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James St Community Garden - another hard day another blog post!Posted on 13 June 2013 - 12:51pm in Blog
Janet the garden elder. We will miss her
Last weekend, our June working bee in the garden was particularly both a special and sad occasion. Janet has been living on Young Street for over 25 years, is a dearly loved member of the garden, and at the ripe old age of 86 has decided to move into sheltered housing in Heathcote.
Her life has been devoted to working with people to build community and a sense of belonging wherever she has lived, and she is a total inspiration. Whenever I see her on the street or in the cafe, her outlook is always sunny and optimistic.
For over thirty years she taught primary school kids all over Sydney - from Erskineville and Waterloo, Roseberry, Redfern and even up to Berowra. Janet told me she calculated that she had taught "about" 4786 children over her teaching life!
When I asked Janet what community means for her, she replies "People being aware of each other, of who they are and how they are - of having more awareness of each other rather than just saying 'G’day mate', of meeting them person to person, that to me is community."
Following her teaching, through her faith she directly helped people living in and around the inner city and high-rise housing commission areas. Social workers would refer people to Janet who were badly in need of help and support she would visit people, spending time with and just talking to them, taking them to the doctors’ appointments, generally helping them to live their day-to-day lives. As well as this personal connection she also created social groups for people to come together and built community for people who were lonely and on their own.
The rocket is going off in Lydia’s bed right now – so peppery!
Snow peas taste so good picked straight off the plant
Perennial Basil full of purple flowers and honey bees right now
From the community garden she has harvested and cooked amongst other things Kale, Lettuce, Radishes and Carrots. She is also a keen gardener at home and in her small backyard grows many herbs including Sage, Thyme, Coriander, Parsley and Chives.
She is one person living on Young Street who I feel best embodies the example of the word community. Whether she is visiting the local shops, (she knows most shop workers in the Redfern shopping centre by their first names and she has even been known to take plates of scones into the local shopkeepers) having a coffee in Twig, or coming into the shop just to say hello - she brings her optimistic spirit, warmth, energy and gentle personality with her.
Among the many things that I love about Janet is the fact she is a MASSIVE fan of the Sydney Swans, and has followed them for about 45 years (from when they were known as South Melbourne). Up to very recently she attended every match. After they moved to Sydney they practiced at Erskineville oval and after Janet finished teaching, would go and watch them. “I just love them; they are the light side of my life, my recreation".
What a spread, thanks to Twig and young Janet
We had a great farewell morning tea (thanks Twig!) and we unanimously decided to make Janet a life member for the garden. I know she will come back to visit, she has many friends and loved ones on the street and her presence will be sorely missed. Some more images from the fun day:
String from GL to brighten up the Sweet Pea arbor
Our newly crafted arbor for the peas
ATRIUM AND ROOFTOP - WALSH BAYPosted on 20 May 2013 - 10:20pm in Blog
We first helped Robert and Annabelle with their contemporary Walsh Bay townhouse about ten years ago. The slick home is built on four levels, with an internal atrium covering the top 2 floors. The original garden had worked really well but was starting to look tired and needed updating. They came back to see us and asked us to think with fresh eyes and come up with a new scheme.
I really love working in these small urban spaces, as it’s such a challenge to get them right. The inner atrium is seen from all three sides of the house. There is no room for error here – it’s all on show. Larger gardens are more forgiving, can hide the odd plant that may not be working but small space garden design has to be spot on.
I wanted to add texture in almost everything we put in – there are so many hard surfaces to soften and deflect.
On the dominating two storey walls we installed a series of handmade Iron Jalis to add some texture and depth. Banksia integrifolia provided the main focus for the planting, we wanted to use something natural and with a wild feel. We designed a large amoebic planter to house the new tree and placed a smaller planter opposite massed with aspidistra.
Slick pieces of warm sandstone on the floor give direction and definition with Nepean gravel in-between.
Quick Tips for gardening in small urban spaces:
1. The scale has to be right to create impact. Make bold gestures, and avoid lots of small stuff.
2. Use the vertical spaces, often there are walls to grow climbers on or install screens.
3. Use lightweight planters to make the installation easy, and they can move with you
4. Keep it simple – less is definitely more
5. Create interesting compositions of plants that contrast with each other
James Street Reserve Community Garden!Posted on 24 April 2013 - 4:48pm in Blog
Last Saturday saw a good turnout for the monthly working bee in the James Street Reserve Community garden. The rain held off for a while before the showers came – but we soldiered on! (ok, so I left a little early if I’m being really honest)
There was loads going on – Our seed queen Mel (she looks after our seed collection) and Nicola held a soft-tip cutting propagation workshop, and we all gave it a good Aussie go. Education is a large part of the garden, which the head gardener Jon constantly encourages.
Lydia had a great crop of radishes in her bed (she has sooo many). They are a terrific thing to grow – fast and simple. Great for kids to sow from seed and then just watch them come up.
In the big bed there was something a little Easter egg hunt-like about the harvest of sweet potato. The sweet tubers just sit at the top of the soil and the golden skin pops out of the top. Easy to grow from cuttings in a full sun position. Make sure your soil is enriched with well-rotted manure and plant in raised beds or raised mounds to ensure good drainage.
On another bed Tom and Tamara planted some parsley seeds which hopefully will be popping up in the next week or so. I think if I could only plant one thing in a garden it would be flat-leaf Parsley – can’t get enough of it. It’s not fussy, will last a couple of years and just likes a sunny spot and water now and again.
The garden is located at the back of the shop and well worth a visit next time you are in. Feel free to drop in and walk round, the gates are always open.
