Gardening Down Under is a little different for this expat in Australia
It’s now been 18 months since we arrived in Australia and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the ‘gardening’ I’ve been able to do on the other side of the world.
It doesn’t feel like real gardening for a couple of reasons;
- The seasons are all wrong – not only am I upside down and the wrong way round with my seasons but even more confusing is that a lot of ‘summer’ crops are grown in winter as the summer can be too hot for them. Also things we normally grow as annuals, like the chillies, are perennial here.
- We are renting for the first time in our lives. This means trying to beautify what’s here without being able to change it. Boy does it need changing! The standard ‘yard’ is rough grass, poured concrete terraces and bonded metal fences. So I have been trying my best to become an expert container gardener and not getting my hands in the soil at all.
My first efforts at Australian Gardening using Australian Natives
A change of location and new challenges
After 6 months we moved to a nicer rental nearer the beach. We’re lucky to have one neighbour who has let their patch get away from them. Most of the houses have been rebuilt over the past decade which has left poor outside areas. It’s lovely looking out the side windows at a tropical garden – and the privacy that offers.
Our second rental property has placed us right next to the sea. Which is beautiful but comes with salt spray – a condition I haven’t had to manage before. Initially I wanted the citrus plants to live on the balcony but the wind and salt upset them so much they needed rescuing. They dropped all their leaves and had to be nursed in a special area out the back dubbed ‘HDU’ (medical term high dependency unit for patients requiring more intensive care)
The second attempt was some native coastal plants – but that too didn’t work. I think the heat behind the glass balcony was too much for them so they withered and dried up. The newest attempt consists of succulent coastal plants and they’re doing amazingly well.
The fruit garden
I have a peach and nectarine trees growing in pots and they’re flowering at the moment. Very excited to get a crop off of these.
Success with citrus
Having almost killed these citrus trees, on more than one occasion, I am really pleased with how they are coming out of winter. I treated myself to one each of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange. We’ve had a crop off the lemons and made some delicious lemonade. They started as young bushes but I wanted to train them into standards – dreaming of an Italian terrace arrangement at some point. The grapefruit below was the only one not pruned accordingly as it was much smaller than the others.
Unfortunately we had an extremely windy day which managed to snap it in half. I was very glad not to have pruned it beforehand otherwise I’d have had no-one else to blame. It is recovering very well and actually looks healthier than all the others – just goes to show you should prune immediately after planting and reduce all shrubs by half. However the clusters of flowers are different to the other citrus so I’m a little concerned that it may be the rootstock flourishing – time will tell.
I have a few more updates in the pipeline. Less gardening and more garden tourism but I hope you enjoy them.