Friday, December 23, 2011


In one year's time, at 11.11 UTC on December 21st 2013 some people fear that TEOTWAWKI *will occur - it will mark the end of one of the Mayan cycles.
*The End Of The World As We Know It.
Now for some words from another respected source of wisdom - Buddha

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

This year the solstice finds a garden well-watered but some things not ripening fast because it has been a cool, damp Summer. Parsnips did not read the books and sprouted many months after they were sown, so they have been allowed to go to seed and we will collect that seed and start again. Some of the seed heads made nifty centres for flower posies which sold well at the Farmer's Market.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Disability and gardening

Perhaps we should say "Ability and Gardening" because there are so many facets to gardening and everyone can take part in any of them. Found another source of specialist tools, Connection2Nature, and ordered the tools through them. Should be here soon. As we are having a mini La Ninja we are not having any problems watering. There is almost TOO much water and some things are starting to drown where the water ponds and others are leaping juicily skywards, threatening to collapse under their own weight. Saturday mornings at the garden are being very productive and it is looking lovely. Will add some more photos soon - camera is a bit sick, need a new one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Butterflies and Bushland

Ben Middleton from ABC 1233 did  walk through the rainforest on Ash Island with Rosie Heritage and me.
This is one of Rosie's beautiful watercolours (Copyright Rosie Heritage)

Ben has done us proud as we talked his ear off and he had to whittle it down to this clip.

The book we wrote and illustrated as part of the Caring For Country grant and the plantings done by the Kooragang Volunteers on two hectares of partially revegetated land next to the rainforest walk to Scott's Point from the Old Dairy have been a labour of love for the future. We tell people they will have to come back in two centuries at least to see something like the lush and majestic growth which existed on Ash Island in 1801.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Garden tools for people with disabilities

Have found just one source on the web,, which is in WA. They have all the garden tools plus the add-on handles. Every other place is in the UK or USA. There may be others in Australia but I haven't found them. Our letter of offer from Minister Jenny Macklin has arrived and been returned so the funds will be available for using pretty soon. Mitre 10 Mayfield will look after us, as usual, (thanks guys) and we will have a raised garden bed installed plus we hope to have a purpose designed "pod" which allows people in wheelchairs or on walkers with a seat to sit at the right height and pot and plant without getting covered in soil. Saw a model on-line from a website which was for a group of designers and architects in France. Actually spoke to them, at least to the one person with some English and with some help from my 20-year old French, and tried to find out how much one would cost to import . At that time, three years ago, it was 1300 Euros for one pod. The website has recently been changed and we hope to contact them. We could get a local person to use their design under some kind of licensing arrangement and produce a local version.  With a  decent sized garden umbrella for shade - hey presto!- some gardening for people with "mobility issues" - euphemism for a lot of people who want to garden but have bad backs, weak shoulders and whatever (like a lot of our members).  Small shallow pool going into the centre of the stone circle for bird watering. If "cured" in the way the pot man explained, the clay bowl could become a fire-pit with the addition of a steel plate in the base. Maybe we will just have an oval area with half being a fire pit in another circle of smaller stones.  Hmm, have to think on that one.  Meanwhile - the Kale has and is being a beautiful, purple, frilly-leaved and productive crop. The purple cauilflower on the other hand is a miserable disappointment, pretty purple-tinged leaves and a head the size of a coffee cup. It is being cut out and will become egg-plant instead. The smaller and long-fruited eggplants are very nice, and very decorative.

Kale has been very popular on the stall at the Newcastle Farmers Market.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Just had a phone call from Sharon Grierson's office. We have been successful in getting a Volunteer grant of $1950 which will be used to make our garden more disability friendly. We have only a small area and to be really accessible for  existing and potential members with any level of disability shouldn't be too hard.  
In the meantime, the stones which used to line the roadway have been moved into a circle on the grass. The workmen building the new Commission housing behind the church have been using the water and electricity, so to return the favour they used their machines and made the circle for us. Last Tuesday during Beanstalk trading there was a group of parents standing around the stones chatting and their kids jumping around and over them.

No human children here but a squawking begging magpie chick

Lots of blossom on the citrus trees

Most of the Sweet peas disappear as bunches of flowers for home!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Painting The Wall

Two chummy artists after the day was over, a lively funny pair full of jokes

Empty wall, full paint tins, lots of energy and ideas.

