ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The Department of Human Services(DHS) has identified the need to assist frail elderly people in the Neighbourhood Renewal area of Ashburton, Ashwood and Chadstone, to remain in their own homes and maintain their independence. High maintenance gardens are problematic for frail elderly people with mobility issues This project was the initiative of Jeff Herd of DHS as a Neighbourhood Renewal project The Sustainable Garden Project was funded by the DHS Home & Community Care program The Reference Group guided the project through regular meetings and offered invaluable advice, networking contacts and insight. Helena Allen Kat O’Reilly Sarah Lachal Michelle Jones Richard Thornton Margaret Clarke Patricia Cheney Trish Grundy Diana Cotter Department of Human Services– Home and Community Care C.E.O – Ashburton Support Services Occupational Therapist – MonashLink Community Health Service Monash City Council - Aged Care Services Neighbourhood Renewal Horticultural Therapist, Horticulture Therapy Group Victoria St. Mark’s Day Centre St. Marks Day Centre Project Coordinator

Ashburton Support Services managed the project, special thanks go to the CEO, Kat O’Reilly who kept everything on track and provided much appreciated on-going support and wisdom. Thank you also to Nancy Groll, coordinator of Volunteer Alliance with her efficient work finding new volunteers and processing all their paperwork. The project could not have been implemented without the tireless and enthusiastic help 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 Fraser Finally, thank you to all the clients who allowed us into their gardens, and lives and worked so willingly with us to make the project so enjoyable.


Acknowledgement Executive Summary 1. Introduction (i) The need for the project (ii) Principals of Sustainable Gardens Objective 1 Objective 2 2. Project achievements and challenges 2.1 Clients and carers Case study 1 Case study 2 Case study 3 Case study 4 Case study 5 2.ii Volunteers 3. Challenges 4. Project outcomes 5. Recommendations

2 4 5 5 5 7 9 13 13 18 21 24 26 40 33 35 38 43

ACRONYMS DHS HACC MOU SGP CEO Department of Human Services Home & Community Care Memorandum of Understanding Sustainable Garden Project Chief Executive Officer


Symbiotic Relationships. “Mutually beneficial partnerships” The brief for the project was to develop four or five gardens to be more sustainable and low-maintenance for frail aged residents within the Neighbourhood Renewal Precinct of Ashwood, Ashburton and Chadstone; ultimately we were able to help 15 clients with their gardens. The aim was to minimise garden maintenance, reduce garden related injuries and to encourage the frail and elderly to remain living independently in their homes and community. It was a an extremely satisfying project in that the relationships formed between clients, volunteers (who will go on to maintain the gardens), the Reference Group, Ashburton Support Services, the clients and their carers and the project coordinator were so symbiotic. Everyone contributed something, knowledge, time, experience, and in return received gratitude and a wonderful sense of achievement. The project ended with a “Celebration of the Sustainable Gardens Project” lunch and launch, where the most common word used was probably ‘Thanks’, from everyone involved in the project, not just the clients. It was interesting to note the clients’ changes of attitudes from the start to the finish of the project, as one put it, she “was grateful to be gently pushed in the right direction”. It was also pleasing that further partnerships were formed, for example some of the clients will now attend sessions at the Ashburton Support Services and others are interested in joining gardening clubs in their areas. The carers in some cases benefited as much as the clients, giving them a focus and interest away from their everyday routines. It also gave the couples something new to talk about and discuss. Some of the clients were very grateful for the project as it took the pressure of their children (who may be in their 50’s and 60’s themselves) to spend so much time maintaining their gardens when they were busy. Most of the clients were proud in that they didn’t like asking for help from their family too often.

Sustainable Gardens Project; Ashburton/Ashwood HACC Agencies.


1. INTRODUCTION 1: (i) The need for the project DHS identified the need to assist frail elderly people to remain in their own homes and maintain their independence, existing friends and contacts. Gardens can provide relaxation, quality of life, exercise, interest and a sense of caring for something. There is the simple joy of gardening and wandering around the garden watching things grow and flower. It can be very depressing and frustrating to watch a once loved garden fall into neglect when one is not able to care for it anymore. There are also health and safety issues which can affect either the confidence or practicalities of gardening. A fall can affect the owner physically and /or mentally if their confidence is shaken. With increasing age comes a decrease in strength and flexibility, and the elderly may not realise they are can injure themselves with tasks they were once able to do such as pruning. HACC property maintenance program does not provide for regular exterior maintenance such as lawn mowing or shrub pruning. Many of the gardens in the Neighbourhood Renewal area are quite substantial in size. 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


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 o o o o o Drought tolerance. Suitability to the soil type – sand, clay, loam. Aspect, sun/shade, North, South, East or West facing. Climate conditions, natural rainfall, wind, frost. Suiting existing conditions, eg. under trees, narrow driveways. 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 . 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.



OBJECTIVE 1, Initial Procedures Of The Sustainable Garden Project. To work in partnership with City of Monash, MonashLink Community Health Service, Neighbourhood Renewal, HACC local agencies and DHS to develop at least 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 milestones The 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 criteria The clients had to comply with HACC Program guidelines (Appendix 1 – HACC Program Manual).


Other 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.


OBJECTIVE 2 Consultation & Design To undertake consultation with the residents and their significant others, develop designs for sustainable gardens and convert a minimum of four gardens in the Ashburton (1), Ashwood/Chadstone (3) areas. Actions - Garden plans/consultations Garden 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, changes made if necessary, then signed by the client or carer as approved. The same plans were 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.

Methodologies Consultations with the potential clients At all stages of the consultation the carers or significant others were involved in discussions and decisions. It became apparent in some cases the gardens would benefit the carer as well as the client. In other cases, the carer was more capable of making decisions. Potential clients and their carers were briefed on the project firstly by members of the reference group who had recommended them. The project coordinator further explained the project, and confirmed potential clients’ interest, and where necessary, 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.


