Community garden gets to open

Garden committee member Benson Bannon was overjoyed with the number of people who turned up to the open day. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 259514_04

By Mikayla van Loon

After a long wait, the Lilydale Community Garden group was finally able to host its open day event, to welcome people to the space and show off the fresh produce that has been growing.

Although grey and ominous clouds circled above, the garden club was free of rain as they hosted demonstrations for the local community on Thursday 25 November.

Passersby stopped to say hello and a number of members from other community groups also helped the garden committee officially open the space for use outside Bunnings.

For members of the garden club, getting to share their passion with others, socialising with people who have similar interests and being able to get out after being locked up made the day even better.

Ken Garrett said it was great to be able to host the first event at Bloom on Main Street and to see people interested in what they are doing.

Mr Garrett joined the club because he’d always had an interest in gardening and for him it just felt like a natural fit.

“You learn a lot talking to different people because we all have different interests and we grow different plants,” he said.

“So to talk to other people say, ‘Hey, I’m having a problem with this’ and somebody will say, ‘Yeah, I’ve had that problem. This is what I did about it.’ So it’s an exchange of information but mainly I think it’s just a social thing.”

Apart from a little bit of wind damage to the sweet peas and broad beans the garden beds were in full bloom and looking bright.

Drawing on the colour of the gardens themselves, Helen O’Shannessy took people back in time as she created herb posies with various flowers from her own garden.

“They are called tussie mussie and they used to carry them over in the Victorian era in England because of the plague and smells and the horrible stench around,” she said.

“So the women used to tie a little one of these on their wrists with the fragrance of the herbs to keep the plague and the smells away.”

Although busy demonstrating how to make the posies, Ms O’Shannessy said being able to talk to people as she went was wonderful.

“Getting involved in this is lovely because it brings people out to have a chat, talk about gardening and people that are keen on gardening, we all get together and it’s just so easy, we enjoy each other’s company.”

Wendy Duff also drew a crowd as she showed people how to weave baskets with materials from the garden, like corn husks and grasses.

While her interest lies in gardening, Ms Duff also enjoys using every part of a plant not only to weave but to use as dyes.

“That’s my real interest, plant dyes and I just brought that into the basket weaving,” she said.

For Ms Duff, the decision to join the garden group was just an extension of her passion for gardening.

“I like the idea of there being a garden in Lilydale, I think it’s very nourishing for people. It’s a very good, healthy social activity,” she said.

“In the garden group everyone’s interested in plants and gardening and so although we are a new group and we don’t know one another that well, in a social sense, we are all working together and talking about what we can do with certain plants.”

Ms Duff said during lockdown, she also noticed that the gardens have become a popular spot for people to sit and have a coffee or lunch and she hopes the community will continue to use it in this way.

“It just feels safe and it’s a nice place to be. The fact that it’s a garden and the plants and the flowers, if it was just seats I don’t think it would be as welcoming for people.”