Bellis Open Day, Mother’s Day Weekend, 13 – 14 May 2017
MEDIA RELEASE: This is your opportunity to visit the amazing and affordable sustainable garden of well-known Gardening Australia presenter, Jerry Coleby-Williams. Get a first-hand look at what can be achieved on a suburban block. Everything can be copied using average gardening skills and a limited budget.
“We grow food, we harvest rainwater and solar power, and we treat and reuse our waste water – things that could be done by any home owner in any suburb in Australia.”
“I read the news about our deteriorating climate. In the 1990’s I lived in Sydney. I taught about ‘Horticultural Reconciliation’, about working with finite resources and growing food sustainably on this, the driest inhabited continent. Back then, I managed Sydney Botanic Gardens. I put food security at the heart of the Rare and Threatened Plants Garden, opened in 1998, to help educate schools and visitors about ecological issues threatening the natural world. Over 50% of all wildlife on Earth has been lost since the 1970’s, including marine plankton which feeds ocean ecology”, says Coleby-Williams.
“Since moving to subtropical Brisbane, I’ve been testing my working example of sustainable living in Wynnum for fourteen years. My garden is evolving as I experiment, and I garden in a continually surprising climate”.
Everything is grown sustainably, and having lived this way since 2003, Coleby-Williams might be described as a veteran sustainable gardener.
Bellis is normally a frost free suburb, but it has experienced five damaging frosts. Following two dry years, there is now a possibility of an El Nino developing this spring. So plan your garden for drying conditions, and remember frost can sometimes occur even in ‘frost free’ suburbs during drought.
As you step into the garden you leave behind suburban Wynnum and enter rural Wynnum, an unintended consequence of operating a Whole of Site Water Management Plan. It’s that plan that keeps the garden productive during drought. Few gardens are holistically designed to conserve moisture. Here water is used at least twice.
At Bellis, a 300 square metre food garden fed the household through the Millennium Drought. Three dust storms in 2009 were as much an education in Australian gardening conditions as the hailstorm that resulted in Wynnum briefly declared a ‘disaster zone’ in 2006. To this day, the fence still trembles.
The floods of 2011, 2012 and 2013 were definitely floods. A pool of water occasionally collected in a corner under Bellis, but you could also watch the garden soak that big rain up. Not a strawberry was lost.
At a pinch – or a garden party – the food garden can also feed 150 people over one weekend. That four course, home grown, gourmet meal was prepared for an Open Day event by an Indian-Nepalese restaurant. It was unashamedly ‘locavore’.
“I read the news about our deteriorating climate. For fourteen years I’ve been testing my working example of sustainable living in subtropical Wynnum”, Coleby-Williams says, “My garden is evolving as I experiment, and I garden in a continually surprising climate”.
A nation of television gardeners have been watching this garden develop since its inception in 2003. Now a variety of native bee species have replaced the pollination services of the European honeybee at Bellis. Here there is pollination beyond the honeybee.
Knowing how to provide food for your family is as practical as home insurance. Discover what you can grow, and systems for producing it. What is the purpose behind a ‘Predator Border’? How can a surplus of food benefit you?
Practice makes a better gardener, and being successful is becoming increasingly useful in a less secure world. Coleby-Williams believes everyone should have a ten year plan, a basic idea of where they want their life to be. As you walk around his garden, consider what you would do to make your life more secure over the coming decade.
“It takes a fruit tree about ten years to produce a large crop. Select species that will better cope with unpredictable weather. My Tahitian lime is a good example of the return you get from investing time and effort in fruit trees. I am now in my second ten year plan, which will be a refinement of the first”, says Coleby-Williams.
Over 494 species of animal have been recorded visiting or living in this 813 square metre garden, including rare insect species and two (possibly three) species of beneficial wasp that are new to science. Twenty two native species of bee collectively pollinate plants – honeybees are not essential at Bellis.
