about this blog

I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

book review: Green Pens

Green Pens: A Collection of Garden Writing, compiled and edited by Katie Holmes, Susan K. Martin and Kylie Mirmohamadi. The Miegunyah Press, 2004.

I loved this book. It contains excerpts from Australian gardeners' letters, diaries, books, seed catalogues, magazines - many quaint forms of communication that existed pre- internet. It provides a lens to look at Australian social history since white settlement: the gradual decline of the colonial mentality embodying lack of respect for Australian indigenous plants and the bush, the growth of multiculturalism, the important though under-rated, role of women.

You get a picture of the incomprehension between the indigenous people and the white settlers. Such different ideas about gardening. This was the start of building fences, boundaries, ideas of private ownership - leading to tragedy and displacement for the Australian Aborigines.

Some parts took me back to my own childhood growing up in the fifties in suburban Melbourne. We had a square of lawn, a Hills Hoist, and garden beds around the edges with a lemon tree and some vegetables. The front garden was for show - ornamental shrubs, particularly roses, and the backyard was for practical purposes: for children to play in and hanging out the washing.

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