We had a break from the back garden this weekend, camping at Twin Beaches in Marramarra National Park on the beautiful drowned river valley that is the Hawkesbury estuary. The east-facing wooded slope up the back of the camp site was object lesson in how to use the shade-loving local plants I’ve been bringing back into my garden over the last couple of years. Particularly gorgeous was the swathe of prickly rasp fern, tendrils fresh and pink after recent rain, appearing through the grass and the dianella caerulea along the path to the dangerously repellant pit toilet.
I haven’t yet managed to propagate a cissus vine – I am working on some cissus antarctica cuttings pinched from a nicely planted up children’s playground. Since it is a national park and I am slightly neurotic, I would have felt guilty if I had snipped off some propagation material from the vine that wound its way through the trees – a slender young cissus hypoglauca, I believe. Apparently you can cut the stems of the mature vine into sections and drink the sap that drips out like water.
But most impressive was the dense carpet of exceedingly healthy looking warrigal greens growing only a metre or two back from the high tide line. I did end up picking some to stave off the scurvy likely to be induced by too much camping food. However it was a bit of a challenge to find a satisfactory spot for my ad hoc harvest, since the most vibrant and sturdy patches of tetragonia seemed to be in just those places – a couple of steps from the fire hole, around the base of a convenient tree – that a bloke might choose to relieve himself after putting away a couple of long necks. This may be a coincidence of course. But nettles and lime trees seem to favour human urine as a tonic so who knows, maybe New Zealand spinach is the same? I know it’s sterile and Romans used it to wash their togas and all, but I’m not completely sure I’m going to try this particular high-nitrogen fertiliser on the salad greens at home.