Monday, 7 September 2015

Time to remove the (wallaby-proof) cages from the rose bushes


After 20 years, the bright day has arrived!
It's nearly 11 months since wallabies roamed the garden amidst a smorgasbord of plants (and I swear, the most expensive plants were the most delicious. All those imported Epimedium...ouch).
The roses are shooting - spring seems to have come early - and so, at last, off came the protective cages of the roses and some hydrangeas; hideous wire or plastic netting that have come and gone; now hopefully gone for good.
Penstemons were trimmed a little, a few green winter roses (Helleborus argutifolius) went in and 2 very sad or demised roses noted - maybe they'll be replaced. (The pivotal deep yellow rose at the centre of a line of roses, fading to cream on either side, is particularly important to this scheme - which has deep blue iris at its feet just when the roses are at their best.)
Heck, it looks better.
(And J is quietly pleased - I think - but it feels like there's a touch of East Lambrook as the only mutterings are along the lines of `bloody roses'.)
We still see wallabies on our property - almost daily. It seems they've got used to going around a fenced-off acre (counting the large orchard, edible patch and hen run too) and I think they enjoy a property that's dog-free. (Our property is around 13 acres or about 5 hectares and it's in the  Land for Wildlife scheme; I think that I acre for us and 12 for the wildlife is fair. It's also a good balance: with lots of natural, or indigenous food, possums don't eat my garden (although rats - maybe native ones - sometimes eat delicious sweet corn on the cob if we don't net the plants - and who can blame them?).
Moreover, the rules are now clear. Crazy lady doesn't shoo the wallabies sometimes, inconsistently, from near the house but not further out or when they are outside the fence (did they ever get the distinction?); I don't shoo them at all now! If they are next to my car, say, they often stay there, frozen,  until I actually drive near them, or walk past them multiple times. `Dang', you can hear them thinking as they lope off slowly, `I was enjoying that patch of grass/pool of sunshine'.
So we've been here 20 years, had a garden perimeter fence for about 3 (thank you J), had a working one for one year. Now I can see tulips in bud! I am very excited about this spring, unfolding before me like the best book I have ever read, in glorious (to mix metaphors wildly) technicolour anticipation.
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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