A long, record breakingly hot summer has come to an end–almost. So I’ve been out in the streets, saving eucalypt leaves that have fallen in the heat of summer, and that would be headed into the drain if there was enough rain to wash anything down a drain. I’ve taken it as a bit of a project to gather what I can, prioritising leaves destined for waterways and sewers when they could be mulching my garden instead. And that bag? Each time, I take a bag with me. I have a little stack of them that have held greasy filthy fleece and that will not be washed and re used in the kitchen–and they are being used to pick up rubbish. Because when you’re out in the neighbourhoood with gardening gloves on, you will never be better prepared for the job. And because, when you come from a colonising people and live in a colonised country, opportunities to care for this place are opportunities to take up.
Saltbush are fruiting and all kinds of native plants are seeding so it’s seed collection time too, and when what I hope is the last of the big heat passes, I’ll be planting out seedlings and taking cuttings. I’ve made a start on planting out sedge offsets into pots already (but you know, I didn’t think of taking a picture).
Adelaide has had the Fringe, the Festival and WOMAD recently and I had a dip into all of them (well, maybe not the Festival proper). I got to see Pussy Riot! And Yothu Yindi! And Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping! And so much more–but these acts in particular had me enlivened about the importance of doing things that are not expected. In places where they may not be welcomed. And yet are so important. Somehow that seems like cultural guerilla gardening to me, planting seeds where they may and may not germinate. I take my inspirations where I find them and with gratitude.
And meanwhile, I gather leaves and pick up rubbish! And since I didn’t post this draft when I wrote it… still more… and several barrow leaves of falling autumn street tree leaves too.
This culvert has been one of my patches for a few years now (in this post in 2016 I am not sure I am planting for the first time…), and it is really looking good now. In fact, today as I weeded, a gentleman in a suit came past and his only comment was “oh, I wondered who had been doing that!”
Ultimately, my goal is to have native plants out compete weeds, so that no one feels the need for poisoning, and native insects and birds and lizards can have a little more of what they need. In the meantime however, the struggle is on to make sure that effort to poison weeds do not kill my little plants before they can become established. So here is my weeding toolkit and our biggest bucket.
I filled it to overflowing and at this time of year, a weed the hivemind on this blog identified as a cudweed predominates. It is probably Gnaphalium affine (Jersey Cudweed) (so far from home!) But look! The saltbushes (three species here) are really established now.
There is flax leaf fleabane and prickly lettuce and fourleaf allseed , and even a few fumitory plants have survived past the first heatwave and my best efforts. On the other hand, look at the native plants now.
Even the Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes are looking good at the moment.
And, here it is afterwards–perhaps you can’t tell iin so small an image. But hopefully the seed burden is reduced. Already, the boobialla and saltbushes are crowding out weeds which really can only take root seriously at the edges. I hope the poisoners will leave things be.
And seedlings for autumn planting are springing up under the regular watering provided by my beloved. Life rises up in its own defence, and so must we rise up for the future of life on earth. Today, with a little local weeding.
The last of autumn’s cuttings went into one of my favourite patches. I now have only correa alba cuttings left and I am not convinced they have established good enough roots to set them out into the wild yet.
This patch was my first, and it looks great. But, there is an invasive grass coming up there that is seeding. So I pulled as much as I could and tried to rogue the rest (yanking off the flowering heads to reduce the seeds that will be produced). One of the large saltbushes had died so I took that out too, and started to wonder how to remove my pile of green material! I planted rock roses here–cistus–and now I ave looked them up I find they are not actually native (well, they are native to the Mediterranean!) There were cistus growing here when I first moved into the area but they died long ago.
My friends close by couldn’t help me out with my pile of weeds this time. Along came a couple of women, one farewelling the other to a nearby train. I asked if the fareweller if she lived nearby and if so, whether she would mind if I filled her green waste bin. I must have been having a bold morning.
She told me where she lived–not that close! And then offered to come and pick it up in her car if I’d pull it into a pile. I checked whether she really wanted to do that and she said she appreciated what I was doing and we are both part of one community. I love meeting people who feel this way, while I’m out and about doing guerilla gardening. It helps my hopefulness a good deal. Twenty minutes later I had broken all the saltbush into small sticks and finished panting, and she arrived in her car and we filled up the back with weeds and dead bush.
