Aug 012014
 

IMG_0201 (1024x768)Can what we do in our gardens affect our ecological footprint? You bet it does, and we explore here just how.

Do you know what Australia’s ecological footprint is? It’s certainly bigger than that of India, Egypt, Finland or even the United Kingdom, but not greater than that of Canada or the USA. I’m sure you don’t need a reminder, but just in case, the ecological footprint is a measure of the area of land and water it takes to provide a person or population with the resources it uses. It includes productive land and water, that used for roads, cities and other infrastructure and the ecosytems that are required to deal with waste. So it is a measure of human demand on nature’s capacity – a measure of how the natural environment is affected by human impact.

The worldwide footprint is 1.7 of the earth, based on the most recent calculations by the Global Footprint Network, in 2010. That means that the world is consuming 1.7 times the earth’s capacity. Australia’s was 6.8 with the biggest component coming from grazing. So if the whole world was having the treating the environment in the same way as Australia, we’d need 6.8 earths to support us! Continue reading »

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Aug 012014
 

Cool clear nights, frosty mornings and plenty of rain can only mean one thing, it is August. Travelling around my home town I have already seen the first spring blossom and the jonquils are splashing the dull browns and greys with colour. Here are some top gardening tips for your place in the month of August.

Continue reading »

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Aug 012014
 

ConcreteRachel  Reef writes: Have you ever noticed that somehow, the temperature seems to be lower on the outskirts and in the countryside? Yeah, so have I.  But when you think of it, it absolutely makes sense with all that concrete downtown. Although the thought of more balmy summer days doesn’t seem like such a bad thing (hello, beach!), the decreasing amount of greenery in our cities means that city microclimates are forming and the heat rise could be affecting our health and bank balances – as well as our planet.

Cities are getting bigger, more polluted and less green, while climate change is becoming increasingly unavoidable. As more and more people are choosing the city-living lifestyle, what does this mean for our dear planet Earth? Continue reading »

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Aug 012014
 

Declining concern about water

IMG_0015Water is one of the most valuable commodities. During drought, water supply is at high risk especially in areas that rely heavily on grazing and agriculture and use water for gardens. Yet, despite weather-related risks, water continues to receive little serious regard, except when water restrictions are implemented.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides some interesting insights. In 2007-2008, 89% of Australians thought that water shortages were a concern but their most recent figure in 2011-2012 showed a decline to 64% 1. Continue reading »

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Jul 012014
 

When you look outside this time of year the last thing you feel like doing is standing out in the cold, wet and windy weather, especially if you live in the cooler areas. Don’t let this put you off. There is so much to do in the garden and a lot more to do in the garden shed. Get off the couch and put on the thermals, the beanie, a coat and your gumboots and warm yourself up with some winter garden love.

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Jul 012014
 

bugabodes insect hotels

Supporting Biodiversity?  or just Garden Art?

Ever wondered where all those bugs go in the winter or when it rains? They don’t pack their bags and take a flight to Noosa like some lucky retirees do when the temperature drops below 21 degrees. They seek out a nook or cranny to take five when they need a break, to lay some eggs or find shelter. Given that we have destroyed a lot of their natural habitat, an insect hotel can be just what they need.

The word “insect” conjures up a whole range of images. Children talk to me about lady bugs, butterflies, bees and maybe snails (I haven’t the heart to correct any child under 10 years that snails are not really insects they are molluscs), cute creatures that dot the landscape with bee life cyclebeauty, just like flowers in the garden, fuzzy animals and sunshine. By the time they are adults they might think of flies, stinging wasps and bees, termites, mosquitoes and those annoying critters that might interrupt a perfectly good day or beat us to our home grown vegetables before we get a chance to pick them. But love them or hate them, they are here for a very good reason, and there are billions of them behind the scenes performing tasks that we humans are largely oblivious to. Continue reading »

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Jul 012014
 

whiteArt, or the human creative element, can be an important element of any garden, and can be a contribution to sustainability.

Why have art in a garden?

There are many different reasons to have art in a garden. Art can add some magic and some soul. It can entertain or soothe you and others and help create a place we enjoy being in. It can really change the atmosphere. In your garden, art can also be used to convey an environmental message both for yourself and those who share or visit. But this doesn’t mean you need to forgo enchantment and extra interest.

Art in our gardens can help us express ourselves through creating it and choosing it and through how we display it. Continue reading »

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Jul 012014
 

There is a growing and strong, but quite unscientific ‘feeling’ that the bush must be saved and I believe this feeling should be encouraged to the utmost.”   John Reed,  1971.

The protection of what is left of Australia’s unspoilt native bushland is imperative for the survival of precious and endangered indigenous flora and fauna. Climate change, extreme weather events, bio-invasion by introduced species and inappropriate development are all impacting already stressed and fragile environments. When I was presented with the opportunity to restore a section of the gardens at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in the lower Yarra Valley, I knew I was fulfilling John Reed’s ultimate vision “to preserve and perhaps rehabilitate as much as possible of the Valley.” Continue reading »

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Jun 012014
 

Ok, it’s official, winter is upon us. And while it may seem easier to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book, it is the perfect time to get amongst it in the patch! There is a sense of hibernation for a lot of us but wherever you are in this nation it’s time to don the boots and get to it. Continue reading »

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Jun 012014
 

corianderDo you have brilliant ways of using recycled material in the garden? Or garden material elsewhere?

Are you one of those people who inspects carefully what others have thrown out on their nature strips before hard rubbish collection days for things that can be turned into “treasure”? Have you put them, or your own castoffs, to good use in the garden?

Send us photos of what you have done, along with a description, and we will publish as many contributions as possible in a series of web posts featuring your ideas and achievements.

Photos of your creations will, of course, also appear in our electronic newsletter Cuttings and also on our Facebook page from time to time.

There will be book prizes for the three most innovative. Continue reading »

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