He­len Young’s Q&A.

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE -

DE­SCRIBE THE GAR­DEN: The Sen­sory Gar­den and Playspace cov­ers about 2ha next to the Quean­beyan River. It was de­signed to en­hance the sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in a gar­den, es­pe­cially for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. There are views over the river from the deck of the cafe and, when the weir over­flows, the wa­ter is a de­light­ful part of the am­bi­ent noise.

An av­enue of maples guides vis­i­tors into the gar­dens. Wind­ing walk­ing and cy­cle paths con­nect fea­tures such as the all-abil­i­ties play­ground, bar­be­cues and pic­nic ar­eas, and the main gar­den of raised beds. Here the paths are wide enough for wheelchairs, and the beds are at a height to en­able plants to be touched and smelled. We in­cluded bam­boo and plants that rus­tle in the wind; fra­grant and scented-leaf plants; plants to be touched; and some ed­i­bles for taste.

The com­mu­nity was in­volved in in­te­grat­ing sen­sory as­pects of the de­sign, such as the tac­tile ce­ramic mo­saics on the raised beds, cre­ated by men­tal health group Rich­mond Fel­low­ship. The lo­cal Ngam­bri peo­ple cre­ated the totem poles, and lo­cal ar­ti­sans made the frog and snail sculp­tures.

WHAT MAKES IT SPE­CIAL? Alan: That we cre­ated this spe­cial place for the com­mu­nity to re­lax and en­joy; it’s some­thing that will have a long-last­ing ef­fect. I’m pleas- antly sur­prised how much the gar­den is used. Deb­bie: It was the vi­sion of one per­son, coun­cil­lor Trudy Tay­lor, back in 1999, but be­ing able to con­struct that vi­sion from a blank can­vas, on a tight bud­get, is spe­cial for me.

BIG­GEST CHAL­LENGES: We had only a very limited bud­get. We couldn’t af­ford a land­scape ar­chi­tect, so coun­cil staff de­signed it and did most of the con­struc­tion. We held work­ing bees to plant and mulch. Alan was mostly

re­spon­si­ble for the work. He even crafted the quirky gates, weld­ing old tools and farm pieces with great cre­ativ­ity. We used a lot of re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als to save costs and re­duce waste. A gas cylin­der was made into a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment dubbed UFOnium that op­er­ates a bit like a mu­si­cal drum. We also have an ac­ces­si­ble marimba and mu­si­cal bench seat.

WHAT’S LOOK­ING GOOD: Crepe myr­tles, roses, salvias, Cal­i­for­nia pop­pies and mag­no­lias are flow­er­ing. Peo­ple are wel­come to sam­ple the mint, thyme, rose­mary and curry plants. The whole park is look­ing quite nice and lush.

QUEAN­BEYAN OPEN GAR­DENS WEEK­END: Three nearby gar­dens are open this week­end, $8 a gar­den, or join Open Gar­dens Can­berra for $25 and all gar­dens are free for a year.

Art Stu­dio Gar­den, 48 Br­ere­ton Street, Quean­beyan, 10am-4pm. Kath­leen, 21 Downey Street, Karabah, 10am-4pm.

Rail­way Park Com­mu­nity Gar­den, Hen­der­son Road,

Quean­beyan, 10am-1pm.

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