A morning walk through my suburb and adjoining conservation estate, is usually a joyful experience. It’s a chance to get some exercise in and watch the changing seasons emerge through the early morning sunlight. As I walk I breathe in smells of the bush. The perfume of honey as the ironbark trees blossomed in the summer and the black wattle trees that became alive with splashes of yellow worms in winter. The delicate and colourful bursts of grevillea spikes and the specks of tiny red brushes dripping from the bottle brush trees. Suddenly they erupt with a chorus of lorikeets, their wings painting the sky in colour. The joyful experience is short lived after I see another mound of dumped grass clippings. Perhaps these people didn’t understand that grass clippings isn’t compost, but rather contains seeds and nutrients that do more harm than good in a conservation estate.
Over the summer the large heaps of grass clippings began to grow and grow. The season of weekly lawn mowing had finished causing the heaps to topple over. The grass and weeds spread further down the slope, just as cyclone season had begun. The slow meandering creek had changed into wild brown force sharing the seeds of summer downstream. The following year, the weeds had multiplied and gradually began to take over the sunlit patch of grass where the swamp wallabies would graze in the late afternoon. The small wattles had slowly become strangled by corky passion vine and were withering away before they could yield flowers for the brush tail possums, birds and insects. I contacted the council hoping they would take an interest. A year later nothing had changed instead the corky passion vine had started curling it’s thin strands around the ironbarks.
Time was not an option. So armed with my gardening clothes, hat and gloves, I joined in with a few other landcare members and decided to whack some weeds before the summer heat returned. We spent 4 hours, pulling up the weeds and non native Mexican Yukka and Brazilian Red hots (Altemanthera) a particular fast spreading plant with hundreds of small white flowers. We disentangled the trees from corky passion vines. A bit of TLC transformed this mass of uncontrollable weeds back to original bush.
So far the weeds haven’t returned and the area is once again providing food for its inhabitants. I feel that a positive change has occurred as no more dumping has occurred. Perhaps the offending gardener had seen our tireless work and saw the 26 garbage bags of weeds and palm leaves being removed. Maybe the gardener began to appreciate this bush as landscape worth valuing. After I arrive home with a bird of paradise plant that I rescued from the green waste bin, I found a tiny graceful tree frog curled up inside the plant’s leaves. I took that as a sign that it would like living in my garden next to a creek.

Audio produced by Gretchen Miller, sound engineering by Judy Rapley. Recorded by Luise Manning.

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