We bought this house on a cut-and-fill suburban block, with an inground swimming pool, manicured lawn, and neatly trimmed hedges. The house faces the south and is close to the top of the hill. The “cut” part of the block is solid clay, and the rest was impoverished dirt. The planting consisted of couch lawn – kept green and lush and perfectly clipped by the magical chemicals of the “couchman” and copious watering – a couple of hedges, a tree planted too close to the house surrounded by a low hedge of camellias. Whatever else this garden had, it was not diversity of plants.
In 2011, work began to transform this barren garden into a diverse, sustainable garden that provides habitat for wildlife, food for humans, and is pleasant to look at and spend time in. I aim for environmentally-responsible, organic gardening with a tendency towards permaculture and minimal digging. But I also want it to be attractive – while you are in the garden, from vantage points in the house, and from the street.
In 2015, the farm over the back fence ceased to be and work began on the development of a new housing estate. This meant tearing down the retaining walls at the back of our properties and much loss of habitat and a wildlife corridor.
I am not an expert gardener or horticulturalist, just an enthusiastic amateur. I rely on the knowledge of people like these, books, magazines, websites and lots of trial and error. Likewise, I have no training but a life-long interest in architecture and urban design.