This is the first in a series we will post to the website of member stories! Chris only joined this year, but has helped at our stall at The Tropical Garden Spectacular and come to both workshops and wrote this story for the last newsletter. It is great to hear about people’s land and how they manage and love it, so here you go, We would love your stories too-
Chris Binks- Howard Springs, Joined Land for Wildlife 2014
I purchased 5 acres in Howard Springs approximately 10 years ago. The block was predominately cleared and had maybe a dozen mango trees on it. It was choked with mission grass which aided an intense fire which killed off some of the mangoes and burnt 4/5 of the block and nearly the pre-existing shack.
Through trial and error, speaking with various people and groups, (including the Bushfire Council) I slowly but surely all but eradicated the mission grass as well as hiptus and the odd clump of gamba grass. Spear grass is now the dominate grass species. Concurrently I also stopped getting the block slashed, possibly the vector which introduced the foreign grasses in the first place. Many native trees started appearing on their own accord when the slashing had stopped, they say the Australian Bush has a long memory.
I’ve planted 60 to 80 native trees and shrubs a year for the last 5 years, as well as a few other non-native trees such as tamarind and mango. I like to plant mainly natives as they are often hardy, water wise and quick growing. I’ll generally water the new plants either by hand or by reticulation for a Dry or two but after that you’re on your own. Having dug post holes in the Dry I know there is moisture in the soil from about 600mm down, a layer of clay below this aiding the water retention. If they can get their roots into this they’re generally away.
It is not my intention to try and return the block into what it must of looked like prior to being cleared. I do like the orange grevillea and Pandanas which appear to dominate the area when the land is allowed to rejuvenate on its own accord, but if I was to remain true to what was originally here that means I couldn’t plant beauty leaf or salmon gums or many other species that I’ve taken a liking too but aren’t endemic to the area. I feel it is easier and more cost effective to protect what natural bush we have left rather than trying to recreate what has gone. Often I feel intact native land is cleared haphazardly, all tied into politics, bureaucracy and kowtowing to big business.
I remember the neighbour, who had been there for 25 years, saying he wished he had planted natives, his house being obscured by towering Poinciana’s and African mahoganies. For me the middle road is best, I love many of the native trees but I also don’t mind eating a mango straight from the tree in season, the flying foxes don’t seem to mind them either.