Grow for Life
Life among plants was implicit from childhood. My mother fed us from her plots despite moving one to three years due to my father’s occupation. Plant names, seasonal rainfall and soil type were regular dialogue. Regularly my father buried the kitchen peelings in fallow soil. This created the nutrients with additional blood and bone, and lime for the next crops. It was the wallpaper of my life. Later when I visited, my mother would proudly take me on a descriptive tour around her patch.
Independently I grew veggies myself – persuading my landlady to share her plot and breaking ground in our forested acreage. Creating a garden was inevitable.
On retiring, I created a garden without a lawn. I became self-taught by research, diligently keeping a diary, and applying ideas from expert presenters. I treated my garden as a project, and my knowledge and increasing skills depended on its success.
I was influential in organising events to promote home gardening, and became involved in exhibiting my fruit, vegetables, and flowers at Garden Shows. I progressed to Show Stewarding and Show Manager. After completing a mentoring program, I became an accredited Judge with the Australian Horticultural Judges Society. The judging seasons are Autumn and Spring when most weekends find me with a Show Schedule and the Judge’s Manual under my arm. I enjoy walking into a Horticultural Show to admire the beautiful blooms, quirky potted plantings and edible produce that a home gardener has produced, despite the challenges of soil and climate. Such a visual feast of inspiration.
In the wet gloom last winter, I created a new Horticultural Judge’s training program. Pleased to draw on my career in Education and Training, I created the modules and learning tasks for this program. The learning is mentor-assisted and is suitable for trainee Judges anywhere in Australia, especially where a trainee is located rurally.
Covid lockdown in Victoria provided an opportunity to pursue two levels of competency-based online training in Floral Design. It was something that I’d tinkered with previously but didn’t understand the theory. Currently I combine my training skills to facilitate floral arrangement workshops. I keep stimulated with memberships to Floral Art Groups, creating designs by request, and learning new techniques.
My recent downsized living was challenged by a back and front yard of fake grass. After wielding a box cutter for tip loads of debris, sharing barrow loads of underlying river sand with new neighbours, I could then develop the compacted clay soil for planting. My plant selection aimed to provide for floral design. Additionally, I cultivate a large vegetable ModBOX to supplement our groceries. The home-grown figs are currently delicious and the young apricot tree is on notice for next season.
It’s a stimulating and satisfying lifestyle. By continually improving my knowledge and skills, I’m rewarded to enjoy what a garden can offer in so many ways.