The RainbowWeb Garden
This photograph, originally on my home page, was taken late in the afternoon in the summer of 1996, from the place where I sit in contemplation, or read, study, and sleep. It shows a clump of banana trees on the right, papyrus latifolia stems & various mints in the lower foreground, the leaves of an 'Elberta' peach on upper left, while the background is arundo donax & a sultana grapevine. A bronze statue of Shiva can be discerned deep in the shadows.
See how effectively aesthetics, conservation, & productivity can go hand in hand. Foliage changes slowly with the seasons, light & shade with the time of day or night, & and the resulting living picture is the focus of my inner city home. This garden truly nourishes body, mind, and spirit.
The bananas were removed in 2004, and replaced by a wattle, Acacia Fimbriata, which has edible seeds.
This, and various other changes, are being made in order to reduce the amount of water needed by the garden.
The photo below was taken from the same spot, in the morning, early in the spring of 2004. You can see the many changes that have taken place, while the colours reflect the coolness of the season.
All the trees have now reached maturity. On the left you can see a branch of the Mandarin tree, while only the trunks of the Peach are visible. As well as the Acacia Fimbriata, there is a Callistmon (bottlebrush) in the background on the right. The dense shrub in the centre is a Grevillia. All three of these Australian species are very attractive to birds. The plants in the foreground are in pots, and these make the area look lush without needing much water. They provide habitat for smaller wildlife, and keep the birdbaths cool & safe. They also keep the roots of the Mandarin tree cool & moist.
Many kinds of birds live here or visit regularly, while various species of lizards, spiders, & insects have taken up permanent residence. Having this diversity at eye level in the place where I spend much of my time gives me inspiration, tranquility, & comfort.
Elberta is a late variety of peach, designed to fruit after the apricots have finished, & the leaves colour vividly in autumn. It has a particularly delicate blossom, the stamens being more prominent than the petals, which gives it a fairy appearance when it blooms in winter; while the glimpses of a crescent moon & stars apparently caught in it's bare branches are rare delights, reserved for clear winter evenings in the moon's first quarter, while clear winter mornings are illuminated by the setting 'follow moon' in the days following Full Moon.
The sultanas are an early seedless variety, providing fruit for myself, for drying, & for the birds. Earlier in the season the fresh young leaves are used for dolmades, while in winter the prunings make excellent kindling. Cuttings strike readily, providing gifts for friends & for fund-raisers.
The entire planting provides much needed shade from the summer sun, & shelter from the SW winds & driving rain in winter. Rustling leaves and the voices of more than twenty species of visiting birds mask the constant background noise of the city. My cottage, which was so new it still smelt of paint when I moved in, was built with a huge expanse of glass facing South-West. While this is poor ecological design, I am deeply grateful for my tiny home, & the feature that could have been a nightmare, raising the temperature unbearably every summer afternoon & evening, while not allowing any of the sun's heat to warm the place in winter, has been transformed by these carefully designed plantings into the very heart of my earth sanctuary.
It has taken time to do this, because the garden was totally bare when I came here (the builders' had carefully buried their refuse to make it look neat & tidy, which resulted in some nasty surprises) In the early years the arundo, bananas & the papyrus grew very fast, & until the grapevines had matured, pumpkins & chokos climbed over them, providing deep shade in high summer. I actually tied stems of arundo to the roof each summer, forming a living shadehouse & trellis for the climbers. Now, of course, these have been replaced by permanent plantings of flowering & fruiting trees.
Virtual Tour-created May 2011
I firmly believe this place was allocated to me so that I could, in co-operation with nature, implement a living example of Urban Permaculture Design as well as an Earth Sanctuary in the capital city of South Australia - the driest State in the world's driest continent.
In the mid-1990's, I felt able to extend my activities to doing something about the then untidy, dusty & hot environment of the narrow lane on which my home is situated. Since there is no sidewalk, there are no nature strips, just a narrow carriageway, and Stobie poles. This took much initial time and effort, and is not always easy to maintain, especially when properties change hands, or new tenants arrive. But the better the lane looks, the easier it is, on the whole, to enlist people's moral, and sometimes even practical support. In spite of huge changes & occasional very heavy traffic, the lane remains a pleasant thoroughfare for pedestrians & cyclists.
'In China the cycle of life and death is
as are the seasons which reflect it.
Garden flowers are not removed as unsightly
fall, or fade, and die,
but are left in the borders as natural
contrast to growing things
so they can be appreciated as
reminders of nature’s rhythms.
For without the steady
contemplation of natural rhythms,
how can we hope
to inspire in ourselves
a harmonious adjustment to
Plant List - Trees ....... Vines & Shrubs.......Perennials .......Biennials and Annuals
Plants Grown in the past
Virtual Tour-created May 2011
Article about this garden - Permaculture International Journal, 1992
Article about this garden - Permaculture International Journal, 1999
Design notes - 1989 (original).......Design notes - 1995
Rough Guide to Site.......Site Map
- This is an Australian website - Contact Margaret RainbowWeb
URL - http://www.users.on.net/~arachne/garden.html