Secret garden

Eddie Purantatameri. Pot. 1978

Reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, as a child left me with a love of gardens. Reading Harry Harrison’s Deathworld as a young adult made me realise that living out-of-balance with an ecosystem can result in an escalating battle to survive.

Here in Bemboka in this season of plentiful rain,  I have been struggling to keep our 2.9 acres mowed and the beds I have established free of weeds. Last week a visitor to the gallery who restores native bushland looked out the picture window at the lawn down to the river and said “you could mow less and leave the native grasses to regenerate.” We walked down to the river in a drizzle of rain. She parted the grasses growing in a hollow I can’t reach with the mower, and found wallaby grass, sedges, native raspberry, pennywort and dichondra, and tiny native orchids.  We strolled along the fenceline and found a fringe of red-tinged kangaroo grass and seedling black wattles.

It was just like The Secret Garden meeting Deathworld! I had been treating the grasses indigenous to the area as weeds and striving to eradicate them by mowing as close to the boundaries as I could. Instead, when I looked with new eyes, they had already started forming a secret garden along the fenceline and under trees.

It seemed appropriate to take the work of an indigenous potter with me when I went down this afternoon to get a photograph for this entry. Nestled in the grass is a pot by Eddie Purantatameri (1948-1995) signed and dated 1978.


  1. Oh lovely post Judith. Over the years I’ve become interested in wildflowers, but it started to strike me a couple of years ago that I know little about our grasses and can’t tell which ones are native and which ones are weeds. What a relief for you – and what fun – if you could foster native plants and not have to mow quite so assiduously. Do keep us informed of how it all goes – presumably native plants/grasses will still need some management?

    1. Yes, I’ll need to weedout the exotic grasses with the time I save from less mowing! The downside is that the longer grass will harbour snakes, but then they are indigenous too. I’m sure an Australian Dickon would be able to speak ‘snake’ and charm them with his flute.

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