Scary stories from a lovely place
When we were looking to buy a house the main thing I cared about was the garden. What spot would get the most sun? Was it so wild there was no space to bring order in the fashion of a potager? Was it so sloping that all the nutrients would wash down the hill at the first sign of rain? In the end it was finances that made most of the decision (how boring), but providentially the cheapest house we could find also had a sweet garden. Lots of bare space. Some good sized trees and bushes already established. Enough sun, just. It is sloped, and the soil at the top is pretty sandy, but at the bottom it is luscious. And so I have natives and proteaceae at the top and vegies at the bottom.
One thing I didn’t want in the garden was too much grass. I told Stephen I planned to remove all of the lawn to make way for raised garden beds, a fragrant rockery, a bamboo forest (so we could make bows and arrows), stepping stones, a bog garden and lots and lots of natives and proteaceae. He was a bit concerned and reminded me that the kids would probably like some grass. But then we remembered God’s teaching on lawns, as documented on Paul Wheaton’s inerrant permaculture blog, and Stephen was convinced.
Once I had dug a few garden beds I backed away from that idea because of the sheer hard work that is required in digging up hundreds of square metres of established kikuyu. I’ve figured out a good rhythm now, using a mixture of a mattock, fork and my bare hands. But most of it will remain. And the kids do like it.
Unfortunately this meant we had to buy a lawn mower, and use it. It’s actually quite satisfying, at least in winter, to start the beast, mow back the encroaching grass and weeds, and then admire the result. But I’ve been really stressed about the edging and I thought the only solution would be for us to spend more money at Bunnings on something that wasn’t plants or manure – a whipper snipper. Since we moved to Australia Stephen has found the suburban obsession with neat lawns quite humorous, and so you can imagine his willingness to buy such a machine.
I didn’t want to use another petrol powered tool on my garden but I didn’t see what else we could do. And then I remembered what I used to cut our lawn in Johannesburg. There our lawn was remarkably small, only about 2-3 square metres and so cutting the whole thing with a humble pair of shears was no big deal. I enjoyed letting it grow really long and then giving it a good haircut. I imagined myself a shearer and sung ‘Working Class Man’ while I worked away.
Shears are $10 at Bunnings. They are a juxtaposition of sharp and dainty. And today they’ve made my garden’s edges all calm and tidy.