Sustainable Garden Project: The Need to Assist Frail Elderly People
SUSTAINABLE GARDEN PROJECT
2ACKNOWLEDGEMENTThe Department of Human Services(DHS) has identified the need to assist frailelderly people in the Neighbourhood Renewal area of Ashburton, Ashwood andChadstone, to remain in their own homes and maintain their independence. Highmaintenance gardens are problematic for frail elderly people with mobility issuesThis project was the initiative of Jeff Herd of DHS as a Neighbourhood RenewalprojectThe Sustainable Garden Project was funded by the DHS Home & Community CareprogramThe Reference Group guided the project through regular meetings and offeredinvaluable advice, networking contacts and insight.Helena Allen Department of Human Services– Home and Community CareKat O’Reilly C.E.O – Ashburton Support ServicesSarah Lachal Occupational Therapist – MonashLink Community Health ServiceMichelle Jones Monash City Council - Aged Care ServicesRichard Thornton Neighbourhood RenewalMargaret Clarke Horticultural Therapist, Horticulture Therapy Group VictoriaPatricia Cheney St. Mark’s Day CentreTrish Grundy St. Marks Day CentreDiana Cotter Project CoordinatorAshburton Support Services managed the project, special thanks go to the CEO,Kat O’Reilly who kept everything on track and provided much appreciated on-goingsupport and wisdom.Thank you also to Nancy Groll, coordinator of Volunteer Alliance with her efficientwork finding new volunteers and processing all their paperwork.The project could not have been implemented without the tireless and enthusiastichelp of the volunteers. Neil Withers Noelle and John Howell Sam Pant Trish Neate Ann Brown George Schulze Christine Butler Jan Ebbles Judy Clements Pam Sansom Miranda FraserFinally, thank you to all the clients who allowed us into their gardens, and lives andworked so willingly with us to make the project so enjoyable.
3CONTENTS PAGEAcknowledgement 2Executive Summary 41. Introduction 5(i) The need for the project 5(ii) Principals of Sustainable Gardens 5 Objective 1 7 Objective 2 92. Project achievements and challenges 132.1 Clients and carers 13 Case study 1 18 Case study 2 21 Case study 3 24 Case study 4 26 Case study 5 402.ii Volunteers 333. Challenges 354. Project outcomes 385. Recommendations 43ACRONYMSDHS Department of Human ServicesHACC Home & Community CareMOU Memorandum of UnderstandingSGP Sustainable Garden ProjectCEO Chief Executive Officer
4EXECUTIVE SUMMARYSymbiotic Relationships.“Mutually beneficial partnerships”The brief for the project was to develop four or five gardens to be more sustainableand low-maintenance for frail aged residents within the Neighbourhood RenewalPrecinct of Ashwood, Ashburton and Chadstone; ultimately we were able to help15 clients with their gardens. The aim was to minimise garden maintenance,reduce garden related injuries and to encourage the frail and elderly to remainliving independently in their homes and community. It was a an extremelysatisfying project in that the relationships formed between clients, volunteers (whowill go on to maintain the gardens), the Reference Group, Ashburton SupportServices, the clients and their carers and the project coordinator were sosymbiotic. Everyone contributed something, knowledge, time, experience, and inreturn received gratitude and a wonderful sense of achievement.The project ended with a “Celebration of the Sustainable Gardens Project” lunchand launch, where the most common word used was probably ‘Thanks’, fromeveryone involved in the project, not just the clients.It was interesting to note the clients’ changes of attitudes from the start to the finishof the project, as one put it, she “was grateful to be gently pushed in the rightdirection”.It was also pleasing that further partnerships were formed, for example some of theclients will now attend sessions at the Ashburton Support Services and others areinterested in joining gardening clubs in their areas.The carers in some cases benefited as much as the clients, giving them a focusand interest away from their everyday routines. It also gave the couples somethingnew to talk about and discuss. Some of the clients were very grateful for theproject as it took the pressure of their children (who may be in their 50’s and 60’sthemselves) to spend so much time maintaining their gardens when they werebusy. Most of the clients were proud in that they didn’t like asking for help fromtheir family too often.
Sustainable Gardens Project; Ashburton/Ashwood HACC Agencies. 51. INTRODUCTION1: (i) The need for the projectDHS identified the need to assist frail elderly people to remain in their own homesand maintain their independence, existing friends and contacts.Gardens can provide relaxation, quality of life, exercise, interest and a sense ofcaring for something. There is the simple joy of gardening and wandering aroundthe garden watching things grow and flower. It can be very depressing andfrustrating to watch a once loved garden fall into neglect when one is not able tocare for it anymore.There are also health and safety issues which can affect either the confidence orpracticalities of gardening. A fall can affect the owner physically and /or mentally iftheir confidence is shaken. With increasing age comes a decrease in strength andflexibility, and the elderly may not realise they are can injure themselves with tasksthey were once able to do such as pruning.HACC property maintenance program does not provide for regular exteriormaintenance such as lawn mowing or shrub pruning.Many of the gardens in the Neighbourhood Renewal area are quite substantial insize.1. (ii) Principals of Sustainable Gardens.A sustainable garden is one which needs minimum input from the environment.Issues to be considered include:- o Materials used, where/how they are sourced, the impact this has on the environment. o Impacts on the environment from transport of the materials, for example pollution, use of fossil fuels. o Quantity of water use to maintain the garden. o Soil condition and how to maximise infiltration of water and efficient uptake of nutrients. o Thick mulch layer to protect open ground from weed invasion, improve soil condition for better water infiltration, provide slow release of nutrients, reduce water evaporation by 70%, protect soil from summer heat. It also slows down water flow from a hose to allow better penetration. Mulch should be 100mm thick and break down quickly. o Minimise material leaving the site, green bins should only be for the removal of diseased plant material and noxious weeds. Grass clippings, prunings, non-noxious weeds should, where possible be returned to the garden as mulch or put into the compost. It takes energy and resources for Council to make mulch when nature can do the same thing in the garden. o
6 A sustainable garden also has minimum impact on the environment, factors to consider:- Plant choice – this is very important so plants can survive without ‘pampering’, criteria to consider includes :- o Drought tolerance. o Suitability to the soil type – sand, clay, loam. o Aspect, sun/shade, North, South, East or West facing. o Climate conditions, natural rainfall, wind, frost. o Suiting existing conditions, eg. under trees, narrow driveways. o Size, plants should be selected to fit their allotted space minimising heavy pruning. Removing plants o Removing plants which need additional attention, such as hydrangeas in full sun which need extra water throughout the summer, or pittosporums which outgrow their position and need constant pruning. Sustainable design o Plan the planting to permanently cover the soil with foliage, this will shade, so cool the soil for micro-organisms to work, allow leaves etc to be shed to add to the mulch layer, reduce open soil for weeds to land and germinate, retain humidity therefore reduce evaporation.Sustainable gardens can conversely impact positively on the environment:- o Attracting wildlife. This will start up eco-systems which by their very nature make the garden sustainable, lessening the need for too much human intervention or ‘control’. As people become more sedentary and spend more time sitting down, many enjoy watching birds come into their gardens . o Reducing lawn area, making beds bigger to allow for more shrubs increases the mass of leaves to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Particularly important as development continues to take more land, and new gardens are often too small to support much plant life.
7OBJECTIVE 1, Initial Procedures Of The Sustainable Garden Project.To work in partnership with City of Monash, MonashLink Community HealthService, Neighbourhood Renewal, HACC local agencies and DHS to develop atleast 4 sustainable gardens.Actions -Implementation of operational actions -Development of a reference group with representatives from local HACC agencies within the City of Boroondara/Monash, Monash City Council Neighbourhood Renewal, MonashLink Community Health, Department of Human Services and any other relevant representatives. These representatives guided, advised on and discussed issues arising from the project as necessary. - Establishment of the Terms of Reference for the group. - Development of the Management and Implementation strategy for the project. - Establishment of the criteria for the selection of client gardens with the Reference Group. - Employment of a project leader to undertake consultations, develop garden plans and implement garden conversions. The project coordinator attended regular meetings to discuss project progress with the Reference Group.Initial milestonesThe Reference Group convened and:- - Terms of Reference were agreed. - The Project Brief was developed. - Project coordinator job description and work contract developed. - Position advertised and candidates interviewed. - Position filled and contract signed. - Client’s garden selection criteria developed.Methodologies. - Outreach to community organisations invited participation. - Representatives from reference group developed job description and sat on interview panel. - Position was advertised in local press and on internet sites. - Project coordinator was based at Ashburton Support Services. - Reference Group developed selection criteria for choosing clients’ gardens in collaboration with project coordinator.Client selection criteriaThe clients had to comply with HACC Program guidelines (Appendix 1 – HACCProgram Manual).
