Fetherston Gardens – 2013 Annual General Meeting

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The Fetherston Gardens Friends AGM was held on 21 August 2013,  Reports from the FGF convenor, Working Been Coordinator and a Progress Report on garden maintenance are here.

FETHERSTON GARDENS FRIENDS AGM 21 AUGUST 2013

CONVENOR’S REPORT (DRAFT)

  • The twelve months 2012-13 have been vitally important in the transition of the Fetherston Gardens from a special purpose garden, not open to the public, into a community public space.
  • The ACT Government’s unprecedented commitment of $500,000 in the 2012-13 ACT budget was the turning point. The infrastructure works undertaken by the ACT Government’s Territories and Municipal Services Directorate in accordance with a sympathetic 2012 landscape design by Redbox Design Group gave effect to this commitment. The key element of this exercise was the installation of a new watering system throughout the gardens.
  • All of these developments were the subject of consistent requests and lobbying by the FGF group and by the Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC), which remains solidly behind the Fetherston Gardens and the FGF group.
  • It is a matter of great satisfaction that the gardens will be formally opened to the public in early October 2013. This has always been the uppermost objective of the FGF.
  • Other mileposts, to which the FGF contributed directly, included the naming of the gardens, and the naming of Fetherston Place.
  • We arranged for a baseline bird survey of the gardens by the Canberra Ornithologists’ Group in March 2013. COG will now conduct regular surveys there.
  • Outreach to the Weston Creek community continues to feature strongly in the FGF’s agenda. We have achieved this mainly through the regular newsletter to our supporters and volunteers, as well as through the maintenance of a user-friendly website via the WCCC, all of whom we thank warmly for their support.
  • FGF has also responded to many expression of interest and support from the community through local newspapers (The southside Chronicle and the Canberra Times) as well as local radio programs and local organisations of various types.
  • Effective liaison with the ACT Government and the Fetherston family, as key stakeholders continued to be top priorities for FGF.
  • We have had regular communication, including several meetings, with TAMS, which has in turn expressed its appreciation for the efforts of the FGF – both in the gardens and more generally. Indeed, a kind of inter-dependence is developing between us. Naturally, these interactions have always been very friendly, and we deeply appreciate the personal support that a number of TAMS Parks and Landcare staff have given us.
  • We have developed very good and open relationships with members of the Fetherston family, especially in welcoming Tony Fetherston’s horticulturalist daughter, Janet Lawrence, on a visit to the gardens in June 2013. Both sides expect these relationships to continue and to form an intrinsic part of the ongoing functioning of the gardens.
  • We have also established a positive relationship with the Defence Housing Authority as they proceed with their housing estate project. Keeping this relationship in good condition will become even more important in the future.
  • We have also maintained our relations with the Islamic School of Canberra, our principal neighbour. Working with the new principal, Mr Enver Mohamed, promises to be a mutually beneficial process.
  • Continuing our relations with other community groups such as Rotary, Marists School and Orana School will remains important as the gardens develop.

Future Directions

  • A high priority within the next 12 months will be to acquire on-site storage for FGF tools and equipment, so that we are independent of Islamic School planning and timings.
  • With the gardens opening to the public, several tasks are likely to fall increasingly on the shoulders of the FGF.  These include:
    • all marketing and promotion of the gardens
    • smaller discrete enhancements of the gardens
    • education, outreach, community-oriented activities
  • To achieve these, it is very likely that FGF will have to seek separate funding sources, which almost certainly will entail applying for grants as an incorporated body.
  • One known task that will become more urgent over the period ahead is the labelling of plants, in order to complete the public awareness of the gardens.
  • We will probably need to work on a (short) formal constitution and such things over the next twelve months.

Fetherston Gardens Friends Annual Report August  2013

Volunteers and work in the gardens

Lesley Pattinson –Working bee coordinator

Fetherston Gardens has attracted many new volunteers to our project of Restoration, Regeneration and Renewal this year. The working bee volunteers have made significant progress in clearing unwanted vegetation and woody weeds. There is a strong sense of accomplishment and fulfilment, as tasks are tackled and areas within the gardens are now on our maintenance list.

There have been times of despair, is it really possible to turn this once magnificent garden around, free from weeds and ivy in particular. We still have weeds, but now have the mass ivy removed, in all but a few areas of the garden. It is indeed an amazing achievement by our volunteers. The ivy and blackberry have been removed by hand; hard physical work and the results of this are evident in the gardens.  New bulbs are colonising areas where there was only ivy and existing plants have begun to flourish and new areas are ready for planting.

My grateful thanks will always be to the dedication of our volunteer crews who selfless come and give of their time and talents to our garden. Without this generosity of goodwill, we would have no garden. Restoring and renewing these gardens is not for the fainthearted and our wonderful people have been able to see the ‘big picture’ and keep momentum despite any setbacks. We are nothing without our community of volunteers. Fetherston Gardens is a community filled space and fittingly, we continue to garden and leave a little of ourselves, as the gardens enrich our lives as we work.

We began our midweek Wednesday working bee this year in April. This working bee is for 2 hours, from 10.00-12.00 and is on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.  We average 6-10 people for this midweek group and will possibly increase in number when the gardens are opened.

We have clocked up some 440 people work hours over this last 12months and have only been rained on twice. We do not work over December and January. The irrigation construction also stopped work for us on 2 working bee days in June. We average between 16-25 volunteers on the last Sundays of each month.

