SOM­ER­SET GAR­DEN­ERS SHOW­CASE TOP PICKS

Gatton Star - - FRONT PAGE - —Do­minic El­some

WHAT started as a sim­ple favour for his daugh­ter has turned into more than a decade long project for Lowood gar­dener Peter Be­van.

Twelve years ago, Mr Be­van started plant­ing a few na­tive plants out front of his daugh­ter’s house to pro­vide her with some pri­vacy from the Bris­bane Valley Rail Trail that bor­dered her yard, and as he ex­plains it – he just kept go­ing.

“I got a sur­prise of how well things grew here and as I went I got more knowl­edge and got more con­tacts where I could source rare and threat­ened plants from around Aus­tralia,” Mr Be­van said.

The gar­den, now called the Lowood Beau­ti­fi­ca­tion Project, runs over more than a kilo­me­tre of the rail trail, and this month it won the Best Com­mu­nity Group Gar­den in the Som­er­set Gar­den Com­pe­ti­tion and also took out the best Na­tive Gar­den.

The project sources na­tive plants and has be­come a safe haven for many threat­ened species, Mr Be­van says.

“Some of them are very rare – there’s only a few of them known in the wild, so if we get them in the gar­dens we don’t lose them,” he said.

De­spite the tough soil he works with, he said many of the na­tive plants thrived in it.

“I’ve trav­elled around Aus­tralia a fair bit and I’ve no­ticed quite of­ten, nice flow­er­ing na­tive plants grow­ing in the wild are on very poor soil,” he said.

Mr Be­van said while many peo­ple’s gar­dens had suf­fered due to the dry con­di­tions and frosts over win­ter, his na­tive plants had flour­ished.

“What sur­prises ev­ery­one is that we don’t wa­ter, and we don’t fer­tilise – we just try and keep the weeds out and prune,” he said.

“A lot of them (plants) come from in­land Aus­tralia – they like it dry.”

He en­cour­aged more gar­den­ers to con­sider plant­ing na­tives, as de­spite their har­di­ness and drought re­silience there were also plenty of bright and beau­ti­ful flow­ers and shrubs to choose from.

Any­one who is in­ter­ested in be­com­ing in­volved in the project is en­cour­aged to con­tact Peter on 0412 243 740.

PHOTO: DO­MINIC EL­SOME

NA­TIVE: Peter Be­van won the best com­mu­nity group gar­den for his kilo­me­tre-long stretch of na­tive gar­dens on the Bris­bane Valley Rail Trail.

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