Max (my moodle) and I go on lots of walks, but once a month, we go on a really special one. We walk around the local streets delivering invites.
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A few years ago, our neighbours started a social gardening club. The challenge of managing an acreage property was one of the obvious connections in our community.
At the end of every month a different neighbour hosts a Sunday afternoon event. We all bring a plate of food, something to drink, and cuttings or plants to share. The emphasis is social. Instead of doing actual gardening, we tour the host’s garden, glass of wine in hand and celebrate recent projects, plantings and achievements. On the way we swap gardening tips, anecdotes and wisdom.
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I love being able to look out from my deck and think, “ooh that salvia came from Jan!” or “that suggestion to remove the climbing asparagus fern with a mattock made it so easy!”
It’s so fun! The first time i went to gardening club, (sans hubby), i rolled back down the hill after 9pm rather jolly on wine and cheer after a bubbling social evening.
During the second garden tour, we were shown a vintage E type Jaguar under restoration. Kev isn’t the only vintage car restorer on the block, so he’s been a regular garden clubber since! We’ve seen some amazing old cars, including an original 60’s race car!
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And that’s just the start of the commonalities, there’s the yoga teacher who runs classes from her lounge, the tai chi class on the corner, the neighbour writing a book on mental health and philosophy, musicians, drummers, painters, artists, families with young children and horse owners galore! Many retirees with diverse backgrounds, who have lived all over the world, including out bush! Such extraordinary stories and wisdom to share!
I love the diversity in our neighbourhood. Some folks have lived here for over 50 years and others are new arrivals. We have a variety of ages, cultures, nationalities, personalities and interests. But we share one thing, we love to garden, or at least have undertaken the challenge of maintaining a large property. Living on acreage really is a lifestyle that involves a commitment to regular gardening.
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Since its inception, most neighbours have hosted an event. It’s a joy getting to know each other, our homes and sharing a bit more about our lives and families.
We emphasise minimal stress! It doesn’t need to be a show garden, but hosting it is a brilliant incentive to get projects moving.
Kev and I have hosted twice. The first, our garden was a mess, so we invited our horticulturalist friend J to show everyone tips on weed management.
By the second one, hosted last April, we had made significant progress on our site.
Coming into winter, i brewed up a big cauldron of mulled wine and tasty treats, comfortable seating, house relatively clean. We toured the just completed art studio, kev’s shed, the newly planted cottage gardens near the house, and the native revegetation work down the hill.
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One of the shifts from full time work has been less organic workplace social contact, so i’ve been intentionally creating these connections. This group is just one avenue for this. I now know most of the neighbours and feel a much richer sense of connection and belonging in my community.
In the last couple of years, with a bit more time on my hands, i volunteered to keep up the mailing list and send out the promotional flyers. I love this one simple thing that i can contribute to the club. Now i don’t claim to be the doyenne of community networking, in fact in previous homes, i’ve barely known the names of my neighbours. But it’s different here. Connectedness is not inherent to the suburb, we have chosen to create it.
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Now i have an ideological perspective and belief system about community and connection. The old saying thinking globally and acting locally. The healing of humanity through inclusion and belonging, but this just feels pretty simple. Just caring about and connecting with the people who live around me.
A gardener’s work is never done and we’re looking forward to hosting again next year. There is even talk of regular working bees on the properties of neighbours who could do with an extra hand. And our first garden club baby is on the way!
So each month, Max and i wander the streets.
“Ooh look at Eddie and Wilma’s camellias in flower!” or “Wow Claire and Nathan’s new horse fencing looks great!” or “Look how Adrienne and Peter’s native plants are coming along!”
At each house, we stop, i smile, (max often pees), and we deliver our wee blessing as we amble by.
I’d love to hear how you connect with your local community or is this something that doesn’t really happen in your neighbourhood?
Wishing you much love and connection