The last month or so has been peak seed collection time for me. I’ve been wandering the neighbourhood saving seeds from council plantings and from previous generations of my own guerilla gardening. There are a lot of different salt bushes–this one I still have not been able to identify, but it is certainly thriving in our suburb.
Here are three successive years of planting in the same patch, the most recent one planted in the last few months. Just in case you wonder whether anything lives–it sure does! The second year plants are fruiting (see below left), but the much bigger third year bushes are not. Intriguing! I am not sure what specific saltbush this one is. Below, from top left, unidentified saltbush (feel free to help me out if you can), two images of bulbine lily (bulbine bulbosa), which has begun to self sow! Ruby saltbush (enchylaena tomentosa), ruby saltbush again (but with orange berries), blue bush (maireana brevifolia, I think), and bladder saltbush (atriplex vesicaria)
These seeds will mostly be dried and saved for propagation and guerilla planting in Spring. But I have also been direct sowing some, and have planted others that might sprout now. Seeds are the best form of magic ever.
Guerilla gardening is like every other kind of gardening I know–there is no end, it just keeps going on and on. Except that the garden is a lot bigger! This morning (mid April), my friend and I went out to our shared project, a spot we have been sheet mulching for some time because there are many square metres of it and it is charitable to say it’s weedy–it’s quite exciting to see weeds have started to sprout there because it means that something else could grow. But nothing other than weeds has been growing there in many years, and sometimes not even that.
We began with my cardboard stash, and added onto what we have previously done (my friend has added some to our shared efforts without me!) on top of that, our first few sacks of leaves from the nearby car park where E Leucoxylon is in full bloom, and the late dry heat of summer and autumn has led to plenty of fallen leaves. Then we went to the local guitar shop, where they put all the boxes outside and are happy for folks to take them. We stripped out staples and tape again and added on. Then more leaves!
Next we headed home to collect soil (our test hole shows a liberal layer of bricklayer’s sand and a lot of gravel), water and plants. We sang the tree planting blessing over the first tree ( E Scoparia), and added some ruby saltbush for good measure and protection.
While we were there, a woman pulled over on her bike. She is older than me, and I see her cycling in my area really often, always in a dress, frequently going at a very fast speed. What a role model! She said she had formed the impression that the two of us had taken responsibility for this area of the rail corridor and she was wondering if some ruby saltbush that are coming up at her place might be a good fit. Absolutely! We said. So it appears we are now a team of three (in a very loose sense). We hope that rain is coming, and I have lots of plants to put in. Meanwhile, yesterday a friend dropped by with a stack of pots from her day job, that will be perfect for propagating. Might be time for cuttings…
This morning [well, it was a morning in October 2020–] I headed out with Bulbine lilies (Bulbine bulbosa) I was gifted from a neighbour who runs a project called Grow, Grow, Grow Your Own. They arrived as many seedlings in a single pot and I grew them on. Some thrived and some did not, and I am not able to say why, yet. I’ve never grown this plant before.
Here I am preparing to head out into the street… you will be glad to know that I asked for a metal watering can for my birthday and now have a glorious watering can. I bought another second hand, but it was crushed when a huge bough from our neighbour’s lemon scented gum dropped on our side of the fence. Given the size of the bough and the beauty of the tree, I was sad to lose the watering can but felt I had experienced a miracle! One of these has since fallen apart and gone to rigid plastics recycling.
I decided having researched online that they may need more water than our area usually gets, so I settled on a spot with a watering system, and chose a partially shaded spot, creating a massed planting around some of the pomegranate trees I have put in. If there is ever a grove of pomegranates surrounded by a carpet of yellow flowers? How amazing would that be!
This is one of the bulbine lilies in the ground beside the council watering system.
For context, these are salt bushes I planted earlier, thriving nearby.
And this is a bad image of one of the pomegranate trees! And below–the classic heading home shot, complete with only a little litter picked up…
Now, dear readers, it has been some time since I posted. Thanks for your patience, if you’ve been patiently waiting (I’ve been surprised to discover that some people have been). Thanks to those who signed up during the pause I turn out to have taken. Apologies if you have been concerned for my wellbeing (I did not expect that but ralise I should have–as I have seen blogs stop suddenly and then realised that the blogger has been facing cancer, or divorce). My life has had its ups and downs, to be sure. But in the year that has just passed, with all the suffering and trouble it has brought for so many people, I feel lucky and privileged. I just somehow stopped posting!
This post was begun in October 2020 and I can now update it and tell you that only two (2) bulbine lilies have survived to this point but they are about four times the size they were, and have flowered. I will see if I can propagate from them so I can keep trying for that massed planting! All four pomegranate trees have survived, though, and that makes me very happy. I’ve weeded this site both on my own and with a friend, and it is looking so much better since I found where the council water system was leaking and fixed it with part of our garden hose, during an early stage of the pandemic when calling the council seemed…surplus to requirements. No longer is part of the site in drought while part of it is flooded regularly!
