In Our Winter Garden

August 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Mental Health, Nature, Ways of Living | 9 Comments
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Our Garden sign

It was a lovely sunny August day, winter here in Australia. I had been picking up the small dead branches that occasionally fall from the eucalypts in the wind. I break up the branches, and either put them in the green waste bin to be mulched by the Council, or give them to a neighbour who has a wood burning heater.

Before that, I had helped the MOTH (Man of the House) to fix part of a wire side fence that had been threatening to fall over. Our yard is mostly open, as we don’t like to feel enclosed – just a paling fence up the back, and an open wire fence along one side to keep the neighbour’s dog in. Most of it is hidden by bushes and trees. The other two sides are not fenced at all.

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Our yard is almost all Australian native species of trees and shrubs, a habitat we are preserving for local wildlife such as birds, lizards and any other species that care to make their home here. Yes, even spiders, centipedes and snakes!

I love walking around it to see how everything is progressing. That day, I took a few photos as well.

This ‘Happy Wanderer’ self-sowed at the base of a Spotted Gum, and is growing up into another self-sown native sapling. It is a variety of Hardenbergia, like the one above, which we bought from a nursery.

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Our Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) has grown well since we put it in as a small sapling three years ago. It is three times my height now.

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The group of plants below really took off last summer. On the left is one of two cycads we planted some years ago. They are an ancient variety of plant, but I don’t know which species it is.

Behind it are ponytail palms (Beaucarnea species). I have only just discovered that they are native to Mexico! In the right front is a Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus), native to S-W Western Australia. Behind that is a Banksia, and on the far right is a Christmas Bush. Two Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) once called Blackboys, have been overtaken by the cycads in front of them. They are pretty slow growing.

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Part of our garden has seen an invasion by a foreigner. This plant was probably introduced as an exotic ‘air plant’, but has recently escaped and can be found in many local yards. What we call ‘Old Man’s Beard’, comes from the U.S. Pacific Coast. Because it only hangs from trees and is not a parasite, it has been allowed to grow everywhere.

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From one small piece that blew into our garden 3-4 years ago, it is now well established. It makes this part of the front garden seem very eerie, especially on a dull day of misty rain. The ‘beard’ hangs from the branches of a Pepper tree, two Bottlebrush (Callistamon), and a Tibouchina.

I love our garden. It is a place I can go to when I am stressed and need to feel the soothing power of nature.

The wattle among the Spotted Gums

The wattle among the Spotted Gums

Do you have a garden? What does a garden mean to you? If you don’t have one, would you like to?

© Linda Visman

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Falling Leaves

October 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Gardens, Nature | 3 Comments
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Bright colours, Victoria

Autumn in the northern latitudes is a time for colour – reds and oranges and browns in all shades and textures. In small parts of Australia, the same applies. For instance, the sub-alpine town of Bright, in Victoria, is well known for its beautiful autumn colours. But there, the trees are mostly northern hemisphere ones, not Australian.

Because Australian native trees, such as eucalypts, do not shed all their leaves when autumn comes, most people do not believe they shed their leaves at all. But they do; they just don’t do it after summer is over. They do it when summer is coming.

Eucalypt leaves

We have a lot of eucalypts on our little piece of land. It is now (the end of October) the second half of spring here, and I have just raked their leaves from our lawns for the second time in four days. There is no shortage of them as you can see from the photo.

The trees lose leaves all year too, though not in such numbers. These leaves are dense and hard, not thin and brittle like those of deciduous trees, and they can take years to break down.

Most of the time I don’t bother raking them, but chop them up with the mulching mower. This helps to build up what is a naturally poor and thin layer of soil. But in spring, I collect them – not to throw them out or burn them though.

 

Goanna with leaves

We have a mostly native garden, and the spaces between the trees, shrubs and other plants remains bare. With summer heat, moisture evaporates quickly, so I use a layer of mulch to cover the ground. I used to use wood chips, but the cost is too high for our budget. Eucalypt leaves provide a great substitute. That is why I collect them when they are plentiful.

I cannot understand the mentality of people who chop down a beautiful, (perhaps hundred-year-old or more) tree, just because it drops leaves on their paths or lawns.

In a few more weeks, the spotted gums will shed their bark. Then, I will collect that and use it for mulch too.

Picture 1: Bright, Victoria

Picture 2: Eucalypt leaves on my lawn

Picture 3: Eucalypt mulch on garden. Plants (R to L) Cycad; banksia; kangaroo paw, plus my pet goanna.

© Linda Visman 29th October 2011

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