I'm not a gardener, but I had the foresight 50 years ago to befriend a man who is. Thanks to him, I now have a herb garden on my deck, in a box he made of leftover boat timber and the remains of my Broken Hill book case. My contribution? I donned my white gloves, tatty sarong and leopard skin slippers and wielded the paint brush.

We bought most of the herbs at Moruya weekend markets, from one stall root bound and from another one fresh and eager to transplant. Some plants were an offshoot of my new laptop, a gift from my computer advisor's mother. Some were grown from seed. They were nurseried in a new garden in the bush, inspired by a leaky tank and not yet discovered by wallabies or possums: soon an electric fence will take over from midnight and 3am patrols. On New Year's Day my sons wrangled the box onto the deck, a bucket parade transported soil and my share of the plantlets took up residence.

I have a new pastime: watering my plantings, watching them grow, snipping off fresh greens for salads, pasta and sandwiches, and chasing off bower birds and cabbage moths. And I have a new poetry of names: sorrel, sage, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, fenugreek, rocket, radicchio, coriander, basil, tatsoi, tarragon, chives, lemon balm.