Judy admiring the result

Kwaku and Julia with four of the artists, the others were having a game of "Tip"

Please Mr Occ Health and Safety, don't look now!!
Students from Mayfield East Public School's Thursday Art group painted Aboriginal icons and other symbols on the wall facing the garden. This was a lovely cooperative project between the St Andrews church who hosted it, the gardeners who coordinated it, the Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise which funded it and the students and staff of the school.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hello Blog, it's been a while

Principal Alan and his off-sider worked like troupers and got on the base coat of green at the bottom and blue at the top. The students will paint the eucalypt bushland on it next week after the rain has stopped and the wall has dried out again
Gosh, reading the last couple of posts I sound a bit whiny about being busy - better than being bored!

Email from friend Russell. Here's a link to the website for a group in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he lives. Bet he misses the warmth of an Aussie Winter!!  Aberdeen Voice - Making The People's Voices Heard  . 

In  a rush of blood to the head we put in a Volunteer Grants application for equipment suitable for people with mobility problems or using a wheelchair. Of all the community gardens I've visited, not many have much to offer people with disabilities for ACTIVE participation versus passively enjoying a nice place. Ours is like that but it is very new so we have to work towards change. Each physical challenge has its own specific needs. People talking together using sign languages need a wider path than someone in a wheel chair as they are looking at each others face and hands and must walk side by side. Had a very good day a couple of years ago with  people with low or no vision at the Newcastle City Council's Greening Centre in a propagation and general gardening day. Some had been blind from birth, others had various degrees of vision acquired later in life. The word disability should be used very very seldom. Say,  "This is the question, let's work out the answer" and "disability" disappears. The most important thing to do is ask the person with the "disability" what is the answer. Teeny teeny things can be a barrier and often all that is needed is just an equally teeny teeny bit of forethought and the problem evaporates. A garden which has no barriers is a better garden for everyone.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It's been a while!!

Too busy, too everything, been away then had some other obligations over Easter and the following weekend, so now for a little restful blurbing. We had a couple of weeks in Perth and boy, are we so fortunate to have the rainfall we get. The West Australians were, and still are, fed up with day after day after day after day of  "fine sunny day" weather forecasts and were beginning to plead with TV and radio presenters to stop saying those hated words - please!!  There are Community Gardens in WA but they must be heartbreaking if not impossible to maintain with 10 minutes of watering allowed on two days a week. Didn't get to see any as we were too involved with other places and people.
Last Saturday we planted many many Purple King cabbage seedlings, cauliflower, two kinds of Kale, ranunculus and peas. The neighbour has moved out and is renting his house, so he told us the pumpkins spilling over the fence are ours for the taking - genuine Queensland Blue. New recruit Peter headed home with a nice big one tucked under his arm.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More photos from our Placemaking BBQ

Peter brought a huge tray of buns and cakes

THAT bush!!

The bare brick wall behind the revellers will be painted with a mural by the students of Mayfield East Public School, with financial and other support from the Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise

The passion fruit vine, zinnias, late zucchinis and alyssum do well in this bed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Placemaking and Pancake Day

It's been a while since posting - not a lot happening in a garden finishing it's summer days and being re-done for Autumn/Winter. 
Last night was the gathering for our "Placemaking" grant celebration, and the day our big heavy solid parks and garden style picnic set was delivered. We looked around and decided that, nope, where the old flimsy ones stood was still the best place. Later we realised we had been innately primate and picked a "defensive" position - at the top of a slope with a clear view all around and safe walls behind our backs.  Laughed at ourselves but thought that what makes you feel safe is one factor in what makes a place.  
As it was our first birthday at Church Street, Mardi Gras or Pancake Day, and the BBQ for our Placemaking celebration,  we got together with the church members, some Facebook friends and gardeners . We had a very pleasant late afternoon and evening on the lawns. Visitors strolled around our rather empty and tatty beds - Annie was able to pick beans and there are Golden Nuggets still ripening. Oldest guest was Sue O'Neill who went to Sunday School and taught it in the old now-demolished original church building. She had a picture of  her wedding taken on the steps of the "new" 80 year old building.  Young'uns ran around and some a bit older helped with sausage flipping and cutting the cake.  Carol and Minn and others made pancakes with maple syrup and icecream. There we were stuffing our faces while the Weight Watchers meeting took place inside the hall!
The next big project should probably aim at having outdoor cooking  - AKA the BBQ - put into a permanent position so more evenings like last night can happen on a regular basis. How nice would it be to pick our own lettuces and tomatoes and whatever to cook and serve???
Jenny from Newcastle City Council and charged with looking after the Placemaking grants was unable to come because of a recently caught minor infection in her eyes, much to her regret. Pictures and a report will have to make up for it, another time she can drop in and see us.
Sue is on the right watching Annie light the candles in the photo above this one of her wedding.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Placemaking and Facebook

