Tomorrow is the last day of winter. I don’t need a calendar to tell me that spring is coming. I have weeds for that. The first thing I did on my return from a restful week away? Weed the front garden, where the grass is on the march into the flower beds and the last delivery of mushroom compost seems to have introduced the dreaded onion grass to the rose bed.
I hate onion grass. I have vivid memories of the first few years in our old house in the Big Smoke. It had been a rental, left to rot by the previous owner. The front garden was a jungle of weeds. We didn’t want that, we wanted scented gardenias, dense murrayas, spears of lavender, enough rosemary to keep the neighbourhood supplied for Sunday roasts. That’s what we ended up with too – but not until we’d hand-weeded every skerrick of onion grass out of the front yard. It took years.
At first, we weeded, then laid newspaper, then mulched. Still it grew. So, six weeks later, we’d rinse and repeat. Another layer of newspaper, a thicker layer of mulch. The mulch and paper broke down, feeding the soil. Still the onion grass grew.
But gradually, it came less and less. The plants grew bigger and filled the space, crowding out the weeds. We got it under control.
Still I’d go to bed and night, dreaming of dark soil with those tiny, white bulbs beneath. Miss one, and the whole garden could go to pot.
And now we begin again. Different house, same noxious weed. Fortunately, it’s only one bed. We have good mulching foundations and dwarf lavender ready to spread beneath the rose bushes as the sun’s rays strengthen and the warmth goes right down to the roots.
As I was digging my way through the soil on Saturday, my mind turned to Foxglove Spires, a 3.5 acre garden near Tilba Tilba, NSW, and a highlight of our holiday (for me and The Builder at least – not sure that the Misters were all that impressed). What began as a vast, empty paddock 30 years ago is now a sublime corner of light and shade, mature trees and tiny flowers, chickens and vegetables, exotic plants and natives. A magical woodland, no doubt complete with fairies (somebody’s doing all that work!). The sunroom, pictured above, is made from reclaimed windows – I want it. It is simply inspirational (even before the true Spring bonanza) and I recommend a visit should you find yourself in the area.
The thought of the place was enough to steel my resolve. If Sue Southam, the woman behind Foxglove Spires, can persist with an entire paddock, surely I could manage to see off the invaders in a 2 x 1 metre garden bed. Even if I didn’t have help from those fairies.