When I first left England my only experience of gardening and growing things entailed much usage of cold frames, greenhouses and 'pots of stuff' being coaxed along on window sills and in airing cupboards.
Anything growing in the garden usually had its 'season' and once finished would normally be discarded or 'lifted and stored' until it was time for planting out once again.
Gardening in a warm or hot climate is a whole new learning experience for the British gardener!
One of the very first things I very quickly learned about in Oz, was not to let the garden get overgrown, especially if you live, as I do, in a semi-rural area.
The first time I did have to get stuck into the 'undergrowth' that had sprung up in abundance, after a particularly warm and wet period had
coincided with a particularly busy time at work - I was more than aware that here was an ideal environment for snakes to enjoy!!
(although I am told that if you make plenty of noise they will just slither away - I am yet to verify that theory.......not having encountered one yet !!).
But, snakes aside......the joys of gardening in a warm climate far outnumber the drawbacks!
The variety of things that will grow in these conditions is as large as your imagination.
When we first moved into our house the garden was already established (the previous owners having lived in it for the best part of 20 years) and it held many lovely surprises.
Even though the house is perched high up on a hill overlooking the Southern ocean and comes with its own Force 10 gales at times (roof tiles have been known to abscond!!)......we still manage to keep a beautiful display of camelias, hydrangeas, roses and a beautiful Bird of Paradise plant in the front garden. This being achieved by a very thorough planting of bottlebrush bushes that act as a wonderful windshield for these less hardy of plants.
The back garden covers quite a large area and we have some wonderful old fruit trees in this part of the garden....apricot, peach, pear, apple nectarine, passionfruit, cumquat and plum.
There is normally a mad scramble as to who gets to eat the fruit......us, the possums (we have both ringtail and brushtail varieties) or the birds!!.
This year I decided to set up a few more bird feeder tables in the hope that they would enjoy the seed and we could enjoy the fruit........alas to no avail!!
A flock of Crimson Rosella parrots dropped in one evening to feast on the bird tables and followed up their meal of seed with a fresh apricot and plum dessert!!
Whereas in Britain it is all a race against time to get things sown and grown in the planting season, here in Australia things can continue growing the whole year round.
And once plants are finished, its a personal choice of whether to 'lift and store' them or just leave them in the ground.
I tend to leave dahlia's, crysanthemeums, gladioli, fuschias etc in the ground for the winter....although that's probably more on account of laziness than for any other good reason!.
Anything that is of a more delicate nature (ferns, palms, african violets, cyclamen) we tend to grow in 'shadehouses', which are very much like the British 'greenhouse' but instead of the glass panes, ours consists of a shadecloth material which keeps out the heat of the sun and protects the shade loving plants from getting burnt.
I also tend to throw some shadecloth material over the hydrangeas when the temperature gets over 25C as they do wilt very quickly in the hot sun.
But as far as the vegetable garden is concerned........things grow wonderfully well with all that sunshine and provided you keep everything well watered first thing in the morning and last thing at night you can have home grown vege nearly all year round.
We have a large rain water tank in the garden and rain is collected through the winter months and used for the whole of the summers watering.
Our vege plot produces tomato, lettuce, capsicum, cucumber (under shade) beans, broad beans, spinach, onions, parsley and corgettes.
Yes the joys of gardening in Oz are bountiful..........and we don't get moles digging up the lawn either!!