Archive for the ‘in the ground’ Category


It has been very quiet here recently, partly as our remaining seedlings seem to have gone into a sort of trance, not getting bigger or smaller, just waiting for spring, those of them that have even sprouted (I on the other hand am dreading spring, or at least what comes after); and partly because I’ve spent another couple of weeks in the Blue Mountains, where it still gets misty and where I go to write. I’ve been struggling for ages with  an increasingly odd and interior book about, or at least partly about, anaesthesia. It’s non-fiction and was meant to be a journalistic exploration. Instead it seems to have morphed into something far more subterranean and personal – an exploration of and wondering about unconsciousness – chemical and psychological – and the interrupted self. Or something. I realise this has nothing to do with planting trees – except that of course in some ways it does. All those lessons about waiting without expectation, about nurture, about simply putting in time and hoping something will grow…


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Here’s me at the park planting a tree (on what turned out to be the old tip).

digging a hole

Sadly, when I went back a few days later this particular seedling had been dug or pulled up and was very dead. But the other two were still looking quite perky. I am fighting, or at least largely ignoring, feelings of futility. And I am not nearly as prolific as I’d imagined I’d be. But in the end I’ll probably just keep sticking trees in the ground and who knows what then? If I ever have my own house again, with a garden, I want a fig tree and a mulberry tree and a locquat tree in the front. And out the back, eucalypts, which are surely the most languid and beautiful of all trees, and move as if they are under water.

And here I am with Finn.

Finn and me, digging

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Five days of no planting and increasing sense of guilt/gloom/I-feel-like-giving-up-this-is-pointless-and-too-hard-ness. Today, with no particular change in mood, I went for early dinner at my old friend Deborah’s, taking with me, apart from red wine and green salad, four eucalypt seedlings. While veggies and garlic bread baked in the oven, she and I and her gorgeous son Sasha, 12, wandered down her street (which is not like a normal street, but more like a cul-de-sac tucked in above the freeway and the wondrous Yarra River) and there planted three seedlings along the verge. Deborah brought her big spade (or bloody shovel) and Sasha a bucket of water and after abandoning the first hole, which was like concrete, found some softer spots and patted the seedlings in. The fourth I took to a spot down below Deborah’s verandah, just next to a patch of feral prickly pear, and with a huge wide view of the river.  The parrots were clattering home to roost. My back hurt. I scratched a yellowish hole in the old dry dirt and poured water and stirred. Then I lowered my seedling  in and tucked the soil around it, and went upstairs to dinner.

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Woke yesterday and opened the paper to find this  article from the UK Telegraph on page 13. It can be summarised pretty much as “the end is nigh”.

“THE world’s leading scientists have issued a desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change amid warnings that without action the world faces decades of social unrest and war.

In what was described as a watershed moment, more than 2500 leading environmental experts agreed on a statement that called on governments to act before the planet becomes an unrecognisable — and, in places, impossible — place to live.

At an emergency climate summit in Copenhagen, scientists agreed that “worst case” scenarios were already becoming reality and that, unless drastic action was taken soon, “dangerous climate change” was imminent.”

As you can imagine, this cheered me right up, particularly given that the lead story on page one was devoted to the rather less important fact that the band Split Enz was re-forming for last night’s big bushfire benefit concert.  I think it would be accurate to say I felt DESPAIRING!

Fortunately, by this evening, when I heard  that the emergency services units that were two weeks ago fighting bush fires are now stationed around the state preparing for landslides and flash flooding, I had recovered my sense of humour (or at least of the ridiculous) (or at least a little).  Meanwhile, the rain has flushed ash into our reservoirs (not good for drinking) without managing to lift our water levels.

On the bright side (yes!), today I visited the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative, which is tucked away in a corner of Yarra Bend Park, and bought 30 seedlings of Eucalyptus leucoxylon, which not only has sweet flowers, but thrives on sun and dry soil and tolerates drought. I’d planned to buy 50, but at $3.95 a pop, settled for 30, for now. And late this afternoon, I dragged Pete and Frannie to the end of our street and a rather barren nature

bald nature striprather barren nature strip

strip I’ve been eyeing off where we dug two good sized holes and planted two slender scraps of green and a third on the opposite nature strip. Like so:

number 4

They looked very small as we walked away.

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This afternoon at about 5.30 the heavens opened and the rain came down. So much so that our downpipe became detached from  the garage and for the next half hour it was Singin’ in The Rain (the drainpipe scene). Filled bucket after bucket and raced around the garden watering all the weary pot plants, then stripped off and watered ourselves (outdoor showers), and then the kids filled bottle after bottle with rainwater, which we drank with dinner. Happy family. Happy seedlings. Happy seeds (eucalpytus macrorhyncha – red stringybark – went in on monday). Even the pot-bound mint bush I put in last week is looking sprightly.  It stopped too soon of course, and probably made no difference at all to the water storage levels (Melbourne’s dams 30.3 per cent full according to this morning’s paper). But it made a difference to us. And hopefully to the fushcia gum I planted at John’s on Monday.

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This afternoon I received this text message on my mobile from the Victoria Police:  “Extreme weather in Vic expected Mon night and Tues. High wind and fire risk. Listen to Local ABC Radio for emergency updates. Do not reply to this message.”

The warning went out to almost five million Victorians. Almost 400 schools will be closed. Gale force winds are expected. People in country areas and the city fringe have been told to activate their fire plans  – and leave their homes now if they are going to leave. It is the first day of Autumn.

Today I planted in the icing-sugar soil of the backyard a tea tree, Leptospermum Petersoni. It is small and rangy and when it grows will bear small white flowers smelling of lemon.

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It’s very hard to make a seedling look interesting.

But here is exhibit A –  a native round-leafed mint bush I planted this afternoon in the garden of the house we’re living in. It’s called a bush, but it grows to 3 or 4 metres, so to me it’s a tree.

Exhibit AWikipedia (which initially came up with about 4.5 million pages on George W. and his dad)  describes a bush as a “category of woody plant, distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and lower height, usually less than 5-6 m (15-20 ft) tall.”

Either way, the soil was so dry it was like digging in icing sugar – and planting in icing. Plus it was potbound and i had to tear its roots before putting it in the ground. I give it 50/50.

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