Friday, 8 February 2008

The Revhead's inner gardener

The fact that I like gardening often surprises people. I'm sure they can’t visualize me pottering around lavishing love and attention on plants and flowers. That's good, as I don't garden like that at all. I approach gardening like most of my other pursuits. Hard and fast. Get results by the application of copious amounts of labour in a short period of time so you can stand back and enjoy the serenity.

There have been problems involving somewhat unrealistic expectations on my part. Poor plant choices for instance. I like fast growing plants. I don't have time to stand around waiting for a hedge to grow. If I've decided to screen off that part of the yard I want it screened off NOW. Why don't I just build a screen? Well, I could, but spending money on rental properties is against my religion. Against our landlord's religion too.

I like the high-powered plants that give the tropics its fearsome reputation for sheer growth. They are the Big Block V8 equivalents in the plant world. You chuck them in the ground and stand back. I swear, if you listen closely, you can HEAR them growing. The trouble is they get out of control so quickly. You've also got to be mindful of power lines and limbs falling on the roof, etc.

When we first arrived at our latest house the whole State was fried and dead. We drove through a waste land to arrive at Hell's backyard. The lawn crunched under foot and even the native trees looked crook. The locals told us it hadn't rained in 10 months. I remember looking at the garden and saying. "I'm not doing this one."

I'd just finished a 3 year long overhaul of the last garden. From automated watering systems, gravel paths and lush greenery to burned crispiness was very hard to come to terms with. Anyway, we settled in and started working, as you do, and the drought broke about a month later. I couldn't believe that such devastation could rejuvenate so quickly. The growth seemed to be exponential with every barrow loads of branches and weeds I hacked out being replaced the next day. If I stopped I feared we'd be overrun.

I was reminded of that Dr Who episode where the plants were fed ground up humans. You know the one. Blood and bone is nothing new but the way that big plant thing with flailing tentacles ended up destroying a huge stone mansion gives new meaning to accelerated growth. Whatever. The point is I got my enthusiasm back when I saw how quickly the dried up mess transformed into tropical lushness.

We rarely water anything these days. Fertilizer is a rare treat for the select few plants that aren’t coping. If something does dies, it wasn't the right plant for this garden.

I've increased my repertoire of garden tools in an effort to cut my workload. Now I've got 2 loppers, (ones a ratchet lopper, it’s really cool, you could take someone’s arm off with it), 2 secateurs, most variations of shovels, spades (they are different, so I'm told), hoes, weeders, rakes, pickaxes, crowbars, dinky little gardening tools and a bunch of taps and fittings for reticulation. I also bought a wheelbarrow, something I should have done many years ago instead of using a plastic laundry tub. Marvellous things wheelbarrows.

(Like it? See - Bloody Monaro)

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