8Other considerations were:- - The length of time the client is likely to stay in their home. - Budget constraints. - Size and scope of the work able to be undertaken. - Suitability of existing gardens for conversion and long term maintenance. - The clients interest or love of gardening. - Adaptability/flexibility of client. - Benefit to client and/or carer. - Client must be a pensioner with no access to private funding. - Home must not be a private rental. - Clients must live in the Neighbourhood Renewal areas of Ashburton (at least one garden), Ashwood and Chadstone (at least 3 gardens).Evaluations - Active participation by the majority of members of reference group on a regular basis. - Project coordinator was employed in a timely manner. - Selection criteria developed to choose the gardens is appropriate and useable.Terms of reference for Reference Group - Ashburton Support Services chaired the meetings. - Decisions were made by consensus or when not possible, by a 75% majority. - Clients were not included as representatives on the reference group as they had substantial input through the evaluation process and individually with the project coordinator.
9OBJECTIVE 2 Consultation & DesignTo undertake consultation with the residents and their significant others, developdesigns for sustainable gardens and convert a minimum of four gardens in theAshburton (1), Ashwood/Chadstone (3) areas.Actions - Garden plans/consultationsGarden plans were developed that were:- - Pleasing to the clients. - Practical for their needs. - Aimed at increasing their independence. - Minimized the risk of injury to them. - Applied best practise allied health principles. - Applied sustainability/low maintenance principles. - Were within budgetary considerations and project timelines.The finished plans/descriptions of works were discussed with the clients, changesmade if necessary, then signed by the client or carer as approved. The same planswere also discussed and approved by the reference group.Milestones, Timelines - Gardens selected by June-July 06. - Consultations undertaken during July 06. - Plans completed for a minimum of four gardens by August 06. - Garden conversions completed by December 31st 06.MethodologiesConsultations with the potential clientsAt all stages of the consultation the carers or significant others were involved indiscussions and decisions. It became apparent in some cases the gardens wouldbenefit the carer as well as the client. In other cases, the carer was more capableof making decisions.Potential clients and their carers were briefed on the project firstly by members ofthe reference group who had recommended them. The project coordinator furtherexplained the project, and confirmed potential clients’ interest, and wherenecessary, arranged a time to visit the client.The initial meeting with the client involved:- - Establishing that the client/carer understood the aims of the project. - Explaining that a budget had been set and no reasonable costs would be incurred by the client (this was later varied to meet clients needs, for example where landscaping needs exceeded the budget; there were a couple of incidences where improvements to steps and ramps would have used the bulk of the budget). - Volunteers would be involved in the implementation of the work, supervised by the project worker. Where necessary, contracted the landscapers who would be involved. - Establishing any potential safety issues in the garden.
10 - Garden workers would use best practise health principals and follow all workplace health and safety practices. - Establishing which garden maintenance activities were most time consuming and /or were most difficult to achieve. - Discussing with the client/carer their preferred choice of plants and garden style. - Explaining sustainable garden practises, how they work and how they would impact on the Garden. For example pea straw is probably the best mulch for gardens which have not been mulched as it provides the right conditions for soil organisms to “work”, which aids water infiltration and plant nutrition. It also has the major benefits of reducing weeds and water loss from the soil. However, it looks rather ugly to some people who are used to bark. BUT bark mulch has little nutritional value and takes along time to break down so does not encourage soil life. Having explained the pros and cons of each mulch; the decision was left with the client/carer. - Taking time to establish a rapport so clients/carers feel at ease to discuss their wants, needs and plans for their garden. The time was also used to gain an insight into their long-term plans, physical abilities (for future maintenance), and if the project would increase their quality of life. - Making sure the clients/carers feel they still have control over their garden, to stress it still is THEIR garden.This bed was made by Daphne out of bits of stone her late husband cemented together. It is very narrowand technically high maintenance, as the beds are too narrow for water penetration but she always hadpetunias in it for the family when they gather at her house for Christmas
11Planted with petunias, and empty pots to allow water to reach their roots, acting as a reservoir.Consultation with the reference groupPotential clients were discussed with the reference group, information provided bythe project coordinator included:- - Brief background of the client, their disabilities, living arrangements, love of gardening, benefits of the program for them or their carer. - As mentioned previously, in some cases carer details were very relevant. - Health and Safety issues. - Estimate of costs involved. - Estimates of labour hours involved to implement the garden renewals.Memorandum Of UnderstandingA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was drawn up and the reference groupwere asked to comment/discuss and approve it. (Appendix 2)The MOU is designed to clarify and document an agreed way of working togetherbetween the client and Ashburton Support Services. It encompasses scope ofwork, budgets, time-frames and details any requirements concerning accesstimes/restrictions of access to the garden or property by clients or project workers.The project worker read through the MOU with the client to make sure allexpectations of both parties were made clear. The MOU was signed by bothparties and copies retained by the client and Ashburton Support Services.
12Ashburton Support Services Information PackageThe package contained a consumer consent form, background details on the client(SCOTT), privacy protection information, complaints procedure.Information about Ashburton Support Services was included to inform clients oftheir services.The consumer consent form and SCOTT form were read to the client by the projectworker, to ensure the client understood the content. They then signed the formand the client and Ashburton Support Services retained copies.
132. PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES2. (i) Clients and carersInitially, 8 gardens out of a possible 9 were selected for the sustainable gardenproject. Then a further 7 were added making a total of 15 gardens. The finalgarden only had a partial renovation, as it was uncertain at the time of consultationwith the client, that there would be sufficient funds to complete all the work. Theclient was informed of this possibility.LandscapingLandscapers were contacted to quote for works necessary for health and safetyissues, these quotes were approved and Tim Dowling Gardens employed to carryout the landscaping.Landscaping briefs were:- - To extend a concreted area allowing the client to sit in the shade in the afternoon as her front garden was in full sun. Previously her table and chairs were placed in her flowerbed which posed health and safety issues with uneven ground especially as the client had balance problems and impaired vision. - To re-lay paving under a washing line which was very uneven for a client with severe arthritis in her knees, also to lay an extra row of paving leading to the washing line, widening it to one metre, previously it was only 500mm wide. - To create a raised bed in a courtyard for a client who had recently started using a wheelchair. Previously the retaining wall was 150mm wide and full of thick clay, which had thwarted many attempts by the client to grow anything. Raised bed for client in a wheelchair, previously the bed was 150mm wide. This bed is also the main view from her main working area indoors.
14 - Laying paving stones to create a path in a previous jungle of couch grass. This area was 2500mm wide, which is hard to maintain, the path allowed easy access. -Relaying brick stepping stones leading to a client’s front door. They were laid by her late husband many years ago, and had sunk so much she walked on the surrounding grass, even in winter which was slippery. This client had severe problems with her leg after a knee reconstruction.Soft LandscapingSoft landscaping involves anything to do with plants, this was the major area ofimprovement for most clients’ gardens.The major tasks undertaken were:- - Weeding, this included removal of environmental weeds (such as sweet pittosporum saplings and Valarian which seed all ferociously) where appropriate. In one case a large area (2500 x 6000mm) of couch grass was removed to allow planting. Previously the area had been out of control and was slowly but surely advancing on the rest of the garden. The client’s brother had tried to remove it but it was the three-person job, it took about 20 hours to clear. - Vertical weeding, one client had ‘morning glory’ invading his tree, shed and fence.Weeds were returned to the beds under the mulch if they were not noxious. Many of the gardens had very fewworms, a sign of minimum organic matter in the soil.