- 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 narrow and technically high maintenance, as the beds are too narrow for water penetration but she always had petunias in it for the family when they gather at her house for Christmas


Planted with petunias, and empty pots to allow water to reach their roots, acting as a reservoir.

Consultation with the reference group Potential clients were discussed with the reference group, information provided by the 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 Understanding A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was drawn up and the reference group were asked to comment/discuss and approve it. (Appendix 2) The MOU is designed to clarify and document an agreed way of working together between the client and Ashburton Support Services. It encompasses scope of work, budgets, time-frames and details any requirements concerning access times/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 all expectations of both parties were made clear. The MOU was signed by both parties and copies retained by the client and Ashburton Support Services.


Ashburton Support Services Information Package The 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 of their services. The consumer consent form and SCOTT form were read to the client by the project worker, to ensure the client understood the content. They then signed the form and the client and Ashburton Support Services retained copies.


2. (i) Clients and carers Initially, 8 gardens out of a possible 9 were selected for the sustainable garden project. Then a further 7 were added making a total of 15 gardens. The final garden only had a partial renovation, as it was uncertain at the time of consultation with the client, that there would be sufficient funds to complete all the work. The client was informed of this possibility. Landscaping Landscapers were contacted to quote for works necessary for health and safety issues, these quotes were approved and Tim Dowling Gardens employed to carry out 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 Landscaping Soft landscaping involves anything to do with plants, this was the major area of improvement 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 few worms, a sign of minimum organic matter in the soil.

15 - Pruning, this included some heavy pruning such as removal of a mature

pittosporum whose roots were causing the adjacent wall to bow, were taking the water and nutrients from all the plants in the same area, and needed heavy pruning each year to keep the size of the plant manageable. In another case, a large orange tree was removed, it was nearly dead and was in danger of falling over, possibly causing damage to the shed or client. In other gardens shrubs badly needed pruning to rejuvenate them (to make them bushy or flower better), or because they were crowding the paths causing potential health and safety issues. If the shrub was too big for it’s position, and would just regrow to the same size, it was removed, obviously these 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 very drought tolerant and flowers beautifully, but is very high pruning maintenance. It was removed and most of the plants Daphne had in pots were planted here, intermixed with natives. This made the bed more interesting for Daphne who loves to wander around her garden and potter. The plant in the foreground is fish-fern which was also removed for the same reason

Pruning techniques were taught to volunteers and clients by the project coordinator. This was useful as natives and indigenous plants had been planted as suggested on various garden shows in some gardens and clients were not as used to pruning them. Natives were included on the planting list which the clients may not know. In some cases where the client had done the pruning in the past; the carer was taught as the client was no longer able to carry out the task. It was also useful for the volunteers could see the results of their winter pruning 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 clients were happy to continue this as they like to ‘potter’, and have seasonal colour, in other cases they were planted in 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.


- 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


Case Study 1 Shirley, Sandra and Margaret
Shirley has a bad back and walks with a frame. She has impaired vision but is very lively mentally and has led a very full and exciting life, she still likes to socialise and is a regular visitor to her local Neighbourhood House. Sandra has Parkinson’s Disease which affects her balance so she is not very confident outside her home and immediate surroundings, she has quite a few visitors. The garden is L-shaped, but one big section down the side was totally over-grown with couch grass. Sandra’s brother was quite insistent that the three female 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 return Margaret lives in an adjacent unit, she has a bad back which is affecting her ability to bend and tend her garden. She moved from a larger property and brought some of 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 with pretty poor soil, a thin smattering of bark mulch and the same mixture of plants, as most 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 were burning, others were languishing in the shade. Their gardens are important for socialising, two of the ladies smoke so they prefer to sit outside, It is easy for them to walk to each others homes. Shirley has full sun most of the day in her front garden where she has a table and chair. However when shade is needed in the summer she also had a table and chairs in the back garden, but they were positioned in the flower bed as the shed and washing line take up the space in the largest area. With her limited vision and mobility issues this was a potential safety hazard. There is a shade tree but little else so the area was quite bleak and uninviting.


Extension of the concreted area to allow Shirley to have her table and chair in the afternoon shade. Succulents were planted in new pots to break up the concrete.

The flowerbed was concreted and the remaining area planted with shrubs suited to the area. Three large pots were bought and planted with large growing succulents to screen the shed and to break up the large concrete area. The other two courtyards (Sandra and Margaret’s), needed shade trees, Sandra chose a quick growing Callistemon (bottle brush) with crimson flowers, which should grow about 4x3 metres, Margaret chose a lemon. The garden plants were re-arranged, many of the existing plants were moved to suit their preferred growing conditions and expected ultimate sizes. Plants were grouped to create a more interesting and harmonious effect and extra plants added to complete the effect. A mixture of native, indigenous and ornamentals were used, but all chosen require the same growing conditions (water needs, soil type, climatic conditions). Tired old daisy bushes and lavenders were removed.


Shirley’s front garden with a blue and yellow colour theme

Each garden had a different colour scheme, blue/purple/yellow with orange highlights for Shirley who’s limited vision picks up bright colours, blue/purple/salmon pink and cream for Sandra who quite a few of these colours already, and blue/purple/red for Margaret in her back courtyard and she chose yellow/blue/purple for the front. The same base plants were chosen for all three gardens both to suit the conditions but also for ease of maintenance if the same volunteer gardener tends all three gardens in the future. And so far the couch grass mentioned earlier by the doubting brother ....... .... has not returned!


Sandra’s garden after 3 months, beginning to take shape. A bottlebrush has been planted to provide some shade.

Ray and Joan Ray is in his late 60’s. He had an operation but had a reaction to the anaesthetic and suffered a form of dementia affecting his behaviour, short- term memory and speech. 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, being a completely different person I don’t know”. They were looking forward to a wonderful retirement together but things have since changed. Ray’s working life had always been involved with horticulture. At home, Joan would choose the plants and Ray would plant and care for them. The front garden had some cherished plants such as camellias, a gardenia, lots of annuals and a few brown and sickly azaleas. There was an enormous liquidamber which cast a lot of shade, cooling the house, but affecting the plants by competing for water and creating quite heavy shade. The soil was spotless, all weeds removed, but also any potential mulching material, no leaves or plant debris remained, it looked like a vacuum cleaner had been run over it. Joan proudly informed the Project Coordinator that Ray had “tidied up” before she arrived.


