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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

English Cottage Gardens Passe in Adelaide






With the continuing drought in Australia and particularly in South Australia, the whole idea of garden design and the commercial gardening industry as a whole has been thrown on its head. Whole nursery, garden maintenance, lawn supply and servicing and irrigation businesses have been ruined by a move away from water intensive gardening, so popular when I first came to Adelaide six years ago.

During my years of looking after the kids I had the time to put whatever I fancied in the ground and water it until it grew. Our water bill was outrageous and prompted me to learn more about water wise plants. By the time I left we had a better balance of plants, many of whom came with us and will be planted in our much more sunny and hot garden.

Arid gardens were relatively unusual then, but increasingly popular now as people neglect their gardens during water restrictions, allowing lawns to die and if they can afford it, transform them into mulch covered pebble oasis, succulent corner and native nirvana.

We used to have a lawn at the front. We have dug it up and plan to do something that requires very little watering.

That said, we did inherit a pool when we bought the house. I had no idea just how much water it used during hot weather. We drain it on to the lawn when we backwash, but it is a bit of an indulgence in dry times.

Like many people our rainwater tank is much too small and only full during the wet season. We would have to make a huge investment to get enough rainwater storage to make a difference. We have investigated grey water disposal, but the logistics and cost are a bit prohibitive.

We visited Granny on the weekend. She lives in very nice Normanville near the sea and has put pebbles down instead of a lawn and grows drought tolerant plants in her patio at the back. This trend, downsizing outside space to cut down on water use and to fit in with busy lives that don't go together with intensive gardening is bound to continue.

So we will work to limit our water intensive plantings and go with the (limited) flow.

More worrying, where are the next generation of Aussie Backyard Cricketers going to learn their craft? The cactus patch?
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45 comments:

Jayne said...

Years before it was THE thing to do we ripped up the front lawn and planted it out with dry tolerant plants and gazillions of river pebbles.
Coz we were sick of mowing the damn thing.

jmb said...

Can you believe our front lawn is dead in Vancouver because I don't water the lawn only the beds? Not enough rain this summer but it will be back in a month when the rains come.

Baker Watson said...

We went through a regional drought last year where I live and it was really a shock to many of the commercial gardening businesses such as nurseries. I'm not sure whether the message sank in with the general public though. At least I see a bit more 'natural' growth areas taking over some of the lawns and garden spots around. I switched over to a lot of that several years ago. Now I seldom have to do any direct maintenance like watering, cutting grass, etc. Not only does it save money, but it saves tons of personal time and energy. (This year the rain is closer to normal, but in general we have had less rain over the past 10 years or so than we normally would.)

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

No, you must have a backyard, Colin. It's Aussie.

Colin Campbell said...

When I lived in Sacramento there was an expectation in our street that you would saturate your lawn on a daily basis during the summer to keep it green and be neighbourly. Water was very cheap and it was normal. Not here. We have water restrictions and you can only water once a week. Makes for a lot of brown lawns in summer.

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