15- Pruning, this included some heavy pruning such as removal of a maturepittosporum whose roots were causing the adjacent wall to bow, were takingthe water and nutrients from all the plants in the same area, and neededheavy pruning each year to keep the size of the plant manageable.In another case, a large orange tree was removed, it was nearly dead andwas in danger of falling over, possibly causing damage to the shed or client.In other gardens shrubs badly needed pruning to rejuvenate them (to makethem bushy or flower better), or because they were crowding the pathscausing potential health and safety issues. If the shrub was too big for it’sposition, and would just regrow to the same size, it was removed, obviouslythese decisions constitute low-maintenance. This also applied to climbers.The plant dominating the middle and rear of the photograph is the climber Pandora, it is verydrought tolerant and flowers beautifully, but is very high pruning maintenance. It was removed andmost of the plants Daphne had in pots were planted here, intermixed with natives. This made the bedmore interesting for Daphne who loves to wander around her garden and potter. The plant in theforeground is fish-fern which was also removed for the same reason Pruning techniques were taught to volunteers and clients by the projectcoordinator. This was useful as natives and indigenous plants had beenplanted as suggested on various garden shows in some gardens and clientswere not as used to pruning them. Natives were included on the planting listwhich the clients may not know. In some cases where the client had donethe pruning in the past; the carer was taught as the client was no longerable to carry out the task. It was also useful for the volunteers could see the results of their winterpruning when spring arrived.
16 - Moving of shrubs was necessary in some cases where they were not suited, for example hydrangeas and azaleas receiving too much sun, or roses not enough. This was possible in the winter at the start of the project, but not in November or December once they had put on spring growth. We also moved shrubs and plants to create better plant association, in many cases cuttings had been stuck in at random and did not create a harmonious effect, or taller shrubs were at the front of borders and lower at the back. - Removed shrubs were swapped between the clients’ gardens to keep costs down and to be sustainable. This also happened where plants needed dividing. - Removal of high maintenance or old dying plants, or where crowding was occurring. - Transferring plants in pots into the garden, this cut down watering and feeding maintenance. In many cases, the potted plants were looking very sad or were dying from lack of attention.Plants in pots can be high maintenance with daily watering and fortnightly feeding. In some cases clientswere happy to continue this as they like to ‘potter’, and have seasonal colour, in other cases they were plantedin the garden, especially larger plants which had been in pots for many years. - Planting new shrubs and a few small shade trees. - Vegetables were planted in specially improved beds for those who required them. Although high maintenance, they are also very enjoyable for those able to maintain them, and a source of exercise and interest.
17 - Mulching, in most cases pea straw was used, this was probably the most important activity for sustainable and low-maintenance gardening. The straw was applied thickly (100mm deep) as in most cases the soil needed improvement and also to aid establishment of a good root system. The plants needed to be able to grow without much help once the project was over as most of the clients were not able to do much except water.Pea Straw was the best choice of mulch for these gardens
18Case Study 1 -Shirley, Sandra and MargaretShirley has a bad back and walks with a frame. She has impaired vision but is verylively mentally and has led a very full and exciting life, she still likes to socialise andis a regular visitor to her local Neighbourhood House.Sandra has Parkinson’s Disease which affects her balance so she is not veryconfident outside her home and immediate surroundings, she has quite a fewvisitors. The garden is L-shaped, but one big section down the side was totallyover-grown with couch grass. Sandra’s brother was quite insistent that the threefemale volunteers and project coordinator (PC) should stop the work as it was“man’s work” and it was futile exercise as the couch grass would just returnMargaret lives in an adjacent unit, she has a bad back which is affecting her abilityto bend and tend her garden. She moved from a larger property and brought someof her favourite plants with her, which her son planted for her.All three ladies are good friends and are always popping in to visit each other,helping out each other and chatting. Their gardens were all small courtyards withpretty poor soil, a thin smattering of bark mulch and the same mixture of plants, asmost of the plants are cuttings. These have been planted somewhat randomly.There was no sense of order or plant association, some received full sun and wereburning, others were languishing in the shade. Their gardens are important forsocialising, two of the ladies smoke so they prefer to sit outside, It is easy for themto walk to each others homes.Shirley has full sun most of the day in her front garden where she has a table andchair. However when shade is needed in the summer she also had a table andchairs in the back garden, but they were positioned in the flower bed as the shedand washing line take up the space in the largest area. With her limited vision andmobility issues this was a potential safety hazard. There is a shade tree but littleelse so the area was quite bleak and uninviting.
19Extension of the concreted area to allow Shirley to have her table and chair in the afternoon shade. Succulentswere planted in new pots to break up the concrete.The flowerbed was concreted and the remaining area planted with shrubs suitedto the area. Three large pots were bought and planted with large growingsucculents to screen the shed and to break up the large concrete area.The other two courtyards (Sandra and Margaret’s), needed shade trees, Sandrachose a quick growing Callistemon (bottle brush) with crimson flowers, whichshould grow about 4x3 metres, Margaret chose a lemon.The garden plants were re-arranged, many of the existing plants were moved tosuit their preferred growing conditions and expected ultimate sizes. Plants weregrouped to create a more interesting and harmonious effect and extra plants addedto complete the effect. A mixture of native, indigenous and ornamentals were used,but all chosen require the same growing conditions (water needs, soil type, climaticconditions). Tired old daisy bushes and lavenders were removed.
20Shirley’s front garden with a blue and yellow colour themeEach garden had a different colour scheme, blue/purple/yellow with orangehighlights for Shirley who’s limited vision picks up bright colours,blue/purple/salmon pink and cream for Sandra who quite a few of these coloursalready, and blue/purple/red for Margaret in her back courtyard and she choseyellow/blue/purple for the front. The same base plants were chosen for all threegardens both to suit the conditions but also for ease of maintenance if the samevolunteer gardener tends all three gardens in the future. And so far the couchgrass mentioned earlier by the doubting brother ....... .... has not returned!
21Sandra’s garden after 3 months, beginning to take shape. A bottlebrush has been planted to provide someshade.CASE STUDY 2Ray and JoanRay is in his late 60’s. He had an operation but had a reaction to the anaestheticand suffered a form of dementia affecting his behaviour, short- term memory andspeech.His wife is his carer and has had, in her words, “the worst six months of my life”.Ray has completely changed from being very kind and capable to, “at times, beinga completely different person I don’t know”. They were looking forward to awonderful retirement together but things have since changed.Ray’s working life had always been involved with horticulture. At home, Joan wouldchoose the plants and Ray would plant and care for them.The front garden had some cherished plants such as camellias, a gardenia, lots ofannuals and a few brown and sickly azaleas. There was an enormous liquidamberwhich cast a lot of shade, cooling the house, but affecting the plants by competingfor water and creating quite heavy shade.The soil was spotless, all weeds removed, but also any potential mulchingmaterial, no leaves or plant debris remained, it looked like a vacuum cleaner hadbeen run over it. Joan proudly informed the Project Coordinator that Ray had“tidied up” before she arrived.
22The soil was rock hard in some areas and no worms were present (a sign of littlesoil life activity).Most communication was with Joan, Ray’s wife and carer, the more we talked, themore excited and enthusiastic she became and was soon suggesting, or shylyasking for particular plants. She had seen a row of pink roses with lavender in frontin someone else’s garden and every time she went passed she sighed and wishedshe could have the same. Then she was asking how to care for the plants,apparently Ray had become “snipper-happy” and had taken to pruning everythingback, whether it needed it or not. She listened intently as I explained the principalsof sustainable gardening.Ray had bought some tomato plants. The previous year they had become his mainhobby and his Doctor had encouraged him to plant more to give him a focus andencourage him out of the house. Although vegetables need a lot of water and careand may not be considered sustainable by some, they were in fact sustaining Ray.As a result this helped Joan as they gave her a break when Ray was potteringaround outsideRay’s tomato plants.The back garden was very large and devoid of any plants except somehydrangeas and an apple tree. There was a large empty circular bed in the lawn,which the kitchen window looked directly onto. It was decided we would keepthings simple, plant the existing beds, see how Joan coped with the maintenanceand she could extend them if she wished to at a later date.
