Appreciating Your Garden’s Assets

I come inside after a hot morning’s work in the garden … I’ve been adding bags of manure, organic fertiliser, lucerne, sugarcane mulch, seaweed and compost tea to our main shade tree by our house to try to save it.  I hope it’s not too late …

 

It’s not happy since we trimmed some of its surface roots which were ‘inconveniently located’ where our new paving needs to be. In protest, it started to drop its leaves … not many at first so we didn’t take much notice.

It’s not happy since we trimmed some of its surface roots which were ‘inconveniently located’ where our new paving needs to be. In protest, it started to drop its leaves … not many at first so we didn’t take much notice.

 

Then a few more fell and as its solar panels became few and far between … we suddenly realised our plans for an outdoor room may have compromised the shade and beauty that we wanted to sit under. We didn’t realise our actions could cause the tree so much stress.  Maybe we should have kept the patchy lawn instead of pavers.  Hindsight is a humbling teacher!

Highly motivated to delay any sudden death, I started telling the tree I’d nurture it back to health and make up for cutting its root off!  It didn’t seem at all convinced … more leaves and skinny branches dropped on the lawn.  I felt guilty and sad. Perhaps similar to not valuing your health until you get sick?

 

It’s still not looking good. The tree needs a tonic (so do I!) so I deliver more seaweed and hose in the manure tea. I set up a soaker hose as it’s been hot and dry lately which hasn’t helped. It needs a lot of love.

It’s still not looking good. The tree needs a tonic (so do I!) so I deliver more seaweed and hose in the manure tea. I set up a soaker hose as it’s been hot and dry lately which hasn’t helped. It needs a lot of love.

 

When I finish foliar spraying the kelp on the remaining leaves, I smell like some foul thing that’s been lying on the beach after too many days in the sun. I hope it’s worth it!

That’s when a visitor pops by … I walk out onto the verandah in the hope that the fresh air will disguise the odour.  I move a little hoping he’s standing downwind of me.  He’s either too polite to comment or ‘smell’ is not one of his stronger senses!  Either way, I’m grateful.  After his sudden departure, I stand back and look at the tree again near our entrance … and realise now how much I value it.

It’s a mature semi-deciduous Tipuana (Tipu) tree with beautiful lime green leaves, stunning yellow flowers and well known for the shade and attractive arching canopy it provides.  It just doesn’t normally drop its leaves in spring so I’m not taking any chances. It brings incredible scale and a majestic presence, standing tall and graceful like an old distinguished gentleman.

 

Its trunk and lower branches support other plants - several cascading staghorns and birds nest ferns which shelter under its shade.

Its trunk and lower branches support other plants – several cascading staghorns and birds nest ferns which shelter under its shade.

 

I think of all the birds, frogs and lizards that use it for habitat and how I enjoy listening to the bird songs from the kitchen window … how it takes the brunt of the hot western sun and cools our house and provides a calm space under its overhanging branches to sit.

 

A rustic homemade swing hangs on a solid branch, swaying in the breeze.

A rustic homemade swing hangs on a solid branch, swaying in the breeze.

 

When I add up all the benefits this one tree provides and its true value to the property, I start to worry what it would be like without it.  I saw the early signs of its stress but ignored them … I learn a new lesson from my garden about appreciation and timely action.  Perhaps I’ve taken all this for granted.

I think about how important it is to have a place to relax and rest … to look at what’s been achieved in the garden and plan the next project … and the value of an outdoor room.

A Time for Reflection

 

Perhaps this is a day to reflect on your garden and what needs nurturing.  Maybe like me, you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to look at what’s been going on in every corner.

 

I often spend my time in the veggie patch because it feeds our family with delicious nutrient dense produce but I have to balance this with all the other garden jobs.

I often spend my time in the veggie patch because it feeds our family with delicious nutrient dense produce but I have to balance this with all the other garden jobs.

 

What does your garden provide?  What do you love and appreciate about it?

