It might surprise my readers to learn that I have been writing a lot lately. I’m a bit over it. I have another small update to write on a group project. I’ve written one paragraph of a twoish para summary. I’ll re-write the first para again tomorrow. The trouble is that I always want to spice up such boring little factual pieces with some intrigue, controversy or a joke. Terribly inappropriate. Anyway, this para here is living proof that I can write a para and not spend a fortnight editing it.
You’ve Always Got the Roos
I have been feeling a tad too boring to be blogging lately. Digging weeds day after day makes for pretty dull conversation. Also, somehow I had gotten it into my head that the quiet byways that I used to frequent were now inundated by crowds of people enjoying “nature” and therefore to be avoided. How selfish of me, but as per usual, it was nothing like I thought.
Anyway, I went out today. I saw less than a handful of people. I even said hello. It didn’t kill me. It was actually kind of nice. I had forgotten about the autumn light. Better make the most of it – the light, the time, the quiet.
This is my contribution to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Finding Peace. It is only one photo but you have to start somewhere.
So? How are roo?
The Big Reveal
In a moment of sheer panic and disbelief, I revealed something of myself, that is, a nagging concern about my forgetfulness and seemingly habitual carelessness. I am sure this came as no surprise to anyone given the name of this blog site.
I will let you in on something else important to me. I love photography. That is why I was so cross with myself when I recently lost my camera SD card. I only have two cards, one good and one not so good. Photography is a window to the world, a place mark and time stamp, don’t you think? It organises me.
I am calmer, more observant and patient when I am taking photos. I find that which is hidden may be revealed by chance or as it catches the light. Somewhere. Somehow.
Too much suspense?
So when I eventually found my SD card, I was immensely relieved. It was not in the fridge or under the fridge, in the bathroom or at the bottom of a bag of weeds as I feared. The dog hadn’t eaten it, nor was it on any shelf known to harbor such treasured objects. I owe its discovery all to you, dear Readers, and your kind and sympathetic comments. I really do. Because when I opened my laptop to respond to those comments, there it was. Surprise!
I should blog more often, don’t you think? Anyway, it makes a good story with a happy ending.
Take care, everyone, and thank you.
Lost In Space
I worry about being forgetful. Don’t we all? My memory has never been very good but now it is dreadful. Apparently I’m supposed to remember how old I am but I can’t keep my age in my head. It changes all the time!
Today I lost my camera SD card. The good one. I remember putting it down on my desk and thinking that wasn’t a very secure place to leave it. Now it is no where to be found. I checked my bra, not there. Before you ask, it isn’t in the camera either. If I find it in the fridge, pantry or dishwasher, I’ll know something is seriously wrong with my memory. However the question is, if I never find it, is that better or worse?
A poem and an Australian native plant photo.
Is a nondescript plant unworthy of the lingering gaze?
Must the ugly duckling metamorphise
into that beautiful swan? Does a light shine
with none to see it, invisible when eyes are closed?
The winter woodland keeps its secrets. Echo
chambers climb from forest floor until – tendril –
summer’s fertile heat provides the desiccant,
the bluffer and ephemera of nature’s final call.
I read a recent disparaging comment about the lovely Australian native climber, Clematis microphylla. Perhaps you are yet to discover it or if you have, perhaps you have been underwhelmed? Be patient, dear Readers, and look again.
Happy Gardening – Summer Stasis
By popular request (ie. again only one person), I return to the new verge garden which is in summer stasis. In other words, I haven’t had time to tend it. However, I have been taking note. I have a much better sense of the water, sun and soil requirements of particular plants. On the whole, I have chosen wisely, except perhaps for some rescue plants, which have died almost the moment they were planted.
The aim of this garden is to create a grassy woodland in miniature, using local flora. Or at least that is the aim now so we might come across plants that don’t quite fit that objective. Let’s get on with it.
On the subject of kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra), I have learnt that it is slow to get going compared to other native grasses. I am impatient for the grasses to fill out and provide protection for the small forbs that I planted between them. By then, we shall no doubt be in drought again.
Meanwhile, the seed heads of the wallaby grasses (Rytidosperma carphoides and bipartitum) jiggle freely, unrepressed, in the drying summer breeze.
The dusty daisy bush (Olearia phlogopappa) flowered prolifically this year. Perhaps reflecting an increase in the insect population on the verge (certainly the ants work diligently every day), there appeared to be a 100% success rate in the number of flowers that were pollinated. The seed heads formed delicate tufts on the bush that were even prettier than the flowers themselves. This particular bush is normally found in forests at higher elevations. I didn’t know this when I bought this plant. In fact, I didn’t know much at all. When I discovered its preferred habitat, I consoled myself with the fact that I live in a frost hollow so perhaps it would do well. This got me thinking about micro-climates and saving our endangered species.
