Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Resprouting of Optimism

Winter is officially over and very slowly I’m discovering some encouraging signs in the garden. It has lacked any serious winter character since our Cootamundra Wattle fell apart a year and a half ago.

According to neighbours the wattle was a very old tree and it had obviously endured some very heavy-handed pruning in the past which left some very ugly stumps in the place of former branches.

But despite its flaws it really brightened up the back yard in winter. The wattle blossom seemed to last for ever and glowed in the sunlight. Even on a cloudy day the colour was vibrant, almost fluorescent.

Then one morning half of the tree had fallen onto the back fence and over the next few days I started to dismantle what was left (of the tree, not the fence). This exercise significantly opened the back yard to more direct sunlight and also opened up more possibilities with the veggie garden which could now be expanded.

Despite the new possibilities, the tree’s loss robbed us of the major feature in the back garden. While its physical presence restricted our use of so much garden area, it had given the backyard character. It dominated the outlook from our most lived-in room at the back of the house. It acted as a screen between us and our back neighbour. And it gave us a lot of colour over winter. Its loss has perhaps made winters less appealing. Everything else in the backyard is more noticeably dormant without the amazing glow of the wattle blossom.
As if to emphasise our loss, the tree was able to leave behind a solitary orphan offspring in our neighbour’s yard. Halfway down their side fence line an immature tree is now big enough to remind us of what has been lost.

Since the loss of our tree I’ve been trying to grow something that will give us some of the benefits that we now lack, but at the same time not rob the yard of suitable growing space. As yet nothing is coming close to restoring some of the privacy we (and our neighbour) previously had. And nothing is producing the stunning, lengthy display of vibrant blossom that made it a pleasure to look from our back windows.

While there is still a way to go before the back garden regains its healthy spring and summer appearance, those first hints of life are becoming noticeable. We now have a “paddock-load” of healthy garlic that almost overnight have changed from low grass-like blades into foot high plants.

Our newly planted raspberry and gooseberry plants are both showing healthy new leaf growth, as are the older Goji berries from last year. (I didn’t realise the Goji’s were deciduous until their leaves started to look distressed and I checked their label again).

The roses are also covered in juvenile, burgundy coloured shoots. I pruned most of them earlier than last year to see if I can extend their flowering season before summer scorches the health out of their blooms. I think they need much more water than I’m willing to give them to keep them in peak health over the hotter months.

And some of our perennials are starting to show some new healthy growth giving a hint of the potential display of colour they have in store for us over the coming months. And that is the key word: POTENTIAL. I can see things starting to happen, and the regrowth in the garden (as subtle as it may be) is starting to inspire a refound optimism.

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