A prickly invasion

The act of nurturing a single pot plant would appear to be a fairly benign activity. However, when Navy surgeon, Dr William Bell Carlyle, entrusted a prickly pear cutting to the care and protection of his servant, Mary Sutton, no one could have predicted the devastation which would result. In a period of less than 100 years the prickly pear multiplied and occupied over 60 million acres of Queensland and New South Wales, equivalent to the whole land area of the United Kingdom or New Zealand. Continue reading

Worms on the roof

Yesterday I visited MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, on the banks of the Derwent River in Hobart, to meet with Reuben Parker-Greer. Reuben is employed by MONA to manage an inspiring initiative that helps local schools develop and maintain kitchen garden projects. MONA sits on the edge of a long established industrial and residential area, where fast-food outlets well outnumber community and school gardens. Moonah Primary School is one of the nearby schools that MONA supports, and also Continue reading

Food Stories — objects and resilience

It’s been a brutal Australian summer. Record temperatures, unprecedented heatwaves, fires. Those people who draw their living from the land, and the livestock and crops they tend, have suffered most. In the years to come, as the chaotic ecological effects of global warming and climate change intensify, one of our greatest challenges will be to ensure the Continue reading

The Newest (Oldest?) Garden in Canberra

It was an eerie, smoky morning on Sunday the 20th of October, 2013. With the smell of the New South Wales bushfires in the air, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher formally opened the first stage of the National Rock Garden as part of the celebrations of the Centenary of Canberra. This was oddly appropriate, as it was the 2003 Canberra fires that opened up this space for the National Rock Garden and its far more extensive neighbour, the Continue reading

Cartoon poster of Aunty Uvy

Everybody had an ‘Aunty Ivy’

…or an Aunty Hilda or an Aunty Edna.

There is something very familiar and comforting about ‘Aunty Ivy’. The character was introduced to the ‘Life. Be in it.’ public health campaign in the late 1980s, as a contrast to couch potato, ‘Norm’, who spent his days watching television. ‘Aunty Ivy’ was energetic and encouraged people to get out into the garden, enjoy the fresh air and, without even realising it, improve their health. Her personality is easy to relate to, that older mentor with an infectious enthusiasm and passion, in this case, for gardening. Continue reading