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.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

33 thoughts on “Happy Gardening – Summer Stasis

  1. Interesting selection. For some reason, I always think of grey-green stems (and leaves) as drought tolerant, so I wouldn’t have watered so much (but what do I know about Australian natives – zilch). The blue devils are so attractive. I’d like them in my verge if I had one.

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    1. I thought I needed to water the lemon beauty heads for the first 12 months until they got settled, but no. Same with the hoary sunrays. They could be good plants to put in gardens in harsher years.
      I’ve seen the blue devils growing nicely in pots. My understanding is that they like full sun but also water. A difficult combination.

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  2. I love your verge garden and watching its growth. Plants do have so many different needs. Most times you can rescue a dried out plant whereas a drowned one has very little chance of survival. Kangaroo Grass even struggles to get going but once it does it seems to thrive

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    1. Thanks, Brian. If I had known a bit more, I would have put plants with the same water requirements together. Have you lost many plants due to flooding? My barbed wire grass rotted. Have been growing kangaroo grass in various parts of the garden for years. This lot had definitely been the hardest. I think it thrives on a bit of smoke. There had certainly been enough of that in previous years.

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      1. The only plants I have lost have been around the garden and in pots.
        I bought some wonderful bulbs here. They did OK in the first year as it was dry. I left them in the ground. The rains came and they rotted in the ground.
        Smoking does help in some cases. Tell the arsehole that your going to do a cool controlled burn ๐Ÿ˜‚ My barbwire grass comes and goes so maybe its not perennial?
        Planting to water is a good idea. I would never have thought of that but then again I haven’t tried to rehabilitate a patch with a variety of plants. I guess you are helping to ensure a species will survive.

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  3. This is such a fabulous – and worthwhile (and worthwhile doesn’t equal ‘dull’ in this context) project. It’s a genuinely useful piece of research, and if it gives you – and the neighbours – pleasure: job done!

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. I had to laugh because you read the text and didn’t just look at the pretty pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚ There was a tad too much text for the time-poor blog reader. The garden does give me a lot of pleasure and means less helicopter parenting of the real kids so they are happy. Ha ha ha. The neighbours might be a little concerned that the seed heads will blow across to their perfectly manicured lawn.

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  4. I am so happy to read this, Tracy. Your garden is looking great. It’s a wonderful education, isn’t it?–the watching and waiting period to see what will grow where it is planted and what won’t. I can’t wait until it really takes off–it is going to be beautiful.

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    1. At the very least it is great fun, Lois. I think it has got my creative juices flowing again. I plan to rehabilitate some other areas of the front garden which I have long been ruing (good word for a prompt, eh?) but every problem has an indigenous plant solution.

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I am starting to see how it might look in a year or two and am pretty excited too. The best thing though is that the insect population has increased which should help pollination. Lots of people plant bee gardens, but there are many more pollinators so encouraging diversity is a more ecologically sustainable solution. Plus, the honey bee is not native to Australia, so I think it is the least we can do. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. The blue devils are a attractive addition. Which prompted me to think who on earth thinks of these plant names, obviously someone with a vivid imagination. I have sighted a few verge gardens and yours in far the most interesting. Well done, Tracy.

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  6. A wonderful post Tracy. I love reading about using native plants (especially the ones most people consider to be weeds) and it’s fascinating to me to read how concerned you are about finding the right place for each plant. I have found over the course of the last (almost) 7 years that a lot of natives thrive much better than the hybrids I have attempted to grow, a lot of my energy has been spent in digging out the invaders when in fact they are better suited to the environment. Still, one can have too many dandelions… Love the little’ blue devils’, I didn’t know Eryngiums came so small and could your last plant be Melaleuca gibbosa, the Slender Honey-myrtle?

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jude. You are a super sleuth plant IDer. My last plant could indeed be the Honey-myrtle. I will have to ask a botanist. The melaleucas tend to like damp conditions and the garden bed of death is not that. I am even more curious now.
      You can certainly have too many dandelions, especially if you want to.grow other plants. The Eryngiums seem to have conquered the world and have many traditional uses. I wouldnโ€™t be surprised if they could broker world peace. ๐Ÿ˜„

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