Category Archives: Neighbourhood pleasures

A little quiet neighbourhood activism

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A few weeks back, I set out for a meeting with some extra items in my bag.  I had made these little banners and after a night of gale force winds, in which fallen trees had crushed cars and stopped public transport (no humans injured), I was thinking about the hostility trees get at such times, and decided it was time for them to go out into the world.

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In this second image, all the understorey has been guerilla planted by my friends and I, establishing native plants in place of the bare weedy ground that used to be there, constantly being poisoned by the council.  Much better!

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Guerilla planted weaving rushes

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There is a culvert in the neighbourhood where I have been on a project of restoration over some time now.  I planted some pigface (a native succulent) with initial success, and then it all died back partly because scale insects have targeted this plant across the suburb.  I have cleared rubbish and broken glass and spent time weeding, trying to keep the poisoner from spraying indiscriminately and killing these plants.

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There are now some large saltbush plants and a few ground covers doing well.  The poisoner has destroyed all evidence of life in the culvert in the rest of its path though the neighbourhood, but this section has escaped.  I am particularly happy about this plant though.  It’s a Ngarrindjeri weaving rush (a native sedge) used for basketry. Here they are going into the ground in 2016, after a flood took out my first round of plantings.  In the previous post you can see how bare it was previously.  I planted at least nine sedges here after bringing them home from a weaving retreat and observing my neighbourhood closely for suitable spots to plant them as they grew to a suitable size. There are a couple more that haven’t died–but this one is thriving at last.

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So much so that I am propagating from it so I can try again! Since this picture was taken I’ve potted up ten plants and I’m growing them up so they can go into the ground over winter.

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Guerilla saltbush plantings of summer

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I have all kinds of plants that I planted as seed in spring that are waiting for cooler weather to go into the ground.  Saltbush are the hardiest, and in a break in the summer heat I decided to plant these out.

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They are mostly going into areas where other plants have died or been cut down–there was the loss of another dead tree recently and unfortunately it was carried out in such a way that not only did the dead tree get cut down, but its understorey was also lost.  Council don;t re plant and by listening to their workers and asking questions I’ve understood that they won’t.  So I’m planting these sections as things die or get killed, trying to protect the earth here and create an environment in which larger plants can go in.

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Once I plant and water, I weed and collect rubbish.  And then it’s time for breakfast and work!

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Guerilla gardening and hoping for rain

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This evening, we are coming down from several days of hot weather, and rain is predicted.  It hasn’t happened yet, so I’m hoping for rain. Because, this seems like a good time to plant! I’ve got creeping boobialla, my first snakebush successes, my first hedge saltbush cutting successes, some bladder saltbush.

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I also have some of my first successes at propagating correas, and some scrambling saltbush.

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My parents have decided this wheelbarrow is surplus to their requirements.  For now, it’s living with us.  It’s lightweight and I managed to get all my plants and some water into it, ready to go.

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The first plants went in here. I’ve planted a lot of the low growing plants on the left here, but there are still some barren patches.  Some are barren because so much heavy machinery was parked here for the two years of infrastructure development. I think that is why we’ve lost some of the big trees here.  Too much root damage, and the soil is as hard as rock.  Still, it’s improving, and there are now seedling trees coming up in among the groundcovers and shrubs.

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As I planted the bladder saltbush near the spot where some were pulled out, I was approached by the woman who lives on the other side of the street. We’ve spoken before but clearly my persistence has impressed her.  She had seen me weeding, planting and watering and came out to give me a hug.  She thought she might have pulled out some of the plantings thinking they were weeds.  So  I invited her to water them instead, and kept planting and weeding.

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This is the plant I call “scrambling saltbush”.  One day I’ll identify it properly.  But it is growing well around the neighbourhood where council have planted it, so I’ve been collecting seed and adding it into my plantings.

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Home again after collecting the rubbish that has been bugging me on my morning walk to the train station and doing some more weeding.  Now, we hope for rain!!

