I am not trying to taunt those of you who have been house bound but I have been out and about in this glorious autumn weather. Yesterday I was savouring the brilliant reds and yellows and oranges of the deciduous trees as I drove to a garden consultation appointment in Canberra and a plant delivery in Hall. In Canberra my client had noticed an increase in native birds as the native plants we had planted in the last couple of years start to get bigger and flower. The visit was to advise on some infill ideas for this delightful courtyard garden. The delivery of plants to Hall was to another native plant lover who is trying to get rid of ivy and periwinkle without poisonous sprays and replace with natives to attract native fauna. Its so special that we have a growing number of people who value what is uniquely Australian and want to do it justice. I couldn’t help singing at the top of my voice to the radio for the pure joy of it.
Earlier in the week I drove to Yass to visit a clients garden. Gorgeous rows of white standard roses lined the brick path to the front door underplanted with fabulously intricate ballerina flowers of Fuchsia in pinks and purples. Simply exquisite. She wanted to plant a large area in native plants to ‘bring back the birds’ but at the same time could enjoy the beauty of the exotic plantings of the previous owner.
And a couple of weeks ago I visited a clients garden in Canberra where the natives have been planted to blend seamlessly with the reserve right across the front of the house. The native birds flitted in and out, bright splashes of colour, while I collected cuttings and found treasures I hadn’t seen before.
This week I am out and about again. I am off to Bango to have a look at a garden. Oh gosh I love it all. If there is anything I love as much as propagating plants it is to be invited into your domain to enjoy the diverse way in which each of you puts together our plants to created something special.
I know that many of you are out in the garden busy planting. I know this because you have come to our nursery and bought plants and I know that you know that Autumn is the best time to plant so you will be out there getting them in the ground. For those of you who have not yet heard, Autumn is THE best time to plant new plants in the garden in this region, followed by spring, followed by…..well just anytime if you are me. But yes I have been exhausting myself filling in spaces in the garden this Autumn and now because it is raining I am inside doing what I should have been doing this last fortnight and that is housework, updating the website and talking to you.
I don’t feel like I have a lot to say but I wanted to let you know that at the nursery Iris and I are already planning for plant sales in spring AND we still have some plants for sale right now. As there are no markets open to sell our plants through at the moment we have opened the nursery to customers by arrangement and/or we are happy to put an order of plants together for you. You pay online and we leave at the nursery gate for pick up, or if you are in Yass or Murrumbateman we can deliver plants to you after payment is received and if you live in Canberra we can arrange to meet you at the border in Hall for a flat fee of $10. And the other good news is our sale prices still apply. All 70mm and 90mm pots remain at $6 each (except for PBR registered plants). Until I have completed updating the website I cannot guarantee that all the plants listed are available but please feel free to email or text us (details on website) to enquire.
So, business out the way and the rain coming down heavier than ever, here are some pictures of some of the plants which are flowering in my garden right now.
Aren’t we all so relieved now the weather has cooled, we have had some rain and the bush fires are all out? Long may our relief last!!
There was a period in the last couple of months when I thought there would be nothing left of my 4 year old native garden. Most of it looked so stricken in the heat and dry I thought it was the end of 'life as we know it'. But to my surprise most of my garden did survive and with the rain the bounce back has been extraordinary. It’s almost like it didn’t happen at all.
Many of you have told me that you will be looking for very hardy plants to replace plants which didn’t survive in your own gardens and have requested a list to help you along. So here is a list of the plants which survived this year in my garden. Im not saying they were not given any water but they were given very little. Neither am I saying that they all looked fabulous (though some didn’t miss a beat) but they have all perked up now that the weather is cooler and we have had some rain and most of them are now putting on decent growth again which is very exciting. Long live Aussie native plants I say!!
Grasses and Clumping plants
There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head but none of them seem to pay adequate tribute to what has been lost through drought and fire this season; to the people who have lost their loved ones or their homes and gardens, the animals which have died or been displaced by fire, the forests we have lost, the devastation to our farmers. And yet here we are in a new year. I want to say happy new year but for many of you finding the happy will be tough going.
For many, this year, the focus will be on replacing houses and gardens which have been destroyed completely, many of which have been decades in the making. For others of us the grief has been on a much smaller scale as we have watched plants in our gardens die from lack of water and/or extreme heat rather than fire. We have witnessed Kangaroos standing on the edge of empty dams contemplating where they may go next to seek out water, and seen our turtles leave home, and we have seen whole landscapes around us turning brown. Daily we see convoys of trucks bringing feed in for livestock and convoys of trucks taking water to empty tanks.
I have vacillated between feeling like lying down and giving up and fighting hard to keep my garden alive. Some days one wins out and some days the other. And I haven't even lost my whole garden to fire. How are you doing? A feeling of being under siege and a sense of despair is a very real thing in such conditions.
The thought of starting anew can be frightening and wearying too; will this just happen again next summer, can I manage the shear effort of doing all that work again. But this week I started to pull out dead plants and today I have been at my compost pile digging out last years beautiful rich compost to replenish the soil so I can be ready to plant again when the rains come. Because I am going to start again. Most of my dead stuff has been foolish stuff also. My Hebes have fried………they are New Zealand plants used to much more water and cooler climes. My flax (also a kiwi) has suffered and some has died, as has a New Zealand Leptospermum.
Other things which have suffered are plants which I knew were more suited to coastal Australia, for example Banksia which are not suited to our dry, but planted them anyway. In places where I planted without preparing the soil first, because I was in a hurry when I first came to live here, these plants have suffered also.
So as I start again I have decided to choose hardier plants rather than trying to prove a point with more marginal ones. Once the rains come lets not just forget the lessons learned this summer, we should all have a new sense of what will work should the dry happen again and perhaps what we really should put away as all too hard.