"Spring is one of the four seasons that apply to the Australasian temperate zones, which includes all of New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the South-Eastern corner of South Australia, the South-West of Western Australia, and the areas south of Brisbane, officially starting on the 1st of September, finishing on the 30th of November."
For me, this is the most important season of all, more so today than in the previous years of my life.
As a Landscape Architect and Garden Consultant, any season was important and any consultation and commission became part of my livelihood, but this all changed back in 2007/8 when I hung up my pens and put away the tracing paper and embarked upon a new career with Australia's largest gardening club, The Diggers Club.
My role for the Club was as a Retail Manager and, through the business, I learnt about the amazing heirloom varieties of trees, shrubs and vegetables that Diggers championed, rescued and resurrected and then showcased in their amazing gardens of Heronswood, in Dromana and St Erth, in Blackwood, both here in Victoria. My association with Diggers changed then the way I saw gardens, starting firstly with my own and then a little later with other gardens I designed and re-designed.
For me, I looked at my garden in a total new light, and it is here that I am so markedly reminded of the seasons and more importantly the importance of Spring.
From a very structured garden, (roughly 300 square meters) with an abundance of hedging, topiary, clipped lawns, beautiful flowering specimens, rare and unusual plantings, old fashioned roses and climbers, conifers providing structure, and sweeping borders for pleasure, change was now just a spade away, for I wanted a return from my garden, not just in visuals but in victuals.
I replaced much of the plantings with tree and shrub varieties that would provide a return on the space they existed, so flowering Camellias gave way to Avocados, Laurels to Citrus, ornamental flowering trees to edible old heirloom varieties of apple varieties Snow, Cox's Orange Pippin, Bramley's Seedling, Rome Beauty, Gravenstein, Abas, Wild Granny and Early McIntosh, pears Williams, Beurre Bosc and Doyenne du Comice, figs St Dominique Violette and Adriatic, cherries Stella, plums Victoria, D'Agen, Satsuma, Santa Rosa and King Billy, nectarines of white and yellow, apricots early and lateand olives for oils and others for eating. Persimmon Fuyu, to the more unusual plantings of Babacos (cold climate paw paw), Bananas, Macadamias, White Sapote, Red Paw Paw, Curry Tree, Australian Davidson Plum, and perhaps a few I have forgotten.
In spring, the abundant floral and perfume display from these plants, sets me up for a wonderful return from the redesign of the garden, without the loss of its impact. My lawn remains, but much of it has given way to a raised vegetable garden that in spring has a riot of colour from its many heirloom plantings. Plants that give their best display in spring are the amazing Brassicas such as Red Drumhead Cabbage, the Tuscan Black Kale with the curly Red Russian Kale, the beautiful spiraling lime green heads of Broccoli Romanesco, cauliflower Purple of Sicily, and the ruby coloured Brussels sprouts.
All of this would not have been made possible, nor achieved, without a strict adherence to gardening with organic practices.
Not only is the season of Spring so important to the plants, but so it is to the soil. I have nourished the soil, not with manmade synthetic chemical fertilizers full of toxic heavy metals, but with nature's compost, created by those unseen microbes and the flora and fauna we give little precedence to. My soils are fed not only with natures compost, but with Rock Dust which adds to the soil up to 90 trace elements and minerals that have long vanished from our soils over time. These elements are absorbed by the trees, shrubs and vegetables and packed back into their fruits, for us to receive. Added to the soils are applications of microbial fungi (Australia has just 10% left of these valuable soil components) that will have a beneficial symbiotic relationship with plant roots allowing them to deep mine way down into the soils structure with their mycelium, to absorb minerals and moisture that would otherwise be way out of their reach. Additions of BioChar (Charcoal created by burning oxygen deficient fertilized organic substances, heated to 635 degrees Celsius) to the soils structure for greater moisture holding capacity and for Carbon sequestering and as a slow release fertilizer that will last a thousand years.
I finally add mulch to cover, preserve and protect our valuable soils from erosion by wind and water, whilst suppressing weeds and protecting moisture, and flora and fauna that makes our soils rich and fertile. Mulch varieties that I rotate each spring to bring to the soil different components.
Much I have learnt from the Diggers Club and its people, experts from within and from their amazing network of specific external presenters, that I have recently decided to return to my roots of Landscape Design. I designed for them, back in 2015, one of the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Shows largest displays that featured an edible landscape, an education centre and an heirloom display that provided ideas to the public that they could recreate and use in their own gardens. Today, I provide consultations and, where required, designs for Diggers Members own gardens that will provide for them not just a spectacular Spring display, but one that will take them on a journey in their garden throughout the whole year.