The soil was rock hard in some areas and no worms were present (a sign of little soil life activity). Most communication was with Joan, Ray’s wife and carer, the more we talked, the more excited and enthusiastic she became and was soon suggesting, or shyly asking for particular plants. She had seen a row of pink roses with lavender in front in someone else’s garden and every time she went passed she sighed and wished she 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 everything back, whether it needed it or not. She listened intently as I explained the principals of sustainable gardening. Ray had bought some tomato plants. The previous year they had become his main hobby and his Doctor had encouraged him to plant more to give him a focus and encourage him out of the house. Although vegetables need a lot of water and care and 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 pottering around outside

Ray’s tomato plants.

The back garden was very large and devoid of any plants except some hydrangeas 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 keep things simple, plant the existing beds, see how Joan coped with the maintenance and she could extend them if she wished to at a later date.


The circular bed, showing the hose to take greywater from the washing machine, Joan installed this after the garden was finished.

As we planted, mulched and watered the garden, Joan was buzzing around asking many questions and thanking us, it was a delight to have such an enthusiastic client. She had been showing all visitors her new garden and teaching them sustainable gardening principals. The project seemed to have been perfectly timed for her to create a focus away from her concerns inside the house, to escape outside and marvel in the wonders and delights of nature, and give her something different to care for. And also possibly gratitude that something had been done for her after all she had given and was still giving to her husband. Ray, I think was also grateful that his wife was so pleased. Expressions such as “I’m just tickled pink”, rushing the Project Coordinator out to see the roses’ new buds, (and asking how to dead-head and winter pruning advice), showing the new growth on the camellia after receiving it’s blanket of mulch, 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 unusual agapanthus, and “yes she would dead-head it so it couldn’t seed”, and how her son and daughter both wanted some when it was big enough to divide how they couldn’t believe the difference in the garden then on to inspect her grey-water recycle system she and Ray had rigged up to water everything in the back, and the two large barrels she filled to water the plants in the front. But best of all, her pride and joy, the row of pink roses and purple lavender flourishing in the front border and how everyone was commenting on them “ I used to wish I could have Back Yard Blitz come here... 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...



Joyce Joyce was 86, lived alone in a house she had lived in all her married life. Her husband died young, leaving her to look after 4 children under the age of 10. She was very community minded, running various groups to raise funds to build a kindergarten, 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 the church flower arrangements and flower arranging courses she used to run. She still grew flowers for the Church. Latterly she had begun to grow natives for their interesting foliage and because they were easier to look after. On a tour around Britain she had fallen and broken her hand, unfortunately it was not 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 knee reconstructions so mobility was a problem as the knees were very swollen as a result. Joyce’s garden was very large and ideally suited to be a ‘teaching” or “learning garden” for volunteers in sustainable gardening practises The garden could be divided into 3 distinct areas which would be treated quite differently. It was initially the eighth and last garden. The volunteers were to put into practise all they had learnt at the Volunteer training session and in previous gardens. Nancy Groll of Volunteer Alliance had arranged a story in the local paper to attract new volunteers to “blitz” a needy garden and had arranged for 8 South Eastern Water employees to volunteer for a days community work. This would have been very useful for them to put into practise sustainable gardening methods, especially in the present drought conditions. One of the volunteers was a student at Burnley University: the PC had invited her to 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 and the one Joyce would use the most. It was visible from the road and Joyce’s living room window. It was to have a pink, silver and purple colour scheme to incorporate existing plants and others in pots Joyce had in the back garden. An arch was to be erected which Joyce had received for Christmas 6 months earlier but was still in the garage. The brick stepping stones to the front door had sunk over the years and were not safe to use so it was decided to raise them.


The reference group discussed rebuilding the front steps as some of the risers were well over the recommended 180mm height. However the costs would have been too high and there was a ramp at the back exit which Joyce tended to use more. 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 just replace some of the shrubs which were too big, very old or spreading out of control, or were struggling to survive because of bad positioning. The end section was to be cleared of rampant ivy, couch grass, jasmine, blackberries, ash seedlings, ash tree, sweet pittosporum and privet tree seedlings Many of the existing trees such as the pear, loquat, and cherry were smothered by the above. The ash trees, sweet pittosporums and privet are environmental weeds spreading 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 of this. This area would then be planted in natives and indigenous plants to create a haven for wildlife and it would require virtually no maintenance. There was already a 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 a picking and pottering garden, the second, a low maintenance mix of natives and ornamentals, 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 erected and a rose planted to tumble over it. The plants in pots which had been waiting to be planted for over a couple of years would be planted in appropriate places and enjoyed by Joyce.



The unexpected Joyce went into hospital for a minor operation, but very sadly she passed away a few days later. It was a very sad passing, but she left behind a fine legacy of work and memories and wonderful examples of selfless dedication and kindness. Joyce’s passing put the SGP in rather a quandary. A sizable portion of the budget had been reserved for the garden work and 10 volunteers had answered the appeal for gardeners to work on the project. The reference group rallied and set out to find more potential clients and volunteer gardeners informed of the changes to plan. It took several weeks to go through the selection process and consultations and design procedures. The new volunteers had been invited to join the volunteer gardener program which allocates a gardener to a client which they visit once a month, which most were happy to do (This is a service which was already set up at Ashburton Support Services). Unfortunately no other large gardens to involve the South Eastern Water employees could be found in the remaining time frame. Eventually we ended up with 7 new smaller gardens to renovate. The Project Coordinator 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 available days and work commenced on the new clients gardens. It was felt by all who knew Joyce, that she would be happy to know she had yet again managed, indirectly to help these new people.