In the back garden grow a diversity of heritage fruit, rare vegetables, uncommon herbs and interesting spices, while the ornamental front garden features a mix of rare, collectible and familiar plants selected for their ability to withstand predicted global warming. They’ve already survived the Millennium Drought and the floods of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Initially planted in 2004 with 150 different shrubs, palms, pandanus, cycads, succulents, perennials and bulbs, around 115 still thrive here. Some succeeded too well, and were removed.
What was once an unassuming house and garden in an ordinary suburb in Queensland’s coastal subtropics has been retrofitted to significantly reduce its impact on the natural environment. Jerry says Bellis is an example of how we can all live more sustainably at home and save money too. The house is still unassuming, and Wynnum remains ordinary.
Currently, the productive garden is planted with crops that better cope with ongoing dry conditions.
“This year is not the driest I’ve experienced here, but it has been consistently warm and breezy”, says Coleby-Williams, “February, usually the wettest month of the year, delivered 31mm rain here, which is 11mm more than February 2016“.
Despite the limiting weather, there are 120 different things on the kitchen menu, plus there is a surplus of plants, seed, jam and marmalade. All will be listed on this post closer to the Open Day. Any surplus will be on sale.
“Bellis is not an attempt at self-sufficiency, but it is a living example of how we can turn our Aussie backyards into an environmental advantage, without compromising our lifestyle,” says Coleby-Williams.
This is the eleventh year Bellis has had Open Days, a great opportunity to visit an extraordinary garden and take away ideas and inspiration.
The Perennial Poppies Inc., Queensland’s best garden club, will have volunteers staffing the gate again this year (yay!)…and they will be joined by expert gardener Noel Burdette, so wear your best smile!
Don’t let dry weather put you off gardening. See and experience just how much can be achieved on an ordinary suburban block – and find out how you can do it too.
Tour with Jerry: Would you like to join Jerry and tour the choicest gardens on the South Island of New Zealand this spring 28.10.17 to 7.11.17? Some of you may have already travelled with Jerry, courtesy of The Adventure Traveller, before: the Singapore and the Singapore Garden Festival, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have been previous escorted holidays for gardeners and gourmets.
GARDEN ADDRESS: Wynnum, Qld 4178 (full address will be posted closer to the event date);
OPENING: 13th and 14th May 2017, from 9.00am to 4.30pm;
ADMISSION: $10 adults, under 18 free;
* Wear sensible shoes (stilettos and mulch don’t work!);
* No pets;
* Unsuitable for wheelchairs and strollers;
* Supervise children at all times: plant spines, chillies and euphorbia sap may cause injury;
* Nearest medical facilities: Capalaba Medical Centre, 189 Old Cleveland Rd, Capalaba, QLD 4157. Saturday 8.00am – 12.00pm; Sunday 8.30am to 12.00pm, Phone: 3245 9600;
* Nearest public toilets: Wynnum Esplanade, opposite ‘The Pelican’s Nest by the Bay’, 143 Wynnum Esplanade, QLD 4178;
What will the Bellis Autumn Harvest sale include?
