Christmas brought this water garden (a fab present from J) and already it's looking fairly settled in. Ground covers and little shrubs around it, water lily leaves and fallen pink salvia flowers float on the surface. The bowl is nestled into a dwarf Philadelphus or mock orange, pure white flowers in spring, gorgeously fragrant; salvias, correas and fan flowers (Scaevola) snuggle around the base. At first we had a new white water lily weekly but the weather has grown too cold now. Then, yesterday, a crimson rosella visits; joy.
Today, a newcomer visits around the other side of the house: a Bassian thrush, brown-backed, speckled (or so it seems to my poor eyesight; actually horseshoe-shaped dark markings on the breast) and very handsome. I'm hoping he has replaced the blackbirds: he's their size, in their area, and he's scratching the mulch down the slope just as they do, tiresomely, sure, but a bit less vigorously. And he's native; what a difference that makes.
(Warning: Soapbox!) Briefly, the more weeds (animal and vegetable) flourish, the less room there is left for our wildlife, already frequently precariously on the edge of extinction or near that point in the remnant wild places. And so I growl at the blackbirds and the deer and the blackberries (I pull out the latter of course)...and whisper hello to Ms Wallaby as she nibbles grass near our carport (outside my garden!) every dawn and dusk, and try not to disturb her young, but growing, ever-present, joey.
(Two dozen years ago we made it clear that how ever welcome our favourite people are, their dogs are not. So, wildlife is not scared off, and we are lucky enough to see skinks and wallabies and frogs daily; and echidnas and antechinus and wombats sometimes; and I think I can hear lyre birds - maybe. The area used to have goannas, snakes and koalas too but people and dogs have scared them away, which I think is a pity. But wallabies seem very at home.)
Each year there's a new joey; we watch the growth with awe and enjoyment, from first appearance of tiny snout and ears to `teenager' pushed away to...where?
We love the little birds too, flitting daily in the birdbaths and salvias and correas. Then a crimson rosella visits with its candid gaze and voilla...the garden is complete.
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 (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)