Once again the weather was gorgeous all through Thursday when I went off happily to volunteer for the Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens (RTBG) specifically within the Community Food Garden previously known as Pete’s Patch.
I weeded different patches through the entire day although some other volunteers planted seedlings, picked cumquats,and relocated heavy cement pots with their plants.One volunteer moved compost between bins. The three bin composting system used in the Food Garden needs regular movement. One is for the fresh plants/weeds and the other two are for different stages of composting. The bin with the oldest material is not decomposed sufficiently to use on the garden as yet.
So weeding was my duty for the day. Not that I minded. No two weeds are the same in terms of where you see the weeds, their size or their pullability factor. Therefore weeding is one of the most wonderful tasks that ensures you stay in the moment. Are present. If your mind wanders you will find you are pulling up plants that need to stay there and grow, you will pull up weedy oxalis and without thinking do not separate it away from the compostable weeds, or you yank a weed so that its roots stay in the ground – then you have to use a tool to ensure you lift out those roots. For these reasons alone, vigilance is essential. For the weeder there are additional benefits. I find I can closely consider the nature of the soil, its character and moisture content. I can consider the differences between that of exposed soil versus soil that is under mulch. I even think about which weeds grow most healthily in relation to which plants. Overall, because I do not wear gloves to do the fine weeding, I love the soil beneath my nails and the permanent smears across my hands as the hours pass. This is truly being in touch with the land.
When stretching the body my eyes surveyed the area. At various times I walked and looked closely at the changes in some of the plants across this food garden section of the RTBG. Previously one tree had burst into blossom. I found most of those petals were now gone and the fruit was on its way. A couple of other trees were beginning to blossom.
The nectarine tree showed the baby growth of its spring leaves.In an earlier blog post, I showed you the surprising golden ‘pom poms’ of the Chinese Paper Bush, which arrested my attention every morning when I walked from the bus. Now I found its flowers were in their dying phase. Nevertheless this was still a spectacular bush.
I was alerted to a new planting of flowering cherries elsewhere in the RTBG and went off for a look. I found an avenue leading to the Japanese Garden has been edged with very large planting circles in which a new tree stands. I was informed that the soil beneath wasn’t perfect so a mound has been created to allow the trees to get nutrients as they establish.
On the way back from the flowering cherries I passed a small patch of startlingly coloured tulips.
When I miss a week of volunteering in the garden, I am always delighted with changes. Around an area where we had pruned hellebore plants weeks ago, a layer of well composted soil has been spread and a mixed planting of herbs was now growing. As an experiment. Overhead spreads a large deciduous tree – sorry not sure what that is- and this tree is yet to get its new leaves. Once the shade develops, the herbs are unlikely to flourish. So it is a race. Can they grow and flourish quickly before the light dulls. Meanwhile having this herb border means there are plants for Garden visitors to enjoy.
My big learning for the day was that two types of the herb borage exist; the purple/blue flower one was familiar to me. In addition, the food garden has a borage plant with a white flower. The greatest benefit of these plants is that they attract bees. As such they are a great garden help for pollinating other plants. Note to self: get a few borage plants and spread around my garden.
As usual I left the RTBG on a high and walked off towards the bus stop. Previously I had been surprised with black cockatoos feasting on pine nuts. This time, as I left the RTBG, a number of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were on the ground foraging for grass seeds in the afternoon sun. I gave them space and they did not rise from their endeavours. Another wonderful day.