Surplus Plants (correct as of February):
Acmena ‘Mini Magic’, 200mm pot;
Aechmea blanchettiana, one advanced specimen
Air plant, Tillandsia pyramidata var. vivipara; 75mm tube;
Bromeliad, Puya mirabilis, 100mm pot;
Bunya pine, Araucaria bidwillii (sourced from Ormiston House, Qld); 130mm pot;
Burn Jelly plant, Bulbine frutescens, 75mm tube;
Butterfly ginger, Hedychium greenii, 200mm pot;
Caladium, three cultivars, 75mm tube;
Cassava, Manihot esculenta Seed Savers landrace, 130mm pot;
Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’, 130mm pot;
Chaplu, Piper sarmentosum, 100mm pot;
Coffee, Coffea arabica ‘Kamerunga KM36 Dwarf’’;
Comfrey, Russian, Symphytum x uplandicum, 130mm pot;
Coolamon, Syzygium moorei, 130mm pot;
Corsican mint, Mentha requienii, 75mm tube;
Cotton, Sea Island, Gossypium barbadense, 120mm pot;
Cryptanthus bivittatus, 100mm pot;
Cryptanthus forsterianus cultivar, 190mm pot;
x Cryptbergia ‘Red Burst’, 75mm tube;
Cumquat, Fortunella margarita ‘Nagami’; 100mm pot;
Large-leaved Dragon tree, Dracaena aletriformis, 100mm pot;
Lotus-leaf Begonia, Begonia nelumbifolia, 100mm pot;
Giant Crinum Lily, Crinum asiaticum var. pedunculatum, 130mm pot;
Date, Phoenix dactylifera ‘Medjool’, 100mm pot;
Edible Pandan, Pandanus amaryliifolius, 130mm pot;
Edible Peperomia, Peperomia pellucida, mini-tube;
Elderberry, native, Sambucus australasica, 130mm pot;
Elephant foot yam, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, 100mm pot;
Euphorbia graminea ‘Diamond Frost’, 100mm pot;
Fish mint, Houttuynia cordata, 100mm pot;
Fish mint, Houttuynia cordata ‘Harlequin’, 100mm pot;
Four Seasons Herb, Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Bayside Beauty’, 75mm tube pot;
Galangal, Greater, Alpinia galanga, 130mm pot;
Hibiscus, cranberry, Hibiscus acetosella, 100mm pot;
Horseradish tree, Moringa oleifera, 100mm pot;
Jackfruit, 2nd generation landrace, Artocarpus heterophyllus, 130mm;
Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix, 100mm pot;
Korean mint, Agastache rugosa, 100mm pot;
Krachai, Boesenbergia rotunda, 100mm pot;
Lebanese cress, Aethionema cordifolia, 100mm tube;
Leek, Perennial, aka Multiplier Leek, Seed Savers landrace, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum, 75mm tube;
Lepidozamia hopei, one advanced specimen;
Macadamia, Macadamia integrifolia (sourced from Ormiston House, Qld), 130mm pot;
Mandarin, Citrus reticulata ‘Parramatta Sweets’, 100mm pot;
Mexican tree spinach, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius, 130mm pot;
Mint, Moroccan, Mentha spicata ‘Nana’; 100mm pot;
Mint, Native, Mentha satureioides, 100mm pot;
Noni, Moringa citrifolia, 100mm pot;
Pandan, Pandanus amarylliifolius, 130mm pot;
Parsley, Japanese, Cryptotaenia japonica, 100mm pot;
Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Rainbow’, 100mm pot;
Pineapple, Ananas comosus ‘Spanish Red’, 100mm pot;
Powell lily, Crinum x powellii ‘Alba’, 130mm pot;
Quadrangulata tree, Maytenus quadrangulata; 75mm tube;
Richmond birdwing butterfly vine, Pararistolochia praevenosa, 100mm pot;
Small-leaved tamarind, Diploglottis campbellii, 130mm pot;
Soursop, Annona muricata, 100mm pot;
Spider lily, Caribbean Variegated, Hymenocallis caribaea ‘Variegata’, 130mm pot;
Spinach, Tahitian spinach, Colocasia esculenta, 100mm pot;
Sweetleaf, Sauropus androgynus, 100mm pot;
Teosinte, Zea mays. subsp. mexicana, 100mm pot;
Tradescantia sillamontana (a xerophyte), 100mm pot;
Turmeric, Curcuma longa 130mm pot;
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata, 75mm tube;
Water hyssop, aka Memory herb, Bacopa monnieri, 75mm tube;
Yam, winged, Dioscorea alata, 170mm pot and 255mm pot;
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, variegated, Brunfelsia ‘Everyday’, 200mm pot;
Mowing grandad’s lawn, London
22nd February 2017