Dot has lymphedema which severely restricts her mobility. She needs a mobile frame to walk everywhere. She also cares for her husband who has had acquired brain 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 gifted gardener and her garden was a cedit to her, however some areas were just beginning to suffer.


Dot’s rose garden which she designed and built herself when she retired. Four of the roses had totally reverted to the rootstock, so were removed and the soil below the roses was open to weed invasion and moisture evaporation.

Some of the new shrubs which had been planted the previous autumn were barely alive, plants like the hydrangeas and hellebores were suffering from lack of water, as were some of the new camellias and lavenders. Perennials, for example phlox and pentstemons were struggling and there were quite a few large areas of open soil which were kept weed free by Dot and her daughter when she came to visit, 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 doors and negotiating two steps with a frame and washing basket, which is very demanding on her. After checking the Australian Standard regulations with Sarah Lachal, (an Occupational Therapist from MonashLink, who is on the Reference Group, and following up a couple of carpenter references, the Project Coordinator proposed ramps be installed. The total cost was too much for the project, but Dot offered to contribute to the cost. However it was suggested the Occupational Therapist from Boroondara City Council should be contacted first to see if the ramps could be supplied by them. Once it was confirmed Dot’s garden would be renovated she had a very enjoyable day with her daughter, buying plants. Although it had been explained the plants would be supplied by the project Dot, a very independent soul felt she was just grateful the work would be done and wanted to “do her bit”. The Project Coordinator was happy for this as it meant Dot still had some ownership of her garden.


Most of the work involved moving plants to more suitable locations or which had been planted too close together, removing some high maintenance plants like hydrangeas, rampant honeysuckles, artemesia which needed annual pruning, and planting plants struggling in pots. The other main job was mulching. Dot had begun to buy in shredded bark by the bag, but because of limited space in her daughter’s car it was only spread about 10mm thick, not the necessary 100mm. Also it was proving 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 rampant and need regular pruning to allow access down this area.

By moving and dividing the existing plants, and Dot supplying many more, the expenses for this garden, which was one of the bigger ones, were not too high. We could still keep the spirit of the garden with Dot’s “red bed”, “the yellow and blue/purple border”, “the shade bed” and wildlife areas she had created. The rose beds out the front were enhanced with low planting at the base. Dot’s existing 4 clumps of Liriope ‘Samantha” were divided to make 38 smaller plants and a clump of 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 as projects. For example, in two pots she was training Duranta “Geisha Girls” bushes as standards. There were quite a few other plants dotted around most interesting plants which had caught her eye over the years. Then to cut down on maintenance, by reducing flowerbed space, she had planted up some plants in pots in a very hot, dry area outside the living room window.


The soil was then covered with stones. It was apparent she didn’t have the time to water and feed these plants as well as she had in the past and specialists had told her that her legs wouldn’t improve..... It was one of those sad cases where reality reared its ugly head. Where could Dot’s time and energy be best employed?. She felt bad when her daughter helped her in the garden when she was tired after a long day’s work.

The hot bed that received sun most of the day. It was planted with succulents that Dot already had in pots and other 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, two agaves and a Phormium all in pots dotted around the garden. They will look good when established and should cover the ground to keep down any weeds. Dot was really happy with the end result (a few more plants were added to bulk up numbers) and quite relieved she wouldn’t have to drag the hose around to the pots anymore. The Durantas were planted in spots Dot could still reach and continue pruning into their shapes. Dot had discussed moving to a smaller unit or retirement village with her family, but ultimately wanted to stay where she was with all the neighbours she knows and the social life she has built up over the years. Her husband would be very unsettled if he had to move, both regularly roam around the garden, it gave them breathing space away from each other and a space for relaxing. The project was very timely as the garden was just becoming a worry. Now it has become a place to potter and water instead of watching plants struggle and feel helpless when a few years ago she could have done what was necessary.


There’s nothing worse than seeing a hellebore which should be upright, about 300mm high, and making buds for next year, lying prostrate on the dry soil, limp and wrinkled, next to another just the same, and if water is applied it just runs off the hydrophobic soil. It’s these little things that the Sustainable Garden Project can make a difference to, especially to an avid gardener such as Dot, you never stop being a gardener or caring.

Ila Ila 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 her mobility, and she relies on a frame to move around. She, like Dot above, was a wonderful gardener as her garden shows. Attention to detail and beautiful things shows in the way they dress and decorate their homes. Over the years the garden has been simplified, “when things die they are not replaced, it’s too hard to get to the garden centre, and if anything is bought, who’s going to plant it”? As a result the garden is neat and tidy, but there are gaps. Ila has a huge picture window that looks onto the back garden, her chair focuses onto a cherry tree with a bare fence beyond. To a plant lover, it’s not too inspiring. The neighbour has a couple of large trees which, along with Ila’s cherry tree make growing conditions quite hard for anything else to grow let alone thrive. The path to Ila’s washing line was only 500mm wide and hugged the garage, and like the paving under the washing line was uneven and some of the pavers were chipped, all hazards for someone with limited mobility. We replaced the broken pavers, and added more to widen the path to 1000mm. In the front garden was a pittosporum, pruned into a large 3000x2000mm rectangle to keep it manageable. It was right on the fence line and was causing the 400mm high brick wall to buckle. Its roots were also affecting anything else trying to grow there. Ila is a very stylish person and likes everything neat and tidy, and here was a great big thug, which was self-seeded affecting her front flowerbed. It was also very costly to keep having it pruned. This was removed by the volunteers and the bed planted with low plants such as Lomandra ‘Tanika’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Agapanthus ‘Tinkerbell’ to complement the existing dwarf Nandina and Convolvulus Cneureum. The side drive had lost a couple of trees which used to shade the hydrangeas and azaleas which were now suffering. However after discussion with Ila it was decided to leave them as she already had a big garden to water and didn’t want to worry about too many new areas to maintain. The side drive was not an area many people 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 people realise and will cope with less water, it will force them to send roots down into the soil to find their own water. The area was mulched. Because Ila had made compost and had manured the soil for so long it was in very good condition which will help the plants cope.


