Sunday, 31 July 2011

My indigenous garden

My birdbath
We live in Ocean Grove, Victoria, Australia. We live within 1 km of the sea and have a crazy mixture of absolutely water repellant grey sand and a gluggy reddish clayey sort of soil. Our whole block is on a west facing slope which means a lot of it is quite shaded in the morning and subjected to scorching afternoon sunshine in the summer.

Our backyard contains some of our favourite flowers, fruit trees, vegetables and the glasshouse (originally for hothouse orchids but over time it is now more used for raising cuttings and seedlings). But the front yard was a dilemma as it is quite steep. When we first moved in it contained some rubbish trees that needed removal and poorly growing lawn. The trees were removed early on. It soon became apparent that the lawn had to go to as I felt I was taking my life into my hands when I was mowing it, as if the grass was the slightest bit damp I started sliding down the hill.

My indigenous garden
We tossed up do we terrace it to level it out etc, etc. But in the end apart replacing and moving slightly the old brick retaining wall near the house with a new wall and leaving the rest as and planting it out.  I started on it about 8 years ago and the main planting was finished about 18 months later. This is what it looks like today. It's grown more slowly than I originally planned for but as I don't water it at all apart from once or twice after initially planting things (It's survival of the fittest here and the water is saved for the vegetables) and we'd had years of drought.

Shall we say it is a garden that is either loved or hated. The comments range from "I can lend you my slasher" to "this is the best indigenous garden in town" from strangers walking past when I'm working in there.

Hop bitter pea
I've got it planted out as a woody grassland as I love some of the tiny plants that grow in them. These are also the hardest to source so I'm slowly adding new ones as I find them. Whilst I have a large number of indigenous plants in there, I'm not a purist and there are other plants in there that I've added for various reasons.

One of the locals flowering in my garden at the moment is the hop bitter pea.

Some plants are colourful even without flowers. Like the local geranium below whose leaves always turn a delightful shade of orange before they die.

I found when establishing the little grasses and herbs that if the mulch I used contained any fines (like composted mulch) that I tended to have a lot of the plants rot out. Whilst the growth was slower initially, I found the coarse Eucky mulch was much more successful and I lost fewer plants.

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