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The addictive aspect of being a gardener is taking an area that is ugly and transforming it into something beautiful. All it takes is time, muscle, imagination, patience, vigilance, tenacity, constant maintenance…

The area between the drive and the side of the house is the only place where a bit of cutting into the slope of the land was necessary when the house was built. This left the window at the end of the hall looking out onto the clay cutting and a cobwebby spot where no rain could get because of the eaves. Not attractive.

Like most of the garden, this is an area that has to rely on rainfall alone. The top of the bank has a narrow garden bed where the original owners had planted Westringia (coastal or native rosemary). This is a nice plant if kept in check, but these were straggly and overgrown. No amount of cutting back made them look fresh again. The whole area needed a makeover.

So a couple of years ago, I pulled out the Westringia and planted Alyogyne huegelii (native or blue hibiscus) and some low growing grevilleas in their place. Along the cutting I transferred fishbone ferns from another part of the garden, and at the base planted some grasses, dianella and lomandra, that grow wild around our bush block.

Fishbone fern is a native Australian plant, but is considered a weed. It is hard to remove entirely if you decide you don’t want it anymore, but it has never spread to new areas of my garden without my assistance. I like it. It looks green and lush all year round, grows in dry shade and is a distinct improvement on the clay bank we looked at before.

I have made enough mistakes to finally know that I would rather have an abundance of  healthy, common garden plants than attempt to grow plants with more gardening prestige that are not doing well. Unhappy plants look awful, no matter how desirable they seem in gardening books or at the nursery. So common old fishbone fern is okay with me.

It’s very satisfying to look out the window now at the spreading green. Everything is thriving. The Alyogyne huegelii is thriving to such an extent that it needs hard cutting back twice a year. At this time of year it has a few flowers and lots of buds, so should soon be in full flower, which is when it is quite startling. The purple flowers are so vivid they look almost artificial. It has been such a success that I have planted several more in other parts of the garden. No watering necessary. Bonus.