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  • Di von Essen

Get Out and About for the Lake Macquarie Open Gardens Weekend

Lake Macquarie Garden Club has only 38 members, all who describe themselves as being ‘at the very mature end of the age spectrum,’ although, we’re not so sure about that as there seems to be abundant energy in this little club! The group get together every third Tuesday of the month to explore gardens, expand their knowledge of all things horticultural and, of course, socialise.

Each year the club opens several spectacular local gardens to the general public and this year is no different with plans afoot to open ten gardens combined with art exhibitions to the public on the weekend of 12 and 13 October for the Lake Macquarie Open Garden Weekend – all in celebration of Spring.

“It is an opportunity to show the wider community the beautiful gardens in our area along with exhibitions of artworks and at the same time raise money for medical research undertaken by the Hunter Medical Research Institute,” says Club President and event co-ordinator, Lynne Turner.

The club formed thirty-seven years ago and has retained some of those original founding members. Frequent debates amongst the group include the question of ‘what makes a garden unique – is it a reflection of its creator? Where do the ideas stem from? And how do you use this inspiration or knowledge to create a garden or a work of art, because while an artwork does have a finite completion; a garden is always a work in progress.

Our area has many talented artists; painters, printmakers, sculptors, potters, felt workers and calligraphers, so it seemed natural to combine the two – beautiful gardens, big and bold, small and intricate in which to exhibit artworks. Some of the gardens were professionally designed, others the result of hard yakka and dedication by the owners. The artists exhibiting in the gardens, under a pergola or in a garage, are as varied as the gardens.

Each garden will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 October. Entry will be by donation of $5 per garden or $35 for all ten gardens, with all money collected going straight to the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HRMI) located adjacent to the John Hunter Hospital.

The Mater Hospital, the John Hunter and the University of Newcastle all work together on specific research projects including research into the cure for cancers, pulmonary fibrosis, stroke prevention and treatment, heart attack and arterial disease, the impact of healthy arteries on cognitive function in older members of our community. Lake Macquarie Garden Club is interested in raising our community’s awareness of the quality research being carried out here in Newcastle. All money raised over the weekend stays here in our community for the benefit of the entire community.

“Last year, with Council support for the printing and marketing, we raised $25,000, and I’m sure that we can do even better this year,” said Lynne.

“Even more importantly, community fundraising attracts further significant funds from the federal government to assist research projects at HMRI.”

After the success of the event last year Lake Macquarie Garden Club will be presenting another ten unique gardens. This year the open gardens are located on the western side of Lake Macquarie – from Eraring, Wangi Wangi in the south to Coal Point, Toronto, Blackall’s Park and around the lake to the northern side of Toronto.

Plus, there are two bonus gardens, including one that’s bound to give inspiration to many homeowners who no longer need (or want) the backyard swimming pool – but aren’t quite sure what to do with it. The owners of this garden have a young son who has turned the pool into a creative pond environment – greatly adored by local frogs and fish!

The second bonus garden is located at Coal Point Public School. The rejuvenated garden, plantings and the above-ground vegetable gardens are a must to see.

“A focus of study for the students has been on healthy food production, and the garden gives simple practical experience for the young students,” said Lynne.

Open Garden visitors can decide to cycle the route, walk, take a bus to the various gardens or walk parts of the waterfront of Lake Macquarie to get from garden to garden. A great idea is to get a group together for a fun day out with lunch in the area at restaurants, cafes or even a picnic in a park-as simple or as sophisticated as you desire.

Owners of the properties will be on hand to answer your questions and share their passion for gardening, the environment, sustainable gardens and horticulture. One gardener is keen to share her knowledge about a Japanese method of producing natural liquid fertiliser.

Morning and/or afternoon tea/coffee will be available at some of the gardens.

Details and maps will be available to pick up to help you plan your day out, while posters dotted around businesses in the Lake Macquarie area will provide detailed information. Visit the Facebook page to print your own flyer, or pick up a flyer from all businesses displaying posters.

Round up friends and family for a wonderful weekend visiting spectacular gardens in the Lake Macquarie area and support our world-class research facility; HMRI. Every dollar raised does indeed make a difference. For more information, email or visit the Lake Macquarie Garden Club Facebook page.

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