Tag Archives: saltbush
I’ve been returning slowly and carefully to the garden in our backyard as well as the bigger one of the suburb. I’ve been gradually weeding a little patch near a culvert, where some earlier plantings are beginning to gain in size and I am keen to stay ahead of the poisoner, who may visit at any time.
This time, I put in some grey-leaved bladder saltbush, using the places where weeds are coming up as a guide to where they might be able to grow.
Then I moved to a fence alongside the same culvert but on the other side of a path. I plated some hop bushes here, in a place where there used to be some fine trees that were cut down just the other side of the fence. It’s a bare, neglected place now. As trains pull up at the station beside me on mornings when I work here I often wonder what the driver thinks, whether they even notice, and whether to wave!
And–my old favourite, ruby saltbush, also planted along the fence line. If these beginners make it, perhaps I can plant some trees here in time to come. I picked up leaves that were forming drifts in the bed of the culvert and used them to mulch the little plants, because while it’s midwinter here now, summer is coming, the season of drying and crisping.
The last few weeks as our autumn has begun to set in, have been weeks of pain and disability. I’m on the path to recovery faster than could have been expected, but there are some things that it doesn’t make sense for me to do, and gardening is one of those things. The plants that have grown from seed through the warm moths are ready to go in the ground. What to do?
Depend on your nearest and dearest, that’s what! Here are two lovelies preparing to plant in the neighbourhood. I came for the ride, there were jokes about my supervision, (and later on there were jokes about my elves) and I was the one greeting passersby while they worked and I made string. Who can believe the matching outfits?
There are more plants that made it through summer in this unpromising patch than you can see in this image, but my friends planted more. Lots of saltbush to stabilise and create some ground cover.
You can see at the top of the picture that some made it through the heat and have grown over summer, when many plants here died when there were two days over 40C back to back. Hopefully these new plants will have time to sink some deep roots before the next wave of hot weather comes along.
Here we have some saltbush going in nearby in another patch that is weedy for part of the year and desert the rest. They join the two plants that made it through summer in this spot. Fingers crossed for success!
This morning I went out in the grey dawn for a little guerilla gardening, wearing a flour-bag shirt that has been dipped in indigo!
Evidently I was in a hurry, and so the blurred image… ruby saltbush and a type I have not identified yet, that I call scrambling saltbush. It’s already fruiting in the pot. The days over 40C killed so many plants at home and in the neighbourhood that I have not been planting for weeks. I’ve just been weeding and picking up rubbish and thinking about autumn. The season of cuttings and root division. The season when the plants that are in pots now might be able to make a go of life in the big wide world.
I took the seedlings to a site a street over where a big ironbark came down in a storm. The trunk was cut away and removed but much of the crown of the tree as well as the root mass has been left as it fell or was cut. I’ve begun carting it away. The conversation I had with a neighbour I don’t really know when I was doing this recently was very funny. I was strolling down the street towing a big green bin on wheels. This is the way “green waste” (anything that can be composted) is collected in my council area. It gets chipped and composted commercially. He said to me “most people take a dog out for a walk” and laughed a bit at my taking my bin for a walk instead. I decided to maintain the mystery (I am not sure people really want full disclosure at times like these) and joked back. He was still there when I towed it back up the street full of dead branches, so I made a joke about whether the bin enjoyed the walk as much as a dog would have. I thought maybe I had a better time than the bin.
I had started planting out one end of this site before the tree came down, so I planted some more, and continued moving branches off plants and shifting big branches back toward the driest area where nothing will grow. Then picked up the rubbish, removed an old yarn bomb that had descended to the ground and begun to rot away, and came home again. Off to work in the Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt. I think the print is so cheery no one notices the size of the shirt (or if they do, they are way too polite to say anything about it). I can live with that!
It had been a cool summer up to the point when I wrote this post. Quite unlike a usual December in these parts. So I have been making the most of it and planting away. This time, rhagodia (seaberry saltbush), enchylaena tomentosa (ruby saltbush) and two other varieties I have not identified–one upright silver leafed variety and one that scrambles on the ground.
