Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 - plans for the back garden...

So here I am all caught up with my new garden blog - bringing you all up to date in a few days in what took place over a few years...

All I really want for this year is to move ahead with the back garden design and finish the bones of it - a garden is always a work in progress and can never be truly finished but I want it finished in the sense that all the design is in place, the big landscaping stuff is done, the rest of the beds planted out and then just to finally enjoy it as a whole and just worry about maintenance.

I've started on a good note...this was the task for yesterday...distribute 3 cubic metres of mulch over the back pine tree garden area...(by the time I thought to photograph before and after I had already done quite a few barrow loads)...


The top image shows the mound of mulch...very disheartening when you see such a big job ahead of you but oh so satisfying once it's all done, as you can see in the before and after shots (mostly after shots). I know this garden looks a little sparse, this is due to two reasons:
  • firstly it is one of the areas I haven't really had a chance to focus on yet though some attempts have been made, first by clearing it back a few years ago and laying down the first lot of mulch. I then transplanted some Bromeliads from the front left-hand path way as they were up against a fence that was to become a gate and this is a nice shaded area for them. I then created a small mounded bed and transplanted the Clivia's that were along the border of the back right-hand garden bed and finally I transplanted some daisies to mirror the opposite side of the garden. The latter however, will be coming out from both sides as I've decided the daisies don't work with the rest of the garden theme...they are too cottage-y and even though I LOVE cottage gardens this one definitely is not one. They self-seeded anyway so nothing lost here and you have to try to know. I think I will replace them with a border of Lomandra Tanika - like the one you can see behind Max in this bottom image, though the one to the side of it (in the image above it) is a much healthier specimen, probably because it gets more sun.
  • secondly because of both the shade and roots from the Norfolk Pine, nothing much is going to grow here. One of the reasons I had those posts constructed, as I wanted to create a timber structure (pergola) across that whole section of garden...with a frame around the Norfolk...but now I'm not so sure. I still want it over the other four posts where it's paved but I've thought about maybe knocking some bricks off the other four posts and creating a square bench seat all around the tree instead...nice shady place to sit. I also have to access good for clearing away all the pine needles occasionally as they just build up too much and don't break down quickly enough. I also don't want anything growing under here that needs a lot of water as I don't want to change the conditions for this tree. I have learnt my lesson with the Coastal Banksia's and am even thinking that watering the lawn in (a few years back when I first laid it) didn't do a great deal of good to those two trees as they weren't used to excess water. I still think it looks like a little fairy land all newly mulched and might even just add some pot plants here and there to fill some spaces and leave the rest nice and open as it is.
I'm using woodchip fines mulch here for two reasons, the first is because it breaks down easily and enriches the soil (which is essentially sand) and second, so the cats have somewhere that's easy to dig when they do their business >(*!*)<

I do, however, want to plant something along the back fence but have not yet decided what. I would have liked for the Murraya's to continue all the way around, as they are on both the left and right sides of the garden but as they grow to about 3m+ I don't think they're the best choice as I don't want to block the afternoon sun, especially in winter. The Norfolk already creates enough shade and so I'm looking for something that will only get to about 2m, just above the fence line...and I'm not into pruning and shaping hedges...I'm not that sort of a gardener, I much prefer to let things take their natural shape as well as simply not having the time. I really need to make the decision now as to what to plant there as I've put it off long enough.

While I was out there with the camera I took the opportunity to take some more recent snaps of the garden beds either side of the curved how they've grown and this humid, rainy weather is just urging all the plants along beautifully.

The top image is taken from the paved area looking back towards the house...can you believe how bushy that first garden bed is now - what a difference a few years can make, hey! The other garden bed that leads up to the pond is really established too now and the plants are doing really well.

You know the thing I love best about this garden is how the wildlife has made it home. I have all number of birds - from my favourite family of Wattle birds, Willy Wagtails, Kookaburra's, Butcher birds, Minor birds (yes, not so happy about those), Gallahs, Parrots, Finches, Sparrows, Wrens, Crested Pigeons, Magpies and more all come to visit at some stage during the day...and then there's the Blue Tongue Lizards that have taken up residence, one day I saw three different ones sunning themselves in the garden and my heart beamed that I had created this haven for them...even the cats leave those ones alone as they're so big...they just sit at a safe distance and look on in wonderment.

The ability to turn what was a pretty barren block of land into something so magical it is so utterly satisfying, nothing really matches it. Even on those days when I was not in such a good place (and believe me there have been many over the past five years here), if I made that first push to just get myself out there I was soon lost in a much better place...I find gardening very therapeutic and healing.

So...the next thing I want to do out the back to finally push into the next stage of transformation is to tackle that large lawn area (that is now half-covered in mulch that was left over from when the two trees were cut down and chipped). I put two photo's together to give you an idea of the big picture...

Down in the bottom left-hand corner you can see how the persistent couch grass just took over, the only half-way decent patch left is the patch you can see because that is almost always shaded and it was a shade tolerant grass which obviously did not like the sun at all. I'm not sad to see it go though as lawn needs too much maintenance for me.

So the plan for 2011 is...
  • to move that mulch over to the actual garden bed along the fence line and distribute any remaining on top of existing beds to top them up
  • to take up the remaining lawn
  • have the back yard dug up to replace the sewerage pipe - if you look hard you can see the outlet between the last post and the trunk of the Banksia tree in the top right-hand corner of the image, just on the edge of the grass-line where the brick edging is and it runs diagonally back towards the house - what a drag, hey...and you should see how deep it is, at least over 2m!!! But might as well do the job properly so it doesn't cause more major problems down the line as I would hate to have to tear out established garden beds to do the work
  • once the pipe has been done, extend the right-hand side garden bed out a bit more but leave this area relatively open...maybe just have a longish outdoor table with some chairs around it for entertaining
  • to finish the pond once and for all! It's been like this far too long and I have some nice ideas about how to edge it (the pavers are only resting there as I removed these as the edging for that right-side garden bed when the tree was cut down
  • have the pergola erected. I want to find some nice recycled timber from my local 2nd-hand building supply place. I already have four long round treated pine posts that I bought on eBay an age ago with the intent of cutting them in half - hence the brick posts to a certain height only
Once that's all done the really big stuff in the back yard will be done...well there's actually also the issue of the patched and cracked concrete off the back of the house (you can see some of it in the image below but believe me there's lots more)...the rotting timber of the back balcony and the rusted posts holding up the awning which you can just see in the image (made up of two photo's pieced together, taken from the back balcony)...such big plans but without the budget to match :( will just have to chip away at it bit by bit like I have been doing for the past five years...

...and just as a stark contrast and to show the journey so far...the bottom image is one of the first taken when I arrived here five years at it now in the image above it!!! Pretty damn fine...

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