Article produced by Leah Weakley, B4C Nursery Manager (volunteer).
Sean commenced as a volunteer at the B4C Sustainability Centre (Carindale) in January 2016. Initially he was involved in tending the many gardens at the centre but, after a while, he joined other keen volunteers and gravitated towards tending the Edible and Medicinal Garden.
The garden had been established just a few years before after a previous volunteer, Tong, had expressed an interest in herbal medicine and edible plants. Following research it was established that some 25% of the plants listed for inclusion in the nursery’s desirable list of plant species were edible, medicinal or edible and medicinal.
A plan was drawn up and work commenced on clearing the weed species and determining the best layout for an interactive garden.
Although the area was smothered with weeds, previous pioneering volunteers had planted some excellent foundation plants in the approximately 80 square metre area. However, the tallest tree would be the Elaeocarpus that was possibly planted before B4C moved to the site. It produces masses of flowers and fruit-attracting birds and bats as they forage for food. It is a major plant of the area and, because of its canopy, provides protection to the other plants.
Quite a few volunteers (too numerous to mention individually) became involved in preparing and planting out the area as a new garden with a pathway meandering through, creating mini vistas. Because of the fall of the land, two separate sets of steps were added to create a circuit through the garden.
Sean worked tirelessly for several days using reclaimed rocks that were fashioned into a stepped gentle change of height at one end. Volunteers then worked together to design and build timber railway sleepers that were positioned and backfilled with gravel at the opposite end to complete the circuit.
A timber bench donated and dedicated to the memory of Katie Paterson (nee Schulte) forms a suitable spot from which visitors can sit in a cool shady space and observe birds as they dart from branch to branch feeding on nectar-rich flowers and fruits. Sean also fashioned a perch structure beside a donated birdbath so that birds could wait patiently whilst their compatriots splashed about and drank from the cool water.
Small lizards also play on the forest floor. One, an Eastern water dragon has been a resident for a while and appears to wait patiently for Sean (especially as he offers her meat titbits from home). She has been named Lizzie and has really come to be a part of the scenery during the warmer months. She disappears during the colder periods and once was not seen for over six months after heavy rains had (we presume) taken her downstream towards Bulimba Creek. But she made her way back.
Sean has diligently maintained the garden and often will research information about plants and their suitability for inclusion. It is a fascinating garden which he tends to almost single-handedly.
The garden attracts a lot of interest from visitors to the centre and acts as a way of showing how these particular plants interact with the wildlife of the area.