There is joy in gardening. This is self evident to anyone that does garden but to an outsider such as myself it was a revelation. Not the showy flowers or the beautiful colours. My realisation came from seeing insects, bugs and geckos start to populate my tiny little patch of native bush.
For the first time I realised the importance of what I was doing. I wasn't just doing it for myself anymore. I was doing it as a connection to the ancient roots of this country, to history long forgotten, to Australian identity and to the belief that everything has a right to exist. It was a powerful moment.
I thought maybe it would linger for a few hours and dissipate, often as powerful emotions often do. Occasionally, very occasionally, these emotions solidify. They calcify around our hearts, forging a new self of sense.
I live in a small community and we are privileged enough to have an Arboretum. A local space, staffed by volunteers and passionate enviros who collect local seed and sell plants that are from the area, otherwise known as local providence.
Being a "blow in" to this town I think it was this connection to my new home that I was looking for. The thing I could to help the local community. To grow back nearly lost local plants. To attract local animals, bugs and all, to our little patch of land.
Of course it is just plants. But in some way it feels much bigger than leaves and roots and bark. It's identity. It is about saying "enough" to ecosystem loss and backing up my words with actions.
I, like others believe in are living in uncertain times. Very uncertain times for our environment. The threats are huge. We all known them. Climate change, habitat loss and degradation. The worlds highest rate of mammal extinction in one of the worlds wealthiest country.
In some ways the understanding bit is the easy bit. Its the what to do next that confounds us.
Like the website planthunter often talks about (sidenote, if you haven't be sure to check it out, it is amazing with some beautiful writing on plants) put your hands in dirt.
Dirt in nails, cuts on arms and sun on skin goes a long way to soothe the soul. Add in local, indigenous plants and we have the collective action we need to stem the tide, find what it means to be Australian and halt horrifying extinction rates.
I've only just started my journey to plant out our 800m2 of weeds and lawn. At times it feels like a war against the weeds, but I'll win just through sheer perseverance. 30m2, two years and I've already noticed a massive difference. I can't even imagine what it will be like in twenty years. Its my little oasis on the moon.
If you are keen plants should be from your local area, ask your local landcare group, nursery or consult your Ecological Vegetation Community (EVC). Don't whack in a bottlebrush or wattle and go "job done". It is lazy and doesn't help our local environment. In some cases it can even make it worse. Instead plant stuff that used to grow there. Find the rare plants that are nearly gone from your area. Plant them. Plants for big birds, little birds, geckos, insects and worms. They deserve it.
So turn over part of your garden to plant local plants. There is huge power in individual actions. Governments won't solve this. They either don't care or are incompetent. This is up to us. Us alone. I won't, no I can't, look back in 20 years and realise I did nothing. Neither should you.