Monday, November 1, 2010

Not only for the birds and bees... the dragonflies too.

I've just finished taking photographs of a pair of dragonflies, joined in their somewhat acrobatic act of mating, hang from a stalk of reed growing in a small fish pond that I have dug in my backyard. Like an acrobat artist, the male dragonfly clings to the reed and extends its long segmented abdomen to grasp the female just beneath the head with a pair of pincers at the tip. Held in this lovemaking position, the female reaches up to the male until the tip of her own abdomen touches the male's genital organ just behind his thorax. To witness these magnificent dragonflies performing their mating ritual in an urban environment is indeed a rare sight, especially when it's happening in my own backyard. So what’s this got to do with my backyard? It has to do with biodiversity – how different species all manage (or not) to live together in an environment. How many times have I been asked why lemon grass or chili plants will grow in the front garden but not thrive on the backyard? How many times have I been told their neighbour can grow these plants but they can’t? How many times have I been asked about the conditions that exist for a successful harvest for their exotic tropical herbs? Why do they thrive in this area but not that? It very well may be that the front garden has a sunny location that encourages chili to grow but not the other. And a slight variation in pH in the soil might account for the vigour in one plant and the lack of same in another only a few short distance away.
In short, I have been exploring to create biodiversity in my garden since reading about it a couple of years ago. It has not been an easy task, trying to embrace organic and environmentally sound gardening practices such as suffocating the weeds with mulch or manually eradicating them with my hands without entertaining the thoughts of using the time saving and convenient spray-on chemical weed killer, easily available from the store. Having said all that – it strikes me the first step is to embrace a total organic and environmentally sound gardening practices. In which, I hope to enrich the environment in my backyard and create more spaces for my plants to thrive in a small plot of land in suburbia Sydney. Wish me luck.

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