Ila had a number of plants struggling in pots, azaleas and a camellia. A new bed was made which extended from an existing bed with similar plants. Previously a concrete path had led to this bed but it served no purpose, so it was lifted and the new bed created in its place. The potted plants were planted out and have all flourished. 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 slowly dying in their pots before being planted out. A carpet rose was planted to add colour in the summer. The bed against the fence has also been planted up. Luckily there were several Jacobina plants elsewhere in the garden, mainly in the sun when they prefer the shade so they were moved. Liriope, Rhagodia and Plectranthus were added in the worst areas and heliotrope, carpet rose and westringia in the sunnier spots.


Some 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 soil and to add colour and interesting detail of foliage which Ila is sure to notice.


The front garden bed with Libbertia, Sedum, Nandina, Convolulus and dwarf Agapanthus to provide interesting foliage and colour at different times of the year.

2.(ii) Volunteers The project coordinator (PC) ran a 3 hour training session to discuss and present:o o o Sustainable gardening principals; Health and Safety issues; 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 of increased understanding of sustainable gardening processes. It is much easier to implement new practises if it is known why one is doing it. The volunteers indicated their availability for work and a timetable co-ordinating suitable client and volunteer times was drawn up. The Project Coordinator was at the client’s home to introduce the volunteers and client and to answer any questions 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, others preferred to work away quietly by themselves, just enjoying working outdoors and helping those less fortunate. There was a strong sense of bonding between the love of gardening and helping others. Another example of a symbiotic relationship.


Most of the volunteers were unaware of sustainable gardening techniques, though being aware of the need for them. For example, the idea of returning prunings to the garden or planting an empty pot near a newly planted shrub to create a reservoir to take water deeper to the roots. Also the real depth mulch needs to be applied, most would spread it 3-5cm deep, whereas 10cm is needed this time of year. 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 their gardening practises will now have on the environment. The clients and carers furthered the experience for the volunteers by showing their gratitude so enthusiastically. Gardening has very strong bonding qualities, between nature and mankind, hard work and beauty, sharing of ideas, experiences and joy, communication between all 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, amongst the Reference Group, obviously the volunteers and it was one of the chief criteria for the client selection process.


3. CHALLENGES Client/carer involvement All decisions were discussed before and during the garden renovations. In most cases once the sustainability principals had been explained, the clients were happy to allow the Project Coordinator to suggest and implement the changes. In some cases unsustainable plants were requested, in one case a carer collected brochures from garden centres which featured shrubs in full colour, but which only flower for a short time and need very high maintenance, so the coordinator suggested alternatives, such as carpet roses for those wanting lots of colour in their gardens. Many of the clients had had their gardens long enough to know their limitations as far as maintenance was concerned. In one case the brother of a client tried very hard to stop the women volunteers working, feeling it was “man’s work”, and “pointless” because the weeds would come was probably because he had had a go and the job was too big for one person. On checking with the client, she was happy for us to continue so it was suggested the work continue and “let’s see what happens”. Also it was suggested a volunteer 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 little confused about the financial side of the project, and the son-in-law was worried it could be a scam. All was explained and everyone was happy. Some clients wanted to be there watching everything, some from interest, some from a sense of ownership, both were encouraged, but the coordinator had to develop communication strategies to instruct the volunteers first, then explain to the client. Also strategies to be able to work in the garden without continuous interruptions when time constraints were pressing. Some client/carers were so grateful they wanted to provide lunch for the volunteers, in most cases this was not an option as volunteers had brought their own or were only available for a certain amount of time. Tact again was necessary. Lack of volunteers Of the 7 existing volunteers in the Ashburton Support Services, Volunteer Gardeners Program, 3 were able to give time to the project, and continued all the way through to the end, except latterly for one who was stopped by ill health. Nancy Groll, coordinator of Volunteer Alliance (based at Ashburton Support Services), was able to interest the local paper to run a story on the project which attracted 10 more volunteers. She was also able to involve South Eastern Water . 8 of their employees offered to volunteer for one day as part of their community involvement. (This provided a challenge in that a lot of pre-planning was necessary). Unfortunately the garden in which all these new volunteers were to work in could not be renovated as the client died unexpectedly after a hospital visit.


Co-ordinating volunteers and clients Most volunteers were only available on certain days at certain times, and some clients were busy with activities or medical appointments, and the Project Coordinator had planned to work roughly 2 days a week, so a degree of flexibility is necessary on the coordinators part during the garden renovation period. More hours are necessary during these periods to organise timetables, select and deliver plants and other materials and to be present to organise and supervise volunteers. The project coordinator worked with the volunteers in the gardens for all the renovations. It was necessary to explain to other clients that times of arrival at their garden may alter depending on progress at other gardens. The coordinator did phone to announce late arrivals or to arrange alternative times. Sometimes plans had to be changed at the last moment when clients were unavailable because of unexpected medical appointments. Most of the clients wanted to be there when the work was being carried out. Lack of clients Initially 9 clients were proposed and of these 8 suited the criteria. As mentioned before, unfortunately one passed away; she had the largest garden which would have taken about a quarter of the budget (see Case Study 3), so suddenly other gardens had to be found which proved rather difficult. After several weeks 8 were proposed and the whole consultation process started again. Because it was quite late in the year there was pressure to complete the gardens as soon as possible to give 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 project As mentioned above the timing was a challenge as Christmas approached many of the 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 few weeks, and the project coordinator was also available to work 3- 4 days a week to fit in with them. Participants in the project Kat O’Reilly, CEO of Ashburton Support Services managed the project. Clients and carers participated in the project in the consultation process, most were unable to contribute in a physical way because of their age or disability, but their experiences were much appreciated, as it gave the coordinator more understanding of their garden conditions and limitations. They were also very helpful borrowing green bins from neighbours when necessary and some contributed to the project by either buying some of their own plants or allowing us to plant plants in pots which saved money for other gardens.


