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.

front
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
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.

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

Birdie Num Nums

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m supposed to be packing for a short road trip, making some biscuits and treats for the journey and generally getting organised. But there are a few distracting characters at my back door and kitchen window dropping in for a chat. How did these Birdie Num Nums become my new best friends? They stand on the outside ledge of the kitchen window and watch me wash up, then follow me around the house. Mr T walks to the garden: they fly by his shoulder and sing good morning in his ear. They sit in the nearest Melia tree, like sparkling red and green Christmas baubles, singing or chatting to each other or to us. Sometimes they ask for a handout of sunflower seeds: mostly they are just looking, thankyou.

Fiinally the exercise bike gets a work out.
Finally the exercise bike gets a work out.

Strictly speaking, the title of Num Nums is reserved for the visiting gregarious King Parrots. We have many other visitors to our veranda. The loud, raucous hoodlums of the bush, the Sulphur- Crested Cockatoos are welcome if they behave themselves. I noticed a couple of Cockies grooming each other the other day and as I got closer, I became convinced that one was applying special Cocky gel to the other one’s yellow crest.

This well-behaved lone Cocky, looking like some lovely white garden prop, was an early morning visitor.

Cockie garden decor
Cocky garden decor

There are other less frequent visitors: Crimson Rosellas, Corellas, Galahs, Kookaburras, wild Wood ducks, Wattle birds with their scratchy, ex- smokers chatter, the mysterious lone Sacred Heron ( always too shy for a photo) and the smaller hovering honey eating birds, the Eastern Spinebill and the New Holland Honey eater, always in a flutter.

Australian icon, thee Kookaburra
Australian icon, the Kookaburra

These characters come to remind me about the country life I love, as I toy with the idea of a move to the city. Thank you Birdie Num Nums and Friends.

I include the link below to a wonderful fragment of an old Peter Sellers film, The Party, which may help to explain the title of this post to those who haven’t had the joy of seeing this film before.