Bilambil Street Verge Garden Working Bee – Saturday 4 March 2023

On Saturday 4 March 2023 we had our first verge garden working bee at Bilambil Street, Banyo.

Even though we achieved quite a bit in such little time, we use the slow gardening technique which allows lots of time to get to know the space, and each other. We had some great conversations and it was a great way to see theory put into practice.

With slow and steady work, all the plants we planted will soon join up, and the grass will eventually be replaced with native plants that don’t require mowing.  Plants included Austromyrtus dulcis (Midgen berry), Westringia, Myoporum boninense, Goodenia ovata, Orthosiphon aristatus (Cat’s Whiskers), and Commelina cyanea (scurvy weed).

Slow gardening is a technique used to gradually replace weeds and grass with local native plants. It aims for minimal soil disturbance rather than a big landscaping project.

At first glance, most people would think creating a verge garden is solely about gardening, but it is very different to gardening anywhere else. You have to think about where the pedestrians will walk and how the plants will affect them, how your neighbours will react and how to make sure that no mulch gets washed into the stormwater drains.

Councils have done a lot of this thinking for you when they come up with their policies and guidelines. It’s also a part of the free course Verge Garden Basics – Understanding the Space

There are other huge benefits of creating verge gardens too. They attract native birds, lizards, and insects, improve biodiversity, reduce the impacts of flooding and climate change, improve human health and strengthen community.

At the working bee we learnt a lot from each other, some of the things we touched on were:

  • how native tubestock aren’t just cheaper plants, it minimises the pain if a plant is lost
  • how each resident needs to choose the plants and style of their garden so they love it enough to want to look after it for years to come
  • how the plants change the way the whole space looks and feels
  • how going slow gives you lots of time to observe, discuss, and adjust your plans
  • why we need to take small steps and do what’s practical rather than rush in and take on more than we can handle long-term
  • why it’s important to comply with the Brisbane City Council verge garden guidelines

We also got to know each other better, we spoke about our vision for the street, we shared our knowledge and skills, and most of all, we had a lot of fun.

Part of this project has also been about learning the history of the area.  Since being immersed in this community, we have learnt that Banyo is an interesting and unique suburb.  There are a lot of residents who have lived here all their lives and they hold a lot of stories about the place.

A local resident recently told us they spoke to a resident whose family had a street in Banyo named after them.

We also learnt that Tufnell Road in Banyo was named after a potentially controversial figure named Edward Wyndham Tufnell (1814-1896). He was the first Anglican Bishop of Brisbane. In Dr Ray Kerkhove’s book called “Aboriginal Campsites of Greater Brisbane” it states that in 1901, the Anglican-sponsored Tufnell Home (also named after Tufnell) was established by Bishop Tufnell’s widow for the care of orphans and homeless children.  In 1904 there are records of local fathers (of European decent) placing their children here, although their Indigenous mothers were still alive. The home officially closed in 1975 and was located at 230 Buckland Road, Nundah.

Verge Gardens provide a really great opportunity to learn about your local place, how to nurture your local environment and care for your community all at the same time.

We will be talking more about our working bee experiences and continuing the conversation at our next  event on 12th March so make sure you come along, all are welcome.’

Meeting: Why street trees, why native plants, choosing plants

WHEN: March 12, 2023 : 3pm – 5pm
WHERE: Banyo Library – Meeting Room 2 (upstairs)
284 Saint Vincents Rd, Banyo


Written by Kira Athanasiov and Gayle Dallaston


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