Jungle Garden

There are two sections to my suburban garden. One is the section I have been working on since I moved in to this garden-with-attached-house two years ago. I like to take photos of it because I have tamed it (somewhat) with paths and weeding and planting. I built a retaining wall! The other half of my garden (it is bisected with a set of wonky concrete steps) is The Wild Side. I have ignored it completely while concentrating my energies on the other side which has now become a productive garden.

Here is The Wild Side:

Some of those acanthus plants are huge, taller than I am! This can be a problem as the only garden tap for the lower section of the block is to the right of this photo, between a tree, a pile of firewood, and under a triffid-like acanthus. I do worry that I'll venture in there one day and not come out..

Above the wild jungle there is another section, which I believe was once a stone-flagged terrace. The neighbour says there was a pond at one time. Now it houses a friend's cement mixer, and the ramps he uses to get it on and off his ute:

Above that section is a hugely unaesthetically pleasing mound of fill - gravel, soil, blocks of cement - which was dug out when the verandah was built. This space will, the gods willing, become a lovely deck upon which to put a table and some chairs and have civilised dinners whilst enjoying the view. Currently it is fast turning into another jungle. It is extraordinary how fast the plants take over. It is like post-apocalyptic jungle, right outside my kitchen window:

That tree up against my neighbour's wall is the avocado I had cut down last year. It has returned from the grave with a vengeance and is about to invade my poor neighbour's kitchen. I am about to take the pruning saw to it. Don't feel sorry for it. It produced one avocado in ten years, which is not quite enough to save it from execution. I feel like a Stalinist dictator with a clip-board and production quotas, but standards must be maintained! Also, it stole all the sunlight from my kitchen. This particular quadrant will be the future home of deciduous trees only.

Over the next few months my plan is to wade into the jungle equipped with gumboots and machete (actually, I don't have a machete. But I think I may need one) and create a series of hugelkulture swales on the steepish slope. I will use all the vegetation that I cut down, plus the large pile of apricot tree prunings already in place as the basis of the swales, and top them with soil and gravel from the large pile of fill up above. Next winter I will be able to plant fruit trees into the partially decomposed swales, on the up-hill side so that they will receive the rain-water which will be funnelled downhill by the swale design. But first, in the summer I will be able to plant pumpkins and other big vegie plants on the mounds. I am also attempting to work out how to add chickens to the mix, without them eating everything in sight. I am so excited about all the garden plans, if a little daunted by their scope. Still, it took me two years to get thus far, and if it takes me two years again to make a garden from the jungle of this half of the garden, well, at least it will be two years of high entertainment, fresh air and exercise!


simplelife said…
I love the look of your brick paths and garden beds,well done. I'm sure your jungle side will soon be looking just as flash. Little by little it will happen. I only wish I could feel the same way about my yard, instead I look out there, feel completely overwhelmed, disheartened by the destructive wallabies and possums and unable to even decide where or how to start. So I go back inside and do another load of washing. 🙄🤷

Cheers Kate
Jo said…
Kate, I am a little envious of you. I have had a broken washing machine for two weeks now. New part for it will come any day. Possibly..
Sometimes it takes a very long time for a vision of what you want to come to you. I am currently thinking about design ideas for Paul's wallaby infested property. It will be natives, which I am excited about, with rocks (he has a lot of those) and little paths.. beyond that I am currently a bit stumped. But every time we go bushwalking we get new ideas. Nature does landscaping so well:)
Beznarf27 said…
OH how I wish I had a smaller garden! My jungle allows small African tribes to live without being observed for long lengths of time and for my chooks to go feral and live up in the eucalyptus trees (much to Mr fat quoll's delight) Get bantams and keep them in a chook tractor. Their eggs are almost as big as their larger counterparts but they take up a whole lot less room. You can also move their tractor around and there are lots of tutorials for how to make awesome A frame chook tractors online. The secret to wallaby infested properties is to plant lots of bulbs as well as anything that is poisonous. They won't touch camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas etc. so if you want to avoid the heartache of planting something lovely and it being hoovered down by the next morning stick to poisonous plants. The possums will hoover down everything that the wallabies don't eat so again "poisonous plants" are your saving grace for a lovely garden. My friend on 50 acres taught us that! I am SO jealous that you are able to have vegetables out in the open! We got up into Sanctuary on that single sunny dry day that we had recently (I think it was Saturday) and propped up the netting so that we can actually walk in there now, cleared off the debris from the top of Sanctuary and changed the water in the (angry) one eyed ducks pond. I reckon this summer is going to be a hot one for us all so get those chilli, capsicum, tomato, eggplant etc. seedlings in this year as they should go gangbusters. That's my prediction for the year ;) Thank you for sharing your gorgeous garden with us all to lust over :)
Anonymous said…
Beautiful garden! Love it!
Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

Has it already been two years! My goodness!

