Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'Elsewhere' - Pam Tanner

Our native garden covers about one acre of a two-acre block with beautiful red soil at Beecher.

The property slopes downhill from West to East.  When we purchased it the whole area had been burnt off leaving only the bigger Eucalypts, Acacias and Xanthorrhoeas.  A section in front of the house was covered in black plastic held down by small unattractive local stones and had a HUGE cactus growing in the middle. Another small garden was planted with “mother of millions”!!

For 27 years I have labored with determination and love. I have marked out areas for gardens, covered them with thick layers of overlapping wet newspaper and mulched them heavily.  I dug holes and planted first the larger trees and later the understory trees and shrubs.  Most of these I have grown myself from seeds or cuttings that I begged or stole from long-suffering friend’s nurseries. As much as possible, I planted indigenous natives.

The garden has grown to the point where it has become self-mulching with a deep layer of leaf litter. This has its down side as a bush turkey has read the “Land for Wildlife” sign at the front gate and has built his nest right in the centre of one of the large gardens still having its understory planted. He has cleared a very large area around his nest, taking no care with anything in his way, and takes great delight in digging out any recent plantings all over the garden, and even half the plants in the nursery.

Rough paths, mainly for access for the wheelbarrow, wind around the beds; but I enjoy just wandering through the beds as you do in the bush. Grass areas are kept to a minimum and these are never watered. The garden itself is only watered when plants are very new or stressed as we are not on town water.

Usually I don’t enter the local garden competition, but last year the garden was looking so good I entered on the spur of the moment. I regretted it as soon as I had, so I was overjoyed when it was announced winner of both the Native and Acreage Gardens awards.  Then that excitement was crowned when it also won Reserve Champion - the first time a native garden has ever come anywhere near winning the major prize.  Now I think I can just rest on my laurels and just enjoy my bit of bush.

Pam Tanner

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