23The circular bed, showing the hose to take greywater from the washing machine, Joan installed thisafter the garden was finished.As we planted, mulched and watered the garden, Joan was buzzing around askingmany questions and thanking us, it was a delight to have such an enthusiasticclient. She had been showing all visitors her new garden and teaching themsustainable gardening principals. The project seemed to have been perfectly timedfor her to create a focus away from her concerns inside the house, to escapeoutside and marvel in the wonders and delights of nature, and give her somethingdifferent to care for. And also possibly gratitude that something had been done forher after all she had given and was still giving to her husband. Ray, I think wasalso grateful that his wife was so pleased.Expressions such as “I’m just tickled pink”, rushing the Project Coordinator out tosee the roses’ new buds, (and asking how to dead-head and winter pruningadvice), showing the new growth on the camellia after receiving it’s blanket ofmulch, asking advice on the bird-of-paradise we moved, “yes that is a new leaf,so it is going to make it”: marvelling over the colour of the unusualagapanthus, and “yes she would dead-head it so it couldn’t seed”, and how herson and daughter both wanted some when it was big enough to divide how theycouldn’t believe the difference in the garden then on to inspect her grey-waterrecycle system she and Ray had rigged up to water everything in the back, andthe two large barrels she filled to water the plants in the front. But best of all, herpride and joy, the row of pink roses and purple lavender flourishing in the frontborder and how everyone was commenting on them “ I used to wish I could have Back Yard Blitz comehere... this proves dreams can come true”... followed by a big hug.Now Joan is going to join a garden club, and may take her friend along with her...
. 24CASE STUDY 3JoyceJoyce was 86, lived alone in a house she had lived in all her married life. Herhusband died young, leaving her to look after 4 children under the age of 10. Shewas very community minded, running various groups to raise funds to build akindergarten, scout hut and many other projects. She was a member of Probus.Everyone seemed to know ‘Joycee’. Her love of gardening had always been there,growing vegetables initially then concentrating on ornamentals, especially for thechurch flower arrangements and flower arranging courses she used to run. Shestill grew flowers for the Church. Latterly she had begun to grow natives for theirinteresting foliage and because they were easier to look after.On a tour around Britain she had fallen and broken her hand, unfortunately it wasnot attended to until her return to Australia and by that time it was too late to mend.and she lost most of the use of her left hand. Joyce had also had kneereconstructions so mobility was a problem as the knees were very swollen as aresult.Joyce’s garden was very large and ideally suited to be a ‘teaching” or “learninggarden” for volunteers in sustainable gardening practisesThe garden could be divided into 3 distinct areas which would be treated quitedifferently. It was initially the eighth and last garden. The volunteers were to put intopractise all they had learnt at the Volunteer training session and in previousgardens.Nancy Groll of Volunteer Alliance had arranged a story in the local paper to attractnew volunteers to “blitz” a needy garden and had arranged for 8 South EasternWater employees to volunteer for a days community work. This would have beenvery useful for them to put into practise sustainable gardening methods, especiallyin the present drought conditions.One of the volunteers was a student at Burnley University: the PC had invited herto help design the garden on sustainable principals, another symbiotic example.The front garden was to be ornamental. It was the smallest of the 3 sections andthe one Joyce would use the most. It was visible from the road and Joyce’s livingroom window. It was to have a pink, silver and purple colour scheme toincorporate existing plants and others in pots Joyce had in the back garden. Anarch was to be erected which Joyce had received for Christmas 6 months earlierbut was still in the garage.The brick stepping stones to the front door had sunk over the years and were notsafe to use so it was decided to raise them.
25The reference group discussed rebuilding the front steps as some of the riserswere well over the recommended 180mm height. However the costs would havebeen too high and there was a ramp at the back exit which Joyce tended to usemore. The Reference Group referred the ramp needs to Boroondara City Council,Occupational Therapy Department.The middle section was to have a yellow and blue theme and include more roses,which Joyce loves and can use. It was decided to keep the design very simple justreplace some of the shrubs which were too big, very old or spreading out ofcontrol, or were struggling to survive because of bad positioning.The end section was to be cleared of rampant ivy, couch grass, jasmine, black-berries, ash seedlings, ash tree, sweet pittosporum and privet tree seedlings Manyof the existing trees such as the pear, loquat, and cherry were smothered by theabove. The ash trees, sweet pittosporums and privet are environmental weedsspreading in Joyce’s garden and neighbouring gardens. It was decided to weed,lay thick newspaper to smother emergent seedlings, and lay thick mulch on top ofthis. This area would then be planted in natives and indigenous plants to create ahaven for wildlife and it would require virtually no maintenance. There was alreadya small pond, gum tree and enormous grevillea there.The volunteers would have learnt:- - how to plan and plant 3 different types of sustainable gardens. - how to identify and become aware of environmental weeds. - mulching techniques, including different types and where/how to use them - planting techniques. - aftercare. - pruning techniques. - costs involved and time involved to create gardens. - alternative gardening techniques such as returning prunings as mulch, returning weeds as mulch, no-dig garden techniques (disturbing the soil as little as possible). - tool selection, how to look after tools, and how to work without damaging muscles and limbs. - occupational health and safety awareness.Joyce would have ended up with 3 new invigorated gardens. The first would be apicking and pottering garden, the second, a low maintenance mix of natives andornamentals, the third a wildlife garden left to it’s own devices.The stepping stones would be safer to use and the arch finally would be erectedand a rose planted to tumble over it.The plants in pots which had been waiting to be planted for over a couple of yearswould be planted in appropriate places and enjoyed by Joyce.
. 26The unexpectedJoyce went into hospital for a minor operation, but very sadly she passed away afew days later. It was a very sad passing, but she left behind a fine legacy of workand memories and wonderful examples of selfless dedication and kindness.Joyce’s passing put the SGP in rather a quandary. A sizable portion of the budgethad been reserved for the garden work and 10 volunteers had answered theappeal for gardeners to work on the project. The reference group rallied and setout to find more potential clients and volunteer gardeners informed of the changesto plan.It took several weeks to go through the selection process and consultations anddesign procedures. The new volunteers had been invited to join the volunteergardener program which allocates a gardener to a client which they visit once amonth, which most were happy to do (This is a service which was already set up atAshburton Support Services). Unfortunately no other large gardens to involve theSouth Eastern Water employees could be found in the remaining time frame.Eventually we ended up with 7 new smaller gardens to renovate. The ProjectCoordinator set up another 3 hour training session at Ashburton Support Services(she had held one previously for the existing volunteers).Timetables were drawn up to match volunteer available days to client availabledays and work commenced on the new clients gardens. It was felt by all who knewJoyce, that she would be happy to know she had yet again managed, indirectly tohelp these new people.CASE STUDY 4DotDot has lymphedema which severely restricts her mobility. She needs a mobileframe to walk everywhere. She also cares for her husband who has had acquiredbrain damage for 16 years after an accident, and now has Alzheimer’s.Dot’s garden was probably the most exciting to work on, she was a very giftedgardener and her garden was a cedit to her, however some areas were justbeginning to suffer.
27Dot’s rose garden which she designed and built herself when she retired. Four of the roses hadtotally reverted to the rootstock, so were removed and the soil below the roses was open to weedinvasion and moisture evaporation. Some of the new shrubs which had been planted the previous autumn werebarely alive, plants like the hydrangeas and hellebores were suffering from lack ofwater, as were some of the new camellias and lavenders. Perennials, for examplephlox and pentstemons were struggling and there were quite a few large areas ofopen soil which were kept weed free by Dot and her daughter when she came tovisit, but Dot would prefer to prune and water with her limited ability and time.Dot needs to access the washing line every day: this involves opening two doorsand negotiating two steps with a frame and washing basket, which is verydemanding on her.After checking the Australian Standard regulations with Sarah Lachal, (anOccupational Therapist from MonashLink, who is on the Reference Group, andfollowing up a couple of carpenter references, the Project Coordinator proposedramps be installed. The total cost was too much for the project, but Dot offered tocontribute to the cost. However it was suggested the Occupational Therapist fromBoroondara City Council should be contacted first to see if the ramps could besupplied by them.Once it was confirmed Dot’s garden would be renovated she had a very enjoyableday with her daughter, buying plants. Although it had been explained the plantswould be supplied by the project Dot, a very independent soul felt she was justgrateful the work would be done and wanted to “do her bit”. The ProjectCoordinator was happy for this as it meant Dot still had some ownership of hergarden.
