Thursday, February 4, 2010

Eight happy grass trees and a mirror for the garden


There were five things in the front garden when we bought our house.   An enormous liquid amber, thirsty for the water in our sewerage pipes, a hyacinth tree which made me think of Elvis Presley films, a magnolia tree which was magnificent in bloom but otherwise twiggy and sticky, an expanse of lawn and some brownish deadish azalea plants.

Nine years later, nothing remains.  The tree went, removed following speedy Star Chamber style trial and conviction by a jury of two on the charge of trying to pull down our front fence with its pushy roots.

The lawn died, also murdered by the tree (and truth be known, by the drought we have had for years).

The azaleas had to go.  I don't care what anyone says. I am not having them in my garden until I am over 60.

And the hyacinth and magnolia were at the end of their lives, so they went off to sunny plant heaven.



This is our attempt at a drought resistent desert garden.   We are no longer fighting nature and our environment, but working with it.  A lot of these ideas we actually got from travelling in New Zealand, where they seem to have a lot of grassy gardens.  

We planted blueberry ash around the border of the garden and also lots of grassy  plants and little bumpy plants (called Hebe), craned in two huge rocks, one for pointing to the sky (see shot above) and one for sitting on with a glass of wine in the evening (out of shot) and built a low stone wall for small children to run along over and over again.    We then put down a pale browney yellow gravel to replace the lawn, which needs ocassional zen raking.

And most importantly, we planted 8 rather large grass trees.

They are also known as black boys, but I believe one is no longer allowed to use that term.

These plants grow native in many parts of Australia.   I have noticed them on the drive from Melbourne to Adelaide and also at my mother's farm.

They are sensitive souls.  They suffer replanting badly.  To address this we planted them, still in their little bags, in a raised pile of soil.  That way they don't need to suffer the indignity of immersion in Someone Else's Ground.

They are so happy in this garden, we cannot believe our luck.

I secretly thought they would die within 6 months and yet here they are, growing away (2 millimetres a year - they live forever, like turtles or Californian redwoods), flowering with their pointy bit, and generally enjoying life in Melbourne. 



Now I need to work on the verandah which looks over the garden. It is an austere space, and really needs work.  ('Austere' here being an elegant way of saying hard, plain and not very attractive).  No photos, it would be a bit too depressing.

But one thing I am thinking about is to hang a mirror on the blank end wall, and maybe grow some ficus around it.  

It would create all kinds of exciting optical light and space illusions. 

A bit like these (but less cottagey):

 








(Images: (1) - (3) Jane (4) Holly Christian.com (5) Brownstoner.com (6) Cedric Bryant.com)

12 comments:

brismod said...

Jane, I love, love your grass trees. They stand magnificently against the gravel. And I'd say it would be very easy to maintain such a garden too.

C.T. said...

...."The azaleas had to go. I don't care what anyone says. I am not having them in my garden until I am over 60"....I'm still laughing here!!

But your garden looks great. Very wise idea to work work with it, instead of fighting nature and your environment.

Will you share with us your austere space? The Before and After pictures ;-)
And those mirrors are a great idea. Like all of it Jane!!
XXX,C.

mise said...

I love your garden. I think lawns are so overrated and would much rather have meadow or something like your gravel under those lovely trees. And the low stone wall is great. It all brings to mind peace and reading and groups lounging around in happy chitchat.

cardinalkay said...

A mirror in the garden is definitely on my MUST DO list! Thanks for the inspiration!

Laura [What I Like] said...

The garden looks wonderful, and I so applaud you for going drought resistant! Incredibly important (as a native of drough ridden CA) I think. I love the idea of the mirrors, I've never seen them outside I don't think! Especially those two on the wall, lovely, just lovely.

Jacqueline said...

Your garden looks fabulous, Jane and very P.C. what with droughts and global warming etc.
I should think that it is a lot easier to maintain now as well. I look forward to more photos with mirrors in situ. XXXX

Ange said...

I love grass trees too! They look amazing! Have fun un-austering your verandah. I don't doubt it will turn out beautifully also...

Engracia said...

they look amazing Jane, I really love them and I really think they epitomise australian flora don't they?
Cheers
Engracia

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jane
Well shame about the magnolia but the grass trees look great.. I love the black trunks with the green foliage.. great contrast...

My friend has a mirror in her garden.. by accident rather than statement.. but i think it looks great .. and adds depth... Have fun xxx Julie

Amanda said...

Those grass trees are fantastic. I love their sculptural form. A mirror would be good. How about an old crazed one? (Think I've just described myself!)

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Honestly Jane, your yard looks gorgeous. I have always been drawn to that kind of landscape, using lots of rock and grasses and palms. Your grass trees are so beautiful, & unlike anything I've seen here in the states. I think you are so wise to stop fighting nature & adapt your landscaping. I have never been a fan of azaleas, so I agree, no loss there. Reminds me of my ex's mother..hee..he. I have two large mirrors in our backyard. Not that I like looking at myself (heck no!) but I think too that the reflection is so gorgeous. I have one that reflects the blue of the swimming pool.
Hope your weekend was good Jane & sending you well wishes for a great new week xoxo deb

Hepzibah said...

Dear Jane
Congratulations on a stunning garden. Your grass trees look fabulous. Do they really grow 2mm a year? I'd like to plant one or two but I'm too old to see them come to their full glory. Therefore I'll have to rely on viewing gorgeous gardens like yours!
Birute

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