Through the process of observation and learning Anne’s garden has evolved over the last 19 years. She loves the serenity her garden gives her and that it has become a haven for wildlife.
First of all how would you describe your garden?
I live in Brisbane in a subtropical climate, which can be fairly dry at times. I am very interested in natives, and have tried to incorporate as many natives in the different areas around my yard as possible. Although I do have exotics as well, there is no hard and fast rule! I also have a vegetable garden and fruit trees, and keep chickens.
How did you get started in gardening?
When I married we built our first house, and I started the gardens there. I tended to copy the plants I had seen in my parent’s gardens at first, the ones I had grown up with. But when we built and moved into our second house, my husband said I should put a little more planning into the gardens, so I went to the library and borrowed some books. We planned the gardens around our 837m2 block according to how much water they received – on one side we had a retaining wall and the neighbours would water every single day, so this became our rainforest garden, whilst on the opposite side it was quite dry so we planted a dry native garden. We have now lived here for 19 years, and I am hoping to plant more gardens in the grassed areas which our children used to play on (they are now busy studying at university).
What motivates you to get up and garden?
I need no motivation to get up and garden, it is pure pleasure! The only restraint on the amount I garden is time – I like to get my chores done first so that I can enjoy myself completely!
What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your garden? How did you deal with them?
The drought in Brisbane from 2002 to 2009, followed by the extremely wet weather of 2010-2013! I didn’t lose too many plants, but some of them were quite stressed. We have also had to deal with drainage problems around our yard, as we receive runoff from a few neighbours who are higher than us. We have installed Ag pipe and built a lot of raised garden beds in areas that receive runoff to avoid damage. This also helps our plants grow; although we have lovely sandy loam for soil, underneath we have clay.
What were some of the unexpected benefits from gardening?
I would have to say the physical and mental benefits – I can go out into the garden feeling really stressed or tired, and it makes me feel better so quickly. It is the best pick-me-up around!!! Seeing the birds and animals that visit my garden every day makes me proud of the small contribution I am making to the bigger picture.
Is there a gardening moment that stands out for you?
I had planted a Eucalyptus ‘Ptychocarpa’, which usually has a single stemmed trunk (or so I thought!). I pruned the young plant hoping to encourage bushiness, and all these other stems started growing. After ringing the nursery I had bought it from, I was informed it is also a mallee, which means it can have many stems. It has grown into the most beautiful tree, whose flowers feed many birds and also ringtail possums and flying foxes.
What has your garden taught you?
Patience, and to work with nature – you can’t control the weather!
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
My husband always calls me his pumpkin (a term of endearment, I think!), and my son (when he was 4 years old) used to call me “a beautiful red strawberry in a garden of weeds”! Is there such a thing as a cross between a pumpkin and strawberry?
What tips would you offer first time gardeners?
Look around the area you live in and see what grows best. Read books, watch gardening shows, join a gardening club and talk to your local nurseryperson about what you would like to achieve in your garden.