Greta Gillies visits the garden of Marc and Liz Hudson, from Heidelberg Heights.
Marc and Liz moved to Heidelberg Heights in the early 90s. Marc is semi-retired and keeps the garden under some sort of control as well as working a couple of shifts at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital as a Patient Services Assistant (PSA). Liz works fulltime at Austin Repatriation in admin (specifically older people). They both love the opportunity that the Repatriation Hospital gives to interact with the older members of our community. They also volunteer (run a cooking program) with Heidelberg Housing, which is a disabled housing initiative, and are involved with both Rough Trade 3081 and a support network for people returning from volunteer work in closed countries.
On visiting, you immediately recognise the garden as a place of refuge with many seating areas scattered around the garden, a space that does a loop around the house. This isn’t solely a food garden and non-edible flowering plants weave wonderfully in amongst the edible. This is a garden many years in the making with so many pockets of interest within it.
When did this space become a food garden?
We have always tried to grow food here – since we moved in – with varying degrees of success. We have become a bit more focussed in the last 4-5 years since we got water tanks!
What’s your vision for this garden?
A place of refuge – it provides a nourishing and therapeutic haven for many of our visitors. The garden has lots of sensory/smelly plants, lots of spots to sit (on your own or with one another), and has things to graze on like raspberries and cherry tomatoes.
How does gardening weave into your life?
It’s integral – we walk around the garden every evening and see what’s happened since yesterday (makes it sound huge, but really we are only a small garden area).
What prompted you to start food gardening?
We didn’t really think about it – that’s what gardens do – but we like to mix in flowers as well.
Did you have any interactions with gardens growing up?
Liz grew up on a dairy and sheep farm in far north east Tasmania – there was always a vegetable garden and they ate whatever it produced. She remembers when her Dad first planted flowers – Mum had been unwell for some months and he planted petunias – they went crazy (red basalt soil & lots of dairy poo). Marc grew up in Adelaide knowing the benefits of shade plants like grapevines and wisterias.
How has gardening and your garden benefited you and your community?
We have stuff to share – lots of people in our street are refugees and fresh vegetables is a good way to meet.
What’s your favourite part of your food garden?
What’s your most unusual food plant?
We used to have a babaco – then a storm blew it over – now it is probably the hops.
What’s your favourite food plant and why?
Raspberries – they are such a good return on investment (of water). Also tomatoes.
|A good crop of raspberries this year
|Visitors love the tomatoes.
Do you have a gardening tip to share with readers?
We have 3!
- With our worm farms: when the heat is extreme heat, try and put them straight on the ground – the worms will go down into the earth to escape the heat and come back up for food. If you can’t do that, put ice on the top box.
- Try seeds: watching something pop out of the ground 3 or 4 days after you planted it is awesome – we reckon seeds made us garden addicts.
- If yours is a brand new garden after a house is built: cover it with cardboard / paper & straw and plant potatoes – we turned a solid clay block into friable soil (with worms) in 18 months (and we mean solid clay).
|A very productive worm farm system
|This composting system helps build good soil