April 5, 2006 at 5:48 am #237218FranceyneMember
Healesville Plants was one of the first garden centres to achieve SGA certification as a sustainable garden centre. Their next goal is becoming organic.
â€˜We already grow by natural selection,â€™ laughs co-owner Tabitha Barclay. â€˜We grow outside, so plants must survive a lack of water and severe frosts â€“ we had snow last winter! Itâ€™s good for the customer because the plants they buy from us are tough.â€™
â€˜We want to go more the organic way,â€™ she explains. â€˜Weâ€™re investigating our own sustainable potting mix and weâ€™re looking at organic liquid feed, which is a bit of challenge with native plants.â€™
Tabitha, who owns Healesville Plants with her mother Karen and grandmother Sylvia, is very involved in the local community. For example, her involvement with St Andrews Market resulted in environmental remediation work that saved the market from being forced to relocate. The work has addressed erosion, run-off and drainage problems.
â€˜The revegetation has been successful too,â€™ she says. â€˜Now that the larger plants and trees are established as protection, we can focus on planting more groundstorey plants like forbes.â€™
She has recently completed the first part of a management report for the Maroondah Dam and Reservoir Park, a 600 hectare park maintained by only six Parks Victoria staff, and is also designing a bio-diversity garden for the site.
Healesville Plants has helped Badger Creek Primary School establish a â€˜Bird Nectar Beltâ€™ and with seed collecting for their Landcare group. And Toolangi Primary School had assistance with creating a frog bog.
â€˜More and more we are asked to consult on sustainable garden design.â€™ says Tabitha. â€˜And we do a lot of environmental work without leaving the nursery. People will bring a plant in for identification because theyâ€™ve seen it growing on the side of the road and think it looks interesting. Itâ€™ll be something like Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera), so we talk to them about environmental weed problems and suggest alternative plants that won’t take over the bush.â€™
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