28Most of the work involved moving plants to more suitable locations or which hadbeen planted too close together, removing some high maintenance plants likehydrangeas, rampant honeysuckles, artemesia which needed annual pruning, andplanting plants struggling in pots. The other main job was mulching. Dot had begunto buy in shredded bark by the bag, but because of limited space in her daughter’scar it was only spread about 10mm thick, not the necessary 100mm. Also it wasproving very expensive to do it this way.This bed looks lush and green but it is very high maintenance as the shrubs and climbers are quite rampantand need regular pruning to allow access down this area.By moving and dividing the existing plants, and Dot supplying many more, theexpenses for this garden, which was one of the bigger ones, were not too high. Wecould still keep the spirit of the garden with Dot’s “red bed”, “the yellow andblue/purple border”, “the shade bed” and wildlife areas she had created. The rosebeds out the front were enhanced with low planting at the base. Dot’s existing 4clumps of Liriope ‘Samantha” were divided to make 38 smaller plants and a clumpof campanula gave another 15 plants, it was rather like the loaves and fishes.There was some debate whether we should plant out the many pots Dot had asprojects. For example, in two pots she was training Duranta “Geisha Girls” bushesas standards. There were quite a few other plants dotted around most interestingplants which had caught her eye over the years. Then to cut down onmaintenance, by reducing flowerbed space, she had planted up some plants inpots in a very hot, dry area outside the living room window.
29The soil was then covered with stones. It was apparent she didn’t have the time towater and feed these plants as well as she had in the past and specialists had toldher that her legs wouldn’t improve..... It was one of those sad cases where realityreared its ugly head. Where could Dot’s time and energy be best employed?. Shefelt bad when her daughter helped her in the garden when she was tired after a longday’s work.The hot bed that received sun most of the day. It was planted with succulents that Dot already had in pots andother very drought tolerant plants. These should spread to cover the whole area.There was a collection of succulents in pots next to the hot bed,, possibly “gifts”,which would be perfect in that location, along with other a Trachyocarpus, twoagaves and a Phormium all in pots dotted around the garden. They will look goodwhen established and should cover the ground to keep down any weeds. Dot wasreally happy with the end result (a few more plants were added to bulk upnumbers) and quite relieved she wouldn’t have to drag the hose around to the potsanymore. The Durantas were planted in spots Dot could still reach and continuepruning into their shapes.Dot had discussed moving to a smaller unit or retirement village with her family, butultimately wanted to stay where she was with all the neighbours she knows and thesocial life she has built up over the years. Her husband would be very unsettled ifhe had to move, both regularly roam around the garden, it gave them breathingspace away from each other and a space for relaxing. The project was very timelyas the garden was just becoming a worry. Now it has become a place to potterand water instead of watching plants struggle and feel helpless when a few yearsago she could have done what was necessary.
30There’s nothing worse than seeing a hellebore which should be upright, about300mm high, and making buds for next year, lying prostrate on the dry soil, limpand wrinkled, next to another just the same, and if water is applied it just runs offthe hydrophobic soil. It’s these little things that the Sustainable Garden Project canmake a difference to, especially to an avid gardener such as Dot, you never stopbeing a gardener or caring.CASE STUDY 5IlaIla has extreme arthritis in both knees, and like most of the clients stays positive“I’m lucky, it could be in my hands as well”. However it does severely limit hermobility, and she relies on a frame to move around. She, like Dot above, was awonderful gardener as her garden shows. Attention to detail and beautiful thingsshows in the way they dress and decorate their homes. Over the years the gardenhas been simplified, “when things die they are not replaced, it’s too hard to get tothe garden centre, and if anything is bought, who’s going to plant it”? As a resultthe garden is neat and tidy, but there are gaps. Ila has a huge picture window thatlooks onto the back garden, her chair focuses onto a cherry tree with a bare fencebeyond. To a plant lover, it’s not too inspiring. The neighbour has a couple of largetrees which, along with Ila’s cherry tree make growing conditions quite hard foranything else to grow let alone thrive.The path to Ila’s washing line was only 500mm wide and hugged the garage, andlike the paving under the washing line was uneven and some of the pavers werechipped, all hazards for someone with limited mobility. We replaced the brokenpavers, and added more to widen the path to 1000mm.In the front garden was a pittosporum, pruned into a large 3000x2000mm rectangle tokeep it manageable. It was right on the fence line and was causing the 400mmhigh brick wall to buckle. Its roots were also affecting anything else trying to growthere. Ila is a very stylish person and likes everything neat and tidy, and here was agreat big thug, which was self-seeded affecting her front flowerbed. It was also verycostly to keep having it pruned.This was removed by the volunteers and the bed planted with low plants such asLomandra ‘Tanika’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Agapanthus ‘Tinkerbell’ to complementthe existing dwarf Nandina and Convolvulus Cneureum.The side drive had lost a couple of trees which used to shade the hydrangeas andazaleas which were now suffering. However after discussion with Ila it was decidedto leave them as she already had a big garden to water and didn’t want to worryabout too many new areas to maintain. The side drive was not an area manypeople saw, so as long as it’s tidy the plants would have to make their own way.This is actually a good sustainable practise. Plants are often tougher than peoplerealise and will cope with less water, it will force them to send roots down into thesoil to find their own water. The area was mulched. Because Ila had madecompost and had manured the soil for so long it was in very good condition whichwill help the plants cope.
31Ila had a number of plants struggling in pots, azaleas and a camellia. A new bedwas made which extended from an existing bed with similar plants. Previously aconcrete path had led to this bed but it served no purpose, so it was lifted and the newbed created in its place. The potted plants were planted out and have allflourished. This small bed is also visible from Ila’s window.The new bed created by lifting a redundant concrete path. 4 of these plants were slowlydying in their pots before being planted out. A carpet rose was planted to add colour in thesummer.The bed against the fence has also been planted up. Luckily there were severalJacobina plants elsewhere in the garden, mainly in the sun when they prefer theshade so they were moved. Liriope, Rhagodia and Plectranthus were added in theworst areas and heliotrope, carpet rose and westringia in the sunnier spots.
32Some of the plants selected to cope with shade and competition from tree roots , Jacobina, Plectranthus,Thagodia Liriope,Shrubs which flower at different times were added to other ‘gaps’ to cover the soiland to add colour and interesting detail of foliage which Ila is sure to notice.
33The front garden bed with Libbertia, Sedum, Nandina, Convolulus and dwarf Agapanthus to provideinteresting foliage and colour at different times of the year.2.(ii) VolunteersThe project coordinator (PC) ran a 3 hour training session to discuss and present:- o Sustainable gardening principals; o Health and Safety issues; o The Sustainable Garden Project (SGP.) (Appendix 3).This was run twice, once for the existing volunteers and again for the new recruits.Comments showed they benefited greatly from these sessions in terms ofincreased understanding of sustainable gardening processes. It is much easier toimplement new practises if it is known why one is doing it.The volunteers indicated their availability for work and a timetable co-ordinatingsuitable client and volunteer times was drawn up. The Project Coordinator was atthe client’s home to introduce the volunteers and client and to answer anyquestions the client may have, and then to supervise and work with the volunteers.The volunteers all had a love of gardening and came from all sorts of backgrounds,chatting helped some along and made the experience more interesting, otherspreferred to work away quietly by themselves, just enjoying working outdoors andhelping those less fortunate. There was a strong sense of bonding between thelove of gardening and helping others. Another example of a symbiotic relationship.
34Most of the volunteers were unaware of sustainable gardening techniques, thoughbeing aware of the need for them. For example, the idea of returning prunings tothe garden or planting an empty pot near a newly planted shrub to create areservoir to take water deeper to the roots. Also the real depth mulch needs to beapplied, most would spread it 3-5cm deep, whereas 10cm is needed this time ofyear.They were able to take these new practises away with them and inform others.Also they learnt where to source various materials and consider the impact theirgardening practises will now have on the environment.The clients and carers furthered the experience for the volunteers by showing theirgratitude so enthusiastically.Gardening has very strong bonding qualities, between nature and mankind, hardwork and beauty, sharing of ideas, experiences and joy, communication betweenall ages and backgrounds. This was experienced at every level of the project.There was a love of gardening from - Jeff Herd who initiated the project, amongstthe Reference Group, obviously the volunteers and it was one of the chief criteriafor the client selection process.
