Noel Burdette loves plants. He is a horticulturist, garden writer and regular speaker at garden events.
Here he shares his garden story with us.
First of all, how would you describe your garden? (What do you grow? What is your climate like?)
I have a naturalistic style garden. I call it “Wildside.” It is made up of various perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses. I believe that a garden is not just for humans, but that it also has benefits for insects and the greater ecology around us.
How did you get started in gardening?
(Growing up in Victoria) I was taught to gather and sow Calendula seeds from the age of five from my Grandmother and was encouraged to grow herbs in pots. I was always fascinated by the brightly coloured blooms of hibiscus and the sweet perfume of Jonquils.
To this day Jonquils are still my favourite perfumed flower, and Calendulas carry a special nostalgic charm for me.
What motivates you to get up and garden?
I don’t see myself as “the owner” of my garden. I feel that I am the caretaker of the natural environment within the boundaries of my property. As such, I owe it to the birds, the insects, the lizards and frogs (wildlife) to ensure that they have a clean, safe and healthy environment to live. That, plus each day I get so much pleasure from seeing young plants develop into maturity.
What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your garden? How did you deal with them?
Gardeners face so many hurdles in their quest for creating their gardens, but for us the biggest hurdle was the flooding of the garden. In 2011, we saw our garden completely go under nearly 4 metres of water. Prior to that, several smaller floods in the lower parts of the garden saw hundreds of plants being washed away. The vegetable garden was lost and many fruiting trees had to be removed.
How did I deal with them? Each time we had the minor flooding in the garden, I was taught some lessons about where species of plants should be and where they shouldn’t and how the soil reacted. The major flooding of 2011 was a different sort of experience… I waited to see which species would survive and which ones wouldn’t.
This time may have taken longer to get through but it was worth it as the garden itself began to show me which areas to change. Interestingly enough, the devastation of the floods has opened up new opportunities to garden in different ways.
What were some of the unexpected benefits from gardening?
I have always felt that gardening comes with its own rewards, so I suppose some of the “unexpected” benefits could be a greater appreciation of good, healthy soil and the connection between beneficial microbes, fungi and plants and how they all relate to us.
What has your garden taught you?
I often view my garden as sanctuary for the mind, and as such it has taught me that if one is feeling stressed, or negative in some way, being in the surroundings of your garden is a wonderful way of releasing the tensions of the day. Even sitting somewhere with a hot cuppa and being surrounded by nature is enough to ease the mind.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why?
Mmmmm……let’s see. I’ve often seen myself as a cool woodland flowering perennial such as Bluebell, as I’m not fond of the heat. But veg or fruit? Maybe I would say a Jerusalem artichoke! They grow tall and flower so beautifully that they attract pollinating and predatory insects alike. Their flowers also smell like milk chocolate! Also, during winter you can dig up the tubers and have a delicious treat to bake in the oven.
What advice would you have for first time gardeners?
Advice? Every garden should have a healthy balance. 25% fruit and veg, 25% native plants, 25% exotic flowering shrubs and perennials and 25% space for children (and adults) to be in and actually enjoy the garden.
Avoid following what everyone else is doing in the street. Try and visit as many private open gardens as possible to get great ideas… and most importantly, get to know your local horticulturist who will guide you .
Thanks Noel for your interesting insight about your garden.
Would you like to share your garden story with us? We would love to hear it! Please contact us for more information.