There has been much general discussion about the need to adapt to the changing climate and planting more species that normally grow in hotter, drier regions. That makes intuitive sense but logic tells me there is a difference between climate and weather. Global average temperatures are trending up but we can also expect more extreme weather, both hot and cold, so we shouldn’t write-off our plants that live on the margins just yet. Perhaps many more of our precious, endangered ecological communities can thrive if we restore them to health and ensure the micro-climate we establish around them supports their continuing existence, Our cities and our gardens must play their part. Well, that’s my opinion, but like I said, I know nothing.
Not everything is in stasis on the verge. It is now time for the blue devils (Erygium ovinum) to shine. It is definitely their year, with Canberra’s nature reserves awash with dramatic metallic blue.
I can’t get enough of them so I have planted them liberally on my verge.
I’ve also planted some less conspicuous woodland plants, including this climbing saltbush (Einadia nutans). Its red berries are miniscule. Apparently, they flower in autumn and fruit from December to March. We occasionally see them at our park but they never seem to be vigorous or fruit profusely. I guess that reflects the mowing regimes for urban spaces. A shame really.
The lemon beauty heads (Calocephalus citreus) are another verge experiment. They look so vigorous and appealing in photos on the internet. So I planted a few and watered them in. And kept watering them. As you do. But they didn’t do well. Just in the nick of time, I learnt that I had to stop watering them. I am hopeful they will now do well in this hot part of the verge.
Since we have a dry forest side of our verge garden, we decided to plant a small shrub that typically grows in the eucalypt forest on the slopes of Canberra’s Black Mountain. Room was made for it when I removed an impulse purchase. I am much happier with this lovely slender riceflower (Pimelea linifolia).
Finally, let’s take a moment to visit the garden bed of death which forms the front boundary of my property. It is called the garden bed of death because nothing grew there until I stuck a few tough native grevilleas and grasses there. I also planted this lovely violet plant. Not that I’ve seen it for years as it was hidden by an exotic that I recently dug out. I got such a lovely surprise when I uncovered it this year. I think it is a kunzea, but not one that is native to Canberra. What do you think? Suggestions welcome.
Well, I will stop there lest it be winter before I actually publish this bloomin’ post.
Happy gardening, everyone.
Hear My Voice – 1
A part of our small, grassy-woodland urban park is being allowed to regenerate. For the humans participating in the project, this mostly involves assiduous weeding and a small amount of replanting, but most of the hard work is being done by the land itself. The birds and other wild creatures (ie. two skinks and some butterflies) are embracing the changes.
I like my spear grasses straight off the plant.
From paddock to plate –
Fast food –
So fresh, so nutritious, so grand.
This is my place. This is my home.
From this watchtower, I behold you on your knees,
creating a space for us to live together and apart.
My retreat from mankind’s constant intrusions.
Peace and quiet, ladies and gentlemen, peace and quiet.
Sign Of The Times
After a busy break doing the usual stuff, my True Love and I headed off to the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) for a relaxing New Year’s Eve stroll. To be frank, I find NYE rather a trial due to the inevitable illegal fireworks and a small dog who is terrified of them. I imagine it is not only small dogs that are terrified. The birds and animals at the ANBG get to hear and see the official fireworks show. At least that show is time-limited, unlike the unofficial ones which seem to go off all night.
This year I expected the firework shenanigans to be worse than usual because earlier pandemic restrictions seem to have caused more than the usual number of idiots to have slithered out of their holes. I asked my TL whether I should speak to those who had gone crackers but my TL suggested that would not be a good idea if I wanted to live til morning. So I didn’t. One friend in another city did tell her neighbours to fornicate with their illegal fireworks and lived to tell the tale. She may regret this next year when they let off even more.
As I keep saying over and over again, there are worse things than snakes, ladies and gentlemen.
By the way, after a two year break due to the pandemic, the ACT Herpetological Association in partnership with the ANBG, is again hosting Snakes Alive! from 9-15 January 2023. It is great fun for kids and adults alike. See here for details.
Anyway, happy 2023, everyone. I hope it is a bloody good one.
About the Photos
The photos of the red-browed finch and the bearded dragon were taken by my True Love. All the other ones were snapped by me.
Philosophy by photos.
Sometimes you have to start small, very small.
And sometimes things can get a little hairy.
Sometimes it is best to sway with the breeze.
