I started the day with a run, and on the way home picked up a plastic bag. A charity has delivered them all round the neighbourhood, requesting they be filled with second hand clothing. Many have made their way onto the street empty, however–so I stopped this one going down a drain and half filled it with rubbish in only a few blocks. I know litter picking isn’t romantic, but I hate all the rubbish and it does give me satisfaction to remove some of it. A certain would-be politician who is spending some of his many millions trying to buy his way into office is currently contributing more handbills than he should to the litter stream (we are a week out from a federal election). But also lots of straws, single use cups and lids, free newspapers in their horrible plastic bags, and bottle caps.
Far better than litter picking is planting though! This time, prostrate wattles, Indigofera Australis, scrambling saltbush and a silver leafed saltbush.
Out into the street (in a hurry I guess, the photo is all wobbly!)
Some became understorey in an area where almost all the Department of Public Transport and Infrastructure plantings died. Others I planted in an area where council has installed a watering system, and recent works on the gas main in our street resulted in loss of more plants…
I picked up some more rubbish! And then home again. On my way home a chap asked me whether I was in training for some kind of event. What kind of event???!! I couldn’t help wondering, but I think he was just nonplussed by my hauling a wheelbarrow around the place, so I didn’t ask.
I just want to brag for a moment. My beloved discovered during the first rains that the transparent panel in our garden shed roof is now full of holes. I suspect the fact it is on the possum super highway through our backyard at night has hastened the holes. Well. I replaced it all by myself (with a drill bit from a friend and some help from someone with a bigger car getting the new panel home). So here you have the view of the broken panel from the ladder; the view of my neighbour’s bamboo patch from inside the shed with the panel removed; and the ladder view of the finished job. Far from perfect but perfectly functional. I feel proud! I even texted my Dad to tell him since he has taught me a lot and surely was responsible for the gift of that power drill in the first image in the 1990s, bless him.
I am sorry to say there was a considerable loss of the spring plantings from last year, and I lost a lot of seedlings this summer too. However: there is nothing to do but press on!
This week, after finally seeing some lovely rain, I started planting out once more. The first round was mostly ruby saltbush. It is tough and hardy and easy for me to propagate, and it forms a great pioneer planting, creating a context in which it can be safe enough for other plants to thrive. It stops fallen leaves being blown away and allows new soil to form. It creates habitat. And it protects other plants from passersby and dogs.
Most of the saltbush went up against a fence. I planted it previously with great success and then it was all poisoned! The second partial planting is a good size now so I’ve added more.
I also planted ‘wren bush’–the seed was given to me by a friend who doesn’t know its real name but observes that superb blue wrens love it. If I ever see a superb blue wren in my neighbourhood, I’ll need to start a festival in its honour. Some of these plants also have lemon scented gum (Corymbia Citriodora) seedlings in them, donated by my neighbour’s tree which showers our place in stamens and seeds.
I watered them in despite the rain and then picked up litter and walked home. Here is my wheelbarrow with some of the previous plantings in the background.
This last week there was a big planting and a little one. See that little tree in the middle of all that weediness?
The little one involved planting four seedling Corymbia Citriodora (lemon scented gum) trees. Small now–but they will be huge if they grow. They came up in my propagating area, sometimes accompanied by the saltbush I had planted. In the end I planted them along the tram line. I don’t like their chances much having had my knees on that ground and my trowel in it looking for something a plant might get roots into. But they volunteered for the job, so I have obliged them. I have been making a project of taking plants out and bringing rubbish home.
This time there was loads of rubbish and a score! Iron plates I might be able to use to eco print paper.
And some other rusty bits (on the right above) that have gone into my jars of iron water for dyeing.
The bigger planting involved nine plants, added into the barren triangle up near the railway crossing where I planted three not so long ago.
My trusty bike trailer came with two watering cans in it! Yes, I did feel like I was doing something embarrassing. But I did it anyway, apologising to these little plants for putting them in a place so ill treated and challenging.
Then I made another trip to move mulch to the area and give them a chance.
The haul of rubbish was less than the first time. This is all I brought home.
And here I am, a gardener with her newly planted seedlings.
This is E Torquata, the Coolgardie Gum. In my area it is a popular street tree. It is a relatively small gum tree with a showy lovely flower and distinctive bud caps. Being native to Western Australia, it tolerates the dry conditions that a street tree in Adelaide can expect to have to manage.
I find Coolgardie Gum easy to identify. When I was a child we lived in the goldfields in WA where this tree is from. We lived in Kalgoorlie for a while, and this tree grew there as well as over to Coolgardie, which we used to visit. The other town Wikipedia mentions as within its range is Widgiemooltha. When I was a kid you could hardly call Widgiemooltha a town, but there was a dam there that someone had set goldfish free in. We went there once and came home with 15 goldfish, all different! It was a fantastic day out, picnic plus new pets–what more could a young person want? We used to break the beak off the bud caps from this tree and string them to make necklaces. They are distinctive.
This particular tree has relatively yellow flowers, but most nearby have flowers that are closer to orange. There is a big infrastructure project happening in my suburb soon, and some of the local trees are going to go, including this one. So I decided to harvest a little. I have tried it as a dye plant before and I wasn’t impressed (I don’t invest time in natural dyeing with the intention of gettng tan), but I know someone who has achieved green from this tree using modifiers. These leaves are destined for my sample pot. I’m aiming to try them with modifiers myself. I have some rusty-nail-iron-water and some copper-pipe-water, and I’m finally going to try them out.
I have also wrapped up some leaves sandwiched between some recylced silk and some recycled linen to see what happens. I also put some samples in from some trees I found near a friend’s house in another part of the city just in case they are E Scoparia… the leaf shape and bark are right, the number of valve sin the fruit is right, the flower colour is right, and the bark is colouring up the way the ones in my neighbourhood are, but I trust the dye pot more than I trust my capacity to identify Eucalypts. I’ve cooked my leaf bundles for 3 hours and I’ll unwrap in a day or two.
While I’m on the topic of Eucalypts that don’t have long to live… RIP this beautiful Corymbia Citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum). At the community information day on the weekend I was told it would be cut down this week or next. Right now it is in full bloom. There are thousands of bud caps showering down and the road is covered in a dusting of yellow stamens. Lorikeets are screeching and flying in and out of that tree all day long. They start before I’m out of bed in the morning.