Of the 10 new volunteers recruited from the newspaper story, 7 were able to help with the new gardens (there was a time lag as mentioned previously as new gardens were sought and consultative processes set up). There was a Burnley University student the project coordinator had met who was looking for practical experience, she turned out to be a wonderful reliable worker who 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).


4.. PROJECT OUTCOMES KEY LEARNINGS FROM 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 SGP The project was very successful in that it achieved far more gardens than originally hoped and everyone seemed happy with the results. The reason for this was mainly because the renovated gardens were smaller than originally thought, and the Project Coordinator was able to access plants from a wholesale nursery which saved about 40% of plant costs.


The 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 logical sequence. It was essential to have the regular Reference group meetings for advice and discussion on various issues such as budget decisions, occupational therapy logistics, and general endorsements and encouragement. Kat O’Reilly, as Manager of the project, was wonderful backup for the Project Coordinator who had plenty of horticultural and landscape managing skills but was unfamiliar with the paperwork involved in this elderly peoples’ community project. She was also able to organise and network potential clients and volunteers from all her 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 was always returned promptly. The selection criteria was very useful. Kat O’Reilly and the Reference Group were very clear in communicating this to contacts who could suggest potential clients so there were not too many ‘red herrings’. This was greatly appreciated, as each consultation visit can take well over an hour and it’s disappointing for the client to be told they don’t qualify when they are so hopeful. Only two potential clients were turned down, one because slight dementia prevented her from grasping the concept of sustainability and what was to be achieved, and the other because she didn’t own her home, it was a private rental. There was one other client and carer who didn’t have the love of gardening stipulated in the criteria, this was not apparent until the work began. It is unlikely this garden will flourish as watering to establish the plants will probably not happen. Only the front garden of this residence was completed for this reason. Scaled plans were drawn up for the first 8 gardens which took a lot of time; on reflection they are only necessary for clients who are having landscaping done, or for those who are interested in the plant varieties. Most are happy to have the labels from the plants to identify later. Some are just happy to have a “lovely garden”. However a rough plan is necessary to budget for plants and other materials It was probably too ambitious to take on 8 more gardens so late in the project, the planting was still happening in November and December which is too late climatically (the plants do not have a chance to establish a root system in the soil before the heat of summer). Also many volunteers became busy with Christmas activities so 3 volunteers were relied on quite heavily. They were very willing to help but in another situation this may not be the case. The project coordinator put in more hours than budgeted for, and once again this cannot be expected in another situation. (However, the flip side is, had the gardens been started earlier all 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 the gardens, 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. They are able to water and most of them will know what to tell the gardeners to do.


The Volunteer Alliance based at Ashburton Support Services has a Volunteer Gardeners Service already established. Unfortunately there is a waiting list but the influx of new volunteers should help. The current drought and water restrictions will not help this project, but most of the gardens are small enough to be manageable. The thick mulch will also help. In the latter batch of gardens, empty pots were “planted” a short distance from the plants to act as a reservoir, channeling the water to the roots. A checklist will be sent to the coordinator of the Volunteer Alliance for the volunteers to distribute to the volunteers such as:- The ‘finger-test’ – push a finger into the soil to make sure plants aren’t overwatered. 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.


This leak is cause d by a split ‘O’-ring in the hose /wheel connection, it can easily be replaced.


Mulch is essential to the success of these gardens, the new mulch applied to these gardens will have broken down in 12 months time. It really should be re-applied before spring 2007. It has been suggested to the clients; if they are able to buy the mulch, the volunteer gardeners could pool their resources and help each other spread it over various gardens. Supplier details will be sent to the volunteer coordinator. “CELEBRATION OF THE SUSTAINABLE GARDENS PROJECT’ LUNCH AND LAUNCH The final meeting of the Reference Group was followed by a lunch hosted at Ashburton Support Services. A delicious lunch funded by the project was provided and a presentation of the project followed. Most of the Reference Group, six clients, three of the volunteers and Jeff Herd from Neighbourhood Renewal were able to attend. Resource kit A resource kit will be developed by Kat O’Reilly and Michelle Jones.


5. 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

• •


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.


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 garden

Gardens need to be re-visited in 12 months to see how successful the changes are.

Dot’s rose garden after being planted with Nepeta as a ground cover and thick mulching

Results need to be monitored after the summer heat and drought.


5.BUDGET BREAK-DOWN OF GARDEN COSTS .CLIENT MULCH COSTS PLANT COSTS LANDSCAPING /SUNDRIEs potting mix, pots, seasol $392 $10 $108 $4 $217 $364 $98 $525 $70 $30 $315 $1300 $126 $25 $126 $30 $140 $4 $115 $35 $280 $80 $210 $5 $21 $490 $10 $2708.00 $545.00 TOTAL PROJECT LABOUR CO-ORD. HOURS HOURS 43 30 55 25 24 48 48 20 28 56 40 30 9 45 501 18 14 22 15 6 25 21 14 8 35 20 15 3 20 236

Ray & Joan Margaret Sandra Shirley.R Rhona Ila Daphne Joan Dennis Dot Elsie Phyllis Elsie Shirley B

$153 $72 $20 $6 $54 $105 $135 $126 $45 $360 $162 $90 $45 $100 $1473.00


Project Budget
Sustainable Gardens Project All entries ex-GST Income Grant from Dept Human Sservices Donation Pea Straw Plants bought but on-sold to Ashburton Support Services Total Income Salary etc Consultant's fees Stage 1-3 **Cons. Fees (Salary oncosts Stage 4) **Balance of Stage 4 payment due **Additional hours payment Management & Supervision Operating Costs Total Expenses Obj 1 - Advertising Advertising Total Expenses Obj 2 - Conversions, Contractors, Training Contractors, conversions, plants etc Catering at SG events Total Expenses $8,000.00 $2,184.00 $2,396.00 $499.89 $3,000.00 $4,000.00 $20,079.89 $ Remaining: $700.00 $507.00 $507.00 $ Remaining: $8,850.00 $8,112.75 $311.36 $8,424.11 $ Remaining: $502.89 $193.00 $304.11 $30,000.00 $50.00 $20.00 $77.00 $30,147.00 Expenses Income


