I woke up on Saturday morning to the sounds of howling wind and rain. I though, “Oh man, this is the day we are visiting Sydney gardens!” I was tempted to crawl back under the warm blankets, but to my surprise the day turned out to be very mild, and even cozy.
On Saturday, September 4 2010, few gardeners from Glebe Community Gardens (including myself) visited two fellow Sydney Community Gardens in an effort to research their methods and understand what successes can be applied at our garden.
Angel Street Permaculture Garden and Newtown Community Garden are a mere 10-minute walk away from each other, but they could not be more different (described below) in their approaches to community gardening. Both are successful and productive, and both have lot’s to teach us about community and abundance.
Angel St Permaculture Garden
Address: Corner of Angel St & Harold St, Newtown NSW 2042
Angel St Permaculture Garden feels literally like a ‘garden of eden’. From outside it looks like an old abandoned lot that’s been consumed by vegetation, but when you look closer under the leaves, treasures like this one pop up everywhere!
Have you ever seen a coffee tree? I haven’t, until I came to Sydney. I absolutely adore this flavourful and stimulating drink (my favourite is ‘flat white’!), and the sight of coffee beans growing places me very nearly to reverence.
‘Houseplant graveyard’ is what the guys at Angel St Garden call this area. House plants gone wild! They say, people often bring house plants they no longer want and just leave them at the garden. Over time the fortunate rejects embrace the new fertile environment and return with tripled vigour. On this image you can see a very happy Jade plant embraced tightly by a house variation of ‘wondering jew’.
Another treasure found among the thick foliage of this mid-city jungle. The tree is covered in small balls of tangerines, like Christmas decorations, with numerous blossoms promising a healthy harvest this year.
Newtown Community Garden
Address: Corner of Longdown St & Stephen St, Newtown NSW 2042
In the photo below you can see Sue, Laurie and Gerrard of Glebe Community Gardens paying a visit to Newtown. The Newtown Community Garden has been around for about 4-5 years, and it is well established. The whole property was planned and developed on a budge of under 10K, including the raised beds construction, rain water collection tanks and composting area. Pretty impressive!
Newtown garden is has a feeling of being a very controlled and planned out environment, and it’s incredibly pleasing to our Western eye. The centre of the garden features a circular planter, which was originally constructed to house a tree, but was then converted into a circular garden bed. There are numerous gum trees on the property, and their roots used to invade the fertile garden beds. To solve this issue, the raised beds were lined with black root barrier material (it’s not visible under the mulch), and no root problems since.
This pond is positioned right in the middle of the garden, and it offers sanctuary to the soul in the middle of a busy city. It’s amazingly tidy and peaceful without trying to be so. The pond is made with pond liner tucked under rocks and wood blocks, so the liner is not visible. It is inhabited by various aquatic plants and even frogs, and it provides a water source for passing by birds and other pollinators.
It was a rainy day, but by no means was the floor messy or soggy. The space between the raised beds is covered by a mixture of clay and crushed stone, both of which can be procured quite inexpensively. This floor layer serves two purposes. Firstly, it stops the growth of weeds, and secondly, it keeps the walking space dry and tidy.
“Permaculture is revolution disguised as organic gardening” -Graham Burnett