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Ground cover plantings

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One day this week, I went out to do some guerilla gardening before work. I still have creeping boobialla (I promise, that is what it’s called!) propagated from cuttings in autumn that need to be planted out before it gets any hotter. As I walked down the street with a bucket in one hand, steering my bike trailer with the other, I was thinking about a couple of salt bush I lost in the last week.  The grey-leaf bladder salt bush that had violas growing beside them.  One day I walked to the train and there were two holes where they had been. I hope they went to a new location where they are thriving, but the holes were small. That same week, a whole row of sheoaks that had been doing well were poisoned, and I felt if I’d weeded them out that might not have happened.  So I was feeling a bit sad about all of that, and remembering that persistence is what makes this whole business work.  And that if I’m caring for Kaurna land in the period between colonisation and the return of sovereignty, that responsibility and privilege is no less because sometimes it doesn’t go the way I hoped.

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So I planted my ground covers.  And pulled out some weeds, and collected some rubbish. And I started to cheer up.  I noticed how even though I’ve lost plants on this patch, some are thriving.  This rhagodia is the biggest, but there are pigface spreading and saltbush growing up.

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Then I realised that the ruby saltbush has begun self sowing. This blurred photograph is just so exciting! There were quite a few seedlings coming up here, where I planted ruby saltbush that were torn out or poisoned–and they had enough time to leave seed behind to sprout.

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So I went home again quite cheered up.

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And then a little later, my partner was out on the street and I went out to see what was happening: she was chatting with a council worker who was out weeding and watering in our street, in one of the places I recently put in more plants. Clearly the woman from the council had noticed all this, and she started asking if I was also the one spreading the quandong seed and such… and she turned out to be a wild food specialist outside her day job. Too good. Happiness is remembering the project is shared with many people, and noticing when the earth begins to heal itself.

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The Guerilla Gardening Goes On

There have been several forays out into the neighbourhood lately.  I’ve planted cistus (rock rose) after my first season of successful propagation, as well as some of the regulars, carprobutus (pigface), boobialla and so on.  My beloved and I also made a special trip to deal with a lot of tree branches that had been cut ow torn off and thrown into one patch, on top of living plants.  Some from the trees in the patch and others perhaps from further away.  We filled our own green waste bin to capacity (the council collects this and it goes to commercial composting) and then cut up what was left and distributed it as mulch.  At one stage while we were chopping up dead branches, a gentleman I often see walking his dog when I’m out and about stopped and said this was the Council’s job.  We had a chat about how Keeping Australia Beautiful was everyone’s job (this was the theme of an anti littering campaign we clearly all remembered).  In this final image, a place where the council has planted and even paid a watering system, and nothing has been growing on the front edge of the patch except weeds for over a year.  Now, groundcovers.  That’s better!

 

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Spring guerilla gardening

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The guerilla gardening is going on–with seeds sprouting and plants that have grown slowly through the cold months or those which were propagated from cuttings in autumn going into the ground as I am able.

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Bladder saltbush (atriplex versicaria) in the foreground–I have been gradually creating some drifts of silver foliaged plants in this spot, as well as the ruby saltbush (enchylaena tomentosa) you can see growing in the background.  There is a place here where people walk through the bed and not along the concrete paths, and I’d like more vegetation, while there is plenty of concrete already. I am hoping eventually to crowd out the path people and dogs are using through the bed at the moment, so that one day it will cease to seem the obvious pathway.

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Some of my seedling eucalypts finally went into the ground!

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Pigface (carprobrotus edulis) is a winner even in very dry places.

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I’ve had to laugh abut how I’m spreading some of the plants in our garden into the neighbourhood.  This bladder saltbush went in at least 6 months ago.  I don’t think there is any risk of violas becoming a serious weed around here however!

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And here’s a task for the weekend–entire branches ripped and cut from nearby trees and dumped on top of other plants.  I don’t know why or or by whom, but I think I might just remove these myself (and plant a more prolific understorey so that this does not appeal as a place to dump things).  On the up side, every time I plant here now, there is so much soil compared to even a year ago.  Things are moving in a positive direction!

