Small Trees


Tending 22 March 2011

These are the days gardens were made for! Glorious sunshine following more rain than Sydney has seen for years.

We were joined this morning by Lisa, who rode with us to Tending, carrying in her bike basket two small trees: a mulberry and a cherry guava. Both these elegant woody creatures had emerged unsolicited from Lisa’s compost bin. Lisa’s backyard is rather small – but she has a thing for creche-ing young trees, so she decided to bring them along to join the gang at Tending.

Although our future tenancy at Sydney College of the Arts is by no means guaranteed, I love it when people bring along plants that will take a LONG time to bear fruit, or to grow to their full potential. There’s something joyfully and recklessly optimistic about it.

* * *
Corinne and Lucas

When we arrived, we were greeted by Corinne, who was already hard at work digging a hole. We first met Corinne a few weeks back and had a good chat about theory and philosophy of “connected-ness to land”. This week she was more into the practice of it, getting stuck in with her gorgeous hi-tech spade (you can see it on the right in the photo above). Corinne’s not sure yet what she will plant in her modest plot. She mentioned something about bringing along some cow poo… and she donated to us two bottles of very rich looking worm juice – lovely stuff…

worm tea

* * *

Whenever we arrive at TENDING, we noodle around for a while, seeing what might have changed since last week. We call this “greeting the garden”. This week we were keen to see whether our “pumpkin cages” had worked to thwart the nibbling rats which have recently been visiting. (Our few small and juicy looking watermelons, some of the cucumbers and pumpkins have been nabbed by our rodent pals before we could enjoy them.) So, using chicken wire, we crafted these (not very attractive) suits of armour for the pumpkins which remain:

Tending 22 March 2011

…so far so good… And the hanging pumpkins seem to be out of harm’s way, for now…

Speaking of animal-vegetable interactions… there were a lot of insects in the garden this week. Wasps buzzing around the banana trees; dozens of ladybugs on the pumpkins, and unidentified crawlers like this one:

Tending 22 March 2011

Evidently somebody else had seen the wasps, and worried about them – a shrill note was scrawled on our blackboard: “WASPS IN THE BANANAS”. Diego (our resident, self-appointed wasp expert) declared the wasps to not be a problem (yet). He responded: “GREAT! BIODIVERSITY”. (I imagine he’d revise his benevolent wasp-stance if he got stung by one of them, but there’s no use speculating on future unknowns…)

i love wasps!

* * *

It took a while before we got around to planting Lisa’s small trees. I think she was keen to inhabit the garden for a while, sussing out what might be a good spot – after all, if everything goes according to plan, these guys will stay where they are for decades! She decided to nestle the cherry guava inside Betty’s Jungle. We found a space for it, where it will hopefully be nurtured by the surrounding plants, and eventually grow up to shelter them:


It blended in pretty well…

The mulberry, on the other hand, we decided to plump right in the middle of the lawn – not far from Gilbert’s lemongrass patch. So we cut a nice circle…

digging it

…scalped the lawn…

digging it

…discovered remnant sandstone pieces not far down (and had a chat about whether the roots of the mulberry would be able to work their way through)…

digging it

…dug in some compost and planted the tree…

planting a mulberry

Relaxing after this feat, lying on my back watching the clouds, I had a small moment of marvel, at how an organism can manage to synthesise elements from the air and the soil to produce something as wonderful as wood!

* * *

We had heaps of other visits this week, from students popping in to check whether it’d be ok for them to start their biological artworks in TENDING.

For the record, we say “Yes!” to just about everything, and we don’t even have to be there when you set it up. Just leave us a note on the blackboard. We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

5 thoughts on “Small Trees

  1. Delighted to see Corinne has started her patch – and kindly brought delicious gifts of cow poo and worm tea!

  2. Dear Tending team,
    I left a note on the black board in the garden on Monday but in case you may miss it….I removed my letter-plants from the tending site to make room for other student projects. I gifted one purple S to the garden so if this is a problem please let me know and i’ll move it. Mikala Dwyer will come in and take the blue R in the next few days. Thanks again for allowing me to be part of the Tending project. It is a great idea and I have heard that students and teachers are using it alot more – congradulations on the success, not to mention the healthy lunch additions ;-))
    See you round the art traps.
    xx Sara

  3. hey tending matt and I from third year have planted our tv/computer sculpture, hope you find it an interesting play on natures willpower taking over technology

  4. Good on you Sinead and Matt. Looking forward to see how those passionfruit vines of yours go. Have you had any thoughts about possible toxins from the old televisions and printers etc?
    Lucas from Tending

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