Gardening as an art form
by Kathy Gardiner
9th May 2017
A rusty bucket of daffodils, a vintage copper insert filled with water and waterlilies, or an old turquoise bowling ball nestled amongst the arctosis.
Garden art can cost you anything from the petrol it takes to drive around checking out garage sales to thousands of dollars spent at a gallery or nursery.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a common quote but nothing is more true than what people see as “art” in the Warrandyte Garden.
Rust lends itself perfectly to the Australian bush backdrop that our properties are surrounded by.
Gums, bursarias, wattles, native grasses and shrubs all huddling around an old piece of metal, the natural tones of the setting sun on gum leaves compliment the brown, orange and black tones of the rusted metal making it a natural addition to the garden.
Looking at the garden art entries at the Melbourne Garden Show this year gives you some ideas of how we can adorn our gardens.
From mosaics, to carved limestone blocks, the barbed wire balls, to plastic chairs painted with zebra stripes burrowing into the ground.
Swimming pools, fish and frog ponds show reflections of the trees above and the autumn leaves floating on the surface add tranquillity to the scene (except for the pool boy/girl who swears at the inconvenience of having to scoop them out).
The rusted barb wire fences bordering properties give us a sense of days gone by but rolled into balls become “art” with a $100 plus price tag.
Rusty fire pits are all the rage and now is the perfect time to invest in one.
A fire and a glass of wine in the garden in the evening is one of life simple joys.
Cane baskets, gum boots, kettles, fire grates, buckets, baking tins, all become receptacles for bulbs and succulents.
Allowing art to spill down stairs, to be clustered under trees in a huddled group waiting out the winter when they will then burst forth into floral tributes.
Water features add the element of movement and noise to a garden or courtyard echoing the sounds of the Yarra river, a drawcard for birds, bees, insects and frogs to your garden.
Vintage gates that lead to nowhere nestled at the bottom of the garden and used as trellis in vegetables gardens, long sticks tied together to form tee pees for climbing beans and peas, tomato frames in jaunty colours in clusters, old screen doors with the wire stripped out leaning against walls — all are the perfect frameworks to hide an eyesore in the garden, to create the illusion of depth or make the garden feel bigger and more interesting, to divide the garden into rooms or to add height to the newly planted garden.
So remember to find original pieces, try not to buy the commonplace “art” but think outside the box and see what you come up with.
Garden benches, garden chairs, hammocks or a simple swing invite visitors to sit a while in the garden, to contemplate the plants, smells and sounds, to be a child again.
Now is the time to look out for environmental weeds.
These include agapanthus, asparagus fern, bluebell creeper, cape broom (Genista), Cootamundra wattle, cotoneaster, English ivy, holly, weeping willow, Japanese honeysuckle, pampas grass, and Spanish heath to name a few.
They spread too easily by seed and cause destruction in bushland and forested areas by smothering native plants.
Autumn and winter is a time to flick through gardening books and think of other alternatives for these plants in the garden.
Plant evergreen trees in May. the soil is warm and with the autumn rains we have been having the soil is moist and easy to turn over.
Evergreen trees can be planted now acacias species, eucalypts, jacaranda, malaleuca, peppercorns, camellias, michelias.
Remember a hole dug to plant a tree should be at least twice the size of the root ball.
Don’t be stingy when digging a hole, never try to jam the trees roots in a hole that is too small especially when you have purchased bare rooted trees.
Remove the plant from the pot and gently tease out the roots, place a hand full of slow release fertiliser in the hole a, place the tree in the hole and replace the soil making sure the soil is good quality.
With feet or hands firm down the soil around the plant and water deeply. Make sure you mulch to help conserve moisture in the soil.
To avoid “collar rot” make sure the mulch is not resting up against the trunk of the tree.
If you are planting kangaroo paws remember they like to be planted in a mound slightly above the ground to ensure perfect drainage.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime — be a gardener.