The garden at Fairy Wren Cottage when we shifted in was unusual to say the least.
The bird bath had bird netting over it so the birds couldn’t access it, the previous owner thought the birds splashed too much water.
There were some small rectangle shaped garden beds made from a concrete border, laid with thick weed mat, then large smooth pebbles, then a small struggling plant in the middle, story has it the previous owner would wash & dry the individual pebbles if lawn clippings landed in the pebbled garden beds. The plants and trees were also planted in a hole lined with concrete.
The previous owner was one of life’s real characters and I say that with the greatest respect. I was doing a ‘Dame Washalot’ one day, throwing a jug of tired flowers over the front verandah onto the garden bed we were going to be mulching when a women walked past calling out to me that it was good to finally see things flowering in the garden, I wasn’t sure what she meant, it was a fleeting cheery exchange as she walked past but it did leave me wondering. About six weeks later I answered a local advertisement for some hens, we got to chatting and discovered I was talking to the same lady who had made the comment about blooming flowers, finally I had my answer: the elderly gentleman who lived here didn’t let anything in the garden flower, he thought it too messy when the flowers started to die off and drop to the ground.
Even though the previous owner had his own favourite gardening ways over the thirty years that he lived here and he did love his concrete, he had kept this property so well cared for and it would be an advantage with establishing our own new permaculture garden. The biggest job was breaking up the wishing well, the roof was lined with asbestos, we had it professionally removed and then the bobcat tipped, there was too much concrete in the wishing well.
There has been a lot of trial and error in the garden. Our previous Kitchen Garden was established in an old horse and cow paddock, the soil was rich and fertile, anything grew well. I made the same mistake thinking that the same would apply here, after all we had shifted to a valley that was known globally for exporting some of the best apples and stone fruits. Orchards were the backbone of the economy in these parts! Reality soon set in when Michael couldn’t break the earth with a crowbar. The ‘soil’ was grey dust, the water ran off it. There is a cement works in the area and I now see why! Our soil was like cement!
We soon realised that establishing the garden would need to be done step by step. The first priority was fencing the Kitchen Garden since someone else’s poultry made their way through the front fence or under the hedge and scratched up our newly planted vegetable garden. We also had another neighbour’s small obnoxious dog paying us a visit marking his territory where ever he saw fit, he also liked to chase our own hens.
In the years before my accident Michael focused on renovating our cottage and I focused on planning, tending the garden and mowing the lawns.
Our garden has changed with our capabilities and our limits, at different times it has been my greatest teacher, my greatest joy and my greatest disappointment but it has all been so so worth it.
Establishing our Garden:The Beginning.
January 16, 2019