What lovely brick paths. Part of it certainly is a jungle, but it looks rather exciting. Won't you be just a wee bit sorry when it is gone?

Anonymous said…
Jo, your productive garden looks exactly right - as though there would always have been a garden like that behind your lovely old cottage.

Good luck with the acanthus! We had one that was a real thug. It grew into a monster and every year attracted all the whitefly in the world, which flew up in a choking cloud when disturbed. But after a year of vigilance, it is gone, and now I am trying to persuade some hydrangeas to grow in its place.

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Fran, well, you can have a smaller garden by letting some of it turn back into bush:) I am always amazed at all you have going on in your garden. You are the queen of experimentation! Yes, I have thought of various chicken tractor ideas. I also have a chicken house coming to me when I get a tiny bit organised about it. Then I will need fences and will be all set..

Patricia, thank you! Mostly what I see when I look at it is all the things I feel I ought to do in it, but I am also training myself to sit and enjoy it:)

Pam, I am thinking.. probably not. I will leave some wild corners for little critters, but I think I am a farmer at heart, not a hermit of the wild wood!

Linda, oh, yes, I have had experience of attempting to rid a garden of acanthus. So sculptural, such a feral weed.. wish me luck:)
Hazel said…
I love your garden. I wish mine looked like that. I feel as though I'm painting the Forth Bridge (just means as soon as you finish it's time to start again).
I look forward to seeing what you do with the jungle!
Jo said…
Hazel, in Australia it's the Sydney Harbour Bridge that gets painted ad infinitum.. but really, I think that is the experience of everyone with a garden that isn't concrete. It is especially the experience of everyone who grows food! Every single person who pays me to help them in the garden expresses the same sentiment; no matter what their garden looks like, or what level of maintenance it requires, it's always like, 'Oh, lordy, when will this labour end?" It never does, because gardens are alive, and they change, and have secret minds of their own, and maybe that's why we love them so...
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo,
Am so enjoying following along with your garden progress, though I don't comment any more (can only do it on my laptop for some reason, and I rarely drag it out these days).
You are very inspirational, and have given me heaps of gardening ideas, including the epiphany that I can just fill my ugly ensuite bathroom - which only my husband and I see - with indoor plants and not pay for a renovation (which means I don't have to work for the $$). Genius:-)
Jo said…
Loretta, I am so glad to hear from you! Here is my question for you - are you still at the same address - it is years past time for me to reply to your letter:) Oh, yes, to the indoor garden! I am slowly increasing my stock of indoor plants by propagation. My lovely friend Lillian who has recently moved into a retirement unit had me over yesterday to proudly show off the vertical fern garden she has put up in her shower!! There are so many plants that love a bathroom. Enjoy your ensuite jungle :)
Hazel said…
Jo, I should have clarified it feels like painting a large bridge without making any difference! Which isn't true, I am making progress but I can spend whole days in the garden and it doesn't look very different... It's sooo slow. It was sad and neglected when I took it on though- I knew what I was letting myself in for!
GretchenJoanna said…
I am completely astounded by the hugelkultur idea! I wish I had known to do this back 40 years ago when we bought 1/3 acre of unworked property and started gardening there. But I sent the Permaculture article link to my daughter who has 3 acres and lots of yard "waste." It gives one a whole new and positive attitude, which you display, toward certain jungles, especially the type that grow out of piles that seems to occur on the land of anyone who is using the land.

Thanks for sharing!
Jo said…
Hazel, yes, that is how we use the term - "It's like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge" ie, it is a job which will never end..
Still, at least you know that you won't be sitting around bored anytime soon..

Gretchen Joanna, I built one in a client's garden recently, will see how it works out in spring when it is planted out. I am excited to try it, but rather daunted at the scope of the job.

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