An Australian gardener used to be someone that had a good looking front lawn, a few roses, a productive vegetable patch (or at least a few tomatoes in summer), the odd fruit tree and a few shrubs thrown in for good measure.
Now it would be easier to define the length of a piece of string. However, try this for size; One that derives pleasure from actively gardening using techniques and plants from the world over with a quintessential Australian flavour with strong consideration for the local climate and soils.
In the past an Australian or native gardener was simply one that used exclusively Australian plants. This misses the point. The most formal of gardens can be constructed entirely with Australian plants and the most unruly, wild and out of control garden can be comprised of entirely of non-Australian species. This is simply a matter of how the plants material is used and maintained.
By my definition an Australian gardener could be one that has a hectare of lawn using under turf drippers with the occasional shade tree if he or she derives pleasure from spending every Saturday morning on the ride on mower. Others may have pleasure sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea with the binoculars watching for new bird arrivals and enjoying the resident songsters fighting among the Eremophila. Others may delight watching their children build elaborate cubby houses out of nothing in amongst a stand of dense trees and shrubs.
Therefore, we have decided that an Australian gardener is one that derives pleasure from their garden whatever form it may take (within legal bounds of course) regardless of what you or I think.
The Australian flavour has to be the combination of yourself, your preferences and the use of (particularly for us in the Riverland and Mallee on a 250mm annual rainfall) dry land Australian plants. With a rich palette of plant material from our very own flora there is no excuse for not having and enjoying an Australian garden that is practical, unique and beautiful.
Here’s to Australia. You’re standing in it.
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © January 15, 2009.