Friends have been spammed in the nicest possible way with variations of the message

"You are invited to drop in to the garden at 31A Church Street from 5pm onwards until after dusk for a sausage sizzle and maybe pancakes, on March 8th, a Tuesday. It's Pancake Day and we are inviting friends to our Place at 31A Church Street for an initial Placemaking celebration. Just let us know if you are coming so we have enough sausages on the grill - vegetarians catered for too."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pancake Day, Placemaking Celebrations and our Nearly-First-Birthday Party

Tuesday March 8th is the day. The celebrations start at around 5pm and go on until sunset, which is at about 7.20pm. The St Andrew's mob will be making Pancakes as it is Pancake Day, the gardeners will have a Sausage Sizzle (vegetarians catered for) and we will also have a birthday cake. There MAY be some seedlings ready to plant. The hot weather is not a good time to get seeds sprouted and surviving. There will be some Sweet Pea seeds to go in as well as Crimson-Flowered Broad Beans and Climbing Peas. Some music, and maybe Annie can teach us some Circle Dances.
Have bought some Wiltshire Ripple Sweet Peas - they look like the Plum Ripple icecream we used to buy when we lived in Peterborough South Australia. A company called Golden North at Laura in the mid-North of SA made itAlso bought Dwarf Pink and Climbing Blue Sweet Peas.
The fence bordering the garden is your average mix of no-colour Colorbond, another style of metal and a green thing. We have designs on it - literally and are following up a possibility of having it properly graffiti painted with a design of plants trees and so on.
And, there's more. On Friday Hune 3rd there will be a Trivia Night in the St Andrew's hall organised by the Kooragang Volunteers. Starts at 6pm, cheap entry fee, fun night, some nibbles and drinks provided, BYO  your own as well,  decent if not sumptuous prizes. Individuals who don't have a team will soon find a spot in one.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Australia Day

Hot Hot Hot! Some of us joined with the St Andrewans for the BBQ organised by Rev Andrew and had a very non-strenuous day over drinks, laughs chat and food under the gum trees. Watering the garden beds has been a major job this week. Ros attacked the weeds which have grown along the fence, the beds were re-mulched and watering watering watering - emptying the tanks then using the mains water. Annie got the hose going when she arrived for the BBQ yesterday and kept relocating it during the day. Judy finished off during the evening. Pius, Doris and Amara invited themselves to the party. Doris' hair has been plaited into short little "caterpillar" shaped curlies with a bead on the end of each. Looks really lovely. Back to school for the two older ones next week. In the meantime Pius is asking again for their garden to be refreshed - gardens are teaching them patience and doing things in season. Pius's other concern was when would the chocolate be ready to eat. A really good day, simple pleasures with a bunch of lively and interesting people. The 39 Deg heat didn't bother us as it was low humidity, about 40%, unlike the usual 65 - 85%.
St Andrew's will arrange for the making and hanging of a sign to advertise the garden. The sign will be metal and match their current signage. Also we were given a an idea about the fence. One of the visitors had "commissioned" the painting of a fence along their boundary with a design of native flora and fauna. This has discouraged the "irregular out-door artists" who no longer spray meaningless rubbish and rude words. The iron fence next to our garden could disappear under appropriate images and a talk to my Rotary club may help with funds. Local community projects,  which in this case would support a local youth group,  is  the kind of thing we do often. The cost would not be huge - several hundreds of dollars for paint and providing food and drinks.    MMmmhhhh - will follow that up.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just some weeding and watering

Annie Chris and Heidi

Ros found ALL the Farmers Friend and prickles

Judy and Ros

Some of the flowers in Judy's Rockery Mixture

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Picnic bench for the garden
Ordered it today from Access Industries, will take a couple of weeks to make. Some muscle will be needed on the day of delivery to take it off the truck and push it into place.  The set will be painted in the standard colourbond colour of Gull Grey, which is pale and silvery and cool to sit on.   Placemaking celebration/event getting closer.