Monday, January 21, 2008

A new addition to the balcony...

Nathan and I carried the 1 meter tall grass tree to the front of the shop and plonked it on the counter. I told the guy sitting behind the cash register that I wanted to buy the plant. He asked me where I'd parked my car. I told him I didn't have one. I told him, instead, about my plans to cart the plant home on public transport, from Batman station to the Docklands. Judging from the look his face, I could tell the guy thought that we were crazy. I ignored his looks, paid him the money, and proceeded to carry the plant out the nursery door (well, actually, Nathan proceeded to carry the plant out the door but I gave him the much needed moral support). It was raining. We carried it across the road and onto the train platform, trying not to get the shark needle-like foliage in our eyes. We hauled it into the first carrage of the train. Other commuters seemed a little amused. We got off at Flinders Street station, hauled the tree up to Elizabeth street and hopped onto the number 48 tram. We got off at Docklands, dragged the plant to the foyer of the apartment complex (boy was it a mistake to have gone to the gym the day before). We got the plant into the relative safety of the elavator. Went up. Got out. Carried it into the unit and placed it on the balcony. Beautiful. Grass trees (also known by their less politically correct common name, black boys) are native to Australia. They take years to develop their big black trunks and are extremely slow growing (1-2 cm a year). They often flower en-mass after bush fires (one of the most spectacular sights I have ever laid my eyes on were huge 4m + grass tress in full bloom in the Brisbane Ranges). Evidently many of the plants available at nurseries are salvaged from areas destined for development. To safely transplant these ancient plants from the wild requires a great deal of care. They are firstly dug up and then torched to simulate a bush fire. I considered the life that my grass tree would have had prior to captivity (it would be in excess of a 100 years old). My new addition is part of a plan to populate the balcony of my unit with Australian native plants. I already have a strappy-looking Dianella, a grey-coloured smokey bush, and a rock orchid. I've been eyeing off lomandra, doryanthes and maybe even a banksia. There is something wonderful about aussie natives. I love them for their tough-looking, steadfast, ruggered forms. They ae more practical too! With severe water restrictions, everybody should be tossing out their water-hungry exotics and replacing them with aussie native plants.

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