First published in Issue 7 of The Warragul Citizen – October 5 2012.
EVERY year in October a committee of keen volunteers bring the community one of the biggest festivals in the region, Gardivalia.
A mix of open gardens, workshops, art exhibitions and community events, the festival links commercial gardens and galleries and tourist business with grass roots community groups and green thumbed locals.The 2012 festival guide, which can be found online at www.gardivalia.com.au or at local businesses, shows this year’s event to be one of the biggest run by the group, featuring 29 gardens.This year the festival has a wide spread of gardens across West Gippsland. Gardens are featured in Neerim South, Jindivick, Buln Buln, Drouin, Warragul, Darnum, Lardner, Yarragon, Trafalgar, Willow Grove and Hill End. These gardens include a number which have been open in past years, many new gardens and gardens which have not been opened in many years.
Two tourism giants of the region, Brandy Creek Wines and Wild Dog Winery, are opening their gardens this year. Brandy Creek, who are open on all four dates of the festival, are offering visitors the opportunity to “stroll around the terraced vegie and herb garden beds on the hillside beside the vines.” Wild Dog are also opening on all four dates with a wetlands boardwalk giving visitors the opportunity to view tree ferns and remnant forests.
On the community side of the festival, Angela and Rob of Archilbald Crescent in Warragul are opening their “family garden” on Saturday October 28 for the benfit of the Warragul Scout Group. The guide describes the garden as having a veriety of native and exotic plants.
Many of the gardens opening are promoting sustainability with the support of the Baw Baw Sustainability Network, including gardens like that of Tom and Nerelie, which I viewed in 2011 and highly recommend. Their place in the housing estate area of Trafalgar proves that no matter how small your garden is, you can grow a huge range of vegetables. Take the time to meet Tom and talk to him about his green house and moon phase planting; the ideas are inspiring.
In Yarragon, Doug and Alene, who many will know from the Yarragon Craft and Produce Market, are opening the garden which creates those tasty veggies and fresh eggs. The guide highlights the use of aquaponics in this garden, a very productive way of growing fruit and veg in West Gippsland’s environment.
The sustainable gardens are opening on Sunday the October 28, a date that will see over 90 per cent of all the gardens in the festival open.
In 2010 and 2011, I had my own garden at Yarragon Goats open, so haven’t seen many of the other gardens, however this year I am looking forward to a few open gardens I have seen past festivals or events like the open studios event. Tanjadale in Willow Grove will be known to many who visit the open studios as the garden around the workspace of Alene. Open on the weekend of the October 27 and 28, this garden is large with great views across this rich beef and cattle farming district. The garden is based around a lovely walk with many native plant highlights.
Willow Grove also has two other gardens open, so well worth planning a trip up the hills as part of the festival.
Art is a large part of this festival and a key art location in West Gippsland is the Laurie Collins Sculpture Garden in Jindivick. Open all days of the festival, it showcases Laurie’s metal and mosaic artworks while another leading local artist, Lucy Chapman, is displaying a botanical-themed exhibition at Lillico Glass. The studios already have an impressive garden created by Cathy and John.
Workshops on dry stone walling, potting for kids, moon gardening and growing herbs are all part of the event. Rowes Nursery will demonstrate composting and the Drouin Library will host a unique event for book lovers. Full details of this part of the festival are in the event guide and there is something for every one. Before ending, I would like to highlight an event for children in grades 5 and 6 being run by the Trafalgar Youth Centre called creative plant containers. It will be held on Thursday October 18 between 4 and 5pm. Young people can bring an old boot or shoe and transform it into a quirky garden feature. As a committee member of the Youth Centre, I am completely biased in saying this will be a fantastic event, but don’t let that obvious favouritism keep you from this great activity for your children or grandchildren.Gardivalia has something for everyone, from plant lovers to artists. It’s a great place to pick up new ideas, meet locals and see some of the most creative gardens in Australia
About Mr Lyons in his own words: “David Wombat Lyons is a goat farmer at Yarragon Goats, and a hobbyist artist and a youth worker – remember to like the Yarragon Goats Facebook page and wombat encourages everyone to participate in the creative community of Gippsland.”
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