Goodbye Stringy

One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in the garden was to take out the stringy mango. I bought my house from the family of a woman called Beattie, and it was her brother who built it in the 1940s and planted the mango. It was a beautiful old tree and I was very attached to it. It even had things grown into it over the years – the chain of a hanging basket that was left there too long and a lethal looking hook, put there for who knows what dastardly reason. A very healthy profusion of orchids lived on it, and I don’t even want to think about the all birds and other life it has supported over the years.

I am a person who believes that one of the main problems we currently face on the planet is  the systematic destruction of trees over hundreds of years. We have chopped down our forests, everywhere. We are a culture of tree haters – people don’t like trees dropping leaves on their cars, or being a place where noisy birds gather and poop. Personally I think if you are a person who hates trees then maybe this planet is not for you and you should get off it. Go and live on the bloody moon and let us Earth lovers bring back the Garden of Eden that once was.

Beautiful as she was, my stringy cast a huge amount of shade (not dappled shade!) where I didn’t want it and, being a stringy, even the lorikeets and flying foxes wouldn’t touch it. And when I tried to dig a hole at the back of my garden and hit wood, I realised that the mango roots were going to prevent me from planting any other trees in my garden.

So it was with no small amount of grief I made the decision that she had to go. I was devastated. I transplanted some of the orchids onto another mango, organised for a local tree-feller to come and take her down and said my goodbyes to her. But I couldn’t bear to watch the actual operation itself.

Even now I sometimes get tearful just thinking about it – that act of destruction perpetrated by me. I still don’t know if it was the right thing to do. I had the tree cut down because it wasn’t convenient for my plans. I am replacing her with others, but it will be a long time before those trees become grand old ladies and create the habitat that she did. If they ever do.

The Wonders of Washing Machine Tubs

After the last three years of drought, you wouldn’t think I’d be eagerly anticipating my garden drying out. I won’t say wishing for it because I still bear a few scars from the last three summers – I will never wish for dry weather again. We have had a La Niña summer and how welcome it has been. So my garden is soggy and the weeds are waist high. There are some advantages to this:

  • The ground is full of water and the weather is cooling – perfect weather for planting anything
  • The enormous amount of weeding that needs to be done will generate a healthy quantity of green matter for compost
  • All the rain has had the effect of breaking down the woodchip paths more quickly so they are just about ready to scoop up into freshly cleared beds when they are ready.

The last few days I have been getting into the weeding and cleared a few patches. The two compost bins are full, so I am trying something new – I have five old washing machine tubs given to me by a good friend and I plan to use these as mini raised beds for annual cops. All the tubs have rusted holes in the bottom for drainage and I have added some broken up sticks that have been laying around the garden growing fungus, à la Hügelkultur, to mix my languages. I heaped up the pulled weeds – mainly grass, sweet potato gone wild, farmers friends and oxalis. The tubs are sitting in a sunny spot close to the back door, so they should heat up  reasonably well and cook any weed seeds and grass roots, and I can quickly cull any that pop up. Once they start really breaking down I will add some leftover garden soil I had delivered a year ago – unfortunately it was of a poor quality but serves to bulk up compost. It will probably take at least 3-4 months to break down adequately so will be ready for mid-winter planting.

And six months later… garlic 🙂