teamwork and cooperativeness in the garden

The first example of cooperativeness is between two trees in my garden and the local possum family.

Over the winter possums ate most of the leaves of the loquat and feijoa trees. I wondered if the trees would die. Now it's spring and new growth is appearing. Both trees are happy and healthy. They generously donated leaves for food for wildlife and have benefited by getting a good pruning.

The second example is of plants that provide shade and sustenance for surrounding plants and the soil they grow in. Trees fall into this category, but so also do many perennials,biannuals and annuals. As artichoke plants grow the lowest of their large serrated leaves cover the ground, eventually die, drop off and decompose. Verbascum has a similar habit.

The third example is cooperation between the gardener and self seeding plants in the garden. I love plants that self seed because they provide me with surprises by popping up in unexpected places and in wonderful combinations that I never could have designed. Like in this wonderful natural-looking and lovely picture of forget me nots, borage and purple alogyne.

Hellebores, euphorbias and echium are three of many plants that reward me with beautiful and, in the case of the euphorbia and echium, unusual and interesting flowers. As time goes on, however, the flowers turn to seed and drop gradually and furtively towards the ground. We made you happy, they seem to be saying, now you must let us drop our seed and make babies. Of course I don't always comply with their wishes, but we manage to work out a compromise. They perform faithfully each year and there is a fair bit of self seeding, either with my consent or when I'm not noticing.


  1. That euphorbia is gorgeous! I planted a similar one this spring and it died. No idea if it was too much water or too little. Ugh. Great photos!!

  2. Catmint, I love self seeding plant also and the fact that their little 'babies' will just sprout out from their seed and grow into little plants without my attention. Btw, the plant in the last picture looks unique. Love it :-D

  3. Having only started my garden late last summer/early autumn I have yet to find those little self seeding surprises. I look forward finding what nature intends for me.

  4. A really good post. I'm fascinated by how Companion planting works.

  5. Dear Catmint, On so many occasions, Nature makes such a far superior gardener than the human versions. Your happy accidents are indeed garden gifts!

  6. Hello Catmint

    I love the way that nature has decided some of your spring time plant combinations. In your photo they look lovely together. Oh how I would love echiums to grow in my garden - they do a little further south than me and I think they have such a great shape.

  7. Hi NSARH, plants like your dead euphorbia thrive or don't in our gardens, sometimes inexplicably it seems.

    Dear Stephanie, The plant in the last picture is euphorbia. There are many varieties, they are currently very popular because they are so interesting and generally drought resistant.

    Hi Paul, you do need a season or so to get established. good luck in scattering wildflower seeds and planting bulbs to get it all started.

    Hi Hermes, I suppose it is companion planting - I have just managed to get plants that associate well through trial and error.

    Hi EH, the garden has indeed given me so many gifts over the years, as have garden bloggers over the past 2 years.

    Thanks for the visit and comment Rosie. Echiums are amazing structurally - but not worth moving south for!

    Cheers, catmint

  8. I'm so glad to see what euphorbia is supposed to look like! Mine is just poking along, not blooming, not dying, somewhere in limbo. We're at the end of the season here now - looking forward to the self-seeding surprises in spring, too!

  9. Self seeding does lead to some nice surprises. Borage is one of my favourites as are Poppies. If only weeds were less enthusiastic seeders I would be a contented gardener :-)

  10. I love borage, and haven't planted it in a few years. The bees love you use it for anything? I've heard it's medicinal.

  11. Hi Catmint
    Sorry I missed your feature on Gardening Australia.
    Thanks for naming the Alyogyne.
    I took a photo of one in my garden today, and could not remember its name.
    Lovely cheerful flowers.
    See - that Karma for me being able to suggest names to you a couple of weeks ago.

  12. Dear JGH, It's a problem I think when plants don't thrive and don't die, just survive uninspiringly. I am usually ruthless in those circumstances and replace them with something that does appreciate the garden!

    Hi EG, I can't imagine a garden without weeds being enthusiastic seeders. I wonder if there were weeds in the Garden of Eden?

    Hi Cheryl,I don't know about borage being medicinal but I somethimes put the blue flowers in salads, or float them in cold drinks.

    Hi Denis, I'm so pleased I was able to give something back - blogging surely lead to good karma!

    cheers, catmint

  13. What stunning images of your garden Catmint! Beautiful photos and flowering plant combinations! Your garden is so luscious! I love the textures and colors. I agree with you . . . that to work with a garden is a great way to garden. We cannot let our plants have their way completely. Lovely post! ;>)

  14. Love the last photo, Is like a lot of trumpets singing a happy song on a festival or a cartoon!

    Ps: thanks for visiting my blog!
    I really like yours too.
    of course, let's keep in touch


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