Should I confess? What an idiot I was!
This is what happened …
I need to mulch the garden properly, I thought. I can’t make enough, I’ll have to buy some. But I don’t want to buy those plastic bags of mulch. They don’t go far enough, and just add plastic to the environment.
I phoned a mulch company that uses recycled timber and ordered a delivery. How much? they quite reasonably wanted to know. Oh I don’t know, it’s a big garden, maybe 20 metres?
The next day a huge truck pulled up outside, full of 20 CUBIC metres of mulch! The driver was nonplussed. “I thought it was for a sporting club or a school” he said.
The truck driver went away and later came back with a smaller truck that could fit in the driveway. When he left there were two mountains in the driveway and certainly no room for cars.
I have mulched and mulched, given lots away and still I am unable to liberate the driveway.
But most of the garden – I still haven’t finished mulching it – is very happy, even in the current hot weather.
Friday, 29 January 2010
This is a true story about a pigeon.
A few weeks ago a woman called Sooz found a very sick pigeon in St Kilda, a busy Melbourne seaside suburb. Its feathers were covered in oil, probably from the back of a restaurant. Sooz took the pigeon home and called it Sweetie. But Sooz lived in a flat with two cats. Which is not an ideal home for any pigeon, sick or not.
Sooz approached Wildlife Victoria, that runs a 24-hour emergency telephone service for people needing help with injured, sick or orphaned wildlife. But they only look after native wildlife, not ordinary street pigeons. So Sooz emailed me, asking if I knew who could help. I asked around but no one had any ideas.
In the meantime Sweetie spent nights in Sooz’s shower recess, and days in a cage near a window so it could look outside. Sooz felt sorry for Sweetie because she thought it must be very lonely without the company of other pigeons.
Then Sooz phoned Birds Australia, an organization with the mission to halt the decline of native birds. It certainly did not include common pigeons in its brief but gave Sooz the contact details of a man who loved pigeons.
Sooz phoned the man and they arranged to meet at a train station. She worried that Sweetie wouldn’t survive the long train journey but all went well.
The man met them and Sooz spent the day with him and his wife of 60 years. He had been keeping, showing and judging pigeons for many years. He said that he would gradually clean Sweetie’s feathers and when they moulted then it would be able to fly again.
The man explained that Sweetie was female. He could tell this by looking at her claws. The middle talon was about the same length as the two on either side. In male pigeons the talons are very different in length.
Sooz was relieved to find someone to care for the pigeon, and enable it to live with other pigeons until it could fly away.
Saturday, 16 January 2010
It’s a warm balmy night in the suburban garden. Apart from the cicadas, there is no sign of nocturnal activity. No owl sounds or sightings. No possum rustlings. Only the distant roar of traffic from the freeway. Last year, and for the last 30 years I would see and hear possums in the trees. Now it’s a rare experience.
'We hear much these days about the loss of species and biological diversity, usually in terms of diminished ecosystems, destabilized environments, and the loss of unknown physical resources. I suspect that the greater loss is of another kind - the way a local fauna links the concept of the self and the uniqueness of place in different cultures. The loss of non-human diversity erases nuance in identity. We are coarsened by the loss of the animals.' (Paul Shepard, American human ecologist)
The suburban homeowners who sanitize and control their gardens through paving, limiting flora to a small number of compliant shrubs and annuals, using noisy power tools and employing chemical warfare against insects, have succeeded. The built environment has expanded and the natural environment has shrunk. And we are all left the poorer for this.
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
After two days of over 40 degrees heat – that’s 104 degrees fahrenheit - we are thankfully experiencing a cool change, although unfortunately without rain. After a careful inspection of the garden, I note that all plants appear to have survived.
There seems to be three categories of heat response in plants:
1. Plants that love that the heat, even the direct hot sun, and today they are thriving and happy in my garden.
2. Plants that are not particularly happy in the heat and sun and today look sullen and wilted, in some cases with burnt leaves. But underneath the top foliage there are tiny green buds just waiting to sprout when the weather is milder. They don’t look great but they will survive.
3. Then there are plants that simply cannot survive without a continual
water supply. There have been plants like this in my garden, but they never survive the tough love treatment they receive.
Sometimes the same plants can be in different categories, depending on how they are suited to their (ever changing) location.
I need to consider whether I want more plants that thrive on heat and direct sun. Plants that do get sunburned and floppy – like wallflowers - are still worth having because of their dreamy soft flowers at other times of the year. But in hot weather they do make the garden look a bit heatstruck and sad.
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