Every year is different, not yours to decide.
Stop for sustenance,
Speak, but also listen.
Your time will come to shine.
This is my last chance to participate in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for 2022. This week’s theme is Last Chance and the brief is to publish for the first time some favourite photos taken during 2022. All but one of the photos was taken in my garden or my local park. Many thanks to the Lens-Artists hosts for their hard work and thoughfulness, and also to you, dear Readers, for joining me here.
Happy holiday, everyone, and see you next year.
Being Authentic Is Hard Work
It’s official, ladies and gentlemen, I am now a landcarer. I join over 100,000 volunteers across Australia working on landcare projects that are focused on sustainable land management practices and environmental conservation. I’m also a newbie Canberra nature mapper. Better late than never, I guess. Over the last six months, I’ve teamed up with some of my neighbours to form a registered group to look after our community park. It is lucky that we had our own resident ecologist because, with his assistance, we identified something that needed protection. Even our ecologist was surprised.
My family has known for years that areas of the park had some lovely native grass – spear grasses (Austrostipa sp.) and kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) – as well as some native grassland plants, clinging to the edges, or under, trees. We also had an inkling that if the native grasses were allowed to grow rather than be mown, they might out compete some of the weedy, exotic grasses. But who would believe us? Nothing to see here, right?
When the drought broke, the resident ecologist discovered more and more native woodland and grassland plants at the park, and I started to incorporate these plants into my verge garden. My neighbour had also seen many interesting looking plants popping up down the park and she talked to me about starting a park care group. So our little adventure began and soon we were joined on this journey by some other enthusiastic neighbours. We embarked on months of self-initiated environmental assessments, community engagement and government liaison.
It is fair to say that not everyone is on the same page. Myths of snakes in long grass, experience of devastating bushfires and differences in aesthetics, beget many different reactions. I certainly get it because that was me. Of course, I am “passionate” about conservation, as was pointed out to me, but it is knowledge, not passion, that motivates me, ladies and gentlemen. As a team, we did our homework (ie. the biodiversity surveys, etc) and the park woodland did the rest.
And the result? A small patch of the park has now been officially recognised as critically endangered box-gum grassy woodland. This is both horrifying and exciting. It is horrifying because there is so little box-gum grassy woodland left in eastern Australia due to urban development and unsympathetic agricultural practices. It is exciting because we now have the chance to work together – both government and local landcare volunteers – to ensure that this precious ecological community is cared for appropriately. Well, that’s my view anyway. I can’t speak for the government or the broader community.
So we’ve planted a few plants, not many, to shelter the small birds. We have also been weeding, weeding, weeding. It’s been wet so there are many weeds. Weeding has been a learning exercise in itself because we are no experts on what is and isn’t a weed. Thankfully there are a lot of resources, including the resident ecologist, to help us make those distinctions.
I haven’t had time to swan around taking photos. I tried to combine my photography and land care interests at one point but I ended up leaving my camera in the grass when I got distracted by some weeds. Don’t worry, it was still there when I realised my error. I do, however, encourage swanning around with a camera because images (plus the expert narrative that goes along with them) tell a story and the story can lead to understanding, and understanding can lead to action. So I haven’t completely given up.
Because the conservation patch is a grassy woodland, it has delivered, once left unmown, an outpouring of beautiful native grasses the likes of which I have never seen in our park. Let me show you.
Like the rest of Australia, Canberra has a growing multicultural population. Although my ancestors arrived here in 18th century, I include myself in that multicultural group. This multiculturalism extends to our weeds, gardens and pastures. Our nature reserves, and the indigenous species that depend on them, cannot withstand the onslaught of these “threatening processes” unless we do nature differently.
I’ve got lots of ideas about “ecologically sustainable development” and probably not very original ones. Improved community education about environmental conservation needs to reflect where we are as a community, so tailoring nature “education” to Australia’s increasingly multicultural population, through programs and materials in languages other than English, could be really helpful. I would also love to see even more community and government initiatives to re-wild and connect our urban green spaces. Canberrans, the latter is already happening and you can join in now. Contact Landcare or the ACT government to find out how you can get involved. The work is intellectual; it is physical; it is communal and I love it. Don’t wait until you are over 50, like me, before you get your A into G. There’s a job that suits all abilities.
In closing, I offer my best wishes to all who celebrate the coming festive season and to those of you who do not. My hope for the new year is that you too may have access to a resident ecologist and/or team up with likeminded friends to turn your dreams into reality.
Take care, everyone. Don’t be too naughty. Maybe I’ll stop for photos.