Words by Mandy Lupton
Header image – Banksia robur
I moved fulltime to my 3000m2 property on Jinibara country a couple of months before Covid hit in early 2020. My property was mainly exotic grass – a slice of old dairy farm which became a failed avocado farm in the 1980s. One magnificent avocado tree remains.
My first action was to remove 13 coral trees along the fence line and spread the resulting wood chip mulch. This left me with a virtually blank slate.
I want to completely revegetate my property as native habitat, but my aim is not to restore the original rainforest – I want to preserve my beautiful view of the rolling hills towards Maleny. I’ve always loved coastal heath like the Kathleen McArthur reserve at Currimundi, and have been intrigued by the use of grasses by landscape designer Piet Oudolf, who created the New York High Line garden.
In the first Covid lockdown I set about creating my vision.
My first planting in lockdown 2020 was a narrow densely planted strip along two sides of my property, laying cardboard and thickly mulching to suppress the kikuyu. I then added central gardens. I have widened the initial garden beds in stages, so far having planted over 700 tubestock.
The bulk of my planting has been mass planting of grasses (Austrostipa ramosissima, Cymbopogon refractus – host plant for the Evening brown butterfly, Gahnia sieberiana, Themeda triandra, Poa labillardieri, Capillipedium parviflorum, and Pennisetum alopecuroides), sedges (Carex appressa), rushes (Lomandra hystrix and longifolia, Ficinia nodosa), with grass trees, banksia (robur, integrifolia oblongifolia, spinulosa) and tea tree (oreophilum, polygalifolium). The mass planting of grasses also includes the spectacular swamp foxtail grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), which is native to Qld but a weed in Victoria.
I’ve used lillypilly, myrtle, melaleuca, acacia and blueberry ash to screen some sections – I intend to keep these trimmed to a manageable height to keep my ‘borrowed’ views. I have infilled between the grasses and shrubs with flowering / fruiting shrubs, wildflowers, herbs and groundcovers. Taller rainforest trees are in back corners of the property where there is no view. My planting has been planned to create dense cover to attract birds, insects and reptiles. I’ve been rewarded with my first family of Buff-banded Rails, and I hope that as the garden matures it will attract a range of wildlife.
My plan is to continue creating new sections of garden until most of the block is revegetated, and at some stage to add a large pond.
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