Wordy by Tigerlily Boyce
What was previously an impenetrable wall of Lantana over two metres tall, along with with Privet, Wild tobacco, Devils fig, Camphor laurel, Fishbone fern, surrounded by a field of Setaria and African love grass (to name a few exotic weeds), has been the “garden project” for almost two years now.
Our goal was to provide some erosion control for the creek bank that borders the property (Coonowrin Creek in Glass House Mountains) and extend the wildlife corridor on the other side to help out the local critters!
It was a mammoth task to remove the bulk of the weeds without risking further erosion or destroying existing wildlife habitat. The strategy was to go slow, working from the “best” bits outwards.
The tall grasses proved to be a difficult foe as they tend to grow fast and tall, smothering and shading out my tiny tubestock plants. At first, it looked like nothing was there at all; I had to stake and guard each plant so they wouldn’t be trampled or mown over. The seed bank (or weed bank) had years to establish and is immense and requires constant follow-up hand-weeding.
We managed to gain some control through the use of thick cardboard as weed-matting (ripped up to allow water through, with plastic tapes/metal staples removed), heavy mulching, succession planting and “weedy” natives as cover crops).
Groundcovers like shiny Plectranthus (Coleus nitidus), rainforest Beard grass (Ottochloa sp.), Basket grass (Oplismenus sp.) and the native Commelina (Commelina diffusa) have been incredibly useful and are much easier to control or remove when needed.
The cuttings can be thrown around in areas to be worked on next, helping suppress and even outcompete other weeds.
Pioneer trees like Macaranga (Macaranga tanarius) and Blackwood (Acacia melanoxolyn) help to attract birds and spread seed, which has brought in Tuckeroo’s (Cupaniopsis anacardiodes), Blue quandong’s (Elaeocarpus grandis) and Euodia’s (Melicope elleryana), Sandpaper figs (Ficus coronata), Cheese trees (Glochidion sp.), for free!
One of the first planted Macarangas is now over two metres tall and helping to create a shade for a grove of Cunjevoi (Alocasia brisbanesis). The native sugar bag bees have been loving the flowers!
The increased abundance of wildlife has been striking, to say the least! Brightly coloured beetles, spiders, Amegilla bees (blue banded, teddy bear), birds of all sizes who follow as we weed and swoop in for the unearthed invertebrates, lizards and even bandicoots have been stopping in regularly, which haven’t been seen here before.
My favourite way to connect with nature around me is to observe the wildlife; it makes me feel like I’m part of the bigger picture and it brings me so much satisfaction and joy to know the hard work is going towards something greater than me. Each step of the way adds rich diversity, a plethora of plants, a strong soil microbiome and a wide range of wildlife.
With how much it’s changed in only two years, I can’t wait to see what comes next!
Have you got a native garden for wildlife that you would like to showcase? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.