Monday, 25 June 2007

gangs of suburbia

Almost all the plants in the garden here are environmental weeds and ugly to boot. There is a huge and beautiful silky oak in the back yard and one mangled, stumpy acacia in the front, but everything else is a liability. I would like to get rid of them all but I don't know where to begin or how to plan and implement a new garden. The biggest problem is a stand of tall, woody shrubs that provide shade on the house in summer. I guess it will have to be tackled bit by bit, like everything else.

I was going to make a start by pulling out the scrawny cotoneaster near the letterbox, but last weekend Dorian found it swarming with Gang Gangs.



Rainbow lorikeets and sulphur-crested cockies come to the backyard all the time, and sometimes we hear Kookaburras in the taller eucalypts up the street. But I've not seen gang gangs in a suburban yard before. There were six of them and they stayed for a long time, chattering quietly, cracking open the red berries, and steadfastly ignoring us. When they finally moved on there was an impressively thick carpet of debris on the driveway. I know they're going to spread weed seeds elsewhere now but it's hard to dispose of plants that bring birds like this onto your place.

I've just finished reading Cold Mountain; there was a passage in it about birds visiting trees full of red berries which reminded me of these cockatoos, although the people in the book don't worry themselves about problems to do with introduced species. I'd probably have appreciated the book more if I had been able to read it without thinking about Nicole Kidman the whole time.



Is this bird wearing a prosthetic nose?

12 comments:

JahTeh said...

This is the reason I've left my scraggy cotoneaster at the front gate. The neighbours complain but I've cut down enough trees to shut them up. As for the woody shrubs, they would probably benefit from a really good pruning.

Cozalcoatl said...

They are loverly.
I really miss Aussie birds. We used to have Rosellas, Cockatoos, Magpies and Kookaburra around our house in Sydney. I miss the crazy antics of the Cockies and the morning Maggies warbling.

Miss Eagle said...

A couple of years ago I sold my house in rural suburbia in the shadow of the world-heritage listed rainforest. One of the selling points was the design of the front garden. For decades I had heard great and prizewinning gardeners talking about designing a garden on paper. Aw, phooey! I can't draw. And then one day a few years ago, I sat down with a ballpoint pen and a bit of paper and made some marks. I finished up with a design that I could take over to my local landscaper, to whom I paid mega bucks (single women who don't have the resource of a strong and willing male have to do this!)to implement it. My previous plantings - which had grown into mature trees - were wrongly placed but my design brought it all together. It imposed, albeit retrospectively, an order and design on my plantings. My other tip is get to know the habits of plants. This is not gained by looking at what is pretty in the plant nursery. Go to books and look around at what looks good in other gardens and think about how certain plants might work for you. But don't fall for whatever everybody else goes for. In North Qld people tend to think palms in spite of the fact that there are few indigenous palms in Australia and they are definitely not indigenous to the NQ coast. They overlook some wonderful native trees which provide shade and coolness and impact. So the answer is intelligent design. It does have a place: in your garden, not in the science class. And it is not just plants: it's rusty gates, rock walls, a bit of corrugated iron art.

Have a happy time full of blessings and bliss

Ampersand Duck said...

And Renee. Blah. I enjoyed the book so much more.

lucy tartan said...

Did you like CM, duck? I thought it was a strange read. The texture and detail was so heavy and intricate that I felt bogged down in it at times. On the other hand the Odyssey frame worked really well - the war, struggle home, encounters with strangers, hospitality stuff was very natural-feeling, not forced. It actually reminded me of Heart of Darkness in a way - the atmosphere is so thick that it clings to you but the utterly simple story compensates and balances.

I did get fed up once or twice with how wonderful they all were. None of them could do any wrong.

Ampersand Duck said...

yeah, I liked it when I read it, soon after it came out -- at one point my dad was working away from (his) home a lot, and would buy a bestseller, then give it to me when he'd finished, so I got to read a lot of books I normally wouldn't buy, and this was one of them.

Another book he brought me is now my benchmark for a category I like to call the-book-and-movie-deserve-each-other: The Horse Whisperer!

Have you got any candidates for such a category>

Ampersand Duck said...

ahem. That was meant to be a question mark at the end.

Mindy said...

Baz... no make that four Baz and a Frankie. So close. I can't believe your Gang gangs were so quiet. At old our house in Canberra we went outside because it sounded like someone was using a chainsaw in the front garden, but it was the gang gangs making the atrocious racket (and mess). But we forgave them because they chose our trees and we felt quite smug.

kate said...

I'd second the drawing of plans. We've been doing some fiddling and drawing ourselves. I'm sure you could put your own design-y skills into action, but if you didn't want to, there are also some pretty good landscape designers around the place. My Mum did and the results are great - it's apparently simple, but more complex and structured than my Mum would have done by herself. A good designer will talk about what you like, draw up some plans and give you a planting guide. Then you can employ someone (or promise food & booze to mates) to pave, build retaining walls or whatever for the structure, and slowly plant out (over several years if necessary). If you start with a plan of the whole place, you can do the implementation slowly as the money comes up.

Drewzel said...

So lucky to have Gang Gangs in your garden!
What is a definition of a weed anyway? Surely anything that attracts wildlife like this can't be all bad?

lucy tartan said...

I think a weed is anything that doesn't have natural checks and balances on how much it grows in that environment. The local council has a big list of them on its website. Some of the weeds we have are Australian natives which don't belong in this area and have gone crazy.

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