7 February 2020

How gardeners are bringing much-needed life to a colourless landscape

| Elka Wood
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A new initiative to help after the widespread South Coast bushfires aims to introduce colour back into the landscape. Photo: Supplied.

“There’s no colour,” has been a common comment from residents after seeing their burnt properties.

This week’s rain should help introduce a bit of green back into the landscape but until then, Figtree Food Company at Mystery Bay is organising cuttings for fire-affected gardeners to replenish gardens on the South Coast.

“We are taking cuttings to restart gardens and give kids flowers to look at while their lives and their towns rebuild,” Figtree Food Company owner Liz Walton says.

“Many people are not ready to even think about replanting yet, but there are a lot of people who have saved their homes but their gardens are a black mess that is quickly going to be overgrown with weeds as the rains recover them.”

If you’d like to help, you can take cuttings from your garden and pot them up to distribute to families and schools on the south coast.

Tubers such as dahlias, succulents, bulbs or woody herbs are welcome.

“Some of our friends have lost mature orchards that have stood on their land for generations, and whilst it will take a long time for these kinds of producers to return, having a bit of colour is at least something positive,” Liz says.

Liz encourages anyone who has not been affected by the fires to help, particularly in regions like Canberra where there is a strong connection to the coast and lots of gardeners.

“An easy way for gardeners in Canberra and other regions to help out would be to simply divide their dahlias in winter and share them around – people usually have an excess by that stage anyway, and it would mean that by this time next year gardeners have some really beautiful flowers at their table to cheer the longer-term recovery efforts along.”

Sharing plants creates a special bond and is a great way to spread beauty in the world, according to Liz.

“That’s the really beautiful heart-to-heart connection of sharing cuttings and growing material from other people’s gardens, you always remember who gave them to you and think fondly of those connections when you see them flowering. I know I do.”

Dahlia from Cobargo

These dahlias were grown in a Cobargo garden and the tubers lost in the fire. Photo: Supplied.

“Salvias are fast-growing but they’ll get smashed by frost in winter; instead of waiting for that to happen, we can encourage people to take cuttings that we can share around to give people a sense of hope,” Liz says.

“I’m especially thinking about the kids we work with who are doing it tough. If we get some cosmos and sunflower seeds into pots right now we can give them something that will flower in autumn.

“Liz and her community hope to organise some working bees to help people plant their donations in the future but acknowledge that many people need to wait until they have fences built or repaired before they can begin gardening, or have replaced water tanks that were destroyed.

“Workdays up and down the south coast are on the horizon but in the meantime, let’s get sunflower seeds into pots and give them to kids, let’s get the dahlia tubers divided early, let’s get rocket seeds into pots so people have some greenery and something to eat.”

It will be a few months until many homeowners are ready to begin replanting, Liz says.

“This gives us all time to get some really great material started.”

If you’re not on the south coast, Liz asks that you “get striking anyway”, and she will work out how to transport the pots to their future homes.

To get the project off the ground, donations of quality potting mix and soil are needed.

“We have plenty of pots to get started, we just need some soil to fill them up. If you can help with that please get in touch,” Liz says.

Figtree Food Company would like to give special thanks to Daley’s Fruit Trees who have offered a 20 per cent discount to anyone impacted by bushfires over the next year as they re-establish their gardens.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

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Marree Bruce1:46 pm 09 Feb 20

Fabulous idea , I have been potting up frangipani for just this purpose
Do be in touch if these are suitable
I am in Nowra

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