I live in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs. The block of land is smallish; we have about 15 x 6m of garden out the front, 15 x 8m out the back, and a narrow strip down the side of the house. The soil is very sandy – the local council made us get a soil test done when we renovated our house, which is a bit of a money-spinner as they know the whole area is one big sand bank. The engineer came with a hand auger saying how much he loved doing jobs in this area – so easy – and drilled down through 40cm of sandy topsoil and a metre and a half of pure white beach sand.
I started the east-facing front garden in mid-2002 through to mid-2003 (slow going, but I had my second child during this time too). It was my first garden, and I was very taken with deep herbaceous borders – abundant growth, lots of colour, and imaginative juxtapostions of different flowers and leaves. (No neat rows of iceberg roses for me.) I dug up the front lawn, keeping only the existing birch, a couple of shrubs, and some irises that could be transplanted, then laid out beds and a gravel path, dug in manure and compost, and bought up big through Digger’s Club.
The garden grew well; here it is in March 2004.
The garden evolved over the next couple of years. Some plants carked it or “failed to thrive”, especially anything that needed regular watering (delphiniums, penstemons) – I’m not good with a hose. A few grew too big. Some died of old age after a few years. The herbaceous plants left bare gaps in winter, which is OK if you’re in England and everything is covered in snow (or you have such a huge garden you can ignore an area for a few months) but it looked pretty average in a small garden. Also, I wanted more height – not a full screen from the street, but more a sense of enclosure.
By 2007 we were right in into the drought and the summers were scorching. I did a bit of an overhaul and put in more of anything that was doing OK – natives, succulents, salvias, pelargoniums, lavender, euphorbias.
Here’s the garden in spring 2008:
… and the baby born during the garden’s planting is now walking down the path, aged 5!
There were more changes after this summer, what with the total lack of rain and those 40+ degree days. Another post…