Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2009 Contents "We think it's a beautiful garden and we
love the idea of sharing it with people
who love gardens," Jane says. "At this
stage it's a lot of work though!"
WA's Best Outdoors & Gardens 2010 67
will be opening for the first time.
Making the decision about which garden to
open are the selectors, a hand-picked group of
garden lovers whose mission in life is to find the
secret gems hiding behind corrugated fences and
high brick walls.
"We've got 30 selectors in WA, from Esperance
to Broome," says Jennifer. " ey're the ones
who find the gardens for us, all across the state.
Some people volunteer their gardens but more
often than not selectors find the gardens either
by talking to people at gardening clubs or just
by looking over the fence. Most people are very
keen to open once they've spoken to a selector --
the panic starts a week before!"
As Jennifer explains, open gardens don't
have to fit a certain criteria -- the selectors don't
have a checklist or boxes to tick when they're
scouring the streets. " e only requirement is
that a visitor must be able to interest themselves
in the garden for at least half an hour."
Open gardens don't fit a mould -- they're not
all picture perfect, and most -- if not all -- are
works in progress. ere are quaint, traditional
gardens on small plots and modern, landscaped
gardens over vast acreages. Some feature only
a handful of species, others are crammed with
plant varieties from A-Z.
ere are vegetable gardens, sensory gardens,
children's gardens, native gardens -- even artists'
gardens. What they all have in common, though,
is a passionate creator who, more often than not,
is on hand to answer questions, provide advice
and generally just chat about a shared loved of
"If 60 percent of people are just going along to
the gardens to admire them, that means there are
40 percent who are looking for ideas and advice,
and we have to look after them," says Jennifer.
" e garden owners generally talk and there's
always someone from the Open Garden Scheme
on hand. People ask questions: 'How can I have
a garden on my tiny little patch?' Well, our open
gardens will show you how to have a full-sized,
productive garden. "
Entry to the gardens is usually $6 -- some
very special openings may be slightly more --
with people under 18 able to enter for free.
"Our very reason for being is to promote
the knowledge and pleasure of gardens and
gardening across Australia," says Jennifer.
"We want to appeal to all sorts of people with
the gardens we open -- not just the retired baby
boomers who love lovely gardens, but also young
people and children."
Importantly, the entry fee goes to a very good
cause -- 65 percent to the Open Garden Scheme,
which as a totally self-funded, not-for-profit
project relies on the entry money for its very
survival, and 35 percent to the garden owner.
"A lot of garden owners donate their part of
the takings to a charity of their choice," Jennifer
adds. "Garden owners donate around $350,000
annually to charities and local causes. Donations
since the scheme started total $4.3 million."
Most gardens also provide teas, provided by
a local charity such as the Country Women's
Association or Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Some gardens are even large enough to
accommodate picnic lunches. "People will stay
two or three hours in a garden; others will stay
all day if there's somewhere to sit and take in
Visiting an open garden is more than just
a peek over the neighbour's fence -- it's a
wonderful chance to talk to likeminded people,
swap ideas and be inspired. Be warned though,
it's also dangerously addictive.
"It's a great opportunity to meet people and
a lovely way for people to make friends," says
Jennifer. "If you love gardens, go and visit an
open garden and have a chat. I was at a camellia
garden recently and a lady came in by herself;
we started chatting and she said 'Oh, you must
come to our gardening club.' e very next
Saturday I was there giving a talk on the scheme.
at's how it works. It's a real network."
For more information visit www.opengarden.org.au,
call (08) 9295 0497 or email email@example.com.
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