about this blog

This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

how the garden's changed me

I've been making the garden for 36 years. In a sense you could say the garden's also been making me for 36 years. It's taught me so much over the years. When I started I thought you had to water gardens and you had to spray to get rid of insect pests. I didn't really like, or trust, insects then.

Gradually, through trial and error, research and talking to other gardeners, I started to have a sense of how plants grow and thrive. Whether to prune, and how much to take off. I learned which plants can grow in the tough - love environment that is my garden, and which can't.

I learned about design, how to form a garden picture in my mind, what to do to try to achieve it and then what to do when you realize it hasn't ended up as you imagined it would. Or maybe it has, but only for a short while, and then it doesn't look good any more.

It taught me about photography, to record the fleeting pictures before they change.

And it led me into the world of the blogosphere.

The latest changes are an increased sensitivity to the plants and wildlife in the house and garden.

I used to often move plants around, but now I hate uprooting plants. I hate the little tug they give as they try to resist the violation. And when they're out of the soil, I hate looking at the intricate pattern of the roots with its attached fungi (mycorrhizas)  -  showing how healthy and established the plant was before I destroyed it.

I hate killing insects. I remember years ago, stomping around the garden in rainy weather and squashing snails. Now I even hate killing cockroaches. Unless bugs appear in plague proportions, which rarely happens, peaceful co-existence is possible.

This post fits with the theme of Lessons Learned in a great blog called Plant Postings. Follow the link to read interesting posts about lessons gardeners all over the world have learned in the season just past.

Monday, 15 June 2015

unloved, uninvited and unwanted

I don't mind English violets covering the soil, even though I wish they were native violets. I don't mind Euphorbia characis popping up everywhere. If I don't want the Euphorbia plant in question, it accepts the compost heap. If I want to move it, it's compliant with that too.

Plumbago sucker among violets

Wisteria sinesis, Acanthus mollis and Plumbago auricula are a different story. They just do what they want, in spite of my efforts to get rid of them, or at least control their spread. After decades of struggle, it feels like war without end. I used to think I'd won the war, only to realize I'd won a minor battle not the war. Now I'm tired of fighting and wondering if I can work out some kind of truce.

Plumbago sucker

Any gardeners reading this - if you haven't yet planted these 3 plants, learn from my suffering, and DON'T plant them. There are plenty of others that will fill the space without causing you future angst.

Wisteria sinensis. It took root, and there was a time it even produced lovely scented flowers for me. But then it grew so vigorously I was scared it would lift the roof tiles. So I cut it right back. I couldn't dig up the root ball, so got someone to put poison on it. I felt terrible about this, but war is not always pretty. It grew back in an ugly accusatory brown colour. Now I just keep it short. For a while it suckered, but thank goodness I haven't had to dig any of these up for some time.

Wisteria sinensis

Acanthus mollis and Plumbago auriculata are worse. They sucker. At this point I'd like to be poetic and make up a rhyme but I'd better not. Suckers come up all over the place, attached to tuberous underground roots that are impossible to dig up.  The job of the Plumbago is to cover the fence. When it over-reaches itself, I remove as much of it as I can. So basically I try to contain it to the fence.

The Acanthus suckers too, and insists on coming back even though I try to get rid of it. I like the statuesque leaves, so sometimes I leave it when it's near the fence. I never was good at setting limits.

Acanthus mollis

Now there's a new enemy. Something has emerged from the soil in the front garden and I'm not sure what it is. It looks green, vigorous and determined. It's not something currently growing in the garden. In the vicinity I recently grew a Romneya coulteri, but decided it was wrong and removed it. Well, I thought I removed it ...  The leaves popping out of the ground are suspiciously like Romneya leaves. It looks like the start of another war. And I'll need to drastically revise my design plans for the front garden.

Romneya coulteri?

Monday, 8 June 2015

Arthurs Seat

Arthurs Seat is on the Mornington Peninsula, about 75 kms south east of Melbourne. It is a good place to visit for a nature fix.

Seawinds Garden is part of Arthurs Seat State Park, a pleasant park with walking tracks and great views of Port Philip Bay.

It contains sculptures of William Ricketts (1898 - 1993), a non indigenous artist whose work is based on his experience living with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The mystical works are meant to represent Aboriginal attachment to land.

Arthurs Seat was named in 1802 by Lieutenant John Murray, because it reminded him of a mountain in Scotland. Aboriginal people know it as Wonga.

Another attraction in this area is the Enchanted Adventure Garden, a beautiful and fun private garden with lots of mazes and things for children - and adults - to do. I have a thing about enchanted gardens, and in a way that's what I have been trying to create myself, not that successfully. But this one really feels enchanted, and I was bowled over by the creativity and skill needed to achieve the resulting picture. It's expensive to visit, but worth the cost if you can possibly afford it. On my visit the camera battery died after a few minutes and I didn't have a spare. That's why there are only two photos. But I hope even two photos will demonstrate that this garden is worthy of adding to your bucket list.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

rats that save humans

If there's one animal that's widely despised it's the rat. Yet some people are really fond of them and keep them as pets. There's a chat room called Rattit, and comments from these 'ratophiles' are funny and interesting. Like ... Sweetest, most loving pets I've every had... Rats are amazing pets... The one I had loved to cuddle with my cat and was also litter trained... My best friend Charley died today as a result of a botched neutering operation. I'll miss you little man... My sweet Truffle is getting older and a bit skinny but she's loving being spoiled more than ever.

Now there is news about a species of rat native to sub Saharan Africa, called the African Giant Pouched Rat. Intelligent, about the size of a small dog, the rodent is like a cross between a rat and a hamster.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

paula's garden

Paula lives in the country, and is a passionate and eclectic gardener. She grows food, but will always find a spot for a new plant, seeds or cuttings. The result is a gorgeous profusion of colour and unexpected combinations.

Climbing Geraniums
Adventure for children

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