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Down in the garden

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IRT Maintenance Gardener Brian Wardhaugh

In this special gardening feature, IRT Maintenance Gardener, Brian Wardhaugh, explores how gardening and creativity go hand-in-hand.

IRT Maintenance Gardener Brian Wardhaugh
Brian Wardhaugh
03 June 2019
Succulents in a terracotta pot.
“There are so many ways to combine plants and garden styles that reflect ones’ own interpretation of the natural world."
Brian Wardhaugh
IRT Maintenance Gardener

A recent visit to a friend’s place got me thinking just how creative we humans are.

The flourishing native garden he had created had enticed a family of bowerbirds to take up residence, with a small rainforest adjacent also taking shape on previously barren ground. The birds took great delight in the ready-made supermarket of his established citrus trees and they in turn shared their presence with the family. Great for the environment and good for the soul.

There are so many ways to combine plants and garden styles that reflect ones’ own interpretation of the natural world. Our IRT residents are no exception, continually surprising me with their individuality and artistry.

In recent years I started collecting preloved terracotta pots and succulents, a cheap and cheerful way of passing the time, and saving pots from landfill. Succulents will grow in any container you can think of, from old boots to jam jars.

My pièce de résistance was a succulent garden created out of an old picture frame and an easel made from leftover decking timber.

For those who can’t look after a garden, the terrarium is back in vogue. An open mouthed glass container some gravel and potting mix and away you go.

A recent introduction is the kokedama (koke: moss, dama: ball). It is the Japanese art of using sphagnum moss and string to envelop a plant, which can either hang or can be left on a saucer.

There are lots of plant options like ivy, mondo grass, dichondra, ferns and many of our common indoor plants. The occasional dunk in water makes them an easy and fun indoor plant, or for a protected spot outside. And some of the ’70s plants I thought I’d never see again are back, looking funky as indoor plants. The last time I saw them they were trying to take over my parents’ house from the garden box out the front. Ficus elastica (the rubber plant) and monstera deliciosa are back, as everything old becomes new again.

Other easy plants to grow or collect are bromeliads, tillandsias (air plants like old man’s beard), orchids and zygocactus, flowering in a stunning range of colours.

Every community at IRT has any number of great gardeners happy to share ideas and knowledge. I make it a point to walk through or past their gardens whenever I can.

Who says creativity declines as we age?

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