Land purchased in 1973, and the only trees on the block were about half a dozen very large red gums. (Eucalyptus camaldulensis).
1974 saw the pouring of the slab, and the start of the steel framed house. During 1974 and early 1975 Jeanne and I completed the house. Our annual rainfall is approximately 23 inches (580mm).
In 1977 we began to plant and landscape the garden. We began with a 100m square and it order to drain the ground had to dig drains around all garden beds. Although it looks as though we have built up beds, we have actually dugout the paths and edged the beds with sleepers, wood and logs. The garden rapidly grew over the next few years to cover an area of 5 acres and contained approximately 1000 species of Australian Plants, with plants from Western Australia being well represented. Rabbits, kangaroos and in recent years, hares have proved to be a problem
During incredible drought of 1982-3, with a period of 9 months without any rain, we incurred many losses. We added another dam the following year to help protect us from future droughts. It has taken a number of years to replace all those plants that had died. We have also installed sprinkler systems and mulched many garden beds in an effort to conserve that water we do get.
We have had to fence the garden with an 8 feet high fence in order to keep all kangaroos out of the garden. This has proved successful and enabled us to think about regenerating some of the older parts of the garden. We have also established a rose garden (150 roses), along with a number of other exotic plantings. We are now also in the process of renovating and replanting many of the older garden beds, and trying new plants and hope to re-establish the garden back to its colourful best.
We have also over the years planted approximately 15 acres along the boundary fences. We have about 2 acres of banksia plantings out behind the back of the house and have planted a further 3 acres along both sides of the intermittent creek.
Despite the previous 7 very dry years, our garden has been awarded a number of awards at the Horsham Annual Spring Garden Festival:
We have also specialised in collecting Hakea species, and presently hold the Ornamental Plant Collections Association Official Hakea Collection for Victoria. At present this collection comprises 98 species from all over Australia.
We originally mulched the garden with pine bark, but found it did not allow the summer rain to penetrate, and after some years many plants appeared to lose vigour. We have been experimenting with different materials for mulching the garden and have been having great success with scoria.
We find that it shows off the plants, keeps the root zone cool and allows water to easily penetrate. It also helps with weeding as any weeds that do develop are easily pulled out. An added bonus is the number of seedlings of plants that readily germinate and we are able to transplant to other areas. We are continuing to spread scoria on the areas of native plants and have spread pea straw on the exotic areas and vegetable garden.
With continued drought conditions we intend to do more planting on those areas of the property that have deep(to 1 metre) sand. We hope to be able to plant many new species in the Autumn/Winter of 2007.