We were unable to accommodate the Marist College Students in their Footsteps Program this year due to the irrigation works.  We will endeavour to have them return next year as well as any other volunteer program that may wish to participate.

The ACT Corrective Services Unit has been working elsewhere this season and we have not been able to accommodate them in the garden. We would like to continue with this program also as the garden is an inspirational and therapeutic place to work for all.

The Defence Housing Association Project has started in earnest on the hill and the protection of trees on our boundaries has been attained for this stage while there is fencing in place.

The Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) crews have been active in the garden, and this year has seen the beginning of the master plan take shape. $500.000 has been injected into the gardens and we have a new gazebo and pergola. Repairs have been made to the existing wisteria arbor. The empty pond appeared much larger than imagined, has been relined and restructured to contain old existing water plants and provision for new plants. We have our fish returned and the naturally the local ducks found it immediately the pond was refilled.

The gardens are the beneficiary of recycled equipment and materials from other significant gardens around the ACT.  Old seats have been reclaimed, restored and settled into the garden like they have always belonged.  Pavers and pond blocks have been reused and skilfully put back to be as new. The Secret Garden gazebo was remade with existing timbers now made safe and is a delightful and useable structure in the garden. It is very fitting that recycled and renewed materials be used in the gardens.  This garden has always been a work in progress and an outdoors classroom for teaching and learning where reusing and construction activities took place. 

New stage 1 of the irrigation works has been completed, with provision for potable and recycled water, which will eventually be a resource for collection from the DHA site. We have taps located around the gardens and arboretum. We can now hand water our new plantings. Future irrigation works will include the pop up sprinklers and drippers to each garden area but this will only be a reality if we receive future funding. The new entrance works are completed and are very fitting for Fetherston Gardens. Our partnership with TAMS is highly valued and we have much respect for their efforts and care of these gardens with the limitations placed on their budgets. Parkcare PCL has continued in supporting us through correspondence and provisions. We are grateful also for the inclusion we have received from other Parkcare groups.

Planting has begun in earnest this year.  Initially we worked around rain cycles and then collected water from the pond to water plants. TAMS and Fetherston Gardens Friends, (FGF ) moved large fire hoses and sprinkler stands over the summer months to keep the gardens watered. We have lost a few plants to this last summer heat and wind. Since the irrigation has been installed we have planted every working bee. Our aim here is to plant up as much as possible and to get plants established before the opening and before the onset of the next summer season.

We have planted 285 ground covers, perennials, and shrubs in the last 3 months. This amount does not include bulb plantings. We are expecting to plant another 60-80 plants at the next working bee. Most the stock planted in Fetherston Gardens has been sourced and propagated from existing CIT/TAFE plantings that have proven drought hardiness and is known to have been original garden stock. We will need to purchase/request donations of larger trees and shrubs to replace lost stock and will source known varieties of plants from existing and saved labels.

Some future directions for us at Fetherston gardens with the opening now a reality and the possibility of more volunteers, would be to

  • Involve more local community groups
  • Formally structure the maintenance tasks and allocate these areas to volunteers.
  • Labelling of species in the gardens
  • Document our living history
  • Access Grants, sponsorship and hold workshops

To conclude, Fetherston Gardens is a unique and richly diverse area within Weston Creek. Its initial survival from development would not complete the gardens story. The gardens early quick decline and loss of irrigation, rebounded many volunteers into action. We have not completed our gardening work, as all gardens are living and changing, but we have begun our goals of Restoration, Regeneration and Renewal.  For your dedication, commitment and involvement at Fetherston Gardens, we say thank you and welcome the official opening to the Weston Creek community.

 

Gardens Maintenance Progress sheet   Fetherston Gardens  August 2013

Entrance area between new steps

Garden planted & mulched

 Area 1 Lower woodland Garden

Priority Area

1square metre of ivy remaining

Planted 120 plants

Shrubs & ground cover

Species added are varieties already in the garden

Planting to continue

Mulch

Area 2 a middle woodland garden

Priority  Area

Work in progress Ivy to remove

 Planting &mulching to be completed

 Planted 16 Lavendula ‘Royal Purple’

Area 2b Upper woodland garden

Garden weeds under control

Planted Tritillia along edge of pathway

 Nerine in groups under the trees

Ready for planting & mulching

Area 4  Heysen Street side

Ivy & Lonicera  to be removed

Garden near service entrance (Gavin’s area)

Ivy being removed

Area 5 Pergola garden

Planted

20 Felicia

5x Erigeron

Ready for planting & mulching

Area 6 Conifer grove

Garden weeded & mulched

Area 7 Pergola

Wisteria to be trained

 Vines to be pruned

Area 8 Perennial border

Planted

Area 8 c Lattice garden

Lonicera to be removed

Replace with Clematis

Planted 5x Cornus Yellow stemmed

Area 9 Old Production Area

Grassed

Area 10 Espalier

 Espalier pruning completed

Area to be mulched

 Wall to be built

Area 11 Secret Garden

Priority Area

Ivy is being removed

Remove dead conifers

Area 12 Native Garden

Priority Area

Planted 120 native species

Planting to continue

Light weeding & mulching

Area  13 Orchard walk

Mulching

 Area 14   Arboretum

 Mulching

 Area 15 Conifer area (near shade houses)

Remove dead conifers

 Prune Buxus hedge

 Fertilize Buxus

 Replant

Area 16 School play ground (Wes’s Area)

Blackberry under control

 Decision to be made about garden

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