The Birth Of A Garden Bed

One of the purposes of this blog is to share the creation of our garden from the blank canvas we had to begin with, so I think it’s time for another creation post.

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Of course, our ‘blank canvas’ wasn’t actually blank to begin with and it took a hell of a lot work to get it in a state where we could begin ‘creating’. Since we live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne we don’t actually have a green waste bin and have to request the council to make a special trip to collect green waste. It still feels strange putting weeds in the rubbish bin. The backyard did actually have plenty of plants when we moved in, however they were mostly plants that I consider weeds in this case – agapanthus, fishbone ferns, jasmine and other unspecified climbers. These plants all have their place, just not in my garden! And not in the abundance and unkempt condition that they were.

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It wasn’t just plants that needed clearing. There was rubble everywhere! There were stacks of red bricks, concrete pavers, broken ceramic pots, bones, golf balls (we live opposite a golf course), and just rubbish. You could never dig a hole without finding rubbish! I even dug up two 5kg dumbbells! The rubble in the photo above was the result of just a few hours of digging and clearing.

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With one section of garden cleared, I started making a simple garden bed. It appeared that this area used to be a garden bed as there was a short wall of bricks concreted together at the edge of it, so I just had to make a line of bricks to separate the bed from the lawn. And with all the red bricks I found scattered and buried around our garden, it was good to put them to use!

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After digging a trench and laying down recycled bricks as straight as I could by eye, I realised I should’ve used a string line! It took me hours to make this wonky brick edge with a tape measure and a cheap, short level. Another lesson learnt!

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Now for the fun part! Choosing plants. Our house was built in the Victoria era so I had lots of trouble deciding what sort of plants to plant. I love natives, and wanted to attract birds as we don’t get as many as I’d like, living so close to the city. But I wasn’t sure that natives would suit our Victorian-style house. I considered a more English garden look, with roses and box hedges, but never got excited about that style. I also didn’t want to be stuck with a particular style. Growing up, all our gardens had a bit of everything from natives to roses to bulbs and annuals and I like the variety. So natives won for this particular garden bed, but our garden overall has a bit of everything. My partner has two brown thumbs, as I keep mentioning, but he insisted in having a say in which plants we bought. He was happy with natives (because he didn’t know what natives were and I didn’t show him any other sections of the nursery!) but we disagreed on the size of plants. As you may have noticed in these pictures we have the most ugly shed known to man! We will of course knock it down and build a smaller, more attractive shed when we have the money to do so (I can’t wait!), but for now it’s staying. My partner wanted to buy short plants so as to not block the shed. I know, he’s crazy. I, of course, wanted tall plants! We compromised and I was allowed to buy a grevillea which will grow to 1m in height, but the other plants are relatively short.

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The second plant from the right in this photo was my partners choice and was not expected to grow any taller than it is now. Thankfully it didn’t like the clay soil and died! I now have a passionfruit in a pot here patiently waiting for the fence to be built between us and our neighbours property. It was a housewarming present that I can’t seem to give away so I’m just hoping it will survive until we can plant it.

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Five months on and our boronia, grevillea and philotheca are growing nicely. The grevillea is yellowing a little. I’ve fed it various nutrients so will see if it greens up again.

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The grevillea is called Molly. Our last dog was called Molly and I miss her lots so I’m particularly attached to this plant. This plant’s a beauty, just like Molly the dog was!

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It’s spring now so our boronia is in full flower. Beautiful.

So our first garden bed was born. Our plans for a new shed will see this garden bed becoming an L-shape one day and unfortunately the boronia will have to move. It hope it survives a transplant because it’s a particularly lovely boronia! The shed is probably a few years away though, so for now we’re enjoying our straight line garden :).

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8 thoughts on “The Birth Of A Garden Bed

  1. Hi Jen, looks like loads of hard work to get your beds ready, but your native plants (unknown to me in London uk!) do look really happy. Really funny to hear Agapanthus described as a weed. It’s a much lusted after plant in the UK, teetering on the edge of hardiness in many areas and therefore often pampered to help it survive over winter. Looking forward to seeing how your garden (and shed) progresses.

    1. How funny! Agapanthus aren’t really a weed but they can take over if they’re not kept under control. Once they’ve finished flowering we make sure we chop their heads off so they don’t propagate, especially in areas with sandy soil. Hard to imagine them needing pampering!

  2. Hello, I saw the bit about having to put weeds in the ordinary waste bin, and wondered if you have a worm farm yet, or any plans to set one up? It’s the perfect place to put weeds, dead leaves, the dust from the vacuum cleaner, vegie scraps (except onion and citrus families) and eggboxes, newspaper, etc. Once up and running well, it’ll even cope with larger stuff like hedge clippings. Plus the worm ‘tea’ out of the bottom is the perfect food for your poor potted passionfruit, which is a very hungry plant and won’t survive too long in a pot unless you feed it lots of organic type fertiliser like seaweed extract and worm tea. The wormies are no trouble, the thing doesn’t smell, and it’s much easier on the conscience not to put perfectly good green stuff in the bin! K

    1. Hi Kate, yes we do! (Or at least a compost bin – we haven’t thought through the specifics yet). We’re planning on demolishing the eye-sore of a shed we have and building a smaller one in its place. The extra space will be dedicated to housing a compost bin and dog kennel (yep, we’re going to say goodbye to that gardening work with an energetic puppy!). I like the sound of worm ‘tea’ and the lack of smell. What’s your opinion of worm farm vs run of the mill compost bin? Sounds like the worms aren’t fussy? Thanks for the advice! Jen

      1. Worms are a whole lot less fuss than compost, and if you’re very short of space, as I am, and have comparatively little to put in the compost, they’re the obvious choice. The theory of compost is that unless you can built it and keep it at a cubic metre in size, you just won’t get the heat necessary. Two of us and a teeny garden just don’t produce that amount of green and brown waste. So worms it was. They get all our vegie leftovers, are quiet, odourless (we have them IN the house because it’s too hot for them outside, and produce this marvellous brown liquid which has even my cranky baby dwarf lychee pushing out dozens of new leaves. The only thing the wrigglers aren’t keen on is anything oniony or anything citrusy, because they can’t tolerate high acidity. If you want to give it a try, drop me an email (see Contact Me on my blog), and I’ll reply in more detail on how to set up and maintain. K

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