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Small projects, big plans

A while ago I went to The Drapery to buy zippers, and The Drapery is far more tempting to me than the chain alternatives, so I came away with a fat quarter (or something like that) of Liberty lawn.  My Mother-Out-Law loves Liberty prints, so I tried to inhabit her aesthetic and chose this one.  She is a rather petite woman, so I made four small handkerchieves and I am reliably informed that she loves them! Naturally (in her case–the other gift she enjoys is stationery) she sent me a lovely card, and observed that only another sewer would recognise the rolled hems as a special achievement.  I feel so lucky to have out-laws who are so kind and lovely.

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Then there was the very last of these bags.

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This time I chose madder and indigo dyed threads.

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The madder dyed silk in the centre of this circle was dyed at my house, (the madder and indigo purple by Beautiful Silks), and it is SO red!

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There have been other small projects piling up, but there has also been a development.  We went to the Royal Show again this year and Suffolks were the featured sheep breed.  This beauty evidently didn’t stand still (or perhaps it was me who did the wriggling).

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I tried to speak with breeders in hopes of acquiring a fleece and discovered again that I’m really quite shy.  My beloved was much better at it.  We spoke to breeders from WA and Tasmania who did not bring fleece, and then found one from Kangaroo Island who was happy enough to sell me a fleece if I was sure I wanted to spin from a meat sheep and did I realise this is sold as carpet wool? It’s so sad to think that the long history of this breed as a source of wool for specific uses such as socks, has been all but lost even among lovers of the breed.

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Malcolm called me on the weekend and we had a chat.  We agreed on one fleece and a price that I thought was too low, and what do you know?  I put one and a half times the price in an envelope and he delivered two fleeces, or is it three?  He threw in a “black” fleece because these sell for even less than the $3 or $4 per kilo that Malcolm gets for white Suffolk fleece.  Last night I skirted it at the Guild Hall and it is grey and dark brown, cream and white (I suspect, under the dirt).  I can only confirm that I won’t need another delivery in October: this is a LOT of wool.  I’ve never raised a sheep, and it’s entirely possible Malcolm doesn’t know how long it takes to spin sock yarn!  However, the fleece I skirted last night is lovely. I’ve had little access to Suffolk to date and spun what I had suspected was poor quality fleece with a very short staple.  This has a high crimp staple of at least 8-10 cm in places, and while the coloration lowers its value for industrial processing, for me it is a real asset.  I washed a small quantity before work this morning, I’m so keen to get spinning…

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More winter guerilla gardening

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Early one morning this week I went out with an Olearia, a ruby saltbush or two, and some bladder saltbush plants.  Really, I wanted to do some more weeding, still hoping to stay ahead of the poisoner on my culvert plantings, which are still small and therefore vulnerable.
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I’ve planted out some areas in the neighbourhood with ground covers and small shrubs in an attempt to stop car drivers from perceiving the root zones of large trees as places they can freely park.  Several large eucalypts have died in our area in the wake of works that had large heavy machinery parked right up against their trunks.  I want to stop that happening again, and crowd out the places people park illegally during the Royal Show (when pressure on parking is at its peak for the year), doing lots of damage to shrubs and saplings as well as ground covers.  The Council eventually responded to calls to put in barriers that would prevent some of that parking, and I’m building on that protection and gradually reducing the zones people and dogs choose to walk through and enlarging those where plants can grow and birds, animals and insects can get on with their lives.  We have plenty of roads and paths already to my way of thinking. These saltbushes should grow to further reduce a throughway on this corner.
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Then it was weeding, litter picking (gardening gloves mean I can pick up anything!) and home to breakfast and work.

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Sheoak groves for the suburbs

The winter plantings are continuing. Here I am setting out for the neighbourhood tram stop with the trusty bike trailer and a future sheoak grove tucked into a bucket.

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They went in one by one, among the plants remaining from council planting, those that survived from my previous efforts, and some succulents another guerilla gardener has put in.

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Little but lovely, I hope they will make it!

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At the moment they are dwarfed by the platform, shown here as a tram stops.

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Then I picked up the rubbish and headed home, watering can and pots ready for refilling!

 

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