Tending the sedges

The sun is out some days now, and I am well after quite a lot of winter snuffling, so I have been out in the neighbourhood.

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I set out with 16 ruby saltbush seedlings.  Some went in at the end of a street.  First my friend stopped on his way to work and we had a chat about the risks to this patch when the Royal Show opens and pressure for car parking creates all manner of hazards for plants large and small. Their prospects have been much improved since we first put out plant protective bunting. Then I was hailed by a man who lives right at that end of the street.  He has concerns about bad treatment of the plants and also about crime and drug taking, and shared them with me. Clearly his interventions have led to some of the recent changes in our area to close off access points to public land where it is clear some people are using after dark.  He has been putting stakes beside some of my plantings and they are mostly thriving. So I tried to accentuate the positive and emphasise the long term nature of the project and how much better this part of the neighbourhood looks now than it did in the years before he moved in.

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Then I moved around to a nearby reserve and planted the remainder of my seedlings in gaps left as other plants have died. I found a huge grub, something I see seldom these days.  I remember as a child how exciting it was when Dad would dig one up, and he would put it on his spade and set it a little way off so that birds could come and eat it.  I am glad some beetle will get to live here. I carefully put it back under some mulch out of the sight of passing birds. It looked succulent, even to my unwilling eyes.

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But my main task was to tend to the sedges growing in this area.

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There are lots of them growing beside a pedestrian and cycle path, but some of them have been faring badly in recent years after having been extremely healthy earlier in life.

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Now that I have learned about these plants from the Ngarrindjeri Aunties, I understand that the way the council has treated these plants (a rough haircut 10 cm above ground every year) is probably killing them.

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In some sad cases, only the root mass and a lot of dead sedge is left, but in others there is still a little foliage coming on. So I cleared away the dead to make way for the living.

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Having had their lesson in how the plants spread I could see that some of the plants that are there now are new plants that have been sent out by some of those that are dead or perhaps dormant.  In other cases, I hope that using the Aunties’ wisdom might let the old plant recover.  Meantime my little sprouts are coming along and perhaps this is a place they can be planted eventually.  Then, some rubbish collection and home again.

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15 Comments

Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

15 responses to “Tending the sedges

  1. 😃🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Around here those kinds of grubs are plant-killers – they eat the roots – and get tossed out as bird snacks! While still doing lots of digging and planting in my yard, I had a regular posse of catbirds and robins that would come and wait as soon as they saw me outside with the shovel.

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    • There is a theme of bird happiness emerging! I planted 16 seedlings this day and found one grub, so I am hoping that any root nibbling that one is doing is in balance with everything else that happens… and it wasn’t near any lawn for it to massacre along with its friends and relations (which I believe was why my father made them bird snacks). I hope not every beetle is a plant killer. But I don’t have the knowledge to identify this one from its grub 🙂

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  3. Our girls think ‘curl grubs’ as we call them are chicken chocolates! No need to guess where ours end up. It’s fantastic that th Auntys have been able to share their knowledge to help your plantings.

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  4. Is there any way you can stop the council cutting them like this? Is it just ignorance do you think?
    There was a campaign here to stop councils cutting entire verges in the countryside & now although not 100% perfect they cut enough to walk on & leave the rest for wildlife

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    • I expect it is ignorance. I am sure it isn’t evil intention. I don’t know if there is a way to stop it. I speak with all the council staff I encounter as a guerilla gardener and the range of views and responses and levels of training varies widely, and then there are contractors paid from other sources tended public land in our area (or just poisoning it). I admit one of the reasons I decided on guerilla gardening was because taking matters into my own hands seemed more effective than all the pleading and lobbying I had done when a big development happened in our suburb. But like you, I have been pondering whether to try to affect this particular practice by other means. or whether just planting more sedge and tending the brutalised ones might be a more effective use of time.

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      • I think you are right about guerilla gardening. You seem to be getting a good response from some people and that is probably the way to get change. It is often this sort of thing that changes how people think.
        I hope it works.

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      • Well, it is working more than all the things that I don’t try 🙂 and failing sometimes too. I’ve decided I need to be able to put the things that don’t succeed into a bigger context, and isn’t that the way life works? Thanks for your encouragement.

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  5. it always amazes me that councils and tree-trimming companies employ people with (usually) zero botanical knowledge. those sedges don’t need trimming at all, because they will never grow beyond a certain height (the latter dependent on the soil composition and available moisture). the only spread would be sideways and given the wave of interest in traditional weaving i would think that the aunties (or their many friends) would be grateful for pulled side-bits

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    • I am equally puzzled, though economics is the usual reason, I am sure. The council has some botanically knowledgeable people, but others who seem not even to like plants. It seems so obvious that the height of sedges is self limiting that I assume there is some other reasoning at work that happens to be wrong. Surely there is room for lovely co-operation here rather than the chain saw and whipper snipper, exactly as you’ve suggested? The last time I spoke with one of the poisoners it was to ask if he was there to poison a bed I was planting into and weeding. He said no and pointed to the place he was planning to poison, and then offered to poison the bed I was working in as well. It just seemed he couldn’t hear me when I said no thanks and explained why. And then he told me that ruby saltbush don’t absorb the poison in any case. I am sure he has his reasons for this belief but there is one place council poisoned 20 knee high saltbush I had plated and tended. So clearly they are suscpeptible in some contexts… sigh! I just weeded as fast as I could in the time I had, hoping that they would go lightly…

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  6. Susan

    good on the Aunties………….now for the council……….hugs

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