Lismore Garden Party brings help, support and fun

HMAA member Kate Wall travelled to Lismore to share her knowledge of flood recovery gardening with flood-affected residents in the Lismore area.

On June 11, Phil Dudman and Kate Wall gathered with around 100 Lismore gardeners for the Lismore Garden Party, to get Lismore gardening again! Kate Wall reports on the event.

I was touched by the fact that many people travelled from other local towns, some travelling as much as an hour to get there. It was a lot to organise, even finding a venue was tricky – a space that was not flooded, not being used to house people or goods, or temporary offices, had power, and was not too far for those who had lost cars is a lot to ask in a small town that has been as smashed as severely as Lismore has. Phil found us a great spot in the shared temporary business hub set up in the Lismore Campus of Southern Cross University.

I spoke to the group about how to recover their gardens after flooding and we discussed soil care and contamination issues at length. Representatives from the Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens and the Lismore Community Garden have created a wonderful and ongoing support network for local gardeners.

Brisbane gardeners came to the fore to support our friends in need. We propagated and we baked, and somehow managed to coerce some friends to help me transport it all to Lismore across the border in northern New South Wales. Our little convoy took around 500 plants down, all treated for fire ants as a biosecurity requirement.

One of the convoy also took some instruments down and gathered more friends for an amazing performance of Irish music to really liven the mood. After all, it is not a party without cakes and music!

Generous sponsors

The delight on Lismore gardener’s faces when they realised that they had come for so much more than a gardening talk was beautiful. The event was not just about what we could take to Lismore to help them, it was a great chance to rebuild community within local gardeners.

Seasol and Earthlife were hugely generous in their donations. Seasol sent 100 x 1L bottles directly to Lismore, on top of the approximately 250 that they have sent to Brisbane where it has been distributed throughout flooded areas in both Brisbane and Logan. Seasol is not just a good plant tonic for stressed plants. It stimulates root development, which is very much needed as flooding causes significant root damage to plants.

Earthlife also sent a huge donation with two tonnes of Garden Mate and a couple of hundred bottles of Breakdown. Earthlife has pledged to donate 10 tonnes of Garden Mate throughout flood zones along the east coast. This is already rolling out through suppliers in Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Gympie, Byron Bay, Alstonville and Lismore and further as the need is identified. Garden Mate is so valuable in flooded gardens for opening the severe compaction caused by flooding and also for easily replacing the microbes drowned in the waterlogged soil.

HMAA also helped facilitate the event by covering my costs in attending the event and bringing along the goodies. We also had assistance from Business NSW and the Northern Rivers Business Hub, who provided the location and facilities at the Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus.

Community garden revival

The community garden had been completely destroyed in the floods and the committee was too devastated to return to it. A new committee has taken over and is now planning to use it as a space to demonstrate flood resilient gardening. While many local gardeners were hesitant to take many free plants as they are so far away from being back in their homes yet, volunteers in the Friends and the community garden took an extra load of plants to be able to share within the community over time.

It was a great afternoon. The sun shone and the music played. We focussed on moving forward with garden recovery. It was joyous and hopeful. While people were asking challenging questions and sharing even more challenging stories, their eagerness to recover their gardens was infectious and we felt so rewarded to have been able to offer a bit of help and fun along that journey.

Note: Kate Wall’s webinar on recovering gardens after floods can be seen HERE.

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