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STURT'S DESERT PEA In the time that I have spent visiting Gardening web sites and Home Pages on the net I have found those that give some details and pictures of real gardens have captured my interest the most.

It's wonderful to find information about plant species, botanical names, growing conditions and help with problem plants but, when all said and done, I believe we gardeners are most interested in each other and what the other guy is doing in his patch, whether that be over the neighbouring fence or half a world away.

In fact, if there was contact made with some strange, alien civilization in some far off solar system, the first question on every gardener's mind the world over might possibly be "What do they feed their lemons?" Or some such, vitally important question. The problems of coping with an alien weed invasion could be dealt with much later.

With that in mind, I have included a few facts about my own humble patch of suburbia here in Melbourne in the hope that it will be of interest to other hobby gardeners, much like myself, who have to replace expertise and unlimited funds with enthusiasm, ingenuity and a willingness to try anything, at least once.

UMBRELLA TREE Aussie Gardeners, as gardeners the world over, come in all species and varieties. From the laid back, hardy native groundcover that sprawls about in relaxed untidiness, blooming in neglectful profusion throughout the seasons. To the dainty, delicately perfumed, exotic immigrant that turns gravely sickly and drops it's petals in fright when left more than 24 hours unattended.

Most of us, fortunately, range somewhere between these extremes. Sturdy in most environments and soil types but taken to peculiar growth habits and the inevitable diebacks brought on by time and poor management.

We plod on happily year after year, enjoying the changing seasons. Complaining of the vagaries of El Nino style weather patterns, the price of seedlings and the fecundity of slugs and snails. Enjoyment is the sight of the flowering native wattles heralding the spring. Joy is the swelling bud of a cymbidium orchid bursting into colour.

We are masters of our own, tiny fiefdoms but, as wise tyrants, realise we do not have absolute control of all that thrives and dies there.