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.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

water nostalgia

A generation ago, in the distant mists of time when my children were little (they’re in their 20s and 30s now) water dominated both garden and family life.

I had never gardened until we moved into this place in 1979. Everyone around me watered their gardens all year round so I assumed that is what you had to do. The overhead sprinklers broke the delicate lavender branches so I switched to drippers. But I hated the look of the drippers and anyway the plants kept moving and changing and somehow they were never in the right place-both drippers and plants!

Years and years later I realized that the lawn grew anyway although it died back a bit in winter. And that the lavenders and rosemaries, gum trees, and most of the plants in my garden were ok without moisture additional to that provided from the sky. In fact, I felt that water was harmful and addictive to them. It would only encourage them to be lazy and not to bother extending their roots down, down into the moist underworld when they could easily lap at a wet surface.

In the meantime the climate grew hotter and drier, and here water became a scarce resource, with strict laws limiting and controlling its use. You no longer hear the sound of sprinklers, nor do you see water running off into the street.

When the children were little, the garden was planted on the four sides of the fence line. In the middle was the lawn, a grassy play space. On hot summers they rarely wore clothes. In their little birthday suits they played together and with friends. In and out and around the sprinklers – what cool fun they had. Cool fun that my baby grandson will never know, not in this geographical area anyway.

You could even buy special toys for water play. We had a kind of water slide, which was laid on the grass and got wet and slippery. With a running jump, down the children went, sliding and slipping and laughing. And we adults joined in too, often bruising ourselves as we slipped.

And there were water pistols. The kids weren’t allowed to play with guns but who could refuse them water pistols on a hot sunny clothes-free day? That kind of play has ended forever round here.


  1. Kids love water fights and I bet they had such fun. Its fascinating how garden designs change once the kids leave home and we can enjoy the flowers and shrubs again.

  2. Love that first photo; so joyful, and the adults are getting in on the fun, too! I think we're more aware now of water being a resource, same as lots of other things, which is probably good. Still and all, you've put me in mind of hooking up a sprinkler this summer and running through it for old times' sake! Thanks for the post.

  3. Wonderful memories! I remember those hoses out and us spraying one another. Every now and then my son would enjoy the same. I miss those days now with the droughts and all.

  4. Reminds me of my childhood when playing in the sprinklers was something to look forward to. :)

  5. Yes catmint, I do remember those times; all the children loved to play with the sprinklers, how cool it was on a hot day! Here in the subtropics we have at the moment plenty of rain. But one is still very careful with the water. We have a well but we don't waste it, it is clean and fresh comes from very far underground. My daughter bought a house a 9 years ago which has a huge underground watertank which supplies all the water for the house and for the garden. As drinking water they have also a well. Since many years she did not have to buy town water. The tank fills up quickly, yesterday we had 90 mm of rain.

  6. Hi Hermes, yes it is fascinating how the garden changes as our children grow. I used to try to be relaxed and talk about unplanned pruning as the children crashed through the undergrowth and climbed the overgrowth. Now I have a grandchild I guess the cycle will repeat itself.

  7. Hi Titania, your setup with water sounds great. It must be a good feeling to have your own independent supply. I keep putting it off, but I will get a tank some time. So far I just have solar hot water.

  8. J, Tina and perennial gardener: thank you so much for sharing my nostalgia trip.


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