An Apron or a Long Paddock
Our modern-day long paddock is no stock route - it’s the streets reimagined as pollinator corridors, wildlife corridors, and pedestrian pathways threading through our cities.
Perspectives change when you look at things from different angles.
Are verges aprons to our houses or corridors in a street? Or viewed from above, are they like networks or veins of our cities?
Car-centric culture where people come and go by private car encourages the view of the verge as an apron in front of a house. When you arrive home, it’s like a welcome mat, or threshold, or when wide enough, an apron. From inside the property, looking out toward the road it’s even more like an apron.
Standing in the middle of a verge garden, it can still feel like your territory and part of the street appeal of your house. But raise your eyes and look along the street; even better walk along the street and approach from different directions. Now you get the pedestrian view of a neighbourhood, and your verge is one of a long line, and the houses are just bystanders to the major action.
This view of a verge garden as part of a corridor could be described as a modern-day "long paddock". It’s not mine, it’s everybody’s, and it connects everybody and everything.
The Australian “long paddock” was the stock routes that threaded around Australia, long strips of land, thought of as less important than the large paddocks at the side. But in times of drought, they were also used to graze stock. And the amount of land added up to be much larger than the individual private paddocks at the side.
Our modern-day, urban, long paddock is no stock route - it’s the streets reimagined as pollinator corridors, wildlife corridors, and pedestrian pathways threading through our cities. My verge is no longer a small patch of land in front of my home, but a part of a massive amount of land that forms corridors throughout the suburbs and city.
The corridor view of the verge garden placing pedestrians as primary users is the key to gaining support from the wider community and councils.
My single verge garden has created 58 square meters of biodiverse habitat with more than 20 species of native plants - within the existing council policy.
If 2 out of 3 of the residents in my council ward planted out 40 sq metres it would create 50 hectares of biodiverse habitat supporting street trees and creating pollinator corridors.
If 2 out of 3 of the residents in the Brisbane council region planted it would create 1000+ hectares of biodiverse habitat - without the need to purchase any land.
Can you do some calculations for your street, suburb, or city? Does it change the way you see your verge?
Will you be part of the two that do, or the one that doesn't?
Will you be the first one in your patch who starts, or the second person who turns it into a trend?
This free article is part of the Understanding the Space section: bite-sized introductions to gardening in these small but wonderfully complex spaces.