Someone please tell me that I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. Somebody? Anyone?

Friends of ours bought a property close to town during the last few years. Their dream is to renovate the existing tearooms into a conference centre and counseling facility to help with people suffering all types of psychological issues. Not only that, on weekends they hope to offer the venue as an option for couples looking to get married.

Which is all great if you only had to worry about the buildings and infrastructure.

But we all know how important gardens are to both causes. For those suffering mental illnesses they need places of respite where they can sit and focus on other things apart from their problems. And, for those getting married they always seek out venues that have beautiful gardens as the backdrop for the nuptials and photographs.
So, who better to offer their services than yours truly. Or, should I say, who would be stupid enough?

This is a Google map of their property – all 2 hectares of it. The large building is the tearooms that are currently being renovated.

And these are some of the derelict gardens that surround the renovations. Notice the dead Coral Gum – how do you kill one of these?

This large field will eventually become the gardens where couples will exchange vows. Can you see the vision yet?

And this is the dam that keeps drying in the summer but looks beautiful as it refills in the winter.

And, while the project looks huge and insurmountable I’m excited about being a part of it. It will all be staged so that as an area is finished another will be started. There are some definite priorities for what needs to be completed and landscaped first.

Just when you thought the project couldn’t be any more difficult let me introduce you to a few variables that will need to considered;

1. There is no budget. I mean zilch, nill, none, zero however you want to express it. All the money has been tied up in the buildings and purchase of the land. As the couple will be doing most of the counseling voluntarily and relying on enough weddings to keep food on the table, money is something that is in short supply.
2. There is limited water. The dam fills in winter but empties in summer (at the perfect time when one could do with a drop or two). There are a couple of rain water tanks and a bore extracts water from some underground reservoirs but there certainly isn’t enough to reticulate the whole property.
3. The soil is $%*@? (not good). Most of it is just straight sand and water-repelling sand at that. It’s going to take bucket loads of organic material to get plants growing well in most of the beds.

However, there are a few things going for it.

1. The school I work at has allowed me to use their potting shed to pot up and germinate my own plants. The groundsman even thoughtfully added a bolt and padlock to secure it. This potting shed was being used for some classes that no longer run so it has sat idle for the past couple years.

2. The property abounds in natives that can easily be propagated. This is where most of the plant material will come from to design the garden. It makes sense anyway to use plants that are already doing well in a given location to reuse them.

Plants like melaleucas, callistemons, grevilleas, banksias, eucalypts and proteas will feature heavily throughout the garden schemes.

It’s a very exciting venture, and one that I’m sure will take many years before it even smells of completion. However, I’m keen to start this challenge and look forward to sharing the progress as the journey continues.