Gardens Connect Us

I am totally biased but I genuinely believe that gardens and gardening hold the solution to many of the problems we face in our own lives and in the world around us. As a gardening commentator, I am always thinking about how I can get this message across to people, especially those that wouldn’t consider themselves gardeners. Often, I feel like I am preaching to the choir, so to speak, as those who read my gardening columns, listen to my gardening talkback on radio, or watch Gardening Australia on TV are likely to be gardeners, or at least aspiring to be so. So how can I best communicate to non gardeners? 

Over the years I have covered many other theme such as ‘Backyards for kids’ promoting Nature Play for kids; ‘Habitat’ demonstrating how every backyard can become a biodiversity hot spot; ‘Buzz’ showing how to create a bee friendly garden; ‘Balance’ showing how to balance the different elements of a garden from hard and soft landscaping to exotic and native plants, produce and ornamentals, and more; and ‘Grow Up’ in 2022 was in response to urban infill creating smaller outdoor spaces, showing that we can green up and cool down no matter what the size of space. 

I am currently working on the design and planning my 2024 feature garden ‘Gardens Connect Us’ and my aim is to demonstrate in the physical form of a home garden, all the things that gardens connect us to. This display will be a small backyard comprised of a dreamy garden shed, a vine covered pergola over an entertaining area, raised vegie gardens, fruit trees and a herb garden, and a fun chook house and run. There will be elements showing sustainable gardening practices such as compost bins and a worm farm, and the use of recycled materials. It will also feature a limited area of lawn to help cool the area down and for kids and pets to play on, however in reality in many backyards today, this is optional due to limited space. 

It’s a simple, stylized backyard which will hopefully show that: 

Gardens Connect Us to Nature, to the birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures that live in urban areas, as well as the beauty of all the plants and flowers that encourage them. Continuing on with the theme from the last few years of backyards as biodiversity hotspots, this feature garden will show that at a time when the biggest threat to urban wildlife is a lack of habitat, every backyard can make a difference. 

butterfly

Gardens Connect Us to our own personal physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Whether it’s using gardening as exercise or an opportunity for relaxation and mindfulness, our backyards can be a sanctuary from our fast-paced, crazy, stressful lives. They can also be play spaces for kids and pets.

kids at open garden

Gardens Connect Us to our community. At a time when many people don’t know their neighbours, gardens can help us build relationships with those around us and in our community. Whether through being involved in a community garden, a ‘Friends of’ environmental group, gardening out the front of your home on a nature strip, or just simply sharing excess produce with your neighbours, gardens and gardening helps build strong, healthy, connected, resilient communities. Gardens and gardening connects us, across all age, gender, socioeconomic and cultural divides. How to demonstrate this in a garden display will be tricky, but it might just be have to be a lovely, relaxed space for entertaining with family and friends.

Gardens Connect Us to a cooler, greener wilder and more liveable environment. With concern about climate change, the Urban Heat Island effect, unsustainable development, and with heat being the number one natural killer of Australians, making sure your garden is cool and green, will also make it more liveable. 

Gardens Connect Us to food security. Growing at least part of our own vegies, herbs and fruits growing food, not only gives you access to fresh, delicious, nutrient dense, seasonal organic produce, it teaches us about food security. While it’s probably not possible to grow all of our fresh fruit and vegetable needs, choosing where we access what we can’t grow, through produce swaps or local farmers markets connects us to our local food network. 

Gardens Connect Us to this earth which grounds us, feeds and supports us………….. and to the first Nations custodians who came before us, who knew that everything in this garden of Nature is connected.

So come the Saturday 31st August through to Sunday 8th September, if you are heading to the Royal Adelaide Show, be sure to check out my display in the northern end of the Goyder Pavilion and see how well I do at getting the message across, that Gardens Connect Us, and let’s help others connect …. or reconnect …… with gardening. 

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