We lived smack bang in the middle of the arid and stony Australian Outback. Dust and withered shrub for as far as the eye could see. It was aesthetically pleasing if you were particularly fond of shades of brown. And that’s exactly why Mum resolutely carved out a garden around the sprawling homestead. Green lawns, flower beds. Petunias featured heavily. As did bulbs.
Like many Australians with ties back to the Motherland I grew up in a family hellbent on reclaiming some of that typically Australian land with a very British pursuit. The lush garden. The incongruous, beautiful garden.
I’ve not much of a green thumb myself. The potted plant is my natural enemy (alongside Meccano sets). I once disturbed a nest of ants while pottering in a flower bed. I was once entrusted with the care of a little fern. And then subsequently lost my garden shears licence because it didn’t make it.
But I love gardens. There’s nothing quite like a hot summer afternoon sprawled under the shade of a tree watching the family plucking out weeds and keeping the chickens out of the seedlings with a series of increasingly desperate attempts at home carpentry.
To this day, whenever I return home, mum proudly shows off her latest ‘garden renovations’ which have become increasingly haphazard, even if they do still produce the results. She’s constantly reading magazines and watching garden-themed shows for inspiration. Next stop: a gazebo surrounded by flowering seasonals. But in the meantime Mum will have to wage a long-running shock and awe campaign on my brother and myself to make sure we’re around to assemble the thing.
If mum had the time, she’d be a guerrilla gardener herself. Dressing in black in the dead of night and converting public places to flower gardens and shrubbery reserves and planting evergreen trees on median strips like a boss. She’d shun any credit for her bold, maverick-like manoeuvrings because she, like me, believes the reward is seeing more people enjoy a garden like she has all these years.
They had then and do now have a calming effect on me. Everyone deserves a garden. A little place to hang out with the plants and talk to yourself (if you must). It’s built-in.
It’s one of the reasons I was so genuinely pleased when I saw the MeadowLea initiative to build Plant Seed gardens in children’s hospitals around the country if we readers make the Plant Seed Promise. That’s easy. They opened the first yesterday in New South Wales at St George Hospital and we can help four more get their own garden soon. I’m all for kids enjoying the same therapeutic benefits of the garden that I was lucky enough to enjoy growing up.
And the best part is, the petunias are absolutely optional.
MeadowLea is asking readers to make the Plant Seed Promise and make a healthier switch for themselves and their families. Families who make the Plant Seed Promise are encouraged to swap butter for MeadowLea on their daily toast and sandwiches to save each family member over 2.5kg of saturated fat a year* , and in doing so they will be helping MeadowLea build Plant Seed gardens in children’s hospitals across Australia. When MeadowLea reaches 2,000 Plant Seed Promises, they will build a Plant Seed garden at four more children’s hospitals, including; the Austin Hospital (VIC), Wesley Hospital (QLD), the Women and Children’s Hospital (SA) and the Princess Margaret Hospital (WA).
* based on average usage of 20g of butter daily
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Did you grow up with a garden? Do you enjoy gardening now?