Fast forward. The 'garden' was a patch of dry paddock grass, a lot of freshly spread topsoil, quite a bit of unforgiving clay and not much else.
Some grass grew. But not as much as the weeds. There were times when I despaired, thinking that it was a crazy idea to attempt to transform a paddock on top of a hill into something even remotely welcoming, let alone lush. I planted fruit trees - beautiful specimens that withered in the wind. I mulched around their bases so the roots survived, but the tops were mere sticks.
The photos here show just how bare it was. Some of the pics are from the fires in February 2009 - our fires here were a few days before Black Saturday. Other photos show hail, others still show just how exposed the garden was.
On Cup Day 2008 I won quite a bit of money. I have a very uncomplicated method of betting. Once a year, on the Melbourne Cup, I back horse number 9 and the horse in barrier 9. In 2008 it paid off handsomely when Viewed won at odds of 41/1. With some of the winnings I bought timber to make the vegie garden and plants to fill it. I tried to protect the patch with shade cloth, but the wind eventually tore that asunder too.
What else is in these photos? Mum's mosaic pavers out to the clothesline. The poas planted around the worm farm (with a border of coffee grinds - if they ever do an archaeological dig here the abundance of coffee grinds in the soil will surely confound...), silver and canoe birches in the back corner around the tank, succulents going in to the "Dr Suess" garden on the bank behind the vegies, proteas and leucadendrons in tiny beds out the front, the grass eventually being tamed... I built the planter boxes and sandpit in spring 2009 and filled them with plants on Cup Day that year - despite losing my dosh!