I was delighted that the blue clear skies, which were once typical of every Thursday when volunteering in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens(RTBG), returned for us last Thursday. A sparkling sensational day to look at and live through.
Many people were visiting including travellers who had escaped lockdowns on mainland states. I chatted with many amiably as they remembered their own gardens back home and queried some of what we were growing in the Food Garden. The persistent tranquil nature of the gardens, the beauty of the plants at whatever their stage of growth, and the singing magpie birds embraces, enthrals and enlightens everyone, whatever age. A visit to RTBG is always memorable in a gentle quiet way.
Anything that is growing in these months is doing so in tiny increments. And so it is with weeds in the vegetable garden beds and the fruit orchard. Thankfully. But it always behoves us to remove the tiniest of blades before they burst forth under enduring days of winter sun.
When I arrived, narrow furrows were being drawn across the vacant patches next to the garlic we had planted a few weeks ago. Into these, the finest strands of onion seedlings were being planted about 6cm apart by two volunteers.
I set to work painstakingly removing the tiniest of weeds beginning to cover the adjacent garlic patches. There were four patches and I took all day to complete three, with a hardworking bee of others completing the weeding of the fourth garlic path.
In October 2019, Coordinator Adam and fellow volunteers commenced creating a new outdoor area, which eventually included establishing a flat lawn area, a curved gabion wall, and adding a variety of plants (refer to past blog posts which include the ones here and here). A couple of fellow volunteers weeded around those plants.
For the shape of the plant, the colour of the leaves and the nature of its flowering, I am rather in love with the Marlborough Rock Daisy from New Zealand in that garden bed behind the gabion wall (Pachystegia rufa).
Tony collected various vegetable leaves for donating to Second Bite for distribution to disadvantaged people.
During the morning Adam had been helping in the Japanese Garden because the ponds had been emptied. He was digging out the silt cover that was building up, and cleaning the pump etc. After lunch we all walked over to see what was being done. I had only seen the ponds and waterfalls when full and operational and I found the scale changed dramatically without the fill of water.
I appreciated the work required to design, install and establish this water system with huge rocks – so many normally under water, and many growing aged lichens to add authenticity. The construction, to look natural, was a major engineering feat. When the ponds are filled and the water flows this is a place of calm and beauty, with all the characteristics of Japanese Gardens. A sensual delight!
Mid-afternoon as I walked to the bus stop, the sun was lowering but sparkling across the Derwent River most attractively. The view gave me a spring in my step: after a day of work, conversations, and the best of fresh air I felt I could achieve anything. That’s the power of volunteering and that is also the power of soil and plants.