One of the things Farmer Bob and I would like to do is revegetate parts of the new farm both for habitat and for shade for our future stock. Knowing that we are in a Bushfire Prone zone, we need to be careful and keep dense vegetation well and truly away from the house. But in the fields and in the valley, there is opportunity. Currently, the valley seems to be home to some willow, Ash and other scrubby trees (I will investigate species when we move in).
We decided that, on our farm, we will go with a mixture of native, indigenous and exotic species that are waterwise (low or no artificial or human provided water) and are fit for purpose to what we need them to do. For example, most fruit trees have higher needs for water than native trees – a negative – but produce fruit – a positive.
So, what’s the difference between a native plant and an indigenous plant?According to the Australian Native Plants Society (ANPS),
An Australian native plant is any plant indigenous to Australia as included in the Australian Plant Census except those identified therin as naturalised. An Australian native plant also includes any hybrid or cultivar in which all parents are Australian native plants.
An indigenous plant then, is one that is native to or originates in a specific place. So, a native plant that originated in a particular place is indigenous to that area. In many cases, indigenous plants are best suited to the soil, sun, water and other environmental qualities of an area.
So, what to plant? For native and indigenous plants there are two places to start – a local native nursery and the Department of Environment, Land and Water Planning’s Biodiversity Interactive Mapper. Basically, it’s a map (only for Victoria) that allows the user to drill down to a specific area and identify all sorts of information about a particular place. In the Map Layers section I selected ‘Ecological Vegetation Classes’ (EVCs) then ticked the box for 1750 EVCs. This layer shows you the ecosystems that botanists believe were active before 1750. Why 1750? That’s when there was an influx of immigration from overseas. These immigrants brought plants and animals that changed the existing conditions.
Here are mine:
The colours correspond to Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) which can be identified by clicking the Legend tab in the website. The EVC itself is a list of trees and understory (ground or human level vegetation) that are indigenous to an area. The light green is EVC 55: Plains Grassy Woodland. They usually have two pages, the first is below. It tells me that I have a mostly Eucalyptus based forest with patches of trees (noted in the % cover section which tells you how much of the area is covered by this type of plant) with a dense bushy ground plane of large and medium herbs (plants) and small to medium tufted graminoid (tufting grasses). Brilliant! That I can work with. I just have to find a nursery that sells them…
Because I’m not a purist, I don’t intend to populate the farm with only native or indigenous plants and trees. I won’t plant weedy species, that’s a given, but exotic or introduced plants have their place.
I will most likely keep the existing ‘English Cottage Style’ garden near the house and intersperse it with deciduous trees (loose their leaves through winter) to provide summer shade and let the sun warm the house in winter. Fruit trees will also feature but I will need to find a way to offset their high need for water in a more sustainable way than using potable or bore/well water. But that’s a task for another day!