A few old trees make all the difference when you’re doing a bird survey. The bare, newly planted paddocks on Carkella and Adnamira were limited to a few species, mainly parrots (galahs,red-rumps, rosellas) and a small family of magpies.
Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org
It’s that time of year again, when we happily send some young trees out naked into the winter.
The ones that seem large enough have their wildlife and frost resistant covers removed, so that we can recycle them for this year’s plantings. That’s hundreds of covers to be jerked up, flattened and carried back to the truck, then transported to our overcrowded garage for storage. Continue reading
Extreme tree planting
Seed collecting is a new art for me. It requires timing, observation and knowledge of what you’re looking for. Mostly I’m nervous that I’ll just take the seeds off a plant and waste them by not planting them in time. Continue reading
I was quite cautious when the idea of a “Green Army” was proposed. It seemed like a political stunt. And the cost of the payslips was going to be subtracted from Landcare, a community organization I admire a great deal.
Who was this Army going to attack? The trees? Us?
Who was going to join up? Willing people? Or grumpy teenagers who’d rather be playing video games, only moving when they were driven along with pitchforks?
And how would they feel about planting in rocks?
At sunset on Anzac Day we planted an Aleppo Pine (pinus halepensis), a descendent of the Lone Pine at the centre of the 1915 battle at Gallipoli in Turkey. I don’t usually plant non-native trees, but this one was special.
The Rev. Peter Dillon, a former Army Chaplain, and Dad of our neighbour Leonie, gave a moving speech about the war, a prayer and a reading of the Ode of Remembrance by Laurence Binyan – the one that goes “They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old…” Continue reading
Topsoil is that thin band of living matter that lies across the landscape. Except when it is undermined or dissolved by rain and carried downhill into first the gullies, then the waterways, leaving the water silty and the landscape denuded.
As a child I loved to play among the eroding soil spires where you could imagine yourself in a miniature Grand Canyon. My little brother Andrew made endless tracks for his Matchbox cars in the walls of the gully near the house we now call Wombat Hollow. Occasionally he and I would help the erosion along by creating bucket-powered rivers and flood catastrophes that would flush the tiny battered vehicles over cliffs and down to their doom.
The traditional way to discourage gully erosion is to throw in some old car tyres, kitchen equipment, broken fences and spare car bodies, and hope they will collect silt. This sometimes even works. Continue reading
We’ve been planting grass this weekend. It seems a strange thing to do in a season that’s been plentiful with the green stuff. That may have been why I got eight trays of mixed native grasses going cheap.
On the other hand, I know that the top of the ridge in our Box-Gum woodland area was grazed pretty bare last year, and the thick grass that’s there now is (I think) mostly barley grass and could do with some more biodiversity. Well, it could be desirable microlaena (weeping grass) for all I know.
Last Thursday I went to a Murrumbateman Landcare talk by Dr Josh Dorrough about grass, grazing and what sorts of decisions can improve native biodiversity on land like ours.
He started out by hitting us with the bad news, that just changing grazing patterns doesn’t necessarily lead to a bigger variety of species of groundcover plants. And variety of species is the bottom line for trying to make the landscape more resilient. Continue reading
Ten brave souls came out to make merry in the winter solstice weather. They scattered across the landscape like sheep (which are happily excluded by the new fence). That’s because the plantings are widely spaced to mimic the type of rich grassy woodland we are trying to regenerate.