Helen Young’s Q&A.
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,