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.
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.
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.
So I went home again quite cheered up.
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.
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.
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.
Then it was weeding, litter picking (gardening gloves mean I can pick up anything!) and home to breakfast and work.
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!
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.
There are some steep banks, so I am hoping the scrambling saltbush is up to the job.
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!
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.
Once I got started on the rushes, I wanted to keep planting and there have been some breaks in the rain. Today I noticed a leak from one of our rainwater tanks. It was near the top, from the overflow pipe, suggesting there is water up above the overflow outlet in that tank which is struggling to escape. That has never happened before, and is evidence of HOW MUCH RAIN we have had. You know what I’m saying: planting time is upon us.
Here is my bike trailer load of plants bound for a bed alongside the tram stop on the nearby main road. When I got there, there was another woman already at work cleaning up, who said she picks rubbish up there twice a week (she also cleared the paving and all manner of improvements). She was impressed that I was doing my own planting and propagating and suggested I might want to join the adopt a station programme, which apparently provides plants. Clearly she works up and down the pubic transport corridor, because she knew the best planted stations, where work for the dole are active and where the lavender is growing so well anyone could pick it. It was fun speaking with another close observer of these often unloved spaces. She had noticed the reduction in rubbish and weeds from my efforts!
This time I had rhagodias from my generous friend (this is a sandy site where I hope they will do well), creeping boobialla that has come on strong since the cuttings went in months back; some little wattles and yet more ruby saltbush.
I put them up into the bed and climbed up after them.
In they went!
There are previous plantings that look dead in these beds, but perhaps they will come back… and in among them, there were some struggling knobby club rushes and…
Can you tell? In the foreground, a small patch of the Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes!
In the meantime, I finished all my grey handspun in an airport a few days back and I am now creating more so I can finish! More soon… it would be so good if this jumper could be complete before the cold weather passes!
I got home from a work a little early thanks to a lift from a friend, and decided to get out into the neighbourhood while it was still light.
Saltbush going in beside the tram bridge and bike path.
Wattles and more saltbush going in on the other side of the tram bridge in a particularly desolate patch as the light fades.
I came home with one bucket full of empty pots, gloves and rubbish, and the other full of fallen leaves.
Just enough time to plant beetroot in the back garden and admire the lemon scented gum over the back fence.
Continuing the mending theme, I’ve been out doing a little earth repair in the way of guerilla gardening. This time I planted rhagodia (seaberry saltbush), and an olearia gifted by a friend. These plants are native to the area she lives in, and as well as having them in her garden and the nearby scrub, she has them coming up in inconvenient places in her garden. When that happens she pots them up for me! Bless her heart.
Here they are ready to go out into the wider world… in which masses of fungi had sprung up very recently. They are so pretty and delicate and so numerous!
As I planted the shrubs, a cyclist pulled over and hailed me by name. She turned out to be a friend of the woman who gave me these plants. I had to love that sweet coincidence! These plants have gone in beside the train tracks where a couple of dead trees have recently been removed and the gaps are creating openings for weeds and for travellers who don’t care for tender little plants the way I do.
Hopefully, being planted in cool damp weather, they will grow up in time for summer heat.
Later the same week I went out with more plants and added them into areas where plants died in summer or gaps look like they might need filling. Out they went to be planted beside fences…
These three were pulled out by the roots next day! Perhaps someone thought they were weeds? Happily their neighbours were all left intact.
Some of those planted a year ago are really large now! It’s exciting to see these plants thriving round the neighbourhood, while I’m propagating more for the future.