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On Sunday 4th February, twenty APS Yarra Yarra members visited two gardens in Box Hill with an emphasis on the successful use of small areas, which is where modern communities are heading.
The first visit was to a unit development consisting of several private and common areas built in the sixties by the Blessed Sacrament Religious order. Frank O’Dea, now an elderly member of this community developed the gardens using Australian plants over many years. He joined the Maroondah APS and has established a remarkable garden. He maintains a spreadsheet of all the plants, with details of when they were planted, and so on. Of late, Joe Wilson (also a Maroondah APS member) maintains the gardens for him, and we were fortunate Joe could lead the tour.
Some of the impressive plants were: Grevillea georgeana (2M), Correa backhouseana, Pomaderris lanigera, Eremophila mirabilis, E. nivea, Allocasuarina nana, Melaleuca decussata, Spyridium halmaturinum (Kangaroo Island), Leptospermum petersonii, Hibbertia scandens, Pandorea jasminoides (reaching for the heavens), Chorilaena quercifolia, Calothamnus species, Darwinia meeboldii, D. citriodora (2x2m), Marianthus (was Billardiera) bicolor, various acacia, a towering Euc. maculata (25m+) and more. We were amazed at the vigour and variety of the small area plantings, attesting to the good soils around Box Hill, and the vigilant pruning done by Joe Wilson, our knowledgeable guide. Frank also invited us in to admire his 3m plus Wollemi pine growing in a pot on his balcony.
Off to the second garden, a diverse, fenced-in, corner block garden designed by Merele Webb and planted out by the owner, Diane Hedin. Merele outlined to us some of the challenges that the site presented. The small original pond was moved and enlarged and a creek bed and a mini ‘gorge’ were created, both leading to the pond. Peter Smith executed the hard landscaping for the garden.
Granite rocks were used and eventually the large eucalypt was removed and replaced by three Eucalyptus saxatilis (Suggan Buggan mallee) and a Eucalyptus pumila. Diane used lots of local plants and grasses (sourced from CRISP nursery), plants from Chris Fletcher and a couple of Phil Vaughan’s special grevilleas. Two dogs took their toll on the garden early in the piece, but since their departure, the garden has flourished with abundant skink and insect life. Merele emphasized that Diane had achieved a multi-layered effect in just a couple of years, using predominantly tube plants. Afternoon tea was enjoyed at the end of our visit.
Thankyou to both Frank, Joe, Diane, Merele and Peter for allowing us to visit the two gardens, giving of their time, and providing the background history and planning involved at both.
Report by Jenny H. and Jill L.
Images from Ben Eaton, Leanne Stute, and Jill Lulham
Roy and Janet have spent 53 years of service with the Wycliffe organization (involving postings all over the world). In their retirement they have volunteered a considerable amount of their time to establishing and maintaining native gardens around the Wycliffe Centre’s buildings on the 28 acre property. This also includes propagating a large number of the plants.
The Centre is now home to EQUIP Training which was established under the auspices of Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia, and exists to train intercultural workers in the areas of language learning, linguistics, translation, literacy and other language related roles. EQUIP is affiliated with SIL International (Summer Institute of Linguistics), an organisation that specialises in working with languages spoken by the world’s lesser known people groups living in over 50 countries.
The buildings in mud brick were designed by Alistair Knox in the late 1960’s and built by voluntary church groups in the early 1970’s. Half of the 28 acres are paddocks. There is a dam available to help irrigate some of the lawns and garden beds. Water is recycled from the sewerage system into the dam.
APS Yarra Yarra had visited Wycliffe about 4 years ago for a working bee and garden visit. Much has changed since then, many more garden beds and landscaping have taken place since. There were 20 members of our group in attendance.
It was a long walk around the various sections of the property with many beautiful views across paddocks. It was hot sunny weather but we saw lots of beautiful plants doing well, well-mulched garden beds free of weeds, some very recently planted. We often took respite in the shade of the magnificent big eucalypts that abound on the property, and were very impressed by what has been created in the various garden beds by Roy and Janet and some volunteers. Janet was telling me that while they were once at Wycliffe gardening 5 days a week, in more recent times that has come down to 3 days per week. They manage their time, taking off the wet or the very hot days but always putting in the required effort to create beauty and habitat for the people who live there or visit, and also for the wildlife.
Roy and Janet have used compost and gypsum to improve the soil in many of the garden beds. There is a good collection of eremophilas, correas, callistemons, hakeas, banksias, westringias, grevilleas, alyogynes, croweas, etc and some wonderful established eucalypts across the property. There is a constant problem with rabbits, and so a need for rabbit guards around most of the new plantings. There is also a healthy vegetable patch.
Roy also told us about their plans to extend the planting down to the dam to extend the bush corridor for birds and animals. I think we might have to consider having one of our garden visits morph into a Wycliffe working bee again, with plants & labour provided by us.
Thank you Roy and Janet – you are an inspiration to all of us.
Report by Miriam Ford and Jill Lulham
Images: Jill Lulham
A great day organized by Sheila to two very different gardens, in Seymour and Longwood, past Avenal. The weather was warm and sunny and enjoyed by about 25 members, including some new members. It was just over an hour’s drive up the Hume to Seymour, and Longwood was about half an hour further on.
Clarice’s lovely garden in Seymour was in the grounds of a large Victorian house on a normal size house block. Clarice gave us a lovely welcome and description of how the garden evolved with her love of native plants and the local mix of manure that she uses so successfully.
It was a mature mixed garden with paths leading around the house enveloped by mature shrubs and interesting artifacts to find amongst the plants. Small birds flitted around the shrubs above our heads.
Clarice took over the adjacent block and extended her native palate with a border of well-developed hakeas and eucalypts, accessible by winding paths. The inner section was a lovely amalgamation of medium and low native shrubs and perennials, many in flower. This area was also enhanced with interesting relics used as tubs or garden furniture which will be seen in the photographs.
Using Sheila’s tips, we found our way to Longwood and the large property belonging to Val and Frank. The large elevated house and main part of the garden are about 8 years old. We all sat on the balcony eating lunch and marveling at the wonderful long view of the ranges to the north, and the short view looking into the canopy of the trees and down on the garden. It was wonderful watching the honey eaters (including the Scarlet Honeyeaters) flitting through the foliage and visiting the abundant flowers with their nectar supply.
After lunch and Val’s talk, she led us on a walk around the meandering paths amongst the shrubbery which was taller than head height and very healthy. There were many lovely spots to sit and enjoy the birds. Something to find around every bend. So much effort has gone into choice of plants, propagating, soil improvement, planting out section by section and adding water features and gabion walls.
Val says the garden is a work in progress as it’s huge and easier to complete a section before expanding further. In addition there is a lovely covered orchard and veggie patch plus strawberries galore on vertical poles. What a dynamic and energetic couple with a wonderful vision which they have skillfully put into practice.
Report by Joanne Cairns
Images: Jill Lulham