Saturday, September 22, 2007

My garden -- the basics

We bought our house in 1999. It was built in 1946 as public housing, possibly for soldier resettlement. In those days there was a brewery and an abbatoirs/meatworks close by (must have been unpleasantly smelly back then!); we still have the brewery. The block of land itself is (in the original measures) 59' x 150', or about 18m x 46m. Plenty of room for the necessities of traditional Sydney suburbia : children, the Hill's hoist, shed, the fruit trees and the vegetable patch!

The back yard runs almost magnetic north, and the house runs across the block, leaving plenty of space to the rear. We are planning to extend a bit. The block slopes gently to the northern corner.

We are not far from the former brickworks that is now Sydney Olympic Park: during the 2000 Games, we could see the Olympic flame from the kitchen window. Naturally, we have clay subsoil. Not that "sub" seems the right prefix: we have grass on top and clay immediately beneath. I planted a wattle early on, and it drowned on the first wet day.

We are far enough west that onshore breezes and rain do not generally reach us, so the climate is drier and hotter than that of the city proper. Rain falls more in summer, which can be quite humid -- worse than the coast, in fact, because of the lack of breeze. The prevailing wind is the legendary Southerly Buster (there's one blowing at the moment, gusting up to 48 km/h), but we also get pleasant nor'easterly breezes, particularly in spring. Here are the summary figures from the Bureau of Meteorology's closest weather station.

According to the excellent book Taken for Granted*, my part of Sydney was described in the 1879 Railway Guide of New South Wales as
an uninteresting piece of bush country, in which the (so-called) Tea-Tree Scrub is the principal feature
and even better, "monotonous wilderness"! One of my goals is to grow those despised local native plants.

*Benson, D and Howell, J (1990). Taken for Granted: The Bushland of Sydney and its Suburbs. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

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