It was National Tree Day today. National Tree Planting Day was an initiative that started in 1996 to encourage grassroots action to improve the environment. It was started by Olivia Newton John and Planet Arc and apparently since its inception over 2.8 million people have planted over 17 million native trees and shrubs.
I participated in National Tree Planting Day years ago and today I was planning on going to my local event, but instead I decided to stay home and plant away in my own backyard.
A few months ago I told my local Council (Lane Cove Council) that I wanted to participate in the Backyard Habitat program which is a local initiative to encourage local residents to create habitats for native wildlife and encourage the creation and maintenance of biodiversity through planting of native shrubs and trees. It’s a fantastic service that the Council offers, which involves someone from the Bushland Department coming to your home and undertaking an evaluation of the conditions on your property and advising you on the best plants to plant and where. They even provide all the plants and the whole thing is free of charge.
One of the challenges I faced coming back to my house was my backyard – thanks to my mother, it wasn’t as huge a mess as it probably was when the tenants left, but I have spent many a day in there weeding and planting. My initial enthusiasm had me planting pretty things and usually not native. I decided to re-dress this by participating in the Backyard Habitat program and honestly I couldn’t say no to free plants!
So this morning I dragged my husband (who tells me he doesn’t like gardening) and my son, who is way too into cars to want to leave them. We were supposed to go to our local event, but as my plants were delivered a few weeks ago and had not been planted, I decided to celebrate National Tree Planting day by greening my own backyard. For our efforts we ended up planting about 75 locally indigenous shrubs, grasses and groundcovers from 13 different species. I look forward to watching their growth and hopefully attracting native birds and insects to our backyard, although I have to say I don’t want too many more possums, as we have plenty of those already!
One always feels invigorated after spending some time in nature – my son enjoyed planting some plants and I look forward to pointing out the ones he planted, as they grow and even my husband told me over dinner that he enjoyed spending some time in the garden. I think to most of the family the garden is ‘mummy’s area’ and no one dares come out – but hopefully our National Tree Planting Day can help me instill a sense of pride and wonder of the space that surrounds the house (ie the garden) to the rest of my family.
For anyone that wants to help native insect, bees or birds or just wants to plant something that is likely to grow without too much maintenance, then contact your local Council to find out what is native to the area. Most probably the Council will also have a native plants nursery where you can buy locally indigenous plants (even better than going native is to maintain the genetic diversity of plants by planting locally indigenous species). If you want to get even more involved, you can also contact your local Council about becoming a Bushcare Volunteer.
If you missed National Tree Planting Day today, you can re-create it at home any day. Enjoy and happy planting!