Here is some of the bigger picture–everything apart from the tree planted by my friends and I. And of course, this isn’t really the end of the spring planting, because I’m putting seeds into pots as soon as I can free them up. A friend gifted me two containers of seed she saved over and above whet she could use to add to my own collection. So I made some tags from a yoghurt tub… and wrote on them with a pencil, and put some more seed in ready for autumn planting-out…
Last week I went out and planted in a space where the council has planted and even put in a watering system, but some plants have died and not been replaced. I filled in some gaps…
Earlier in the week I went out and planted these little treasures in a spot where the conditions are harder both because there are still a few big eucalypts–hooray! and because the train authority is responsible for this patch and clearly doesn’t invest as much as the Council in setting up plants for success. Many of the original plantings could not manage and died so I’ve been planting into the gaps.
While I was working here in a light drizzle, a man came out with his dog and had a chat–there seems to be an artists’ co-operative in an old industrial building here. He’d been putting on a play at a Burning Man festival (in Australia though–news to me) and spoke enthusiastically about the festival’s gift economy, building community and such. He clearly approved of my efforts and offered the plants in the raised bed that is the entire front garden of their place as a resource. There is a plant in there that I’d like to try dyeing with so at last I got to ask about it….
These new plantings are tiny. But last year’s are coming along…
And those that have had even more years are growing well, protecting the bigger plants from being parked on and working with the mulch to keep weeds (and poison) down.
A bit of weeding and rubbish picking, and home again…
Another early morning foray into the streets. More dianella revoluta to add to a massed planting where so many plants were stolen in three separate events the week they went in.
Over several years I have planted saltbush into the gaps to keep the weeds down (now the saltbush is mounting a takeover bid!) and progressively propagated new plants to replace the ones that were stolen. This morning they went in like this, barey a spear shaped leaf above ground:
Some of those planted in the last two years look good:
And the original plantings are really successful.
Here is the mound of saltbush removed (half to the chooks and half to composting):
And at that point I decided it was prudent not to plant anything more and head home to deal with that pile of saltbush, recycle some rubbish and give the chooks something tastier. Dandelions, for example!
This week, with rain promised, I made a start on planting out the autumn propagated plants. I find that summer comes sooner and hotter all the time, so I’m trying to push these plants out into the ground so they can take hold of their new surroundings before the parching weather arrives.
The bike trailer comes into its own yet again… as a hand cart!
I’m filling gaps in a massed planting, most of which has gone from strength to strength.
And you can barely see it, but here are some of my plants tucked into the gap… which is pretty much what I also did with the myoporum, a tough, ground hugging plant that has blanketed more and more of the patch where I keep planting it. It looks good, it flowers, bees appreciate it, and it gives people the impression that they shouldn’t be walking into the patch where it is growing, where rubbish has been dumped, plants have been stolen, and rubbish lands–and all of these things happen less and less as plants fill the space, creating something good for insects, birds, animals and human passersby.
Autumn is the season for cuttings. So as the weather cooled I started out with ‘old man’ saltbush. Here it is getting dipped in honey prior to planting.
I’ve planted a lot of creeping boobialla of two different kinds and it is thriving around the neighbourhood.
So now I can take cuttings from these plants to make more!
I’ve been trying out correas and rock roses and had success with last year’s trials.
I have also dug out root divisions from the dianellas around our way to grow more, and cuttings from pigface too. So I now have a couple of hundred pots which are looking promising so far… and now I need to get myself into condition to be able to plant them when spring arrives.
Once winter seemed to have set in, I put my last plantings in the ground around the neighbourhood. Everything that was sprouted from seed in spring and summer has now been planted out.
There have been some losses as the Council or its contractors have been cutting down trees which have died sue to a soil borne fungus. Undergrowth often gets taken out in the complexity of removing entire tress. But they have also been planting more trees that are a decent size when they go in. And then (I am guessing) one of my neighbours dug out my most successful weaving sedge, undoubtedly with different ideas about how to manage water flow through the neighbourhood after the flood. Even more recently, someone decided to take out two huge thriving wattles that I liked very much, presumably as a way of dealing with the gentleman who had been storing things behind them, sorting through them and then leaving behind what he didn’t want or need. I’d picked up the discarded items a few times, but evidently not enough for someone… or there was other trouble going on from someone’s point of view!
Some things are really thriving and this year I have direct seeded saltbush into some parts of the neighbourhood where ground cover is low, while in others, saltbush is being itself and spreading itself around freely. Thank goodness.
Some of last year’s sheoaks have survived a more widespread than usual weed spraying programme and their understorey of saltbush and other tough native plants is growing too.
In this very challenging spot I planted some random plants given to me by various people and this hibiscus has been flowering for months. Understorey boobialla, some eucalypts and a feijoa tree are still growing too. Life just keeps growing up.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.