Guild Session 11 – Karen Sutherland’s Garden Tour
Many of us were very excited to be able to see Karen Sutherland‘s renowned garden – Gunyah has been featured on many a gardening show, and Karen’s depth of knowledge on all things native edible are inspiring. So on a warm Wednesday evening, 30 or so eager Guildies (and a few non-Guildies!) met in a nearby park to network and socialise before the main event. One kind soul brought along seed heads and a large bag of cucumbers, which were quickly munched down. Finally 6.30 arrived and we headed off to the Pascoe Vale South garden expecting something special. And we weren’t disappointed!
The tour proper began out the front, with discussions on edible natives both common and rare. We got to smell, taste and view numerous different plantings, including native pepper, saltbush, native sage, native thyme, lemon myrtle, midgenberries, native appleberry, native river mint and many more. We learned about ideal growing conditions, how to spot a good specimen, the best way to eat them and more. People were furiously taking notes due to the sheer volume of information being shared with us! As the sun began to set the cicadas came out in force, giving the evening a real bush feel.
The photos above are now shared via our new Instagram account – if you were one of the lucky people at the session, please add your pics to the gallery above by adding the #guildsession11 hashtag.
As the night continued, we began to explore the back yard – which the phrase ‘sensory delight’ only begins to cover! The rear garden mainly include perennials which are allowed to self-seed. There are also numerous unusual plants throughout the garden, such as the beautiful Giant Burmese Honeysuckle, strawberry guava, 70(!) year-old grapevines, a wall of choko, feijoas, pepino, yacon, rhubarbs, okra, chinese artichoke, perpetual spinach, perennial capcsicum bell peppers and so much more!
Walking along the rear fence beneath deciduous rainforest-style foliage we were admiring some ridiculously bountiful avocado and babaco trees while listening to the sounds of a screeching parrot in a nearby garden. The combination certainly made it hard to believe we were in Pascoe Vale!
Chickens have been beautifully integrated into the space, with areas fenced off to protect the gardens from their vigorous scratching! These happy looking chooks have a steady diet of greens as well as plenty of area beneath some of the larger trees to roam in. There is also a successful aquaponics installation with herbs aplenty overflowing the top section. There is even a rooftop garden atop a reinforced carport, which includes beehives and several other plants. It’s fair to say that every available space had been planted out in a very considered manner.
When queried what she would change if she was to do it again Karen offered the following: an underground water-tank beneath the driveway and a raingarden to capitalise on the rain, as well as more dwarf fruit trees (for easier management) as well as finger limes – LOTS of finger limes!
Once the sun had set (and the mosquitos had enjoyed a feast upon us!) Karen invited us into her home for final questions and to wrap up the evening. One book she heartily recommends is The Seed Saver’s Handbook (pictured). There were a number of books and plants for sale, which several of the group took full advantage of.
The night left everyone truly inspired – with many vowing to revisit again in a few weeks (during the daylight hours!) when Karen opens her garden again as part of the Open Garden scheme.