I am gradually filling out spaces where the tree was recently felled as it looks like the trunk is there to stay.
Here’s one I planted earlier (foreground), in case you’re wondering if any ever grow!
Then over to the culvert. Ruby saltbush at the top edges.
Next, some serious weeding. There is one local patch where most of my losses are to the poisoner. And, I am trying to avoid the poisoner’s attention arriving at the culvert plantings. I think weeding is the answer for now. It is the best thing I can do to ensure these plants get big enough to make it. Once the low growing plants are established, I can consider putting in larger ones. or trees. I am having sheoak sprouting success right now.
And now for a gratuitous picture of two maned wood ducks with their ducklings, running downhill toward water as fast as those teeny legs can take them. Some days walking to the bus is the best part of the working day!
A guerilla gardener needs a propagation plan. Mine starts in the chook run, sieving compost and soil turned every day by our six little helpers.
Then to the endlessly recycled pots, on the potting bench my dad made from an old kitchen sink. It’s a great height and has a handy drain down into a bucket below. My bucket can sit in the sink with pots on the sideboards and everything is well.
This week I planted more saltbush seed, soaked these prostrate wattle seeds in boiling water and planted them, and pricked out the seafoam statice seedlings in the foreground above. Then, inspired by Rebecca from needleandspindle and PIP magazine, I made some gardener’s hand scrub! Just what a guerilla gardener needs…
As the weather begins to really start to warm, I am increasingly keen to get plants into the ground if I can. I still have weaving rushes (sedges) that need happy homes. There tubestock pots have become less and less happy.
Careful observation makes me think the place where they might have enough soil moisture to make it through the summer is in the culvert I have begun planting out. I added them to edge of the channel, where there is some clay that is still quite wet. Those further up the bank were planted a few weeks ago and have grown quite visibly. I spent some time trying to increase the water holding shaping of the bank, as you can see water just runs down it despite my efforts.
Here is the other side of the bank, complete with mystery plants.
I also planted this scrambling saltbush. One of them had a stray sheoak seedling in with it. Fingers crossed!
A few boobialla up on the top of the banks.
And here is the bigger picture. You can barely see my plantings, just the mystery plants, about 30-40 cm high.
Gnaphalium affine (jersey cudweed)? Helichrysum luteoalbum? Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum? One source suggests the last two are are the same plant… and that the common name is Jersey cudweed. Thanks for your suggestions! I will keep looking and accepting clues. Meanwhile, the mystery continues…
Yesterday I was out and about before work in the cool morning after some rain during the night. In one spot, I added some tiny saltbush to continue closing the gap between established plants and a pathway.
On the other side of the path, the same process. I gave these some little sticks in honour of the neighbour who lives nearest. He approves of the planting and thinks sticks help. I am never entirely sure–sometimes they just attract unwanted attention.
A tree was felled here just recently and the predecessors of these boobiallas were taken out in the hubbub. I have been unsure how long to wait to discover whether the trunk of this massive ironbark will be collected. While the canopy of the tree was taken away after it was felled (over two days)… the trunk is lying there and has been for some time now. The longer I leave it, the smaller the chance of preventing parking on this area will become for the year ahead. meanwhile the truck is stopping bike and foot traffic through this patch, which creates an opportunity for plants to grow undisturbed.
The tree had died, and since heavy machinery was parked on its root zone right up to the trunk for two years, I have to say parking might be part of what killed this tree and the one that used to stand beside it. Perhaps I am wrong–but this made me more inclined to plant and try to fend off more soil compaction here.
A few more ground covers facing the road where some were lost in the flood. In case you might think there is no progress, look at the size of these ruby saltbush planted in the last year, on the same site.
Then, some weeding. The last thing I want is for the poisoner to take out these little plants unawares while poisoning the weeds. Then I went round to the new site by the culvert and weeded there. The unidentified plant is doing well and flowering. It is not curry plant. That really is what my parents have in their front garden, and there are similarities. But the smell is really distinctive, and missing here. All clues accepted, dear readers!
