The japonica hedge and other improvements

The first thing in any house I've ever been in is at least to stick in a geranium by the door. I don't know whether I did that there but we certainly made a garden of sorts, straight away. And it wasn't all that easy because it was a very wet winter and there was no government handout of plants until the following autumn so that you had to do something on your own - and that was what started the japonica hedge. As you drove along to the airport you couldn't help seeing a whole series of lovely pencil cypress trees, planted at very large intervals, and round each cypress tree there was a ring of japonica and they probably were still in bloom when we moved into Todd Street in September. And of course japonica suckers, so in the gloaming one evening I went there with a spade and secateurs and I got as many suckers as I could and I planted them all along the dividing line between number two and number four Todd Street. We left Todd Street long before they ever bloomed - they take about three to four years before you see any blooms - but I think that they are a living memorial to our tenancy now.

There were no drives, there were no paths. It was very often just a sea of mud, but by degrees the government put in two strips of concrete along the drive and a couple of garden paths near the back door and to the front porch. And every time they put in an improvement like that they added sixpence or so to the rent, so the rent rose by degrees over the three years we were there, from, I think 37/6 a week to in all two guineas a week but for that we got an electric stove, to supplement the old Bega fuel stove we had in the kitchen, and an electric bath heater and these concrete strips.

You know, the legend was before we ever came to Canberra, that in Canberra you were put into a house in a street and everybody in that street had the same salary... Well, Todd Street certainly gave you the lie to that - absolutely. It was a really good mix.

The late Dymphna Clark, Todd Street, 1950-1953 (oral history interview 1996)

Stories

•  The first to be handed over

•  Block 5 section 36

•  Just the house on a bare suburban block

•  The japonica hedge and other improvements

•  We were glad to get the house

•  'Good luck with the rocks, Bruce!'

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