Great Gardens do not just happen.

The Rotary Club of Alexandra, at its last meeting, was taken into the world of gardening from the viewpoint of Landscape Designer Cally Sinclair from Moleswoth. Cally explained that great gardens are the result of the integration of a number of skills including Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Landscaping and landscape Design. Each garden is an expression of the needs and desires of the gardener and that is where the Landscape Designer begins. With the people who will use the garden. Tailoring a garden to the personal needs of a client is a challenge as it usually involves things that people hold dear with a passion like the old peppercorn tree that was used as a centre of family activity including easter egg hunts, to the tree that just must stay because… In the modern world gardens have a vast range of uses from quite places of meditation and reflection through to spaces to play rough and tumble games with space for a grill and entertaining.

Cally as the Landscape Designer tries to address all these variables while ensuring the garden is robust and sustainable, water use efficient, a wild fire suppressor, exclusion of weed species and the adoption of indigenous plants. It is inevitable that as her work proceeds an extensive wish list develops that then has to be refined and costed often many times to ensure the whole project is affordable and manageable by the client. A lot of work needs to be done in the "back room” to design a landscape and create the foundations of a great garden.

Cally concluded her address by showing images of gardens in the city and country she had helped design. Some were in Marysville, quite a challenge as the horror of the 2009 fire is still visible in the skeletons of the large dead trees that surround the town. The before and after images confirmed that Cally has a particular gift of understanding of her clients and their situation when it comes to designing the landscape to live, work and play in.

During question time attention was drawn to the use of indigenous species in both public and private gardens as well as the impact of heavy pruning of trees to facilitate safe delivery of electrical power to our communities. The recent tree falling incidents including deaths were raised and how otherwise stable trees have been dropping literally out of the sky. The concern is that we may be destabilising our trees by our activities including heavy pruning. Cally said that safety is a major concern in Landscape Design including how we mange our road verges. Rotary’s recent work in conjunction with the Murrindindi Shire to replace dead and near dead trees in Leckie park is the sort of proactive garden intervention that we all should consider. Cally said that we are most fortunate to have forward thinking people who have worked very hard to develop and maintain the beautiful trees and gardens in the Shire. Chris Jackson, the chairman for the evening, thanked Cally for here insights into great gardens and as he presented Cally with her own “wooden angel” made from “mountain ash” he reminded everyone that Rotary is also an active part of the Open Gardens. Cally said that this year the open gardens in October will include outstanding gardens from Eildon, Thornton and Taggerty that have not been open before.

Rotarian Chris Jackson presenting Cally Sinclair with her wooden angel as a reminder of her visit to the Rotary Club of Alexandra and that a donation on her behalf has been made to Angel Flight as thanks for her presentation about Landscape Design.

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