I had a request a little while ago to post some pictures of our garden.
We live on a five acre property in what most of my city friends would consider the middle of nowhere; the majority of our acreage is bush, complete with small creek and gulley, but the rest has been landscaped by my dedicated mother. This twenty-four year labour of love has transformed our property from a dust-bowl to a relatively established garden, including orchard, duck/chicken yard, various sandstone rock walls and a combination of native and introduced garden beds and garden ‘areas’. Personally, the native garden in the pool yard is probably my favourite; I am a sucker for banksias.
That is not to say our garden is luscious. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Every summer is a battle against the heat. We get up in the dark and stay out into the twilight hours, stomping about in gumboots desperately watering plants with hoses and buckets. Our only water supply comes from a single tank, so gardening efforts are always tempered by the need to ensure there is enough left over for the house.
I have my own modest herb and veggie patch into which I have invested much time, effort and love, so it breaks my heart when my little plants shrivel to nothing. I can only imagine the stress my mother must undergo as her established, twenty year old trees die in the heat. It doesn’t help that our whole property is built on a sandstone shelf, either; the dirt only goes down about twenty centimetres before hitting solid rock. In such cases, there is only so much watering can do. It has been a long, long drought.
The past couple of days have been unseasonably hot, even by Sydney-summer standards. I have spent the time sweltering at home (we don’t have air-conditioning), but I don’t mind. Forty-eight degrees in the house? Meh. I’ll just lie on the bathroom tiles with a book and a glass of ice coffee until it passes.
My real concern is for the garden. For the native bees, the black cockatoos and the tiny wrens which would die from heat exhaustion without the birdbaths and bowls of water we leave out. For the golden sage bush, blood orange tree and Japanese maple which develop huge brown spots on their leaves in a single day. They have literally been burnt by the sun.
So I am sorry, Sarah, but for the moment I just can’t bear to post pictures of our garden. Maybe once the rains have come…
As we sit and watch the Western sky (hoping for said rain), I want to draw your attention to the tenacity of some of our Indigenous plants; the real survivors of our garden. I am constantly surprised by their resilience, even on the hottest days when everything else is burnt to a crisp. There really is something to be said for choosing plants suited to local climates. They have, after all, evolved to survive here.
I ran out to the pool yard to take these pictures as the light was fading and the temperature was finally dropping. I wanted to show that, despite often being small or unassuming in colour, they should not be underestimated. I hope you like them.
Here’s to the rugged beauty of our local flora.