Planting trees is a deeply rewarding activity. Propagating is satisfying, as is weeding, and I love burying bulbs and sowing seeds and pruning, but planting a tree is something else.
When I look at how the garden has grown over time, the trees give me the greatest pleasure. Towering over our heads, they give us summer shade and winter shelter, leaves for compost all year and frame the landscape like nothing else.
Tress have been on my mind this week as I've been clearing a small paddock of native trees we planted as tube stock 10 years ago.
We followed the tree planting procedure Bill uses on the farm, spraying weeds and deep ripping well in advance. Then we planted and watered in 60 trees by hand and left them to it.
As we had to factor in losses from drought, wind and snowfalls, we planted more closely than I would in the garden.
I was interested to see after 10 years, including the last two of well below average rainfall, how many and which had survived.
After clearing away dead wood I counted 33 trees doing well. There are also numerous smaller wattles and best of all, lots of eucalypt seedlings.
To watch a bare paddock grow into woodland full of birds, lizards and insects is an incredible experience. But no gardener is ever satisfied.
Two gums are in flower now, a yellow gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) covered in creamy blossom, and a form maddeningly named 'red flowering yellow gum' (E.l. rosea) also in bloom and bearing dark red flowers.(Yellow gums are sometimes known as South Australian blue gums or even as white ironbarks, excellent examples of why I use botanical names when talking about plants.)
They've grown into shapely specimens, about five metres in height. Two snow gums (E. gregsoniana) nearby are nearly as tall and presently covered in white flower buds.
A group of red ironbarks (E. sideroxylon) with fissured, sooty black bark have reached about the same height and make a dense windbreak on the north west fence.
Curiously, an ironbark I planted in a less exposed spot partially succumbed to snow in 2016 but is shooting vigorously from the base and has produced 11 seedlings.
Half a dozen she-oaks (Casuarina cunninghamiana) have reached over six metres. and are the tallest trees in the plantation.
Wattles have done equally well, the tallest and strongest being the hickory wattle (Acacia falciformis) with glaucous foliage and cream flowers.
To watch a bare paddock grow into woodland full of birds, lizards and insects is an incredible experience. But no gardener is ever satisfied: maybe some interesting mint bushes (Prostanthera), correas and banksias would complete the picture.
Camellias Australia National Camellia Show will be held at Young Uniting Church Hall, August 23-24, in conjunction with Camellias Australia National Congress, with the assistance of Hume Camellia Society. Details phone Vicki Burstal, 02 6383 3234.
Narrandera Camellia Show will be held in Narrandera Ex-Servicemen's Club, August 16-17 in aid of local Can Assist. Details phone Denise, 02 6959 2317.