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My Wager


“Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn’t necessarily expect to witness.” ― Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

I am grateful for those who gardened before me and planted the lovely oak trees which I now enjoy in my garden. This is a photo of one of my beautiful oaks.

By my estimate, the oak trees are 70 years old; that’s still young in the life of an oak.

I understand they were planted from acorns collected by the family who built my house. The children of the family collected acorns from mature trees in a local park ,which was established in 1861.

So the original trees were about 85 years old when the acorns were collected. It was a wonderful thing for the family to have done.

Now it’s my turn to contribute and plant trees; I only wish I had started sooner.

I’ve planted some ginkgo trees which are slow growing so I don’t expect to see them grow into maturity.

Like the children before me, I have collected seeds from older trees.

In my case, I collected cones from two Cedrus Deodara (aka Himalayan Cedar or Deodar Cedar) growing in our local Botanic Gardens.

These majestic trees were probably planted in 1869 and they appear to be approaching the end of their lives. Because of their age the two Deodars are heritage listed.

I’ve distributed the cones throughout my garden in the hope they will germinate and grow.

Perhaps my garden can preserve their precious botanical DNA for future generations.

Let us hope those Deodar cones germinate and flourish like the acorns did all those years ago.



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For the Love of Edna


vista-4I secretly stalk other people’s gardens.

I lurk around gardens which I admire, looking in while loitering on the footpath.

Sometimes I can only view them from the road way, so I slow the car down and crawl past to get a jolly good look.

This habit started in my childhood when I became obsessed with one particular garden behind a high fence.

I caught my first look into it when sitting on a school bus, the elevation of the bus allowed me to view over the fence and I fell in love.

Every time I boarded that bus I chose a seat which gave me the best view of this garden.

Later, I learnt one of Australia’s most eminent garden designers, Edna Walling created the garden during the 1920s.

As an adult I have become a dedicated Edna Walling fan, visiting many gardens she designed as well as reading her books and articles.

She preferred foliage and limited the colours of her flowers to white or soft pastels.

It is the garden vista which is her statement.

Edna Walling’s trick was to create a garden focal point to catch the eye.

Sometimes grand but often simple these vistas invite one to linger and enjoy the view a little longer.

It is as if she has sculpted the essence of peacefulness in her gardens.

This photograph shows one of my attempts to emulate Edna.

I still drive past the original Edna Walling garden I saw when I was a girl on the bus, but alas I don’t get the same view from the car.

Perhaps it’s time to hang up my car keys and get back on that bus.



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Have you ever wondered what sort of toxin coated the poisoned arrow tips in ancient warfare?

It was a deadly toxin derived from the beautiful foxglove plants which are favourites in many of our gardens today.

Every section of this sweet plant is poisonous.

Foxgloves are named for their unusual tubular flowers which resemble gloves. The charming little ‘gloves’ grow on tall handsome spires.

They are a biennial and prefer a rich well-draining soil. They happily self-seed but will only flower in their second year.

Botanically, foxgloves belong to the Digitalis genus.

The term digitalis is also used for the modern day drugs known as cardiac glycosides, which were developed from the toxic component of foxgloves.

These drugs increase the contraction of the heart, and therefore increase cardiac output. Cardiac glycosides treat congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. The most well-known example is the commonly used drug, Digoxin.

So our pretty garden foxgloves have been both a menace and saviour to mankind.

Here are some photos of foxgloves growing in my garden.