Winter earth hours

Happiness!  Today council workers arrived early in the morning and planted TREES in our street!  And hardenbergia and dianellas and other good things.  And I heard a spinebill’s call.  I have not been the only one planting the neighbourhood lately, and it makes me very happy.  New people have come by the blog in the last few weeks in larger numbers than usual–a warm welcome to new folk!  It might be helpful to know that my area suffered the loss of many trees (about 25 in my own street alone) a couple of years back, so the addition of trees is extra specially welcome.  This post is about a project I have been on for a while, guerilla planting my neighbourhood in a variety of small ways.  My ‘earth hours’ approach to this project started this year, after some years of quietly planting native plants had grown and grown into quite a persistent approach to the neighbourhoood coupled to a significant propagation programme.  I’ve taken to recording what I take out into the neighbourhood (here, in my bike trailer!) and what I bring back.

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Here’s how it went last week.  One winter morning before work, I set out to start on a new patch on the way to the local railway station.  There has been new planting on one side of the path, and on the other side of the path, the council poisoner has killed off the hollyhocks that had managed to self seed.  Ruby saltbush, once again, gets the job!  Once I got my trowel into the ground, I realised that there wasn’t much soil there.  The asphalt went further toward the fence than I thought.  All hail the hollyhocks that had convinced me anything could grow here.

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The eucalypts which stand opposite this fence have been showering leaves and bark down on this patch for years, and the earth is gradually converting them into soil.  I love this wonderful process by which the earth itself creates more earth.  Under the mulch there is a lovely layer of compost and soil for a few centimetres, and then bluemetal which must be left from when this path was asphalted.  The saltbush I planted in bluemetal in another part of the neighbourhood is still alive, so I pressed on, glad I had brought saltbush in bigger pots this time.  They will have a little parcel of soil to help them get started.  In some places there was gravel and earth to plant them in.

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Bricks have been dumped here over time and I turned them to good use.  Maybe they will protect these little plants from passing dogs while they grow.  I am hoping that the poisoner’s next trip is far enough away that these will grow up enough not to be treated as weeds when he comes again.

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Finally, I watered in 15 new plants, collected all the rubbish I found, applied the hori hori to the big weeds coming up among the plantings that have gone in on the other side of the path and marvelled over this volunteer, with a shiny cap.

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On the weekend, I went back and put in another 18 plants.

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It doesn’t show, but there is one little saltbush every half metre or so all along here now. One cyclist cheered me on as I planted them.

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And here I am returning home, rubbish bucket half full, watering can empty and pots ready for refilling.

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

18 responses to “Winter earth hours

  1. purplejulian

    hallelulia for the trees! and for all your hard work planting.
    shame about the hollyhocks, but I suppose they are very european. when we visited southern Sweden a few years ago I was charmed to walk around a small town calle Lund that had them springing up out of the tiny spaces between street and house (all houses panted traditional swedish colours of slate blue, red ochre and maybe yellow ochre) and they grow out of the lane in my low front hedge here and in my front garden and my neighbours’ front edges all self seeding, different colours every year.
    when you mention the poisoner my hackles go up, but then I think, what an awful, job, poor man(/woman?)! they used to poison the verges here but that stopped decades ago, they just cut them now thank heavens.


    • Are you sure the ‘hollyhocks’aren’t the native marshmallow?


      • Yes, pretty confident. Though having said that, struggling to say why. Hairiness of leaf? Size of leaf? Having watched them with beady eyes wince they were tiny?


    • Halleluia from me also! Some of the poisoners are very cavalier. But at least one is a trained horticulturalist who loves plants and I imagine that the poisoning is not his favourite part. I had a review of my own hackles after talking to him, because where would he find work that didn’t involve poisoning at this point in history? I have been to England now and have more of a sense of what verges mean from your perspective. I used to read books and herbals from the UK and be utterly entranced to think of all these medicinal herbs and garden flowers growing by the side of the road (it was naive on my part I now see!). Ours are mostly very different because conditions here are so comparatively dry. Cutting wouldn’t achieve what the council seems to be looking for. Anyways. I am doing my little bit to try and create circumstances where weeds won’t thrive but plants will, so there can be less poison and more beauty and habitat. I just wish council might consider more mulch and other poison free strategies–but mulch has been rolling out lately too. Good things!


  2. Cheering you and your plants on from very fristy Canberra!


  3. You are a wonder! And woohooo for new trees and plantings….with you as the treefairygodmother around they will have a great chance of survival. Tree plantings go on in the city here, and then the poor things are left to their own devices. They put “tree gators” on them which are filled once and then left (which probably causes stress for the trees by attracting insects and rot). If you try and remove them you are accused of vandalism and theft….


    • Woohoo along with you from here! I had to look up tree gators. That isn’t something I have seen round here. Sometimes someone puts in a water well–just a plastic sleeve that sits out from the truck and stops water from running off while it seeps into the ground. Happily I have friends who are prepared to do a little watering too. Surely some of these plantings will live to see another summer 🙂


  4. Susan

    TREES…… absolute favourite of the Mother’s gifts to us! and then there is YOU……….hurrah.


    • Absolutely, trees are the best!! These seem to be Angophora Costata–not local trees but still very lovely. They will flower prolifically and give the birds and possums some respite, I hope. Thanks for your generosity!


  5. Looking at your shadow picture I wondered where your wings were. And then I realised of course you had them neatly folded out of the way while tree planting. :-))


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