Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Queen's Birthday Permablitz, Urban Gardening Party in the Rain

chives, parsley, purple sage, silverbeet, and cosmos flowers

 My hermit-days are approaching their end, I'm starting to make some mates in this new city of mine. Today Catherine came to lunch, a real writer and real horticulturist, who I met though giving a Presentation at Permaculture North. She made me laugh, as we hatched plans for Urban doorstep garden designer's training and workdays.

I had a rather wonderful salad to impress her with, as I'd spent the morning at theAlexandria Gardens Permablitz, and was allowed to take some of the gardens beautiful gifts before I raced home.

The beauty of this young Broccoli captivated me - where are the catapiller chewed bits? This garden must be policed by a marvelous balance of predetor bugs.
That's what four years and a good design can achieve. Its my First time EVER to see an impeccable organic broccoli, without spot or wrinkle. 
What a silvery Queen!

A packet of Cosmos seeds is the best ever use of a $3, if you want to make the world beautiful. I wonder what contributions they make to the rest of the garden ecosystem, apart from attracting loving humans? 
I'm really hoping someone will send me an answer to this, otherwise I will have to pull up a chair and gaze at them for a few days to discover the answer myself.

Every time I see cosmos, I recall my surprise when hiking the Mountainside around Seoul, to find the slopes turned into boudoirs by fluffy carpets, starry with these swaying pink flowers.

The trick is to remember to plant them before the height of summer, in time for feathery, misty galaxy of flowers in the Autumn.

The cyclone wire fence was made beautiful and useful with this lush passionfruit vine, which enjoyed the full sun - permacutlure stacking in action 'Use vertical space'. Easy to harvest too.

40 Adventurous people turned up, including a lively gang of Brazilians. I wonder if they got stuck into PermaSamaba dancing at the end?
My Japanese students claim that my permaculture workshops lack dancing.
This must change.

More photos of the day are on my Facebook, and here is a pic from Milkwood's collection.

Alexandria Permablitz, photo by Milkwood Permaculture
If you want to make your life colorful and happy, get into permablitz, and have a creative hoard overrun your garden, leaving cultivation in their wake.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guerilla gardening project 5 decades long - hanging gardens of waterfront Sydney

'If you love something, its yours'
The longer I live, the more I see that this is true.

The start of the Cremone Point Walking trail

Today I went for a rainy-day walk, and saw the site of a love affair.
Its a fifty-year long quite precarious love affair, between a man and a woman and an unusual piece of land, towards the middle of the Cremone point walking trail.

The trail of Cremone point is a lovely one, with all these varied worlds piled up on top of, around and beside each other.

In one eyeful you can see dreamtime wilderness, 1920's domestic gentility, and the 21st century hovering at the edges, in ipods on joggers, 'astute investor developments' across the water. 

What is thrilling about Cremone point, I concluded, is this rich array of edges and margins. Being on edges always thrills.
Different eras co-exist.  Other worlds ajoin each other, just lying there together like the lion with his lamb.  Private and public worlds. Staid and racy worlds.

Its exciting to see this serene terrace garden pool, sitting right by the free-for-all harbor, with its gawking passers by. Do the owners skinny-dip? Race? Do bombs into that pool?

Entire different species of things hang out together.
On the land is a herd of steady, century-old houses, made of shaggy wooden shingles and fired clay, things that came from the earth. What do they think of the flashy carbon fibre yachts that bob about on the harbor, just meters from them? Flighty creatures, poised to zip out soundlessly to exotic points on the planet, at their owner's whim.  Meters apart, but world's apart.

When I saw this quirky patch of living lawn on unyeilding rock, I knew I was in a 'love zone'.
You don't get combinations like this any other way.  Landscaping companies or councils can't do it, because your can't just install it and walk away. They wouldn't think it up, for starters, this sensitive responding to the curves of the rock.

Here are the people who did it, who took over huge swathes of cliff, over 49 years of enthusiastic effort.
Les and Ruby.

The story goes that they started in 1959, diving into the thorny eroded rubbish tip, cutting through the weeds, and ending up with a  cascade of jewel-box like micro-gardens, running down the slope to the water.  Matresses, thousands of bottles, a kitchen sink and a whalebone corset were amongst the trash, which Les strategically re-buried, as beds for his gardens.  The first plant planted was a stray 'elephants ear' some kind of bulb, I think, that Les dredged out as it floated by.

There are plenty of homeless plants 'floating by', if we look out. Les picked up agapanthus and clivias discarded by other gardeners, plants that clumped together and held up the soil.  Other cuttings and donated plants just make their way to the garden. Les and ruby stared it. They gave it their weekends, and after retirement, their weekdays too. It found what it needed to grow and grow.

"You know you are on the right path when you start attracting helpers' says my Permaculture teacher, Geoff Lawton.