about this blog

This blog tracks the ongoing changes of my garden, and the wildlife I try to attract to it. It's a nature blog. It contains my thoughts and musings about anything and everything to do with nature - gardening, book reviews, philosophy, travel, science, history, art, design, politics.
Catmint is my signature plant because it has all the qualities I value in a plant: resilience, beauty and the capacity to spread prolifically . Unfortunately it's not indigenous. If I was starting again I'd probably choose an indigenous plant.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

a bit of an end - of - summer audit

The garden basically survived the heat and the drought of this record - breaking summer. As expected, there were a few losses - becoming opportunities to plant truly tough heat loving plants.

Lambs Ears - Stachys lanata -  struggled but survived.

Common Sage did fine in full sun, needing no supplementary watering.

Native grasses like different species of Lomandra and Poa are able survivors for increasing temperatures.

Diggers Speedwell - Veronica perfoliata - did really well left to its own devices.

Plumbago auriculata, used to the burning South African sun, soaks it up in its adopted home. Problem is, it's a bit too vigorous. I've been basically trying to espalier these plants against the fence. Don't try this - it doesn't work! They like to take up room.

Rosemary - providing structure to the garden, the colour green to contrast with blues and greys, and flavour for potatoes, mushrooms and many other foods. This is a perfect plant for hot dry summers.

Different kinds of Euphorbia - this one is E. rigida - grow in the garden. All have proved to be suitable  for a dry garden and high temperatures.

I'm still searching for a structure and plants that work in some parts of the garden, but I'll never tire of the Santolina edging around a circular path. Closeup it looks like coral.

Hellebores. Do a deal with them. Keep them in the shade, and they'll cause no trouble.

I'm continually amazed at the toughness of wallflowers. These are orange. They budded in the heat, and flowered soon afterward.

Remarkable ornamental comfrey need shade. As long as they get shade, they seem to be incredibly resilient. In the heat they shrivel up, but in the evening they recover.

I've planted a few varieties of scented geraniums. This one's lemon. My other favorite is coconut. They're sun and heat loving, and can be used for drinks.

Indigofera Australis. I planted a few in a semi shaded spot and watered them in. They just made themselves at home and grew and grew. They are at home, they're indigenous to Melbourne.

Poor possum possibly died of thirst. Or maybe it was attacked by a cat.

The chirpy, darting little Brown Thornbills have returned. I still haven't managed to photograph them - they're so fast - so this photo is from Wikipedia.

Thornbills mainly feed on insects, so I imagine they'll be pleased I set up this kitsch little house to welcome more insects to the garden..

I don't know if anybody's home in the insect house, but it looks like insects or spiders have moved into what was originally intended as a nesting place for small birds.

This summer damselflies returned to the garden, not seeming to mind the heat. They're generally found near freshwater habitats, but each year I find them in my garden even though I have no pond.

Beth, of Plant Postings blog, reminded me that this post fits into her meme for garden lessons learned at the end of each season. Learning which plants survive is hugely important learning. Check out what other gardeners have learned at Beth's blog.

Potter gets rather tired in the heat. She generally finds a comfortable garden bed for a snooze in the sun.

Monday, 17 February 2014

convergence with nature: a book review

Reading this book made me think the blog is really just a way of helping me work out how to get closer to the plants and wildlife in the garden.

Daoism, an ancient Chinese religion and set of philosophical beliefs, believes people achieve virtue and integrity by following The Way, or dao.  Dao is also the basis of all living things.

 Estrangement from the dao occurs, when people 'get caught up with the relentless pursuit of goals, values, knowledge and self centred satisfaction.'  For example, engineers exploit nature by extracting minerals from beneath the earth's surface, and the travel industry exploits nature by turning it into a commodity.

The Daoist urges us to connect with nature, to experience wildness, but not necessarily in a wilderness. 'In one's garden - underfoot, overhead and all around- wild creatures are doing what wild creatures do, and processes of generation and decay are at work.'

Daoists don't believe in taking a particular perspective on nature. They don't privilege a scientific perspective over that of a fisherman or a craftsman.  Their stance towards nature is impartial. They don't prefer some things to others, just accept it all as a total inter-related system.  If we think butterflies are beautiful, then we will find cockroaches repulsive. Daoists deny the whole notion of pest species!

Given such attitudes as humility and mindfulness, there's no room for heroic action, for activism, for saving the planet. Daoists think it hubris - incredible arrogance - to regard our role as healer of the planet. The Daoist way to engage with nature, according to Cooper, is to transform our selves.

never too young to connect with nature

I have no idea whether photographer extraordinaire, Rob Shepherd, has been consciously influenced by Daoism, but his latest blog post is very relevant to Cooper's book. 'Is a spider just something one uses as a subject because it has an interesting web in the light? Or can we discover our connection  to the world of nature that holds that spider and then create photos that connect us all more deeply to nature?'

While Cooper doesn't come up with any practical ideas to help us connect to nature better, I can relate to ideas like the need for respectful engagement with the natural world.

But I can't agree with Daoism's refusal to accept the validity of environmental activism. Not in Australia today, when the federal government ,,,

- is applying to the World Heritage Committee to de-list part of the World Heritage Tasmanian forests, so they can be logged,

-  is allowing the spoil from dredging to be dumped near the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef,

- plans to remove the Carbon Tax, and the Mining Tax

- has a climate change policy called Direct Action, that is vague and incomprehensible.

Still - the book's worth a read, for its unusual and interesting ideas. I don't believe there's one single way of being or doing. There are lots of authentic ways to connect with nature.

communing with nature in Melbourne's Botanical Gardens

Monday, 27 January 2014

midsummer heat

It's so hot it's breaking previous weather records. When it's over 40 - that's 104 in fahrenheit -  it's too hot to be in the garden, let alone do anything in the garden. It's too hot to go to the beach. And the water in the local swimming pool is so warm you might as well stay home and take a cold bath.

The effect of this summer is that the evolution of the garden is even more uncertain, experimental and transitional than before. When I look at the garden, I see it in one of its possible future forms: filled with indigenous and other plants, well adapted to a hot dry climate, forming a romantic picture.

I have no desire for a lush green garden that can only be achieved with lots of summer watering. I am drip watering selected plants. In their first summer plants need help establishing a decent root system. Other plants are on their own. If they die, it means they are either unsuited to the climate, or in the wrong position.

Monday, 9 December 2013

unfinished spring garden blogging business

A long hot summer is forecast. All the more reason to celebrate and farewell the spring garden. But wait ... it's already summer! Slowly, imperceptibly, when I wasn't looking, spring morphed into summer. This post contains my unfinished spring garden blogging business - and buzziness!


This slow gardener has become a very, very slow, infrequent blogger.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

climate change - the elephant in the garden

Tomorrow will be the National Day of Climate Action. In all Australian cities, people will protest at the Abbott government's inadequate response to climate change.

Listening to talk about climate change in the media is weird, like living in two parallel worlds, with two contradictory narratives. In one world there is the truly scary, hard to imagine scientific position. If we continue to emit carbon dioxide at the current rate, we will reach the point of dangerously overheating the planet within 15 to 25 years! 

In the other world are those who either ignore climate change, or deny that humans are causing it. The Abbott government is in this world, as are many big businesses and the popular media. Since Tony Abbott was elected, he has made it clear that his goal is to build the economy, no matter what the cost to the environment.

Popular Posts