Back when I was 20, and my boy was 21, in 2003, we made our first trip overseas to South East Asia. We left Australia for eight months in total, travelling through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. How is this relevant to our garden? Well,we spent out 'time out' from travelling at my Aunt's house in Thaton in far Northern Thailand. We would lie on our big wooden bed, staring up at the rafters, or out of the window at the giant bamboo, and we would dream of our future house. We scribbled down little house plans, and I would always add gardens to the drawings. My dream-gardens always had repetitious plantings, sweeping curves, vegetable beds, water tanks, and a studio tucked away somewhere in a hidden corner.
Now it is 2011 and at last we have our longed for house. The garden is a near-blank canvas, particularly out the back where there was a lone rosemary, two fungus-laden privets, two daisy bushes, a small group of aloes, and a wealth of agapanthus. That was literally all, and the best thing about this is that I can do whatever I want.
But what do I want now?
The sweeping curves, vegetable beds and repetitious plantings all remain but the art-studio has become a child's cubby house. I have also realised that none of my early plans ever took living on the side of a hill into account. I want our garden to be as productive as I can make it. I daydream about self-sufficiency but this is highly unlikely since I don't see us keeping a cow or two in the backyard. Still, in the future I hope to be able to provide my family with most of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and eggs that we eat. I cannot yet call the garden truly Organic, but this is one of my aims.
Plants chosen come from a little mental hierarchy: firstly productive, secondly to bring in birds and insects, thirdly because I think they're beautiful.
You see, I love plants. I love and adore them. I love their greens and their greys, their blues, reds and pinks, their prickles and spines, their tendrils and twining stems. I love knowing that birds are attracted to red flowers, bats to night flowers, and bees to nearly everything. I love Australian Chocolate Lilies because they are quiet, and Cannas because they are loud.
So my garden will not just be a family garden, or a productive garden, or a bird garden, but will also be, fundamentally, a garden by a girl who loves plants.
We live in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, but not the cold part! Our climate is classed as Mediterranean: we have hot, very dry, glaring bright summers, and cold, damp, miserable winters. Our average annual rainfall in our area is probably around 600mm (a bit more than Adelaide city at around 560mm, but less than Mount Lofty (over 700mm).
THE NATURE STRIP TAKEOVER