I’ve always enjoyed gardening. Back in the UK I’d spend many a happy hour in the small garden at the back of our house and after living there for about 7 years we were getting the garden just as we liked it.
Gardening in Australia was a completely foreign thing for me though and moving to Australia brought with it the opportunity to start from scratch with a new gardening project.
Thankfully, although our house is 4 years old the garden was still very much a blank canvass so I was really looking forward to getting my hands dirty!
It wasn’t going to be that straight forward though. A quick trip down to Bunnings showed me that the plants you pick up here in Australia are a little different to those that you’d find at your local B&Q in West Yorkshire.
Sure, you’ll see plants that you’ll recognise from ‘back home’ but you really could go crazy choosing some of the many exotic variety’s available.
As an example. Fruit bearing plants. Sure you’ll find your apple trees and your pear trees but here in Australia you’ll also find Lemon trees, lime trees, Kiwi Fruit plants, passion fruit, grape vines, the list goes on!
The stuff you stick your plants into appears a little different over here to. Doing a little research it appears there are many soil types here in Australia, but the two extremes appear to be clay and sand.
I’m familiar with the sticky, easily waterlogged and compacted clay which sets like stone when it dries out. Here in Perth however (especially near the coast) we have sand and lots of it!
Sure, it’s free draining, but it can’t hold moisture or nutrients. So I needed to do some work to improve the structure so I had something half decent for growing plants.
‘Some work’ involved our back garden smelling like a farm yard as I mixed in bag upon bag of ‘soil improver’ (aka cow poo) which was great for the flies but not so great for alfresco dining.
Then I had to add a few bags of soil wetter (to help retain the moisture) and buy a couple of hundred weight in Mulch to add to the top of the soil once the plants had been put in.
The scary thing was, even after adding what felt like tons of soil improver, the soil still looked like something you’d find in a child’s sandpit (Click the thumbnail above and you’ll get the idea). It obviously it didn’t smell that way though. ;)
Our Garden here is a little bit bigger then the garden back inthe UK and the flower bed I’ve put in stretches along for about about 40 meters.
This meant a fair few trips to Bunnings but $1000 later I’d managed to collect together a nice collection of shrubs. I went for plants that will look nice and grow quick so a collection consisting of Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Yuccas and a few other flowering variety’s seemed to do the trick.
I also picked up an Orange, a Lemon and a lime tree (for future Gin and Tonics!) and a really beautiful flowering Magnolia tree which holds pride of place in the corner of our garden.
Once all the shrubs were planted (about 30 in total) it was then time to pop back to Bunnings to buy even more plants to fill the gaps.
This time around though it was time to go for a few more recognisable flowering variety’s such as Geraniums and Iris’s. I also bought a few plants which I’ve never hear of before so goodness knows how they’ll go but hey, thats how you learn right? :)
Once all the plants were in it was time for the Mulch. Not only will this keep the roots cool (which is a good thing apparently) it’ll help cut down on weeds and retain some of the millions of gallons of valuable water I’ll likely be pumping into the garden in the years to come.
Back in the UK I’d say that I had pretty green fingers. Over here though it’s a completely different experience and it’ll be interesting to see how things grow (or not) in the months and years to come,
I’ll obviously keep you guys posted on how the garden grows so keep your eyes open for future blog entries. I Can’t wait for our first lemon! (Edit: Click here to view gardening in Australia two years on)
Useful Resources : http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/