Refuge

Ultimately we need to recognise that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with other species.

                                                                                                                          – David Suzuki

With the renovation of Tillellan and the clearing of the back of the block we have taken over stewardship of a part of the family history and a piece of urban land that despite its urban-ness, prior to the clearing of the block, was a real refuge and welcome habitat for local animal species.

Gradually these have started to return despite the fact that the earth is still relatively ‘bare’ to my standards. We have nearly accomplished a temporary  ‘skin’ over the ground of various edible plants, weeds, groundcovers and of course kikuyu. This will hold the sand in place until the next phase of development – hopefully to come early next year. In  the meantime the creatures have begun to return. Insects and birds were some of the first, although the birds are still moving through the garden area rather than living in it as such.

kingskinks

The King Skinks never really departed. They took shelter under the house during the extensive renovations and eventually set up residence in the various piles of salvaged timber and rocks. They are increasing in numbers which did occur as a curious thing. We only really had a few living under the house previously, but talking to one of the neighbours he revealed that he used to catch them and relocate them to the golf course down the road. He quit doing that some years back, so it now makes sense that the local population in the backyard has grown and we are actually seeing young skinks around the place.

As the vegetable garden grew and created a small jungle I started to notice a Western Green Tree Frog had also taken up residence. Probably after being kicked out of a previous home during a bit of clearing near the neighbour’s boundary. Also known as the Motorbike Frog due to the male’s mating call sounding much like a motorcycle changing up gears in the distance.

Next came the bobtail or Blue-tongued Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) It also took up residence amidst the rockery where the morning sun hits early and there is plenty of nooks to hide in.

The current bird list for the block can be found here.

Over time we will no doubt see more and more life return to the garden as specialised pockets of land begin to take form and attract specific species.

Buddleia

petitparadisbuddleiaJust when I thought the garden was  smelling good with the abundant blossoms of the Honeysuckle, out comes the Buddleia for the beginning of Summer.

Buddleia davidii is to me, the perfume of English summers – along with Petunias and Sweet Peas. I recall seeing on my travels large ‘trees’ of buddleia in and around London. Sometimes even on building sites tucked in a neglected corner. Sometimes well up to a couple of metres in height.

In our garden, with the now limited water despite recent rainfall, the buddleia never gets too out of hand. It is considered a pest in some parts of Australia. Regular pruning keeps it bushy as it delivers its wonderful perfume across the pathway. Previous years it has lived up to its name of The Butterfly Bush and attracted Monarchs and native butterflies into our garden. I have managed to strike a couple of smaller plants from this parent plant just by pruning off new growth with a little old wood and sticking it in the ground. Spring and Autumn seem to be the best months to get some decent success.

I like Buddleia because of its perfume, appearance, it attractiveness to butterflies and the fact that it will grow in relatively poor soils. It also creates lots of woody mulch which is beneficial for the garden and will happily return, sometimes more eager than before, from a harsh pruning back.