Most of us think of a garden as a space with clear boundaries, an enclosure, a patch that belongs to someone. The concept of garden and gardening is changing however, especially in city living where most people have only limited space, if any, and community gardens are few and far between. Some niche gardening books or tv programs show us how to create a garden in whatever outdoor space is available – be it a roof terrace, balcony, small backyard or patio. But if we expand our horizon, not necessary look further but nearer, we would notice the already available spaces in our neighbourhood. The spaces that often look messy, under-utilised and abandoned, the ones we pass by every day without realising the huge potential they possess in becoming thriving garden patches where herbs, vegetable and flowers can grow as good as in any garden.
Kit Shepherd, one of our long-standing Transition Bondi members, has been working on a few nature strips in her laneways and has shown that these narrow, long green patches that we tend to ignore because they either look untidy or appear to lack vitally can be transformed into high performing garden plots.
Kit has been cultivating the narrow, garden beds along the Castlefield laneway for a few years now, planting a combination of edibles and ornamentals species (full list at the bottom). It is hard not to notice how lovely this back alley looks now. Her initiative and commitment in cultivating these public and yet overlooked green patches have yielded good results.
Over the years Transition Bondi has planted in verges whenever possible. One, in particular, is an olive tree that was planted about 7 years ago. As it has grown and mature people have been harvesting jars of olives from this small yet ever giving tree every year.
If we learn to pay close attention we’ll notice there are herbs and edible native and non-native plants already growing in some verge gardens in Bondi. Most of our nature strips however are still underutilised. These areas once cultivated can benefit the community as we transform the already vacant spaces into thriving garden plots. It’s always good to acknowledge and remind ourselves of the advantages such activities can bring: interaction with neighbours, greening the environment, physical activity, opportunity to invite others to get involved, growing food, etc…
However, before planting, get in touch with your local council. Nature strips and verges are council land and each council has its own guidelines.
Waverley Council Contacts
Street Garden Customer Service
02 9083 8647
Shared or Community Garden enquiries
02 9083 8916
Plants in Castlefield laneway
Ornamentals: Lobster plant, Four o’clock plant, geranium, Hardenbergia, snake plant, native daisy, tussock, nasturtium, agave, canna lily, alfalfa, carnation
Edible: lemon grass, comfrey, sweet potato, lettuce, Jerusalem artichoke, eggplant, parsley, rosemary, celery, thai basil, tarragon, shiso Yakon – ground apple, turmeric