday mode so that side of things will be slow for awhile. One thing that I want to do is get printing working with QuickSamba, but that might also be delayed a bit.

Tags: general

Old blogs archived

August 14, 2017 — BarryK
I had two old blogs, set to read-only, at and, however, had to remove them as my host complained of too much traffic.

I was meaning to convert them to static HTML pages, and finally have done it. Found a great tool for the job, Httrack. It has a browser interface, by running "webhttrack".

I re-enabled the online blogs and used webhttrack to download one of them. Oh, it downloaded heaps of files from other sites, mostly linked images.
After some online searching, found the trick to restrain download to only inside the blog.

There are "Scan Rules". Delete them, replace with:
-* +** -*/?delete=*

The "-*" removes everything, then "+**" will restrain downloads to have that text in the URL.

Httrack follows every link that it can find on the blog, which takes a very long time. I did not see the point of it following the Delete button, so added that fine filter item.

The old blogs are now here:

This blog,, is also there, converted to static pages, as I am planning to move to a new blog script (and website) in the next day or two.

Another item of news: is now on a new host,

Tags: general