This post is about my friend Judy’s garden, also in suburban Melbourne. In her own words…
“My garden is 15 years old. The central aim of the garden originally was to plant purely edible or usable plants. I don’t see the point of going to the effort of making an ornamental garden.
It was meant to be low maintenance. We weed out grasses and other weeds, we prune off things like gall wasp, we treat fungus when it occurs and we mulch. Originally I planted every herb and veg that I could find. Now I have mainly stopped planting new plants, except for things like tomatoes and basil. Whatever comes up is whatever self seeds, and wherever they seed is where they stay.
Many plants have died, often because of possums and bush rats. I have become disillusioned about the possums. I would be happy to share with them if they would leave me half. Probably what survives is what they don’t like so much. The bush pepper is an Australian native edible plant. Someone or something is eating them as soon as they get ripe. They are watching the figs now. I bet I won’t get any.
We have a rosemary bush taken from cuttings from our old house, which came from cuttings taken from a nearby park. The grapes also came from cuttings from our old house and our fig tree came from a sucker. The mulberry tree self seeded into a pot and we planted it on the nature strip.
My garden has enabled me to give cuttings to so many people. Friends say I gave them lettuce and they’re still eating it years later. Jerusalem artichokes, fennel, parsley and mint basil are all plants I give away. The mulberry tree provides mulberries and leaves for lots of people, local and further away, who have heard about it. They pick the mulberries to make jam.
We have lots of strawberries on the nature strip in the street as well as in the garden. A man who used to walk past every day after cardiac surgery asked if he could help himself to the strawberries. One day someone stopped him. He said: it’s OK I’ve got a permit.
Many of the gardens in this area have been reduced in size and variety of plants. We don’t have a huge variety of birds because this area has been so denuded of trees. Now it’s all grasses and sand.
There used to be a garden with many fruit trees and vegetables behind me. Now the outdoors is paved and there is a chlorinated swimming pool. Across the road there used to be a flowering gum that attracted lorikeets in the day and fruit bats at night. The creatures living in these gardens have been forced to adjust or have gone elsewhere.
Our pond has been home to nesting ducks for the last 15 years. They come around June and leave around November when they have hatched 10 or 11 ducklings. I’ve noticed how clever they are at dodging local cats. I’ve also seen foxes at night in the street."