*Funds unspent:


Notes: * $1000 to be spent on installation of handrail **Yet to be paid to Consultant



Between Ashburton Support Services (ABN: 40 815 167 126.) AND _____ + ________ Name of participant


BACKGROUND The Home & Community Care (HACC) Program provides funding for services that support frail aged people, younger people with disabilities and their carers. The program is designed to support people whose capacity for independent living is at risk, or who are at risk of premature or inappropriate admission to long-term residential care. In 2005/06 EMR HACC consultations were held in May 2006 with Community Service Organisations. The sector endorsed the establishment of a service development initiative with the EMR Neighbourhood Renewal (NHR) area. It was proposed to undertake a project to explore options and develop a possible service model for frail aged residents within the Neighbourhood Renewal Precinct of Ashwood/Ashburton and Chadstone. The project would focus on the links between property maintenance, low maintenance gardens and volunteers to assist frail aged residents to remain living in their own homes and community. Following consultations with HACC service providers in the NHR it was agreed that Ashburton Support Services would take the lead for this project. A Reference Group was established with NHR, MonashLink CHS, City of Monash, St Marks Adult Day Care Centre, Alamein Community Committee & Horticultural Therapy Association Victoria to oversee the project. OBJECTIVE To establish a model of low maintenance gardens for HACC eligible frail aged and young disabled clients in the NHR area to live safely and actively within their home environment, reducing the likelihood of premature admission to residential care. COMMON UNDERSTANDING This 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 an informal 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.


Overall responsibility for the management of the project lies with the Sustainable Gardens Reference Group and all legal and financial accountability for the project lies with Ashburton Support Services Work to be carried out will be as per a written agreement negotiated prior to commencement of the project. The agreement will include garden designs, lists of plants intended for use and timelines carrying our the work including required site access times The project officer will then be the responsible officer for all decision relating to the work to be carried out and determining all site access times. All negotiation and communication should be directed to her and not through volunteers INTELLECTUAL PROPERTYProperty of Department of Human Services PRIVACY & CONDFIDENTIALITY Each participant shall respect and keep confidential all information about the other. Ashburton Support Services adheres to the National Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988, the Victorian Government Privacy Principles contained in the Health Records Act 2001 and the Information Privacy Act 2000(Vic) (See attached Privacy Policy). The participant agrees to allow photographs of the garden for purposes of publicity both before the start of the project, at intervals throughout the project and 12 months after completion of the project. Addresses of the gardens and all participants’ names will not be disclosed to anyone but staff and volunteers associated with the project without express written permission of the participants. CONFLICTS Conflict or tension between the parties within the working relationship once identified will be addressed and resolved promptly. The conflict resolution process to be used is that of initial approach to all persons concerned personally asking to have a discussion aimed at resolving the issue. The Parties agree to proactively identify and address areas of conflict or difference promptly and directly. Failure to resolve conflict at this stage will then involve using the formal dispute resolution process of Ashburton Support Services (see attached). The Parties shall promptly declare any conflicts of interest that may affect on any work they are engaged in together, or plan to engage in.


COSTS 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.


VOLUNTEERS 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.


Maintenance notes will be provided on completion of the job. All due care will be taken when planting but Ashburton Support Services cannot take responsibility for plant health or on-going maintenance once the job is completed. A follow-up visit will be made to all gardens, to advise you on the future maintenance needs of the garden e.g. watering weeding etc, before the project finishes in December. There is a Volunteer Gardener Support Program available through Ashburton Support Services but access to this program depends on the volunteers present workload.


Schedule of Site Visits

Additional agreed Costs

Signed as a Memorandum of Understanding on 2006 Liaison Officers Diana Cotter Services Project manager Term 6 Months from date of execution

Kat O’Reilly –



296 High St Ashburton Vic 3147


DEFINITIONS Sustainable Gardens Reference Group Reference group membership is comprised 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 Victoria Sustainable Implies low maintenance in terms of weeding, watering, and pruning and use of mulch. 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 Services MOU Memorandum Of Understanding Parties: Include the: Project Manager Participants Volunteers


Appendix 1 POLICY & PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS All consumers are entitled to fair and equitable management of their complaint. Each complaint about the service will be dealt with promptly, confidentially and without retribution. When the complaint is initially registered consumers will be given a reminder about their rights to confidentiality and a time line stating when they can expect advice about the outcome of their complaint. It is expected that under normal circumstances, the consumer will be given feedback about the progress of their complaint with 5 working days. The consumer will be reminded that all material will be kept confidential, that their complaint will be dealt with fairly equitably and without retribution. At any stage during the complaint process the consumer may invite an advocate to speak on their behalf. The consumer will be informed of this right when commencing with the service and will be reminded again when initially lodging their complaint. Information on what an advocate is and how one may be obtained will also be provided at commencement of service, and through regular reminders in newsletters and at the beginning of the complaint process. In all cases the handling of complaints will be dealt with through our complaint resolution procedure which is consistent with HACC programme standards. COMPLAINTS & COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURE Stage 1: First Step (informal complaints) Complaints will be initially considered within the organisation through a verbal approach to the person(s) affected by the complaint. We will notify all relevant persons including client(s), volunteer(s), staff member(s) and the program supervisor of the complaint. The complaint will be documented and kept on file. Documentation will include the names of all parties involved, the nature of the complaint, any undertakings given, action needed, and expected timelines for communication and action. Clients will be reminded that all material will be kept confidential, that their complaint will be dealt with fairly equitably and without retribution. Stage 2: Formal complaints Where a problem remains unresolved through Stage 1, the formal complaint resolution procedure will be implemented:
• All relevant persons involved will be advised of the complaint resolution



