2nd March - Bush Gardening


I call Wirrapunga a "Bush Garden". Bush Gardening is very different from "Bush Care". The rules are different. The end result is different. I thought it might be useful to point out the differences.

The primary aim in bush care is to remove all non-indigenous plants with the ultimate aim of having a bushland without non indigenous intruders. The primary aim with bush gardening is to achieve the highest bio-diversity of indigenous species. I believe the words "of indigenous species" to be superfluous but to save wasteful debate I will include them.

Bush care normally begins with some reasonable bushland to start with. However bush gardening can be achieved on any block of land regardless of its environmental condition. Admittedly however it is much easier if there is a bit of remnant bushland on the block. Although I have found that some degradation is unimportant.

One of the important rules with bush care is not to disturb the soil more than necessary. In the case of bush gardening, a bit of disturbance is good. This is the way to encourage "lost" species to return.

Bush care is all about caring for the bush as efficiently as possible while bush gardening is about gardening. It is about encouraging wonderful plants to grow and enjoying the process as well as the result.

In bush care the indigenous plants that are the most vigorous are encouraged to take over and inhibit growth of other species. In the case of bush gardening, these vigorous plants are called "woody weeds" and although tolerated, are controlled so as not to take over and inhibit other species.

Therefore the end result is quite different. This is what Hugh Proby said, in a letter to his father in 1851, " There is most excellent turf for riding growing at the top of the hills, and though occasionally it is necessary to make a long round to avoid some precipitous glen, yet without difficulty you can go along on most excellent cantering ground for any distance." He was talking of Mount Lofty. What a change now. Can you imagine cantering a horse through the scrub of Mount Lofty today. You can read Hugh's complete letter in the article called Hugh's letter. It would be good if more people thought about it.

There is also an end to the bush care of a block of bushland. If there are no non-indigenous plants growing on it then there is no work to do. However, there is always work to do in a bush garden. If nothing else then it is time for an "event" and it all starts again with an increased indigenous bio-diversity.