353. CHALLENGESClient/carer involvementAll decisions were discussed before and during the garden renovations. In mostcases once the sustainability principals had been explained, the clients were happyto allow the Project Coordinator to suggest and implement the changes. In somecases unsustainable plants were requested, in one case a carer collectedbrochures from garden centres which featured shrubs in full colour, but which onlyflower for a short time and need very high maintenance, so the coordinatorsuggested alternatives, such as carpet roses for those wanting lots of colour intheir gardens. Many of the clients had had their gardens long enough to know theirlimitations as far as maintenance was concerned.In one case the brother of a client tried very hard to stop the women volunteersworking, feeling it was “man’s work”, and “pointless” because the weeds wouldcome back...it was probably because he had had a go and the job was too big forone person. On checking with the client, she was happy for us to continue so it wassuggested the work continue and “let’s see what happens”. Also it was suggested avolunteer gardener may be able to help maintain the garden in the future.One client invited her son-in-law to the initial consultation as she was a littleconfused about the financial side of the project, and the son-in-law was worried itcould be a scam. All was explained and everyone was happy.Some clients wanted to be there watching everything, some from interest, somefrom a sense of ownership, both were encouraged, but the coordinator had todevelop communication strategies to instruct the volunteers first, then explain to theclient. Also strategies to be able to work in the garden without continuousinterruptions when time constraints were pressing.Some client/carers were so grateful they wanted to provide lunch for thevolunteers, in most cases this was not an option as volunteers had brought theirown or were only available for a certain amount of time. Tact again was necessary.Lack of volunteersOf the 7 existing volunteers in the Ashburton Support Services, VolunteerGardeners Program, 3 were able to give time to the project, and continued all theway through to the end, except latterly for one who was stopped by ill health.Nancy Groll, coordinator of Volunteer Alliance (based at Ashburton SupportServices), was able to interest the local paper to run a story on the project whichattracted 10 more volunteers. She was also able to involve South Eastern Water . 8of their employees offered to volunteer for one day as part of their communityinvolvement. (This provided a challenge in that a lot of pre-planning wasnecessary). Unfortunately the garden in which all these new volunteers were towork in could not be renovated as the client died unexpectedly after a hospital visit.
36Co-ordinating volunteers and clientsMost volunteers were only available on certain days at certain times, and someclients were busy with activities or medical appointments, and the ProjectCoordinator had planned to work roughly 2 days a week, so a degree of flexibility isnecessary on the coordinators part during the garden renovation period. Morehours are necessary during these periods to organise timetables, select anddeliver plants and other materials and to be present to organise and supervisevolunteers.The project coordinator worked with the volunteers in the gardens for all therenovations. It was necessary to explain to other clients that times of arrival at theirgarden may alter depending on progress at other gardens. The coordinator didphone to announce late arrivals or to arrange alternative times. Sometimes planshad to be changed at the last moment when clients were unavailable because ofunexpected medical appointments.Most of the clients wanted to be there when the work was being carried out.Lack of clientsInitially 9 clients were proposed and of these 8 suited the criteria. As mentionedbefore, unfortunately one passed away; she had the largest garden which wouldhave taken about a quarter of the budget (see Case Study 3), so suddenly othergardens had to be found which proved rather difficult. After several weeks 8 wereproposed and the whole consultation process started again. Because it was quitelate in the year there was pressure to complete the gardens as soon as possible togive the plants a chance to establish before being hit by the hot summer weather,and also before the Christmas holiday period for volunteers.Timing of the projectAs mentioned above the timing was a challenge as Christmas approached many ofthe volunteers were caught up with other activities so weren’t available to help.Luckily there were 3 volunteers who were able to work 2 or 3 days in these last fewweeks, and the project coordinator was also available to work 3- 4 days a week tofit in with them.Participants in the projectKat O’Reilly, CEO of Ashburton Support Services managed the project.Clients and carers participated in the project in the consultation process, mostwere unable to contribute in a physical way because of their age or disability, buttheir experiences were much appreciated, as it gave the coordinator moreunderstanding of their garden conditions and limitations. They were also veryhelpful borrowing green bins from neighbours when necessary and somecontributed to the project by either buying some of their own plants or allowing usto plant plants in pots which saved money for other gardens.
37Of the 10 new volunteers recruited from the newspaper story, 7 were able to helpwith the new gardens (there was a time lag as mentioned previously as newgardens were sought and consultative processes set up).There was a Burnley University student the project coordinator had met who waslooking for practical experience, she turned out to be a wonderful reliable workerwho mixed with all the other volunteers though most were twice her age.What the volunteers got out it. - Continuation of volunteers wanting to help maintain these gardens after the finish of the project. - Knowledge of sustainable gardening processes to pass on to others. - Pool of trained/informed volunteers for the Volunteer Gardener Programme. - Powerpoint presentation for future reference. - Networking contacts from the Reference Group for Ashburton Support Services for future projects and each other. - Sustainable Garden Project Report for future reference. - Development of an information booklet by the Reference Group.PARTNERSHIPS - Between clients and volunteers who will maintain their gardens. - Between local services,(St. Marks, Neighbourhood Houses). - Between corporations (such as South Eastern Water) and Volunteer Alliance for future projects.FRIENDSHIPS - Very important as the original brief mentioned community involvement, friendships developed between the volunteers and between some of the clients. - Between the PC and some of the clients. - Between some volunteers and PC. - Between services personnel and the PC.STATISTICS - 15 gardens were involved in the SGP. - 10 volunteers contributed, 4 were able to give 2 or 3 days a week when necessary. The others were able to give a morning or afternoon once a week, all efforts were very greatly appreciated. - Two staff from Ashburton Support Services helped with the administration, Kat O’Reilly managed the project, Celia kept the accounts updated. - Clients assisted in the initial consultations, about 50% took an active role in watering the gardens once planted. Most were keen to help but their age or disabilities prevented them. Their thanks and gratitude were very encouraging, as were offers of drinks and home-made cakes (from one client).
384.. PROJECT OUTCOMESKEY LEARNINGSFROM OBSERVATIONS AND EVALUATION FORMS - Gardens are important to the elderly and disabled, it makes then feel useful and needed. - So much joy is still felt by seeing a rose unfold, or picking flowers to enjoy inside. - Colour in a garden is important. - Elderly folk are still keen to learn. - Old age is very frustrating especially when the mind is willing but the body won’t obey. - It is depressing when all the hard work creating a garden begins to fall apart, and the pride begins to recede as well. - An unkempt garden can be the final straw to decide to move to a smaller home or aged care. - Many elderly people are reluctant to ask friends and relatives for help too often. - There is a shortage of trained knowledgeable gardeners available. - The advice given was very useful to clients and volunteers, and the opportunity to discuss matters arising from garden shows. - Day centres and gardening clubs are very important to encourage elderly out of their homes. - The SGP gave so many clients a boost “why me?”.... “I’m so lucky”............. “I’m so grateful”... One client thought she had cancer, when the results were negative, she was so delighted “Thank goodness, now I can look after my new garden””Now I have a reason to go out in my garden again, it used to depress me before” “My son is so grateful, he’s so busy, now there’s less for him to do, and I’m telling him what to do in his garden” “ My vegetables were so poor last year, the manure and mulch has made such a difference already , next year I’m going to try some different things” ................................................................. -Those carers who have to look after their partners were so grateful to have another focus, and something else to discuss with friends and relatives, especially those who are unable to leave their partners. - Most clients are only able to potter, bending to weed is very hard for them, manoeuvring hoses with a walking frame can be difficult so we need to consider strategies to help,REFLECTION ON THE PROCESS AND OUTCOMES OF THE SGPThe project was very successful in that it achieved far more gardens thanoriginally hoped and everyone seemed happy with the results.The reason for this was mainly because the renovated gardens were smaller thanoriginally thought, and the Project Coordinator was able to access plants from awholesale nursery which saved about 40% of plant costs.
