Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Letters from Home: Gardening on another planet

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Letters from Home #1/24

Well that’s what it feels like.

Twenty five years at Mickleham, on top of a granite, rock covered hill made me learn which plants could cope, thumb their leafy noses at the wind and rocky soil and grow, and which took one horrified look at what they were expected to cope with and turned their toes up.

The roses showed me just how tough they really are by not only surviving but flourishing, and they did well. Many even survived parts of the house falling on them in the blaze, others laughed it off and kept flowering.

But you always hanker after what you can’t have.

I appreciated what grew so well on the top of my hill, but when I visited others, whose gardens dripped with roses, magnolias camellias and gardenias, my envy was of such depth, I’d never get through the Pearly Gates without penance.

So, when the bushfires destroyed our home, our dear animals and the two acre garden, we moved – just half an hour away – but as far as gardening goes – to another planet.

How could it be so different? Just half an hour away. The problem is, I wanted to keep my old plants, while adding the new, and it’s proved harder than I thought

There are already beautiful deciduous trees that colour red and gold in autumn, but my succulents and cactus that were my much loved friends on the stoney hills of Mickleham seem shocked beyond words to find themselves in the soft surroundings.

Admittedly, some were pretty scorched by the bushfire, and that was followed by a winter that was far colder than they were used to. They showed their unhappiness and caused me grief, and much moving of them around the garden to kinder positions.

I couldn’t live without my roses, so back to my friends of 30 years at Silkies Rose Farm and planted many new ones plus many many old friends…

This is where I found I needed to do it differently. Back on my granite covered mountain, they needed a lot of TLC to grow well, lots of everything roses love and they got it.

Here, on another planet, I did the same, fed, mulched and fed in the same way… and was faced with roses that normally grew to just a metre turning into robust giantesses towering over me. I am living in a forest of roses…. Nice, but I need a ladder to reach the top of the plants to see the blooms..maybe here, less is more.

Obviously a different approach is needed. I found, while in distance the two towns is not far at all – , as far as gardens go, I am beginning to discover that, I am gardening on another planet.


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