What I love about going for walks or hikes in nature parks or even along the roadside with the dogs is not only the fresh air and lovely scenery but when I catch a glimpse of colour and find a flower treasure amongst the grass or scrub. I always have my camera handy. On longer hikes I find that I also always get left behind and have to run to catch up with my walking companions, one of whom in particular is not an avid plants person!
One of the things which IDP Nursery has quite a few of is ‘local plants’. It is not just that these plants have been grown locally but that their origins are local. These local plants are grown from seed or taken from cuttings from a wild plant on a local property. As such they have tough genes, they have evolved and adapted to the local climate.
Having said that the term ‘local’ as we use it is denoted as an area approximately within 50km of the ACT. This of course then includes alpine areas, wetlands, dry and moist sclerophyll forest and grasslands and so it is wise when buying a local plant, just as it is wise when buying any plant, to investigate what conditions it has come from and therefore prefers.
For example plants, such as Craspedia aurantia, which originate from alpine areas within the local region may find the heat in our gardens hard to handle and may need either a little more shade or more water for survival. Likewise plants such as Carex fasciularis which originate from the edge of fresh water rivers or lakes are likely to prefer loamy soils and more moisture than they may naturally get in your or my garden.
In the case of some plants such as Themeda triandra (Kangaroo grass) which is native to much of Australia, seed which has been imported from say Queensland will have a different genetic makeup to seed which originates locally. Therefore the resulting plant may not be as frost hardy as a plant which has been grown from locally sourced seed. We see this also with Indigofera australis which is also native to coastal areas. If your garden centre sources their stock of Indigofera from a coastal genetic stock you will find that they will not last through winter here.
As gardeners we often choose to plant a plant which originates form a different climatic area and/or an area which has markedly different soil knowing that we are treading n dangerous ground. When we do this it is important to try to recreate the conditions to which it might best be suited. For example western Australia has sandy loam or deep sand or gravelly soils. Plants which originate here such as Anigozanthos species (Kangaroo paws) are often best grown in pots or at the very least have sand added to our clay soils. South Australia has pockets of alkaline soils so plants which originate from these regions are likely to need a little soil remediation in the pH department and plants which originate from the coast or Sydney will not be used to severe frost and will likely require particular attention to micro-climate within the garden.
You will find that a good plant nursery will be happy to tell you where their plants have been sourced from to aid you in making helpful decisions about placement in your garden.
As I have said, all our plants which are ‘local plants’ are marked as such on our website but just to give you a few examples here are the plants which we sell which have originated from my own paddocks…………..
Themeda triandra, Dianella longifolia, Dianella revoluta, Cheiranthera linearis, Dilwynia sericea
Hardenbergia violacea, Lomandra filiformis, Indigofera Australia, Clematis microphylla, Pultenaea subspicata, Einadia nutans and Hovea linearis.
Will we persevere with our gardens as the drought intensifies? For those of us for whom green things are a passion this seems like a no brainer but I did have to sit back and really consider that question as we progress through spring. Already the weather is very warm and the soil is drier than dry for so many of us. Some of my plants are already showing signs of dry stress. Even though these plants are as hardy as all get up they are not actually desert plants and desert conditions are what we seem to be facing right now. So I had to think, will I actually spend the time and possibly money to keep these plants alive until the rains come? Will I buy in water if I have to? The answer had to be yes. I either keep the garden alive until it is mature enough to do it itself or I have no garden. So last weekend I watered for the first time since last summer. The ground was bone dry.
