Local Joy, Local Madness

There’s nothing more local than a home garden. I often wander around with my camera, capturing seasonal change, growth and decay. The garden takes me away from my moods, my inner chatter, my inside world. In any season, il giardino is quiet and full of sensory pleasure.

Another ock for my buddha
Another rock for my old Buddha

This Buddha sits close to our house. It is the stone Buddha from our old garden, one of a handful of surviving objects from the Black Saturday Bushfires of 2009 which destroyed our home. When I find an interesting looking stone or rock, I add it to Buddha’s feet. Bushfire is a hot topic in the local area, with extremely divergent views on how to deal with the bush. One local plant, Burgan, is at the centre of this debate, a bush known by the CFA, a fire fighting association, as ‘petrol bush’. Due to its high flammability and tendency to spread like an invasive weed, most locals like to keep this pest under control on their bush blocks. Permit requirements to clear Burgan were dropped by our local shire council (Nillumbik) after the Black Saturday bushfires. Seven years after that fire, which razed a quarter of the shire, with 42 deaths within the council’s borders and hundreds of homes destroyed, the local council plans to reinstate permits to clear this bush on privately held land. Our local Council has become wedded to an extreme ideology which is at odds with reality. Local Madness.

View from my front door.

View from my front door. A dam is a wonderful thing and was the first improvement we made on our land after arriving in our current home almost 7 years ago. It is our local water supply for the vegetable garden, a local water supply for the CFA fire brigade should they need it and is also a local watering hole for native animals and birds. Can you believe that our Local Council does not approve of dams on private property? New local planning laws have become fraught with red tape. A line has been drawn on a map which includes this wonderful dam. It is now part of a Core Habitat zone, which, in effect, prevents us from removing any local plants from its perimeter or fixing the walls should it spring a leak, without resorting to a lengthy and expensive local permit process. Local madness.

Echium in flower.

Planting in purple and blue attracts more bees to the garden. The local bees have been sleepy this season as the weather has been too cold and wet. Now that the sun is shining and the Echium are out, the bees are returning. This blue flower is often completely covered with bees.

Borage in Flower
Borage in flower

Borage flowers can be used in salads, but more importantly, bees also love borage. Many of these flowering shrubs, because they are not native to the district, are viewed as weeds by some prominent local environmentalists. Without bees, our vegetable and fruit supplies would vanish very quickly. There are also many native Australian flowering bushes in the garden. Bees like diversity and so do I.

a xx
A purple native Grevillea plant and the winter flowering Hardenbergia violacea in our garden. More bee attractors.

27 thoughts on “Local Joy, Local Madness”

  1. The craziness is everywhere in one fashion or another. Our local powers that be make some very counterproductive decisions so often it is almost laughable–except that we have to live with their ill advised, uneducated, ego driven decisions. But your garden is there regardless and is a treasure if not a solace. It looks beautiful. I love all those blue and purple flowers. We have mostly yellow and a warmer coloured flowers here, except for my very large rosemary bush which is covered with both flowers and bees at the moment! Enjoy the sunshine when you get it, Francesca.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good to know that your rosemary bush is thriving and that the bees are visiting. I can imagine all the colours of the Centre in your garden.
      Yes local government is full of ego driven loons. We could just ignore these local intrusions – many do.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Local Councils should stick to rubbish collection, cleaning dirty streets, fixing potholes, fixing broken water pipes, looking for strays and revaluing allotments. Everything else should be a no-go zone. We’ve had enough of the petty rules from these tyrants. They are made just to keep themselves in a job! Most people just ignore their rules anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True, good to ignore a lot of their crap, but we have a few spies out here. If I had a grader suddenly arrive to fix a dam, for example, all could see what was going on.


  3. Sometimes I wish I had a garden again and then I think about all my spare time being taken up by it I’m glad to look and appreciate others’s gardens. Had my fair share of council madness too. We lived in Lilydale shire around Ash Wenesday, not much seems to have changed since then, then City of Yarra allowing multistory development beside Victorian terraces.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That inner city madness is still going on. And I remember Ash Wednesday very well. Nine men from our local CFA ( Panton Hill CFA) dies in their truck in that disaster.
      May your veranda herbs thrive and enjoy all your freedom. I might be joining you soon enough.


  4. I am in Beechworth at the moment, and have found out that the Council building is the old asylum! How appropriate! I agree that bees like diversity, and we need the bees. I guess the thing is to make sure that the domestic plants don’t escape into the wild.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, although birds do carry seeds as does wind. One of the biggest pests in the bush is the Cootamundra wattle, an Australian native from another state. Burgan is a native tea tree bush, local to the area which spreads so thickly that it prevents biodiversity of native bush returning.
      A good place for your Council indeed Anne., but there is hope, the local Council elections next weekend might turn things around. It is being hotly contested here.


  5. I’ve had these black yellow-banded insects all over my Diosma bush (hundreds of them). They’re only about 1cm long. Don’t know if they are bees or baby European wasps. Anyone with any clues? And Francesca, the Councils spy from a helicopter so it really is BIG BROTHER now. We are not free to do much of our own accord anymore, for instance, visiting a park with say 30 people, one has to fill out many forms and wait for approval.


    1. Stated aim of proposed overlays is to preserve and improve biodiversity. It would do the opposite. The biome is much more complex than foliage. To improve biodiversity the major impacts must be removed . These include protection of animals from the road carnage (fences, crossings), removal of feral animals (deer destroy plants, foxes and wild cats eat all small animals and most ground birds, rabbits eat emerging shoots and anything in reach if hungry)., restoration of soil boita , especially in areas burn on slopes in 2009.. Extending so called “habitat’ area will provide opportunity for increased feral breeding and consequently further reduced biodiversity. Decisions as to how landscape is considered habitat is based on aerial photography. This is notoriously inaccurate. When over 250 such surveys were analysed in Canada, 64% were in correct. That’s just in tree identification No information is possible about undergrowth, fauna presence much less the all important soil biota.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Our Council seems to look for a simplistic solution and in so doing, misses the point. With regard to feral animals, I believe that field lies outside local planning.
        A few years back, we lobbied to receive a grant to investigate erosion on a few blocks around here. The Council poured in vast sums of money to pay a whole heap of consultants: all the money was gobbled up on their reports, in which they concluded that it would be far too expensive to rectify. Ha, a lot of work for sweet nothing.
        Let’s hope the coming elections may see some common sense return, at least in the area of the amendments under discussion.


  6. Well they dished out over 150G for the aerial photography and reports recommending impossible solutions that a majority believed. Folks in these parts have their own solutions. The gun barrels are smokin’ hot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Madness, pseudo power with no positive result. The politics in local government is ridiculous. Mr ATMT does not miss dealing with any of it! We had many ‘discussions’ with different opinions about how things should be dealt with. Add in the do-gooders who think they also have power when they ‘dob’ and it is a no win situation. Love the garden words and now I’m wondering why we haven’t seen any borage appear. Usually have it spring up everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

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