Getting rid of the Deadwood

There comes a time in every garden’s season where one needs to just get out there and have a good look through to see what is really going on in there.  For us this happened just a couple of weeks ago.  It sort of happened by accident as we had a number of boxes to take to the green waste (we had missed the monthly council pickup by moments due to a great deal of mismanagement) and thought we may as well fill up the car since we were going.  So what began as a “let’s just do a little bit more of a tidy up since it has been nearly a month”, ended up being a massive four hour clean-up of discovery.

Looking around we found that lost behind the green beautiful bushes, were some dead trees!  We had forgotten to look up obviously for some time, time enough for a couple of wattles to die.  I put the 4 boys onto the job while I set about trimming the unruly Cassia hedge.  It has really been the star of our garden from the moment that I planted it.  It lasted through the drought with barely a drop of water, whilst still giving flowers, and then when the drought broke, it continued to bloom and grow.  While I perched precariously on my wobbly stool with secateurs in one hand and pruning saw in the other, I did begin to notice the vast difference between the two sides of the garden.  One hedge on one side was low and thick, and the one that I was hovering over was tall and woody at the top and slightly thicker at the bottom, but certainly heaps taller than the other side.  I had a completely lopsided hedge!  

With a swapping of tools, after a little bribing because for some unknown reason the kids had ended up with the really great long reach snippers and the hedge trimmers, I got right into it in a way that would make Edward Scissorhands proud.  Before we knew it, there was no space for hedge regrets.  It was cut; short and sharp.  Matt and I stood back and assured ourselves that it was all ok, it was just like a really short haircut, it would be much better in a couple of weeks, just a little woody right now.  We vowed to come back at it with the hedge trimmers on a weekly basis to “thicken it up”, get the sideways, internal growth happening.  Inside, I am just crossing my heart, and my fingers and toes…  I hope that it all works and that I didn’t cut so much that that bushes think that have been killed (eep!). 

The thing is about these plants is that they are hardier than people realise, and mostly don’t mind a prune.  Most native plants actually are able to be pruned and shaped, just like other plants.  It is possible to have an “ordered” or slightly ordered garden with natives; they don’t always have to be left in their natural state.  In their natural state they would actually have animals pushing past them, and people and weather breaking bits off.  This is the natural pruning, so it is ok to take it into your own hands and give your natives a good prune, they will be more likely to thicken up rather be straggly.  It is also a great idea to clear out the dead sticks and branches; it gives you a chances to see what is going on with the health in the garden.  When we pull out the dead trees, we found borer in them.  It is a different borer to what is found in furniture; however, I will now be on the lookout for them in other plants.  This is a reminder to me that I need to fertilise more and water more.  Borer attacks trees that are under stress, suffering malnutrition and have a lack of water.  In my front yard (where these trees were) I have not tended to water a great deal as the plants (all being local native plants) don’t really need it to survive.  Well, now I know, need it or not for survival, there was obviously a need, and I must get water to that area on a regular basis, along with the Seasol (this seems to work well with the natives). 

So that is my work cut out for me, sorting out my watering issues, filling in the gaps, keeping that hedge in line and the continual vegie patch!  The lawn has been keeping me very busy too.  I am now down to a fortnightly trimming (can’t really call it mowing when I am using a whipper snipper), and it is so lush that I can lie on it!  I now understand that whole lawn pride thing that people get.  I have suddenly got it, especially since I planted each tiny little plant into the ground by hand (how many years ago now?)!  For those who are interested, Lemon Tree V still lives, although I did note today that there is an ugly leaf thing going on the very top leaves.  I am going to have to pull it off and visit Russell and Deb at Kensington Garden Centre to get help before I end up looking for Lemon Tree VI!

I am stuffing my face with basil, tiny tomatoes and zucchini at the moment! Hooray for summer harvests! Til next time, happy gardening! 

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