After much digging and shovelling and ripping out lawn, I have less lawn, more garden for native plants and a pond which one day might attract frogs.
Removing the lawn was a hell of a job. My dad and I did it together, although it was more like I helped my dad :P There were a lot of roots from the palms growing through the lawn and they needed hacking with the shovel to cut them off. Sheeba the dog loves to dig and roll in dirt so we had to fence the area. It may be the wonkiest fence ever constructed. Despite leaning every which way, it does keep out marauding dogs. The replacement Calytrix has not been dug up! and it’s covered in buds. I’m going to plant native climbers Hardenbergia comptoniana (Native Wisteria), Billardiera heterophylla (Australian Bluebell) and Kennedia coccinea (Coral Vine) to grow over the fence and cover up the wobbles, but in the mean time red wattle birds and jiri jiri (willy wagtails) like to perch on it.
The pond is not very big (120L) and I filled it from the rainwater tank. Evaporation means I put 10L of tank water in every week and when it’s very hot it needs more. The beginning of summer is not the best time to put in a pond, but I’m only realising that now. I don’t think I’ll be seeing frogs for quite some time, but the mosquito larvae love it. I don’t want to breed mosquitoes so I have to get some native perch to eat the wrigglers. This might attract birds for the tasty fishing treat.
I went to the Northern Suburbs Wildflower Society Nursery to find water plants, but I discovered they have more bog garden plants than those that grow underwater. They’d just broken apart a clump of Baumea preissii and I got one free because it may not survive. After some searching they found three species of Villarsia, which don’t mind shallow water. There is the white flowering Villarsia albiflora and two yellow flowering, which I think are Villarsia parnassiifolia and Villarsia latifolia. The latter had buds when I got it and they have opened over the week since I put it in the pond. The flowers only last a day, but every day a few more open and they are very pretty.
I thought the cats would try to catch water critters so I decided to surround the pond with prickly plants to dissuade them. In winter if the pond overflows these plants might not like the resulting boggy ground, but I’ll see what happens. Ben from Nuts about Natives told me that any plant with pungens in its scientific name has prickly leaves, which includes Hemiandra pungens (Snakebush), Hovea pungens (Devils Pins) and Adenanthos pungens (Spiky Adenanthos). Some acacia are prickly, such as Acacia lasiocarpa (Panjang) which grows in the bush reserve near my house and Acacia huegelii. Acacia pulchella (Prickly Moses) has very nasty spines, but I want low growing species and this can grow to 2m. So far I’ve planted:
- Acacia truncata which grows in the bush reserve near my house and is not as spiny as other acacia, but it’s the only one I’ve got so far
- Acanthocarpus preissii (Prickle Lily) which grows in the bush reserve near my house and has very fragrant flowers
- Adenanthos pungens subsp. effuses with a naturally limited range which has largely been cleared, it’s Declared Rare and in danger of extinction
- Hemiandra linearis (Speckled Snakebush)
Further from the edge of the pond I’ve planted Hakea cristata (Snail hakea) with lethal spiny leaves and Hakea prostrata (Harsh hakea) which both grow into trees. The birds will love to hide among their spiky leaves and the red flowers of Grevillea preissii and Templetonia retusa (Cockies Tongues) will also attract birds. I got these from the November Kings Park plant sale and also Chamelaucium ciliatum, Dampiera trigona (Angled-stem Dampiera), Eremophila glabra (Tar bush) and Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotyra, a Declared Rare variety from Mundijong near Perth.
As a Christmas surprise the Patersonia occidentalis (Purple flag) and Trachymene coerulea (Blue Lace flower) flowered. The flower of Purple flag only opens for a day and although there is only one bud, it has numerous flowers on subsequent days. When the flower died at the end of the first day I thought I’d missed a photo opportunity, but there have been more from that bud so I was able to get a good shot. The Trachymene is an annual and it was covered in buds for weeks. I thought they would never open and I wouldn’t be able to collect seed for next year, but I just had to be patient. The flowers were worth the wait, with hoverflies enjoying them as much as I am. I also have water cress in the pond, which I got from Albany Farmers Market, and it flowered today.