Sharon’s affinity with the flora of the Australian bush: a brief history.

I have the love of plants running in my veins; my mother loved the plants in her garden (she in turn inherited this love from her mother.)

Every plant seemed to thrive under Mum’s watch – succulents, grevilleas, other natives, ferns and cacti. Although I don’t think she ever tried indoor plants.

I remember as a child having my own small garden bed, filled with plants that are still in fashion now – coleus, snapdragons and so on.

Or maybe they have just come back into fashion; after all we are talking about the late 1960s to early 1970s. I tried indoor plants such as African violets and maidenhair to not much success. Even now I tend to shy away from indoor loving plants as I don’t seem to have the right place or the knack for them to thrive.

During my teen years and early twenties gardening took second place to other interests but once I married and moved into our own house the love of all things green came back with a vengeance.

An herb circle was my pride and joy as were the various plants I started drying after completing a dried flower arranging course at the local TAFE. Bill kindly built me a great work bench complete with board to hand bunches of lavender, roses, herbs and anything else that took my fancy.

Picking an abundance of plums from the back garden meant making jam as well as chutney and eating lots.

When we were expecting our first child we thought about moving from the city to our own bush block.

In 1990 we succeeded in doing this, taking our 4 month old daughter up to Bendigo to stay in the local caravan park while our dream home in the bush was being built.

It was set amongst young eucalyptus saplings and on 5 acres gave us lots to try to do.

Our first thought once we were settled into our home was to get some chooks for eggs.

I think we did consider also raising them for meat but really never had the heart to eat them; they were always pets from the outset.

Goats to eat the grass and weeds that surrounded our home were the next purchase. Boy did we learn a lot about livestock from these two girls. Not only were they fussy eaters but also escape artists, always managing to get through the electric fencing wire Bill had set up.

Bill had always been interested in raising bees and robbing hives for our own delicious honey – this was our next achievement that WAS successful for many years.

Our first house cow was brought home in the back of our Nissan Nomad van.

She was only 3 weeks old and still needed regular bottle feeding, which we managed in between dealing with her health issues of scours ( we thought lots of green grass was good for her, but learnt the hard way that it needed mixing with other dry elements.) Luckily she survived and grew into a lovely house cow that provided us with two calves over the years as well as her own fresh creamy milk.

AS well as slowly becoming hobby farmers rather than city slickers, we welcomed our baby boy to our family.

During this time Bill travelled to Ballarat for three and a half years for work, which was a challenge for us all.

We established a vegetable garden and planted lots more native bushes.

Our orchard was trial and error – more error unfortunately, but it didn’t dampen my love of plants.

I learned to only plant hardy ones that would thrive on our at times boiling hot or freezing cold land. In fact we actually got so good at vegie and herb growing that we ran a small edible pot plant business for a short while.

The bush surrounding us continued to evolve as we did; something one doesn’t necessarily notice while living with its change.

I realized one day, a light bulb moment really, when I wondered why when we first built the chook shed did we add shade cloth to it.  We had been concerned about too much sun getting into the shed. Now, after all the years there were so many trees surrounding it with shade!!? Yes the many saplings had grown and thrived into a lovely bush setting of which our home was nestled.

The birds were in abundance – magpies, noisy miners, butcherbirds, galahs, tawny frogmouths, crested pigeons, eastern rosellas, as well as the migratory cockatoos, corellas, kookaburras and more. As were the Eastern Grey kangaroos and the occasional sighting of an echidna, as well as quite a few hares and rabbits.

Our block had lots of native grass on it, as well as chocolate lilies, sundews, rice flowers and flax lilies. It wasn’t until I began researching the diversity of our local flora that I realized there was just so much more to be found, that our five acres was a mere microcosm of what could be found in this rich goldfields area, depending on where you looked.

Human disturbance has had an impact on flora and fauna of course, but we are lucky that there are still small pockets of such diverse bush beauty in the Loddon Mallee region.

As a plant lover I can’t help but be drawn to searching for these plants, to stop and admire and enjoy their unique beauty.

I have developed my photographic skills so I can capture many of these plants, mainly when in flower because that for me is a real treat and it is also easier for me a non-botanist to find them.

I love finding new indigenous plants to add to my portfolio, which is often a challenge as many only have a short flowering time.

These photographic forms are so inspiring for me to create art with them. Either as a Giclee archival image to be hung onto a wall or as a centrepiece to a miniature 3 d art piece.

Montage creations of these forms are something I love to play with in order to create a new fabric design for a wall hanging or a fashion piece such as a skirt.

Often when I am working on my computer I will stop and look at an image of a local flower and stare and zoom in to see all its dainty parts.

This feeds my soul, I can’t logically explain why other than plants have been part of my life for such a long time. I am often humbled as well as gobsmacked to be able to capture such beauty with my own artistry.

I hope others respond to my work in such a way that they too want to find our native flora.

That they also endeavour to protect the small pockets we have left and perhaps to even buy them from nurseries to plant them in their own gardens, thus spreading this gorgeous floral diversity.

Published by sharongreenaway

Bachelor of Visual Arts (Photography), Latrobe University.

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