So what makes us persevere as gardeners in such harsh conditions? For me I think it is about the delight of seeing nature triumph. With the growing plants come a growing number of birds in my garden. Did I make a difference? Sure I did. And I’m hoping to make a difference for a good many years yet. There seems to be a growing tide of people concerned for our environment and I want to be in good company with those people, caring for this precious world we are blessed to reside on for a while. The intricacies of the plant, bird, and animal life excite me. I recently watched a documentary about Leila Jeffreys. She takes the most gorgeous photographs of birds. https://www.leilajeffreys.com/
I’m also excited to see a number of councils around Australia are encouraging people to plant native plants in their gardens to create backyard habitat. As we play our little part in such schemes we start to create corridors or links between one natural bushland area and another which in turn helps to maintain ecological connectivity. See http://www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/Environment/NaturalEnvironment/Pages/BackyardHabitatProgram.aspx and https://www.lakemac.com.au/page.aspx?&pid=1778&vid=28
In Canberra, as I have previously mentioned, the Weedswap program has been running for a number of years. IDP Nursery will be sending several hundred plants to this program on the 2nd and 3rd November to be swapped for weed species. https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/plants-and-animals/Biosecurity/invasive-plants
Don’t forget also the ANPS plant sale on at the National Botanic Gardens this Saturday and check our website because I have added a few new plants.
Lets continue then to plant native plants to leave a lasting legacy of lovely gardens full of birds, bees and lizards. I am encouraged that there are so many of you out there who care about our local fauna and flora so lets stick together and encourage each other while the going is tough.
What a wonder spring is. Everything fresh and new; fresh green leaves, bright flowers by the bucket load; birds and bees excited over the flowers, all enough to put a spring in my step and a new vigour into my garden plans.
However over the weekend I had plans to do some spring cleaning in the house, fold washing, write a blog, and prepare a room for visitors. On Saturday I arose at 6 and was out in the garden by 6.30 before the forecast rain set in and I had to go inside. Well past lunch time and no rain…. I was tired and thought I had better eat. I ate and returned to the garden before the rain set in. At 4.30pm I was so exhausted from getting those jobs done I came in and collapsed on the sofa and then had an early night. The rain never came and the inside jobs didn’t get done. I am doing them today.
But while I was outside in the garden the wonders of spring were an inspiration and delight. Here is what delighted me in my garden. I hope you had plenty in yours to delight you too.
Bright yellow Acacia flowers against a black black sky (that rain that never came)
Instead of writing my blog last Friday I left off writing it till it was officially spring. I’m telling myself that just to be kind to myself because actually I didn’t get round to it a week ago and am struggling this week too. That aside what I wanted to talk about today was windows, windows of opportunity. The window we have before us we need to throw open wide, be bold and go out through (perhaps we should call it a door) because before we know it we will need to close it again. That window is the wonderful weather we call spring. It is warm enough to want to be outside but not too warm to want to be inside. It is cool enough to work hard in the garden but not too cool to want to sit by the fire and vegetate.
Markets are about to start again in earnest and the best thing about that is that I get to look at all the plant offerings out there and hopefully buy new plants for my ever enlarging garden. I am like a kid in a lolly shop when it comes to plants. We had two markets the weekend before last and the plants were flying out the door to their forever homes. Last week we had notice from the Australian Native Plant Society that shortly we will be asked to put in our plant nominations for the ANPS spring plant sale at the botanic gardens on Saturday 19th October.
(https://parksaustralia.gov.au/botanic-gardens/do/whats-on/native-plant-sale-presented-by-the-australian-native-plant-society/) Coming up this weekend is the first local growers market for spring 2019 at Cool Country Natives in Pialligo and we will be there.
At IDP Nursery we are also involved with the Weed swap program in Canberra in spring. (https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/plants-and-animals/Biosecurity/invasive-plants) This is a program supported by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service in conjunction with the Australian Native Plants Society. Canberrans can bring in the invasive plants they have dug out of their gardens and swap them for free Australian native plants supplied by us and other local growers of native plants.
With the spring come big changes for me personally. I am cutting back all bar one of my gardening jobs to focus more time at the nursery. I have been gardening for a number of clients in both Canberra and Murrumbateman for a number of years now. Just as we started to experience the early spring weather I realised that this year I did not feel I could continue on gardening like a young person any more. I am looking forward to more time in my own garden (already getting the neglected vege garden into shape) and more time up at the nursery (much lighter work than gardening for other people). Iris is looking forward to me being up at the nursery more often too as she has less energy for the rigours of the work involved as production continues to increase and more people are beginning to realise that our natives are so very reliable.
May you have a happy and productive spring season in the garden. Iris and I hope to catch up with many of you in the coming weeks at one or other of the market events we are involved with.