The place with all the trees: then …
“The place with all the trees.” Soon after we moved here three decades ago a local said that about our place.
Back then all the trees on our property were near the house and in the gully close by. (The photos that illustrate this post are of the trees that were here when we took over the place thirty-one years ago.)
Also, to the casual observer, a small plantation of old man pines (still standing) close to our western boundary could easily have been mistaken as part of “the place with all the trees”. Back then, there was not so much as a solitary native tree left in the wake of the invasion by foreign colonisers.
Thirty years on and exotics still greatly outnumber natives. So much so in our early years here that my mum wondered whether we’d planted any natives at all and whether we intended to plant more. Yes, on both counts. But new kids on the block (all ten homesteady acres of it), we went with the tried-and-true old familiars – insurance, we trusted, when living in a sometimes-harsh environment subject to hard frosts in winter and droughts in summer.
An absence of shelterbelts and trees suitable for the long-term supply of high-quality firewood saw us planting lots of gums and poplars that would grow fast and reshoot from the stumps after felling the trees for firewood.
There were some very old fruit trees growing in the gully: a Williams Bon Chretien pear, some cherry plums, a couple of damsons and a Peasgood Nonsuch apple tree. To those I soon added various early, mid and late season stone and pip fruit trees. Bushes in those establishment years were all about providing berries for our food needs, and the shrubs in June’s borders were all introduced species.
When we moved in, we found that the farmer we’d bought the place off had been using our 10 acres, including the area around the house, as a single sheep paddock. Chewed right down during a summer drought, we arrived early autumn to find something akin to scorched earth, bar the large exotic trees that were still hanging in there.
I’m always pleasantly surprised when locals say: “Nice place you’ve got here.” I hope our trees figure when they form their impressions.