39The project brief template and structure of the project as set out by the Manager(Kat O’Reilly) and the Reference Group was very useful and followed a logicalsequence. It was essential to have the regular Reference group meetings foradvice and discussion on various issues such as budget decisions, occupationaltherapy logistics, and general endorsements and encouragement.Kat O’Reilly, as Manager of the project, was wonderful backup for the ProjectCoordinator who had plenty of horticultural and landscape managing skills but wasunfamiliar with the paperwork involved in this elderly peoples’ community project.She was also able to organise and network potential clients and volunteers from allher contacts. These needed to be in place as early as possible in the project.At times there was almost daily contact by phone and e-mail which wasalways returned promptly.The selection criteria was very useful. Kat O’Reilly and the Reference Group werevery clear in communicating this to contacts who could suggest potential clients sothere were not too many ‘red herrings’. This was greatly appreciated, as eachconsultation visit can take well over an hour and it’s disappointing for the client tobe told they don’t qualify when they are so hopeful. Only two potential clients wereturned down, one because slight dementia prevented her from grasping theconcept of sustainability and what was to be achieved, and the other because shedidn’t own her home, it was a private rental. There was one other client and carerwho didn’t have the love of gardening stipulated in the criteria, this was notapparent until the work began. It is unlikely this garden will flourish as watering toestablish the plants will probably not happen. Only the front garden of thisresidence was completed for this reason.Scaled plans were drawn up for the first 8 gardens which took a lot of time; onreflection they are only necessary for clients who are having landscaping done, orfor those who are interested in the plant varieties. Most are happy to have thelabels from the plants to identify later. Some are just happy to have a “lovelygarden”. However a rough plan is necessary to budget for plants and othermaterialsIt was probably too ambitious to take on 8 more gardens so late in the project, theplanting was still happening in November and December which is too lateclimatically (the plants do not have a chance to establish a root system in the soilbefore the heat of summer). Also many volunteers became busy with Christmasactivities so 3 volunteers were relied on quite heavily. They were very willing tohelp but in another situation this may not be the case. The project coordinator putin more hours than budgeted for, and once again this cannot be expected inanother situation. (However, the flip side is, had the gardens been started earlierall would have been easier, but these circumstances were not planned)SUSTAINABILITY OF THE PROJECT.It is absolutely vital volunteer gardeners are assigned to the project to maintain thegardens, especially for the first summer. The majority of clients are only able to“potter”, bending to weed, mulching pruning is not possible for most of them. Theyare able to water and most of them will know what to tell the gardeners to do.
40The Volunteer Alliance based at Ashburton Support Services has a VolunteerGardeners Service already established. Unfortunately there is a waiting list but theinflux of new volunteers should help.The current drought and water restrictions will not help this project, but most of thegardens are small enough to be manageable. The thick mulch will also help. In thelatter batch of gardens, empty pots were “planted” a short distance from the plantsto act as a reservoir, channeling the water to the roots.A checklist will be sent to the coordinator of the Volunteer Alliance for thevolunteers to distribute to the volunteers such as:- - The ‘finger-test’ – push a finger into the soil to make sure plants aren’t over- watered. Over-watered plants present similar symptoms to thirsty plants, wilting, scorching, dull coloured or yellow leaves. This is a common cause of death in newly planted plant- too much water. - If taps or hose-reels are leaking, check the plastic ‘O-rings’ little washers found in the ‘click-on’ connections of hoses to taps or reels. Usually they split. Warm up the rings to help expand them before application (hot water or in the sun). - Keep the pressure low when watering with a hose, high pressure destroys the structure of the soil and it will not infiltrate very far. Water will spread downwards through capillary action if applied SLOWLY. This is where you want the water to go, not just the top 5 cm. Test with a trowel to see how far the water has descended. Try again 1 hour later to see if it has descended any further. - Try ice cubes on pot plants/hanging baskets where water rushes straight down the sides and out of the bottom of the pot. Soil wetting agents are also good on pots and sandy soil where water does not penetrate. - Return any prunings, non-invasive weeds to the soil to keep the soil cooler. If you have clients who are not used to this, suggest it’s for the summer only because of the drought and water restrictions. -Check the ‘o-rings’ on hose and tap connections, they can be responsible for the loss of many litres of water.
41This leak is cause d by a split ‘O’-ring in the hose /wheel connection, it can easily be replaced.
42Mulch is essential to the success of these gardens, the new mulch applied to thesegardens will have broken down in 12 months time. It really should be re-appliedbefore spring 2007.It has been suggested to the clients; if they are able to buy the mulch, thevolunteer gardeners could pool their resources and help each other spread it overvarious gardens. Supplier details will be sent to the volunteer coordinator. “CELEBRATION OF THE SUSTAINABLE GARDENS PROJECT’ LUNCH ANDLAUNCHThe final meeting of the Reference Group was followed by a lunch hosted atAshburton Support Services. A delicious lunch funded by the project was providedand a presentation of the project followed.Most of the Reference Group, six clients, three of the volunteers and Jeff Herdfrom Neighbourhood Renewal were able to attend.Resource kitA resource kit will be developed by Kat O’Reilly and Michelle Jones.
435. RECOMMENDATIONS • Any new projects should be started in March/April allowing more time for planting and working in cooler weather. • The Project Coordinator should be aware of the number of trips to collect and deliver plants. Only one or two gardens can be tackled at a time, clients cannot be expected to water plants daily if the renovation is held up for any reason (which happens when clients or volunteers commitments change). Plants were delivered early to one job, and by the time the renovation happened a week later the plants were almost dead, despite the client assuring the coordinator they would be watered. • Plus it was easier to choose the plants having worked in the garden clearing weeds and pruning, to ascertain sun/shade issues, soil type and condition, existing plants . • Expect the unexpected! The clients are elderly and may not be as strong as they appear. One of the criteria was to estimate how long the client is likely to stay in their home but the desire to stay should be considered more than frailty as this is so hard to judge and often it is the frail who need the help most. • The passing away of the client with the biggest garden was unexpected. However, this opened the doors of opportunity to a few more people to participate in the project. • Working in horticulture and with elderly residents means hard and fast rules cannot be applied, each situation is different. • The number of gardens involved in the project is dependant of the number of volunteers and their availability, and the nature of the garden, hard landscaping and safety features such as ramps can take the bulk of the project budget; each garden and client has to be assessed separately. For example in one garden the quote for ramps was $1800 and for steps to be made more accessible to the front door in another garden the quote was $1700. Other avenues should be explored (Council occupational health services, Veterans affairs) first. The disadvantage of this is at least a 6 month waiting period, so verification of the alternative funding source should be obtained in writing before the project is complete. • The project could have a “waiting list” of 2 or 3 gardens to renovate should the budget become available, with this clearly explained to clients. This would prevent the time-lag as happened with Joyce. Also if there are budget short falls, should clients purchase their own plants. Or if their plants are able to be divided, use these or let them be used in another garden
44• A final visit of all the gardens was carried out at the end of the project, this was obviously more useful for the gardens that had been completed earlier. Questions were invited from the clients and basic maintenance such as watering and control of the peas that had sprouted from the pea straw addressed - eat them; - leave them to die and add to the mulch (this also adds nitrogen to the soil); - or pull them out if they are too untidy, they die after few weeks anyway.• It was a good opportunity to monitor the plants. This is where it’s so important to select clients with a love of gardening, most gardens were faring really well, just one had lost a few plants from lack of water. This client had Parkinson’s Disease so was unsteady, but didn’t have quite the commitment of others, so it was suggested she ask her relatives who are frequent visitors, to water where necessary until a volunteer gardener could be found. The other clients had managed to find a way to water their gardens. This final visit should be part of the job description for the Project Coordinator as some of the clients were very anxious of doing the “right thing” how and when to water, dead-heading etc.• Evaluation forms should have been handed out earlier, this was not possible this time because of the late finish of some of the gardens. Stamped addressed envelopes should have been included to make it easier/more reliable to return them. If handed out earlier, the Project Coordinator would have more time to follow up errant forms. The Project-Coordinator emphasised constructive criticism was very useful to improve the project.• It would have been useful for the Project Coordinator to present a power point presentation on ‘Water-wise Gardening’ for the clients, many were still so interested in gardening. Maintenance tips could have been included in the presentation.• The MOU and SCOTT forms were confusing to fill in, for some-one like the Project Coordinator who had not experienced them before, a sample of each could have been filled in with the manager of the project.• Follow-up volunteer maintenance is very important for the success of this project, (see above in sustainability of project also comments on mulch)Funding body• Ideally extra funding should be made available for the PC to return to the gardens 12 months later to inspect the gardens, take photographs, address any concerns or questions the clients may have, and write up a short report. This may also include a short questionnaire for the clients to complete to see if the project did improve the clients quality of life, and help deter the client leaving their home for aged care. This would be circulated to DHS, the Reference group and any other interested party. A power point presentation could be presented for clients, volunteers and the above.