BACSAC PLANTERS ARRIVEPosted on 24 April 2013 - 11:08am in Blog
We here at Garden Life love a new product. We are fortunate enough to be able to travel the world to source exciting product and are proud to present these to the Sydney community. These products range from the innovative and contemporary to the ancient and historical.
We’re pretty excited to introduce today the inventive BACSAC range of French portable planters, available exclusively in Sydney through Garden Life.
The BACSAC family is the sum of a team of designers and landscapers who worked together to find an alternative solution to gardening in small spaces whilst holding the ability to be transported whilst fully planted, responding to a transient lifestyle. These chic planters can move when you move!
These smart products don’t just have a pretty face however, they are also incredibly smart. Understanding the needs of what a plant requires to thrive is the very premise of the BACSAC. Constructed from a complex blend of materials, the product allows it’s user to plant directly into its body. For a potted plant to thrive, its home must possess a necessary balance of air, potting mix and water, the Bacsac’s composition understands this and assists a plant to prosper to even the meekest of green thumbs! Less stress equals happy plants right?
The strong geotextile material is UV-cured and resistant to temperature extremes, tearing and abrasion meaning that these trendy pieces will probably be around with the cockroaches after the apocalypse. The genius lightweight planters protect the roots of the plant, whilst reducing evaporation of moisture and distribute water by its own volition – smart indeed they are.
Enough about their smarts and back to their pretty face, the Bacsac is available in 4 sizes and 3 strong colours, Ashpalte, Avocado and Zinc. These chic and intuitive planters are suitable for any space, either blending into a scenery or becoming the star of the show.
The BACSAC planters available in store now – a fun alternative to come and check out.
Farmers Markets – French Style!!Posted on 5 February 2013 - 3:19pm in Blog
On my recent travels I stumbled upon the Sunday growers markets in Place de Bastille in Paris. Talk about getting all Frenched up!
As a child I was lucky enough to be taken to Brittany on our annual Summer holidays and have splendid memories of farmers markets before they were a thing of the upwardly mobile city slickers of today. I marvelled at the exotic looking seafood displays, the verdant veggies just plucked from the ground (in particular globe artichokes always remind me of our hols, dipping the leaf into aioli and scraping the moist flesh with my teeth, YES!).
I indulged in a traditional crepe with a big fat pork sausage, some local cheese and egg (my young niece Rosie decided on the nutella/coconut combo).
It was freezing, piles of fresh crunchy snow underfoot in the city – so so pretty. At night we went out in Pigalle, threw snowballs at tourist buses and checked out the Christmas courtyard at the George V Hotel which is always so inspiring. Ahhh how could anyone not like Paris??
Turkish TravelsPosted on 22 January 2013 - 3:45pm in Blog
I'm in Turkey right now, hunting around to put together a collection of planters and gorgeous old pieces.
Meet Yusuf, what an awesome man with a big smile. He and his two brothers, Mehmet and Mustafa have been trading and collecting antiques all their lives, learning the business from their father as children.
Amongst the haul, I have found interesting old olive buckets, whitewashed oedemis urns, 350 year old huge old jar from Greece and some gorgeous old wool and goat hair kilims.
Im also a huge fan of the Hamams in Turkey - there is something about lying on a hot slab of 13th century marble and being scrubbed to within an inch of one's life - no pics of that though!
Garden Life And Cool Hunter At The Cool House!!Posted on 12 December 2012 - 12:57pm in Blog
We have been busy little beavers here at Garden Life.
As well as the usual pre-Christmas ramp up in the store we have set up a pop up shop opened in collaboration with renowned style bloggers The Cool Hunter.
Bill Tikos from TCH approached us to design and set up the balcony of The Cool House - now open in Bondi Beach until this Sunday December 16th.
A celebration of all things bright and beautiful, the glammy temporary store is situated in the Bondi Pacific display penthouse, sitting atop the soon to be demolished Swiss Grand Hotel Bondi.
It’s a perfect opportunity to shop amongst a hand-picked selection of uber cool stuff for Christmas or just be inspired and browse at the contemporary artwork, homewares, accessories and of course a beautiful balcony installation.
It’s a very exposed site and we used a tough, hardy and striking plant palette as well as creating great compositions of our essential lightweight cylinder pots, painted in Murobond Bridge paint for a luxe feel. When juxtaposed against our collection of unique brass, marble and terracotta pieces from Turkey, India and Sri Lanka the results speak for themselves!
For more info check out www.thecoolhunter.com.au
Quick Tips On Gardening In Small SpacesPosted on 27 November 2012 - 1:14pm in Blog
We forgot about this article coming out in this month’s Time Out until a customer brought it in to show us – Richard’s (very quick!) quick tips on gardening in small spaces. If you want more specific advice, come in and see us or have us round for a design consultation. Click on the article for a PDF version.
Green Ups Event At Garden Life!Posted on 14 November 2012 - 12:19pm in Blog
Last Tuesday night we hosted a fab evening for those passionate ‘greenup’ guys.
Green ups is a community based organisation formed to promote growing food in our inner city, and it’s full of truly passionate and inspiring people who love coming together and inspiring others. Members meet the first Tuesday in every month to be inspired, connect with each other and even seed swap!!
Inside the community garden behind the shop, Jon was giving a talk on how our garden works and thrives. (Come and check the thriving space if you haven’t seen it yet, just behind the shop on James St - http://jsrcg.blogspot.com.au/)
We had some celebratory appearances and a Q + A session by veggie growing guru’s Costa Georgiadis (from ABC Gardening Austalia) and everyone’s favourite Indira Naidoo (make sure you check out her latest book The Edible Balcony!)
Richard and Lorraine from Twig Café put on some delicious food.
Check out http://greenups.net/ to see how you can be involved!!