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.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

how the garden's changed me



I've been making the garden for 36 years. In a sense you could say the garden's also been making me for 36 years. It's taught me so much over the years. When I started I thought you had to water gardens and you had to spray to get rid of insect pests. I didn't really like, or trust, insects then.

Gradually, through trial and error, research and talking to other gardeners, I started to have a sense of how plants grow and thrive. Whether to prune, and how much to take off. I learned which plants can grow in the tough - love environment that is my garden, and which can't.


I learned about design, how to form a garden picture in my mind, what to do to try to achieve it and then what to do when you realize it hasn't ended up as you imagined it would. Or maybe it has, but only for a short while, and then it doesn't look good any more.


It taught me about photography, to record the fleeting pictures before they change.

And it led me into the world of the blogosphere.


The latest changes are an increased sensitivity to the plants and wildlife in the house and garden.

I used to often move plants around, but now I hate uprooting plants. I hate the little tug they give as they try to resist the violation. And when they're out of the soil, I hate looking at the intricate pattern of the roots with its attached fungi (mycorrhizas)  -  showing how healthy and established the plant was before I destroyed it.


I hate killing insects. I remember years ago, stomping around the garden in rainy weather and squashing snails. Now I even hate killing cockroaches. Unless bugs appear in plague proportions, which rarely happens, peaceful co-existence is possible.



This post fits with the theme of Lessons Learned in a great blog called Plant Postings. Follow the link to read interesting posts about lessons gardeners all over the world have learned in the season just past.

32 comments:

  1. the garden and I, we learn together. And I'm back in kindergarten. Will it? Or won't it??

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    1. without that unpredictability it would get boring.

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  2. I so agree. Gardens never stop teaching so long as we are prepared to learn.

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    1. thanks for the comment, Missy. It's wonderful sharing our passions.

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  3. I thought I was the only one who didn't like to uproot healthy plants! I'm learning, though, to be OK with uprooting non-native invasive plants. But it's still hard to remove a healthy, established Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), for example. For the native plants in the woodland, however, they are free to grow and divide and send out seeds and propagate to their hearts' content. Great post!

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    1. Hi beth, I don't feel bad uprooting invasives because I know they'll be back. I've linked with your Lessons Learned. Extremely late, but better late than never. (Never thought of it earlier.)

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    2. Yes, very good point, Sue. And thanks so much for joining in the Lessons Learned meme. Sorry for my late response, but we've been celebrating our holiday this weekend. I really enjoyed this post. So heartfelt and honest. :)

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  4. I just can't have a peaceful co-existence with these giant grasshoppers we have in the southern U.S. They must be stomped.

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    1. Giant grasshoppers sound very alarming, but I guess they're smaller than your feet if they're stompable!

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  5. Nice post. Three things I have learned from my garden:

    1. Garden plants can become ... unstoppable. If Ajuga is determined to crawl out of the garden bed and over a rock border into the grass, it will.

    2.Gardens don't always agree with what constitutes the "perfect" growing conditions for a particular plant that can be found in books or on the internet. California poppies often prefer growing in the gravel in the driveway and NOT in the nice garden NEXT to the driveway.

    3.But there is one thing that I do know with absolute certainty. I am happiest when I'm playing in the dirt!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your lessons, Jane. I feel the same way - far prefer wearing gumboots to ladylike shoes!

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  6. Like you , my garden has changed such a lot since I started it 25 yrs ago. Then, I had to have one of everything, now I would much rather have drifts of plants that are really happy in the garden here. The wildlife has always been welcome (except red lily beetle) and areas are left for them to enjoy. I have never felt happy using sprays or slug pellets, instead I encourage the birds and animals that will gobble them up. I'm hoping that I just tame nature with a gentle hand.

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    1. you are an inspiration, Pauline, the way you use so many different plants and create divine combinations.

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  7. Now I feel guilty for uprooting my plants :-)
    I always apologize when I accidentally step on a snail but I don't know how I would feel towards cockroaches.

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    1. it's a slippery slope we're on, Denise. We start feeling guilty about pulling up plants and stepping on snails, who knows where this will lead to? (lol)

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  8. Like yourself, I would be lost without the garden, it teaches us so much about life itself.

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    1. Hi Alastair, I agree - all the lessons of life are learned in the garden. It's a really important part of our identities.

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  9. I am finally getting back in touch with my garden and it is an amazing feeling...

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    1. happy gardening, Donna. I haven't had time to be in the garden for a week or two, and feel if I don't get my fix soon, I'll break out in a rash or something ...

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  10. So happy to have discovered your blog, Sue! We have a lot in common. My garden has always been my greatest teacher. She also introduced me to photography, the wonders of natures, many secrets of life, and inspired me to not only start blogging, but even to write a book last year (which will be coming out later this year). I'm so grateful for her many gifts!

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    1. dear Martha, lovely to meet you. I look forward to visiting your blog, and to reading your book when it comes out.

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  11. Not an original quote but one I truly believe "with gardening every day is a school day."

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    1. I've never heard that before, it's a great quote, Rick.

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  12. When I enter my garden I am always the student. I don't mind moving plants, though, if it means I'll be moving them to a spot where they'll be happier. The more I learn about my garden, the more I learn about myself. :o)

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    1. Thanks for the comment, dear Tammy, fellow lifelong learner ...

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  13. Yes, the garden has taught me a lot over the years, and I have also been listening to lots of other gardeners who have their own experiences to share. The gardensphere is a great place to be!

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    1. Hi Deb, It never ceases to fascinate me how without ever meeting face to face we get to know each other.

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  14. Definitely need to capture those things that catch your eye then and there - everything changes so quickly. I tend to not be able to kill bugs unless they begin to really take the mickey, and I wouldn't know how to kill the giant grasshoppers that have chewed plants to within an inch of their life (it seems too cruel, so I just go on resenting them haha).

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    1. Do we have giant grasshoppers in Australia too? Fortunately I haven't seen any. I only had two instances of problem insects in 38 gardening years. One was weevils that I got rid of by buying microscopic (invisible) beneficial nematodes that laid eggs in the babies and then ate them from the inside (like a horror film). The other were caterpillars covering most leaves of a young gum tree. I picked most of them off and squashed them, it took hours but the tree has been OK since.

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  15. I practice capture and release. Can't kill them either. Just told my friend I re-located a Japanese Beetle. She was horrified I did not kill it.

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    1. Capture and release - the C and R methodology - now I have a name for this practice!

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  16. Hi Sue! I agree with your post here. Like you, I also learnt a lot since I started gardening 2 years ago. I never thought that I had a green thumb and was always afraid to try planting anything. All it took was some research and practice. Now I regularly stock up on gardening supplies, buying wooden stakes, tree guards, fertilisers and more.

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