And now, let’s see if I keep posting or not. And how random the sequence of posts becomes 🙂
A little gentle, socially distanced guerilla gardening has continued over the last while.
Sedge planting went first–in co-operation with others who have a more authorised relationship with the Council. There was a man playing his clarinet in the park the day these went in beside Brownhill Creek.
These are Cyperus gymnocaulos, Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes. Do follow the link to hear Aunty Ellen Trevorrow share her wisdom about the rushes and the basket weaving, its deeper meanings and Ngarrindjeri weaving traditions. The Aunties gave all of us who did a workshop with them years ago some starts, and these rushes are propagated from plants I’ve established from those starts.
These saltbushes went out into a new spot I’m gardening where a lot of the original planting died a long time ago. Here’s where they have gone into the ground…
And here’s the traditional shot of what I brought home!
Then more saltbushes… in a different part of the same area.
Here they are tucked in alongside the watering system. It seems to me part of the watering system has died and part of it is flooding an area of the planting area–and that is contributing to what has died and what has lived, so I’m planting drought tolerant species in the very dry area and those that might enjoy the water in the spot where the water struggles to drain away, and we will see how that goes.
But wait! There’s more!
This time sheoak as well as saltbush…
This roll of very quiet planting has been driven by the welcome arrival of rain. So heavenly. I have just a few plants left now and need to get cuttings in for next planting season!
This is my second attempt at this post, having lost the first when it was complete but not scheduled… so this is the crisp and fast version!
I’ve had a long break from every kind of gardening with a protracted recovery from an injury–but now I am decisively on the mend I’m doing little gardening often. Gleefully propagating and planting! So today, out to a new patch planted by Council and provided with a watering system, where a lot of plants have died and not been replaced. It’s not the best time, but that passed some time ago and these plants can’t thrive in pots forever either.
I found a little message from the universe as I contemplated the crispified NZ flax at this site that was so lush until we hit 40C. Count me among those trying to care for creation, whether it resulted from the actions of deities and spirits or whether it arose from the big bang and evolution. This garden mixes plants from different parts of Australia with some from Africa and one from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and that seems quite wrong to me. But–Council has provided for my future flax weaving ambitions and I am glad this garden is there and growing to maturity despite some losses.
In went dianella revoluta, two species of tall saltbush and a Eucalyptus Nicholii that was irresistible at the hardware shop for $A3. Long may they live and thrive. And then, litter picking, watering, weeding and home for breakfast. **Save draft** **LOL**
Autumn’s cuttings and seedlings are ready for planting around the neighbourhood.
One of my dear friends died recently, and on the day of her funeral I decided I’d go out and plant. Somehow it seemed right. Here they are ready to go.
I planted them along a corrugated iron fence, where some have lived, some have been poisoned, and some have been pulled out. Here’s hoping these make it! Then as usual, litter picking, weeding and home.
Well. A field, it certainly is not. But today I decided to hitch up my bicycle trailer and guerilla plant further from home. A couple of kilometres away, actually… a place by the tram line I sometimes run past and where there has been nothing but weeds growing for years.
I managed to get two bucket loads of plants in the trailer by putting the ground covers on the bottom layer and adding tools to keep the top bucket from crushing them.
One bed was empty except for the remains of weeds. I reassembled the edging on the bed where it had fallen or been pulled apart and began. I planted three acacia paradoxa seedlings in the bed beside it (also a pretty sad sight but with some native plantings still alive). I was feeling pretty pessimistic about their chances in life and questioning my decision to plant somewhere where I haven’t done as much observation as usual when a gentleman walked up and asked if I was planting. I wasn’t sure of the alternative interpretations at this stage, but soon we were chatting about what I was planting and his past in Trees for Life. I have grown for Trees for Life too, so we chatted on.
He said he’d do some weed management! He thought he could add some stakes! He’d considered planting native grasses in this area. He lived nearby. He used to have that same trailer (we had both bought them from the chap who used to make them himself, in the 1980s). The chances of these seedlings making it to any size at all have just risen immensely!
So–in went seaberry saltbush (rhagodia). I lost some water going over bumps and when bike and trailer were travelling at different speeds downhill, but most of it was still in the watering cans to give the new plantings a drink.
I also planted ruby saltbush… and picked up rubbish. In fact, I made several stops on the way home. I do find cups, plastic lids for cups and bottles, straws and such but a staggering amount of cable ties and gaffer tape too, and today I found those plastic soy sauce fish in two different locations. Go figure. Hoping next time I run past these little plants will be bigger!
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.