 

Fresh home grown ingredients for a meal

Fresh home grown ingredients for a meal

 

“Maybe today is a good time to take a walk and ‘see’ your garden with new eyes … from your plants’ point of view!  There could be a plant or tree that needs your attention before it’s too late.”

Observation is a key to ‘listening’ to what your plants are telling you

  • Are their leaves discoloured? (maybe they are saying “I’m starving … please feed me!”)
  • Are they drooping in the heat? (“I’m thirsty!” or “STOP watering me – I’m drowning!”)
  • Withered or finished flowering? (“I’m ready for retirement in the compost”)

 

Look for evidence of pests or disease (“Check the soil health” and see what’s causing the problem)

Look for evidence of pests or disease (“Check the soil health” and see what’s causing the problem)

 

These are just a few suggestions … some quiet time in the garden is a good thing.  It allows you to observe (and ‘listen’), reflect, take stock, plan, feel proud of your achievements and learn lessons from mistakes.

 

“It is humankind’s duty to respect all life, not only animals have feelings but even also trees and plants.” – Michel de Montaigne

 

So my advice is … plan your outdoor space carefully – appreciate what you have already … if you have to sacrifice a plant or tree for your personal enjoyment, think about THEIR needs before you do it ... Maybe a swing on a tree branch is all you need!

So my advice is … plan your outdoor space carefully – appreciate what you have already … if you have to sacrifice a plant or tree for your personal enjoyment, think about THEIR needs before you do it … Maybe a swing on a tree branch is all you need!

 

Time to think about maintaining your garden? Pick up some tips in the Garden Maintenance and Problem Solving categories.

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

Appreciating Your Garden’s Assets
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6 Comments

  1. lilith November 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    are you still blogging? I haven’t read blogs for ages…family matters…but am gearing slowly to blog and read blogs again..

    • The Micro Gardener November 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Lilith
      Great to hear from you – Yes, still blogging but haven’t posted for a while due to family and work commitments lately. About to get back on the bandwagon and post again! Also been working on my book so need a body double to get everything done! And it’s Spring here so the garden’s in full swing and lots of things to do.
      Saw that Gardening Australia did a program recently on how gardens can be used for therapy and sanctuary for health and healing. Very interesting. Worth checking out if you missed it.
      All the best and look forward to staying in touch. 🙂

  2. Lilith January 19, 2012 at 7:38 am - Reply

    I’m sending warm wishes and thoughts to your Tipuana tree and you, and that it feels your love and care and need for it, so it stays with you..

    • The Micro Gardener January 19, 2012 at 7:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Lilith! I’m happy to report that our tree not only lived but it has thrived! Perhaps in nature, plants are not that different to people … we all need attention and love – to feel valued. A small investment for the reward. Now in the heat of summer, when the tree is most valued for its beautiful western shade to cool our house, I am glad I spent time nurturing it. The mulch is thick and moist up against the tree’s roots and the staghorns and birds nest ferns that shelter in its branches and around the trunk look healthier than ever. The soft umbrella of green over our outdoor table is a most welcome gift. And its branches are a place for the birds to sing, nest and shelter. Happy days! I wonder what plants have you had to nurture back to health? What did you do and was the effort worth it?

  3. Deb October 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    It’s sad when you lose something you love from your garden. Here’s hoping all you’ve done for it will save it. xxx

    • The Micro Gardener October 14, 2011 at 7:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Deb. It’s true. We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone or we risk losing it. This experience has made me think carefully about my role in the garden – a relationship if you like – with all my plants. On a sliding scale, there are plenty that are thriving due to the love and attention they’ve been given, but others that I don’t see often are probably in survival mode.

      From my observations there is a distinct relationship between nurturing your plants and what they give back to you. An investment if you like! A small amount of fertiliser and mulch reaps kilos of fruit from a tree; likewise in the veggie patch. Not a bad return for a small amount of effort.

      I’ll keep you posted on the tree. We’ve just had rain so hopefully there’ll be a happy ending to this story!

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