Our little block is right next to a railway station. Hence:
(a) I wake up at 5:45am with the first train each day (and with the intention of doing yoga…).
(b) I am lucky enough to be able to leave the car at home and catch the train to work most days – even with my bike if I choose.
(c) I say bring on the electric trains to replace the noisy, stinky diesels next year!!
(d) instead of neighbours opposite, we have a wide road verge opposite, with a few small gum trees and a lot of vacant space.
Another thing we have a lot of is dirt. Clay. Whenever you dig it, it expands. So even if you plan on filling in the hole you just dug, there is still dirt left over when you’ve finished. Where to put it? In that vacant space I just mentioned, of course.
Now, given that there’s been one whole lotta digging going on here lately (to install underground cables, irrigation pipes, stormwater pipes, and to level for enough paving to park a small jet), there has been, well let’s call it a barrowload or two of damned clay to dispose of… and I have been starting to feel a little guilty about the eyesore that it had been creating across the road. Don’t get me wrong, we always intended to tidy it up. One day…
Meanwhile, a few stray plants from our garden have also made their way to the railway verge – a couple of baby fig trees, a loquat seedling, an apricot seedling, two frangipanis, a cluster of grapevines that grew from cuttings in a pot and had become rootbound and inseparable and some very determined parsley. Yes, they had a hand to hold as they crossed the road too.
So today it all started to come together. With the sudden removal of about 8 barrowloads of dirt from our front verge ready for paving a bit of path, it became obvious that this would make a lovely earth berm along the railway verge that could serve several purposes:
- Adding interest to the landscape
- Catching runoff water on the slight slope down to the road, to feed the existing plants
- Providing a home for some new plants!
Conveniently there had been some rain in the last two weeks so many perennials had put on plenty of new growth and were ready to sacrifice some cuttings for this project: rosemary from the neighbours in exchange for rainbow chard; geraniums; creeping boobialla (this is a tough, carpety ground cover with tiny purple leaves and a snowy cover of white flowers at this time of year); good old pigface; and a few bits of eremophila (saltbush) and grevillea that I thought I’d try just in case they strike since I was pruning them anyway.
So the dirt went over and was laid out in a long, wiggly mound into which I dug a shallow furrow at the top.
I stripped the lower leaves off all the cuttings, stuck the vertical-growing things into the top of the mound and the horizontal things under the bottom edge of it. And then I gathered whatever could possibly pass as mulch – prunings from all the natives on our side of the road, debris from nearby footpaths, a pile of semi-composted old nasturtiums that had dried out before it cooked properly – and sprinkled this stuff all over the mound between the cuttings. A stingy watering (it’s a long way to carry the watering cans) with a dash of Seasol and fingers crossed! Oh, and I had a few dried-out sunflowers in a paper bag from last year, so I crumbled them along the railway fence and watered the seeds in. A lot of them were mouldy because I picked them too green, but there seemed to be some decent intact seeds, so it’s as good a place as any to experiment with them.
Keep you posted.