Becoming a 'hands-on' gardener again

Becoming a real gardener again (not a desk gardener) is like entering paradise.

Clive's granddaughter


By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Many of our members when we meet are under the mistaken impression that I am out there physically gardening; planting, weeding, watering and mulching.

Well, that was a long time ago when Diggers employed just 6 staff but now that we have 130 staff, I have been forced into ‘cerebral’ or ‘desk gardening’ i.e. managing gardening rather than actually getting my fingers in the soil. Not surprisingly none of our garden staff are interested in working indoors and now I see why.

Becoming a real gardener again (not a desk gardener) is like entering paradise. I don't have to consult anyone; I can draw up a plan, select and plant my favourite plants — as Vita Sackville West was fond of saying “everything is choice and well chosen” — before enjoying the trembling anticipation of fulfilment.

This is my fifth garden and although none of my plantings have ever been a wholehearted success I am perpetually optimistic.

We now have an 1880s double-fronted Victorian house on Ruckers Hill in Northcote with a view towards the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs.

We are a 15 minute bike ride from the city, Melbourne's botanic garden and the MCG. Every street I ride through has 100-year-old, shady street trees, as beautiful as any boulevard in Paris, and the High St street food is the best in the city.

This charming house is perfectly located on 800 square metres of soil so the garden is a perfect size. I have just planted a herbaceous border (over the front lawn) between a Jacaranda and Chinese Lantern tree. Along the sunny north side I planted Mermaid, Albertine and R. laevigata Roses, intermingled with cottage garden Lupins, Hollyhocks and Delphiniums.

My granddaughter and I planted her favourite vegetable, Sweet Corn, and we have naturally seeding Silverbeet, Potatoes and Arugula.

pictured: Clive's granddaughter