Saturday, February 21, 2009

Curses & blessings

Isn't it one of life's bummers the way curses and blessings come packaged together in the one thing? Here in this Sydney summer garden, my own blessed curse is rapid growth. Marvellous blessing, ongoing curse, all at the same time. I know, I can hear my friends from the frozen north (of the planet, not Australia) saying "bring it on, I can handle it", but living in a land of rapid growth has its interesting moments and never-ending workloads, especially after a week of rain.

Making yet another attempt to take over my garden, my neighbour Nick's outrageously healthy grapevine. Looks like a horde of green cavalry swarming over the hill. Charge!

Tendrils waving in the wind seeking something – anything – to grab onto, a grapevine is a wonderful creature to watch at work. Underneath the vine, in Nick's outdoor living area, it's shady and cool and the light itself takes on a soothing, green tinge. Alas for me, Nick gets the blessings and I get the curse with this plant's relentless growth, but I don't mind, really. I've been cutting his vine back for many years now, so it's just an annual ritual from about December through to the end of March. Then Nick cuts back the whole lot in midwinter, ready to start all over again. Rhythm of life, and all that stuff, wouldn't have it any other way.
On the other side of my property, my neighbour Michael has been inspired by Nick's success and guess what? Yep, he's growing a grapevine, too. Well, Michael, like Nick, is Greek, and they've just done up their outdoor living area, too. Michael is a generous "barbecued whole lamb on a spit" kind of entertainer, so he needs shade for his many cheerful guests. Fair enough. Michael's new grapevine loves my olive tree, unfortunately – it's the ideal twiggy thing for it to climb up. After a couple of weeks of steady rain and warmth, about eight leaders have made their way to the top of the olive tree, but thanks to my trusty new pole pruner, their evil schemes have been thwarted (until next time)!

How could this mild-mannered hedge find its way into a blog about curses and blessings? That's easy, given the weather we've had lately. This hedging plant is a form of native lilly pilly with the lovely cultivar name of 'Tiny Trev'. Most lilly pillies are rainforest plants, and deep down they love rain more than anything else. Over the last two weeks these guys went from neatly blessed hedges to accursed harassers of all who dared open the gate. Friends would run the gauntlet of Terrible Trev's green, clammy fingers and arrive with wet shoulders. And so this morning, between occasional showers of rain, I administered a dose of neatly clipped discipline, and turned Terrible into Tiny once more.

One little thing I like about the whole hedge-trimming thing is the way the hedge feels afterwards, to the touch. It's wobbly, just like lime jelly. One or two passers-by who stopped for a chat were drawn to the hedge, too. They had to touch it, make it wobble, too. A hedge is more a substance than a plant!


Chandramouli S said...

I am drawn to the hedge too. Great work and the grapevine looks great though I do understand about it being a curse and blessing at the same time. You just can't maintain it!

buedamau said...

what can i say?! those pictures look like you were in portugal: it's pretty common around here to have grapevines backdoor porchs; and olive trees are a traditional tree from here too...
it's amazing that in our almost antipods someone can have a part of us! and yours look gorgeous by the way, and loved wich isn't so common here ;)

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Great and very amusing story Jamie.
The hedge does look great anyway, very thick lush and green.

Take care / Tyra

Tatyana said...

Good morning reading. Thanks!

Northern Shade said...

I like the front entry, with the green hedge, white walls and red tiling.
Yes, I do envy the quick growth plants make in your climate (although not the constant trimming). I'm still waiting for some of my shrubs to obscure the fenceline, 7 years later. I'm sure in your climate they would have been up and over the fence, and making inroads on my neighbours' gardens by now. :) My goal is to have a wall of green, but the boundaries are still too visible.

Chookie said...

Jamie, I would have guessed what suburb you lived in based on your neighbours' background, even if you hadn't mentioned it on my blog! It's great to have gardening-fiend neighbours!

I loved your description of Triffid Trev!

Megan said...

I know what you mean, I've seen plants growing too quickly in uninvited places, but you're right, up here in the northwestern US, just waiting for stuff to grow, it's hard not be envious of your "problem."

Bear said...

I'm jealous of your hedge!
I posted a sudden plant death question a little while ago but they are still dying and think it's a fungal problem. I saw the dramatic improvement in your grevillea and hope I get the same result. I've lost 5 plants and can't work out why!!