• If there is a wish to proceed by any party, a Complaint Resolution Statement will be completed. This statement should identify all the parties involved in the complaint. The statement should clearly outline the outcome sought, and must be signed and returned to the CEO for further action. ( See attached Complaint Resolution Form) • A meeting will be arranged with the relevant parties and /or advocate with the aim of resolving the complaint. • A resolution action statement will be completed describing the agreed process and actions to resolve the complaint. The outcome will be recorded on this report. Where a successful resolution is reached all action to resolve the issue will be documented and signed by both parties. Each party will retain a copy of the document as a record • Where it is not possible to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of both parties a mediator may be required. A copy of the actions taken in attempting to resolve the complaint will be recorded, signed and made available to both parties • After the formal complaint resolution procedures have been undertaken, if the person making the complaint is still unsatisfied, they may refer their complaint to the Board of Management of Ashburton Support Services, the State Ombudsman or other relevant parties. Including State Government Ombudsman 1800 806 314 Deals with complaints concerning the actions of government departments. The Office of the Ombudsman can also help with referrals to appropriate organisations for specific complaints. Dept of Justice Complaint Resolution Service 1800 658 528 The Complaint Resolution Service will provide a mediator to act as a neutral third party to assist with negotiations in times of argument or complaints. Complaints Resolution Centre 1800 550 552 The Complaints Resolution Centre will investigate complaints on behalf of the Commonwealth Government about breaches of service provision and assist with negotiating a settlement. Equal Opportunity Commission 9281 7111 The Equal Opportunity Commission will deal with complaints concerning discrimination on the grounds of disability, sex, race, age, industrial activity, marital, parental or carer status, political or religious beliefs, sexual orientation or pregnancy. The Commission will assist people to prepare statements and to lodge a complaint then to mediate between parties to reach resolution of the complaint. Office of the Public Advocate 1300 309 337 The office of the Public Advocate represents the interests of Victorian people with a disability.


Department of Human Services Complaints Information Line 1300 131 431 Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner 1300 666 444 The Privacy Commissioner deals with complaints concerning privacy of information. Appendix 2 RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES STATEMENT YOUR RIGHTS • • • • • • • • • • • • The right to respect for your individual human worth and dignity. The right to be treated with courtesy. The right to be assessed for access to services without discrimination. The right to be informed and consulted about available services and other relevant matters. The right to be part of decisions made about your care. The right to choose from available alternatives. The right to pursue any complaint about service provision without retribution. The right to involve an advocate of your choice. The right to receive good quality services. The right to privacy and confidentiality, and access to all personal information kept about you The right to refuse any service offered The right to resume services without prejudice after refusal of service.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES • • • • • • To respect the human worth and dignity of the staff, volunteers and other members. To treat staff and other members with courtesy. To take responsibility for the results of any decisions you make. To play your part in helping the us to provide you with services. To provide a safe work environment for staff and help them to provide services safely. To adhere to the policy and procedure guidelines provided by the service.

OUR RESPONSIBILITIES • To enhance and respect the independence and dignity of the client. • To ensure that your access to a service is decided only on the basis of need and the capacity of the service to meet that need. • To inform you about options for HACC Program support. • To inform you of your rights and responsibilities in relation to HACC services. • To involve you and your carer(s) in decisions about assessment and service delivery plans.


• • • • • • • • • • • • •

To negotiate with you before a change is made to the service being provided. To be responsive to any social, cultural, and physical requirements and needs your may have. To recognize the role of carers and be responsive to your need for support. To fully inform you about the services agreed to, taking your changing needs into account. To respect your privacy and confidentiality. To allow you access to information held by us. To allow your carer(s) access to information held by us about you where the carer is your legal guardian or if you have given us written consent to do so. To deliver services to you in a safe manner. To respect your refusal of a service and to ensure any future attempt by you to access our service(s) are not prejudiced because of that refusal. To deal with your complaints fairly and promptly and without retribution. To mediate and attempt to negotiate a solution if a conflict which relates to our service delivery arises between you and your carer To accept your choice and involvement of an advocate to represent your interests. To take into account your views when planning, managing and evaluating service provision. APPENDIX 2 Training information for volunteers VOLUNTEER INFORMATION/TRAINING SESSION. INTRODUCTION -Project Coordinator background -Sustainable project INFO. SESSION OVERVIEW -Expectations of volunteers, tasks, hours, timetable.... Questions -Brief descriptions of gardens -OH&S -Soil improvement -Mulches -Getting water into the soil -Questions VOLUNTEER INPUT -Sessions, 9.30 –12.30 (or any time between) and /or 1.30-4.30 -Time table – to fill in -Tasks, weeding, planting, mulching. -Respect /etiquette of clients -House keeping, toilets, smoko, change of plans, contact details -ASS input, police checks, insurance, training.


DESCRIPTIONS OF GARDENS Participants in garden project Denis and Marian Dot Joan Elsie Phil Daphne Marg. Jean Maintenance of completed gardens OH&S Stepping back from job, discussion /planning before just getting stuck in! Discuss possible and common OH&S issues and how to avoid o Placement of tools when not in use o Communication, questions, instructions o Rubbish piles o Clutter o Other examples?? Backs/shoulders/knees o Common faults with backs o Bending from the small of the back, not using the legs o Twisting with weights o Changing jobs or positions every20 mins o Correct lifting techniques, close to the body o Correct forking, spading, raking, weeding position, pulling and tugging o Tools, spade, fork, shovels, rakes, secateurs, loppers, brushes, wheelbarrows, buckets, hand tools (trowel, fork), Wolf tools, other makes, quality Shoulders o Repetitive movements o Stretches o Home exercises o Knees o Problems of kneeling to work





- What do we mean by ‘Sustainable”

- Why’s it so important - W hat does s oil do? -What is soil made of - How does soil work? - What is meant by a soil’s structure? - What is the best way to destroy soil? - The magic of mulch - Which mulch is best - How to get water into the soil, and keep it there - What are weeds? - Why do we have weeds? -Garden escapees. - Planting