On one small saltbush, I found these little critters. I hope they won’t take too much… I was rather charmed to find signs of life in this unpromising spot, personally.
And then home again with weeds galore.
This morning there was a little outing. Planting at a culvert beside the local train station with cyclists whizzing past and runners raising eyebrows.
It’s interesting working so close to the train line. I moved into this neighbourhood because of the public transport, and the lucky find of a place we could afford, discovered when I took a wrong turn on my bike coming home from work. The place was for private sale with a handmade sign and we had given up on finding anything in this spot. I appreciate the public transport, and rail freight too, a great deal. But some days I also reflect on the spectacularly ugly way we do these things here. I live in hope that the future will find better ways and that these trains will be powered more sustainably soon. I put in more weaving rushes on the banks of the channel, and some saltbush above it. There was a whole purple towel just inside the fence for the railway, but well past the end of the path. Curious. It can join the dyeing towels.
And then there was weeding. The best way to keep the poisoners at bay! Several of these plants have come up. This one is in bud. Does anyone more knowledgeable know what they are? I think my parents have them in their garden, where I think they give off a curry (fenugreek, perhaps) kind of scent in midsummer. Wandering about on the interwebs, Mum and Dad probably have Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum) and … this may not be the same plant, but I can’t readily identify it as [locally] native or a weed. Identification is a work in progress. Maybe the recent flooding rains have borne seeds here, as I have seen it nowhere else nearby. The plant growing in this reveg site I am working on also comes up in the older graves on the West Tce cemetery, where they have recently been poisoned along with the sow thistles. Poison, even in cemeteries. Friends, let me push up weeds if needs be, when the time comes. Weeds may be plants growing where they are unwanted but routine and repeated poisoning is not a great alternative.
It’s one of the things I love about guerilla gardening, and thinking of it as caring for Kaurna land in some small way, that I understand more and more of the small ways of the place around me. Both its suffering under trash and poison and the way plants grow and spread and long to live and small creatures find ways to get by or thrive. The previous round of plantings have survived and begun to grow.
I weeded out the things I recognise to be weeds (less fumitory, more prickly lettuce and flax-leaf fleabane this time). I left the unnamed plant. It may be native and is a handsome, hardy, silver leaved plant in any case.
On the weekend I weeded on my way home from the train station and there was a broken bucket to pick up and use, into the bargain. Chicken happiness, neighbourhood weeding, and trash turned into recycling, surely the trifecta of the guerilla weeder.
Then there were weedy poppies alongside the railway line. Beautiful.
And shirley poppies at home in abundance.
With bee revelry into the bargain.
One landed on my thumbnail to inspect me. I am not allergic but even so it gave me a start, then I blew gently on it, and off it went. Blessed are the bees and those of us lucky enough to be able to appreciate them.
You might remember this street planting. The dianellas have grown a lot, but the grand plan of the person who envisioned this sweep of strappy leaves was disrupted when plant thieves, and/or people who had exciting alternative plans for dianellas, took 9 or 12 of them over several nights soon after they were planted. In the end I planted ruby saltbush to fill the gaps and keep the weeds down. But I felt for the person who pictured in their mind a thriving mass planting. In autumn I took divisions off the side of some of these thriving clumps, and almost all of them grew.
Out came the saltbush, looking less than great at the end of winter. The dianella babies were enough to fill almost every gap (I seem to remember counting!)
Fingers crossed for them to grow and thrive…
If they don’t, the seedling saltbush on the edge of the patch stand ready to spring into the space! Every time I looked at these seedlings as I passed them, this fabulous song celebrating the permaculture principle about making use of edges came to mind. See if you like it too. Not sure what I am talking about? Details on the permaculture principle here.
As you were after that digression… Some boobiallas into the ground nearby for good measure…
Just in time for the rain!