As I bussed across the bridge towards the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) yesterday, the Derwent River glittered in the hard sunlight of the early morning. The sky was brilliantly cloudless. My heart was already singing. Then I noticed the Bridgewater Jerry had missed the bridge. In fact it had missed the Derwent River. Confused or lost, it had wandered inland and seemed to have found the Brooker Highway by mistake. Along it poured, in the distance behind the Botanical Gardens, from inland Tasmania towards Storm Bay and the ocean.
Eventually I completed my two bus trip and arrived at the sparkling freshness of the Community Food Garden. A couple of other volunteers were already hard at work spreading sawdust on pathways – a job I was involved with later in the day. But let me not get ahead of the story!
I could see Tino Carnevale and his ABC crew were filming near the entrance to the tool shed so I continued on up to the main entrance and signed in.
When I returned, water was gushing from a hole near the shed and cascading downhill. Had one pipe been cut with a digging spade? Nah – three close together had been sliced through. Reasonably quickly the torrent was turned off with bemused faces all around, leaving a repair job for the future. After that entertainment I had access to the shed, changed into my grubby gardening shoes, grabbed a bin and a weed digging tool and headed off to look for a job.
Coordinator Adam said he had just the job for me: shear off the dead and dying leaves of a large patch of low lying plants (sorry, I have forgotten the name of the plants). Back to the shed. I returned to the patch with secateurs, my go-to tool at home in the absence of a cache of gardening weaponry, and a large pair of two-handled grass shears. ‘Ahh’ said Adam, ‘what you need is the electric shears and they are locked in a storeroom. I’m off to morning tea but will bring them back afterwards.’ I squatted down and started the manual shearing. The action of the shears seemed miraculous. Very very sharp. I found them very fast to use and, with their long blades, they severed lots of plants at each snip. Quite soon I realised that the whole area might be cut before Adam returned. Then more volunteers arrived and wondered which jobs they might help with. So they all played a terrific part in the cutting and then the raking of the dead leaves and the cut foliage, and the removal of bins of vegetative ‘rubbish’ to the compost bins. I imagine Adam expected me to take hours on this job, but the area was clear, except for the bursts of the green leaves of new bulbs rising, on his return.With most of the plants in the Food Garden relatively dormant or growing happily and unaided, and since the weeds are not growing fast at this time of the year, there is not a great deal to do when many volunteers turn up. I wondered whether any new and unexpected jobs might be found for me, or whether I would resolve to find and eliminate fine weeds for the rest of the day.
Tomorrow’s blog post will explain how my volunteering adventure took a new turn.