Rebuilding garden helps heal the heart

News release
12 March 2020

In support of community-wide efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges has cancelled all events up to 30 March. We will be reassessing the situation on a weekly basis in line with advice from the relevant health authorities. 

Making a small start on rebuilding a garden lost to bushfire can be an important first step in the recovery process, says a garden expert who is running workshops for landholders affected by the Cudlee Creek fire.

ABC Gardening Australia presenter Sophie Thomson hosted a workshop late last month and will present another on March 21, funded by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board as part of its support for recovery after the Cudlee Creek fires. 

Ms Thomson said the workshops provide support and a way forward for the many Adelaide Hills residents whose gardens were damaged or lost in the recent fires.

“Losing a garden to fire can be devastating and can have a huge impact on both our physical and mental health, because gardens are often our sanctuaries where we can forget the worries of the world,” Ms Thomson said.

“Starting to create some green space around you again will make you feel so much stronger, and help with the other parts of the recovery process.”

Ms Thomson said it was important to start from the ground up, getting the soil back to life after the impact of fire. She said soil can be drastically altered by fire, impacting moisture, nutrients, organic matter and the seed bank, and leaving large volumes of ash behind.

“The best way to restore soil life is through the use of organic matter such as compost, compost teas or soil probiotics, topped with mulch.

“Rather than take on a huge project, my suggestion would be to think big, but start small. Even if it’s just a few pots with colourful flowers by the front door, every time you see it, it will restore you and you will be ready to take on bigger challenges.”

Ms Thomson said in the longer term, gardeners may wish to consider re-designing parts of their garden with a view to reducing fire risk. Irrigated areas such as vegetable gardens, lawns and orchards can be located close to the house, while native vegetation could be located further away. This would help keep the area around the house cool and moist, and as a result it may be better able to withstand ember attack or fire itself, she said. 

Sophie Thomson will host a workshop at Lobethal on March 21


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Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges