Adventures in Gardening

This category contains 5 posts

Death stalks the garden in a penguin tee

The first kill is the hardest. It gets easier after that. Since my last filing from the Baxter backyard the itchy cow tree has been terminated with extreme prejudice.

When we raised our flag at Castle Baxter and surveyed the traditional quarter-acre block, we counted a heck of a lot of trees – 57, including the various self-sprouted saplings.

My favourite grew in a corner of the lawn and attracted gaudy jewel bugs, so that before it flowered we knew it was some kind of hibiscus. The flowers when they came, in their hundreds, were pretty pink pinwheels, exquisite in their delicacy and I was utterly smitten.

Then began the nightmare.

Those flowers turned into huge pods, each one filled with thousands of tiny glass-like fibres which laid a cunning carpet of agony across the lawn, over the deck and – on the lightest of breezes – into the house.

It had to go.  Continue reading


In to the deep midwinter with a backyard banana or two

Dad always said those freezing Grenfell winters convinced him early on that the best place to live was within sight of a banana tree. So it was pretty special to finally put in two banana plants – they’re not really trees – in sight of the back deck.

After two years as the overwhelmed owner of a traditional Aussie backyard here in Ipswich – west but not too far west of Brisbane in the south east corner of sunny Queensland – the results of my modest plantings to date have boosted the confidence of Your Gardening Girl Reporter and given me ideas…

Continue reading

Death in paradise: it’s murder in the veggie patch

We haven't been the only threat in the garden this summer. This guy was making quick work of our young grapevine before justice of a swift and terrible kind was served.

We haven’t been the only threat in the garden this summer. This guy was making quick work of our young grapevine before justice of a swift and terrible kind was served. Picture courtesy Lady Severine Sinful

I regret to inform you, Gentle Reader, that there’s been a killing done. It happened one evening, shortly after my previous filing from a Traditional Aussie Backyard, in which Your Girl Reporter crowed about the array of vegetables we had crammed into our brand new raised beds.

There was no malice aforethought, just incompetence and the over-zealous application of a seaweed emulsion without the necessary dilution.

Sally’s Gardening Tip: Work out how to use an applicator before you start spraying things on your plants. Continue reading

Listen, can you hear the garden grow ?

It’s September and here in Ipswich – west, but not too far west – of Brisbane, Australia – you can practically hear things growing. Winter retreated some weeks ago after a half-hearted assault and, to all intents and purposes, spring has been with us for some time already, long before its official start date on the first of the month.

Regular viewers will know that I’m a city girl and a stranger to the traditional Aussie backyard. I’m also these days the custodian of a quarter acre block laid out as a sub-tropical paradise. Join me for my Adventures in Gardening, an occasional series in which I figure out how to keep it that way.

Continue reading

Bird in Paradise all green fingers and thumbs

I’m a city girl as you know and a stranger to the traditional Aussie backyard. All that changed 12 months ago when the current Mr Baxter and I did the grown up thing and bought a house. That would have been exciting enough but this one came attached to a quarter acre block covered with 57 – count ‘em, 57 – trees.

I’ve spent a year mostly just watching things grow and wondering whether to intervene and, if so, when and how drastically. It’s time to actually get to grips with owning my first ever big garden. I have no idea what I’m doing, which seems a good enough reason to introduce Sally’s Adventures in Gardening, an occasional series in which Your Girl Reporter tries her hand at a new skill. What could go wrong? Continue reading


Your Girl Reporter is now filing as Maria Spackman at www.mariaspackman.com Same great content, whole new website. I’m leaving Sally Baxter up, as I can’t quite bring myself to let her go completely, but it’s time to honour my family name – and use it. Hope you’ll join me for the Further Adventures of a Girl Reporter. It’ll be fun.