An hour in Ashlee’s Garden

I visited my friend Ashlee to swap beehive boxes. A colleague had picked up a bee swarm in January, which I had donated to Ashlee. For a brief 24 hours I was the custodian of three beehives. Unfortunately, in the hail storms that hit Sydney in late April/May, all the trees had lost their flowers, and her bees which were living day to day ended up dying. So it was time to swap our bee boxes back so we each had our own matching set.

I was keen to see her garden, which was really productive after a years’ worth of hard work.

The (front) yard is north facing, and slightly terraced so they have replaced the grassed area with four garden beds edged with treated pine.

Garden Inspiration

From memory, there was: sage, parsley, thyme, spring onions, chard, broccoli, rocket, fennel, onions and various kinds of lettuce. Wild european honey bees were foraging on the rocket (arugula) that had bolted to seed. Her trick for not weeding? Plant everything in close quarters so that there is no space for weeds to take hold. A trellis (right hand side) had been built out of bamboo and pvc wiring, which supported the broad beans. The proper walk-in green house (top left hand corner) had been a Christmas present, and was much more successful in getting seedlings started than the little plastic greenhouse that you usually find in gardening shops and hardware stores.

There were also ducks and chickens in the backyard, but I forgot to take a photo of them.

There are plans for a pond and an aquaponics system.

She also has native stingless bees which look like little flies. Over winter they haven’t really emerged from their shoebox of a hive, but with the late winter/early spring days warming up over 20 degree C, they have been out and about. Unlike European honey bees which tend to fly a radius of 3km (up to 10km, depending on foraging material), these guys focus on the local – the 100m diet.

I was really impressed, and a little bit jealous. I too could have a garden like this if I only I worked hard at it. I must try harder!

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