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.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

gardening for now

People often say that planting trees is for the future. I’ve said it too, recognizing that my newly planted snow gum (described as slow growing) is unlikely to achieve the desired effect within my lifetime.

But I’m thinking that we really don’t know the future, and need to enjoy trees and everything else now, in the present time. Two conversations with two different people led me to this thought.

Recently I visited an elderly man who was dying. He had lived in his house and garden for over 40 years. An active man, he proudly showed me his vegetable garden, his fruit trees, the vine-covered pergola he built with his own hands, and the see saw he made for his grandchildren. He expressed sadness and grief at leaving all this behind, and said he knew that no one would value and maintain it when he was gone. His wife was not a gardener.

Last week my mother-in-law visited, and gazed thoughtfully at the garden. “Your garden is too big. And too much work. You should build a couple of units there.” I realize that when we sell this house, it is quite likely that the next owner will see the land as potential housing space, not as a garden. Over the past 30 years I have seen many neighbouring gardens cheerfully ravaged to make way for large houses.

So in the future my garden might continue to grow, absorbing a bit of carbon on the way and providing a little much-needed suburban biodiversity. Or … maybe it won’t.


  1. What a good post. I have always planted trees in a new garden but you are so right, we can not see the future and have to hope they will be allowed to mature.

  2. Thanks for this post Catmint! You are absolutely right: where we see more gardens other people see more houses. I am so sorry I didn't introduce myself to an old man who lived not far from us. He had hundreds of dahlias... He is gone now, his garden is turned to a lot ready for a new construction. All those dahlia tubers are destroyed. It's so sad.

  3. Very sad but thats the truth. Trees are so vulnerable that they have to give in for development.

    You are right, we grow trees and after us, only God knows.

    ~ bangchik

  4. What a poginant post. The same thing is happening in the Uk with large houses being bought up for their large gardens. There has been a call for a law to be past saying that the gardens cant be built on but it didnt go through.

    We do plant trees for the future but I also think it depends on what type you grow. I have a Betula that my sons bought we 4 years ago as a smallish tree, it is now looking stunning so we have the benefit of enjoying it while we live here. I do know though that I shall be sad to leave it when we eventually move on due to its sentimental connections

  5. You are right catmint, we do not know what will happen to our gardens and perhaps it is better. Enjoy all the plantings and the garden while we can. When we moved here there was one huge Hoop Pine
    Araucaria cunninghammii. It is still growing. In 2007 I went back to the house I grew up. My mothers garden was not there any more, the house is wedged in between streets but the birch tree my father had put a swing on was still standing on a small strip of green. Also a small, young Oak tree was growing.
    So I guess not all is lost!

  6. Hi Catmint, I have probably thought for myself first (enjoy the joy of gardening) and hopefully be a good example for others to follow (promote green). Hmm... hopefullly I am on the right track. Btw, see my reply on Bangchik & Kakdah's blog on the bitter gourd juice :-) Happy gardening!

  7. Great post! We gardeners need to get everything in the ground that we can!!

  8. This really touched me as I don't come from a family of gardeners and wonder the same thing of my garden a lot...who will take over when I'm gone. I love little trees and can see the upcoming forrest in my minds eye. I take just as much pleasure in them as in my blooming beauties. Loved your post.

  9. We need a Bill of Rights for trees. I would hate to have someone tear up the work I've done for greed or commercial gain. But that's just me.
    A good, thoughtful post.

  10. Nice post. I'll just keep planting trees and hope they won't find all of them.

  11. Yup ... development is ruling. More and more houses are to be built. Gardens? No one know what the future holds. We can only hope ...

  12. Dear Friends, I am so pleased that you all liked this post. Reading the interesting and stimulating comments made me think it's about straddling opposing things - like the past and the future, and pessimism and optimism, and certainty and uncertainty. Gardens are so (literally) down to earth, yet also lend themselves to abstract ideas.Cheers, catmint


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