As a trained horticulturist with trade qualifications and my own nursery business behind me in this interesting life, I have learned over the years how to manage a garden with minimal intervention. IPM – Integrated Pest Management – has been the buzz word for a few years now, yet I have always practiced this form of gardening to ensure a balance of nature occurs in our little patch on this earth.
I have always planted gardens right around Australia over the years we moved a lot due to my husband’s ex military career and beyond. Each garden started off with a bare patch of earth and a few straggly trees and not much else, only to be transformed into a garden that is brimming with bird life and possums. Integrated Pest Management to me means ensuring that the right types of trees and shrubs are planted in order to encourage birds into the garden. Along with plantings, access to water is crucial in this dry continent of ours. Each garden I have grown has always had birdbaths that are topped up every morning by my husband. A good bird population means insect life is kept under control. This circular form of gardening has ensured that each garden I have developed has resulted in few pests and diseases and no use of chemical intervention at all due to the voracious appetites of our greatly appreciated avian friends.
I would like to introduce a new form of Integrated Pest Management – though a different one than the birds. I now use “BIPM” – Bertie’s Integrated Pest Management; a strategy that must surely be a common sight in rural areas around our country.
Bertie is a Merino/Border Leicester cross sheep that has been part of the increasing menagerie of discarded animals in our life. Bertie started off life in the abattoir in Geelong, Victoria. She was fortunate to be rescued two days after being born to her mother who was killed on Monday, the traditional killing day at those premises.
Bertie has grown up around our various dogs and has totally integrated herself into a way of life that is far removed from the dry stubble in the paddock. Honestly, Bertie enjoys the company of dogs and cats more than sheep. Bertie told me the other day, she “doesn’t get” sheep at all. Here is a photograph of Teddy saying “hello” to Bertie. Teddy our Shih Tzu, adores Bertie and will pop down to the gate every day to visit. Priscilla is lurking as this was not long before she lost her sight. You can read up on Priscilla’s story in my blog.
The beauty about Bertie is that she thinks she has become an important element in the Integrated Pest Management system of horticulture. According to Bertie, if she sneaks into the big back garden, she can “tend” to the rampant heritage Mandevilla vine which has quickly taken control of the cottage ramp. This intelligent creature has become an important element in my gardening regime. Welcome to my new gardener’s assistant; one of the best rose pruners I have ever seen. Bertie can strip a rose bush of flowers within two minutes.