New Project: Garden

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Audrey Hepburn
Seedling growing from a log
Image by aKs_phOtOs from Pixabay

The whole world has been talking about climate change the last few weeks. It got me thinking about what I can do as an individual. I’m not a ‘green thumb’ by any means, but I do like to have plants around me. Plants, which suck in CO2 and expire O2 . Plants, which give shade and shelter and sustenance to wildlife, which add nutrients and substance to soil and help us conserve water. Plants, which are good for your mental and physical health… Hmmm, I think I can see where this is going.

Spring is here and I think it’s time to get me (and the planet) some plants!

By coincidence, three awesome things conspired to kick me into gear this weekend for an unexpected two days of hard labour under a hot sun:

  1. A national grocery store has been giving away free seed starter packs with your shopping. I’ve been planting these with Mister 3 and they have started to sprout, yippee! Now… where to put them when we have to repot?
  2. I got my second paycheck in three years, yippee! Now… what to spend it on?
  3. My sister has come to stay for ten days. Now… what project have I been wanting to do but haven’t had help for?

Of course the answer to all three things was to finally, finally, do up the garden. Let’s get some plants! Oh, wait…

When we moved in, the back yard was a plain patch of lawn. In the past 20 months it acquired a children’s play slide, water table and trampoline, a few rescue frangipanis, and a small table that we don’t use often because of the local mosquitoes and redbacks. Where to put plants? What could we do with a plain old grassy lawn? (Answer: endless things.)

Hubby and I drew up a moderately simple plan. I spent a whole lot of time and cash monies at Bunnings, plus drove around the local suburbs collecting free tyres, tomato seedlings grown in cut PVC pipes, cardboard boxes, old pallets, salvaged exterior house paint, and old hessian coffee bags. I was on a roll. All these things were the starter for our new garden.

The weekend turned out beautifully. Sunshine – check. Equipment – check. Recycled materials (more helping the planet) – check. Handy helpers – check.

We dug out a garden bed from our old lawn, then used the sandy mountain it made to lay a topsoil on top of the front and back lawns that remain. I’m going to add soil wetter, and hopefully these two things will help the grass retain moisture this summer. Good for the lawn, good for my water bill.

Image of backyard in afternoon with gardening supplies
The work begins

Next we painted old tyres to reduce the amount of heat they absorb. There are so many things you can do with upcycled tyres. Hundreds. I’m going to turn mine into raised garden beds. Now, I know there is some controversy over using old tyres for growing beds, but I’m lining them with hessian and washing all my veggies before eating them. There are so many chemicals in our food anyway, I think it’s more important that I’m saving tyres from landfill and teaching my kids where food comes from.

After this is all ready I’ve got pallets to spray with wood preserver, which I’m going to use as makeshift tomato trellises against my north-facing wall. I’m hoping to turn two of the smaller tyres into small world play for the kids. There are vegetable seedlings to plant and sunflowers to grow in the front yard to catch the best sun. Then we’ve got to get a soil delivery and add drought-tolerant native species in the new garden bed, complete with climbers, trees for shade, a bird table, jarrah stepping stones, more hessian bags for weed mats, locally-sourced mulch, and recycled treated pine posts for edging.

Once that’s all done… onto the front garden. I’ve got a tree stump to kill and turn into a bird bath, native wildflowers to plant to attract butterflies, and a bee/butterfly house to install somewhere where the bees won’t be disturbed by me gardening or the kids running around. Also, I’ve got scale on the hedge and aphids on my rose bush, poor thing. I think all the neglected plants need some love.

Eventually, I might apply for a permit from the local council to change my front lawn into a waterwise verge. Oh, the dreams in my head at the moment…

Front garden of grasses, frangipanis and yukkas
Half the yard (lawn behind the hedge)

When I get into a project, I really get into it.

And though it does mean I haven’t done any writing, when the garden is done I can sit outside and enjoy that peace and quiet we all need sometimes. A space to relax. A leisure time hobby to get me moving; thinking; emersing in nature; conversing with only myself, the flowers and the bees.

Sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

Operation Garden: Stage One, is on.

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