45 • Extra budget for mulching the gardens before the following spring should be included. It needs to be topped up to 100mm. The PC could organise this when carrying out the evaluations. The whole sustainability concept revolves around mulch, especially the plants are young. It is expected the plants will reach a good size in two years (24 months) when they will be established enough to require less maintenance.Succulents planted in Dot’s gardenGardens need to be re-visited in 12 months to see how successful the changesare.Dot’s rose garden after being planted with Nepeta as a ground cover and thick mulchingResults need to be monitored after the summer heat and drought.
47Project Budget Sustainable Gardens ProjectAll entries ex-GST Expenses IncomeIncome Grant from Dept Human Sservices $30,000.00 Donation $50.00 Pea Straw $20.00 Plants bought but on-sold to Ashburton Support Services $77.00 Total Income $30,147.00Salaryetc $20,384.00 Consultants fees Stage 1-3 $8,000.00 **Cons. Fees (Salary oncosts Stage 4) $2,184.00 **Balance of Stage 4 payment due $2,396.00 **Additional hours payment $499.89 Management & Supervision $3,000.00 Operating Costs $4,000.00 $20,079.89 $304.11 Total Expenses $ Remaining:Obj 1 - Advertising $700.00 Advertising $507.00 $507.00 $193.00 Total Expenses $ Remaining:Obj 2 - Conversions, Contractors, Training $8,850.00 Contractors, conversions, plants etc $8,112.75 Catering at SG events $311.36 Total Expenses $8,424.11 $ Remaining: $502.89 *Funds unspent: *$1,000.00Notes: * $1000 to be spent on installation of handrail **Yet to be paid to Consultant
48CONTENTS OF APPENDIXAPPENDIX 1Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) SUSTAINABLE GARDEN PROJECTMEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDINGBetween Ashburton Support Services(ABN: 40 815 167 126.)AND _____ + ________Name of participant
49BACKGROUNDThe Home & Community Care (HACC) Program provides funding for services thatsupport frail aged people, younger people with disabilities and their carers. Theprogram is designed to support people whose capacity for independent living is atrisk, or who are at risk of premature or inappropriate admission to long-termresidential care.In 2005/06 EMR HACC consultations were held in May 2006 with CommunityService Organisations. The sector endorsed the establishment of a servicedevelopment initiative with the EMR Neighbourhood Renewal (NHR) area.It was proposed to undertake a project to explore options and develop a possibleservice model for frail aged residents within the Neighbourhood Renewal Precinctof Ashwood/Ashburton and Chadstone. The project would focus on the linksbetween property maintenance, low maintenance gardens and volunteers to assistfrail aged residents to remain living in their own homes and community.Following consultations with HACC service providers in the NHR it was agreed thatAshburton Support Services would take the lead for this project. A ReferenceGroup was established with NHR, MonashLink CHS, City of Monash, St MarksAdult Day Care Centre, Alamein Community Committee & Horticultural TherapyAssociation Victoria to oversee the project.OBJECTIVETo establish a model of low maintenance gardens for HACC eligible frail aged andyoung disabled clients in the NHR area to live safely and actively within their homeenvironment, reducing the likelihood of premature admission to residential care.COMMON UNDERSTANDINGThis MOU is designed to clarify and document an agreed way of working together.It does not intend to create a legal entity or joint venture. It is recognised as aninformal working relationship between the parties.PURPOSE This MOU formalises a commitment between the Parties to work together to make improvements to the recipient’s garden that will improve the quality of life of the recipient of the service. The improvements will be aimed at converting the garden to a safer more sustainable garden.COMMUNICATION The Parties agree to the following pattern of communication; All communications will be primarily addressed through the Project Manager. Diana Cotter. While informal communication is encouraged between all parties.
51COSTS Cost agreed to at the start of the project will be the responsibility of the project unless otherwise stated. Any alterations or additions to these costs will result in either modification of the works to be carried out. If additional costs or labour are involved the execution of this work will be negotiated through the Sustainable Gardens Project Reference Group. Additional costs will be the responsibility of the client if they are carried out at their request.TERM This term of this MOU will be from ____August 2006 to 31st December 2006. The Parties may agree to extend this MOU, or an amended version of it, for a further period. The Parties will review progress of their working relationship at least monthly. Either Party may terminate this MOU by giving written notice to the other.SITE ACCESS The project will not require site access at unreasonable hours. They will not request access to the site after dark. If the recipient is not going to be home during the negotiated access times they will need to notify the Project Officer in advance and to make alternative arrangements. If they are agreeable to the work being carried out in their absence they will need to make arrangements for toilet access. The project worker will take all reasonable steps to ensure the client has safe ingress and egress to their home and amenities. If at any time this is not possible the project officer will negotiate a suitable time with the client to carry out the work and must give reasonable advance notice to the client. The site will be maintained and left in a tidy and safe manner everyday.WORKPLACE HEALTH & SAFETY Participants are asked where possible to assist the project by providing tools.RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES Ashburton Support Services has a charter of Rights & Responsibilities (see attached) which guides the provision of its services. All parties are required to adhere to these guidelines.
52VOLUNTEERS Ashburton Support Services has ultimate responsibility for the safe conduct of the project for clients, staff and volunteers. Activities organised by the service have to be documented so that all times we are aware of who is receiving a service and from whom. Arrangements must not be changed without the consent of the Project Manager. Please refer all requests for any changes in arrangements such as scheduled times of being at the site, or any changes to planned actions to the project manager. Volunteers must be responsive to the project manager’s direction concerning client care, if you as a client have any concerns regarding volunteer behaviour you are asked to inform the project manager. Volunteers have been informed of Occupational Health and Safety issues so as to work in a safe and responsible way. The site should always be left in a safe and tidy Way at all times and the client should be made aware of any potential, unavoidable hazards created the project work by the project manager as soon as possible. The project manager should always maintain a log of volunteer’s presence on the sites. There will be occasions where volunteers will be on the site without supervision of the project manager. The client will be advised of these times and should this not be acceptable to the client other arrangements will be made. Volunteers may need to use the toilet, but they should always check with you first and are expected to go straight in and out.PLANTS & ON-GOING MAINTENANCE Plants have been selected to be drought resistant and low maintenance. However they may need a little extra water to establish them during the first summer. It is requested that you make your own arrangements for this additional watering to be carried out. Plants used may vary from the original plant list depending upon availability and costs. Any substituted plants will be authorised with clients before they are used.
53Maintenance notes will be provided on completion of the job. All due care willbe taken when planting but Ashburton Support Services cannot takeresponsibility for plant health or on-going maintenance once the job iscompleted. A follow-up visit will be made to all gardens, to advise you on thefuture maintenance needs of the garden e.g. watering weeding etc, before theproject finishes in December.There is a Volunteer Gardener Support Program available through AshburtonSupport Services but access to this program depends on the volunteerspresent workload.
54Schedule of Site VisitsAdditional agreed CostsSigned as a Memorandum of Understanding on2006Liaison OfficersDiana Cotter Kat O’Reilly – Ashburton SupportServicesProject manager 296 High St Ashburton Vic 3147Term6 Months from date of execution
55DEFINITIONSSustainable Gardens Reference Group Reference group membership iscomprised of representatives from Department OF Human Services (DHS) Ashburton Support Services Neighbourhood Renewal ( NHR), MonashLink Community Health Centre City of Monash, HACC Services St Marks Adult Day Care Centre, Horticultural Therapy Association VictoriaSustainableImplies low maintenance in terms of weeding, watering, and pruning and use ofmulch.Plants :-includes all vegetation such as shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, grasses.Schedule – Refers to the dates and times that project workers will be on site.DHS Dept of Human ServicesMOU Memorandum Of UnderstandingParties: Include the: Project Manager Participants Volunteers