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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

Apollo Bay Garden Shares in Honours

A garden from Flow region 90.9fm Apollo Bay has shared honours in this year’s Colac Otway Shire Garden Awards, along with Birregurra and Elliminyt.

Best sustainable garden went to Birregurra’s Brian and Vicki Jeffrey; best native garden to Elliminyt’s Brendan Stahl; and best coastal garden went to Donna O’Meara and Ken Bromfield from Apollo Bay.

Council offered broader categories for the 34th annual awards with the intention of making the program more accessible to green thumbs across the shire, regardless of their location or landscape.

The awards were co-judged against set criteria by Council’s Parks and Gardens Team Leader Mark Robinson (who is also a horticulturalist and arborist), and Anne Mercer from the Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens.

Mr Robinson said there was a great diversity of gardens across the Colac Otway Shire and it was a privilege to be invited into the worlds of some of the municipality’s most passionate gardeners.

“What stood out from every applicant was the pride they have in their gardens and they love they have for the activity,” Mr Robinson said.

“I congratulate this year’s winners and all the gardeners who work hard to beautify their yards and the local environment more generally.

“Council would also like to express its appreciation to Anne Mercer for her commitment to being a judge – it was great to have the Friends of the Botanic Gardens involved.

“Gardening is one of those activities that’s always evolving. The job is never finished, you can improve and renovate your garden over time and it’s such a relaxing and rewarding pastime.”

When commenting on the Best Coastal Garden won by Donna O’Meara & Ken Bromfield in Apollo Bay, Mr Robinson said: “The O’Meara/Bromfield garden is small but there’s been a huge amount of thought and planning involved.

"They have some interesting fruit trees that they’re able to use in a variety of ways.

"They’ve created a private sanctuary that’s hidden from other houses in the area.”

The garden also features:

  • Well set out with good use of a small site. Planted with drought tolerant plants. Border planting provides privacy but doesn’t detract from overall design.

  • Great use of plants to provide variety and colour in a coastal area. Plants selected to look good at different times.

  • No chemicals are used in Donna and Ken’s garden, and water use is minimised also.

  • Donna and Ken have been very creative in their use of a difficult site. A 200-year-old antique door from India adds interest at the commencement of the pathway.

  • Lots of practical plantings are on show in this enclosed private garden. Drought tolerant plants used successfully for interest.

Speaking of the Best Sustainable Garden, won by Brian and Vicki Jeffrey from Birregurra, Mr Robinson said: “The Jeffreys are so good at recycling water that they actually have excess that they have been able to give to a neighbour.

"There is a vast variety of plants that are all very well cared for, they have made excellent use of all the space they have available.”

The garden also features:

  • Attractive design, constantly revisited and augmented by the skill and imagination of the owners. Great mix of natives, exotic, fruit trees and artwork.

  • Plantings are varied and interesting, contrasts characterise this garden with year-round interest.

  • Good water collection for use on garden, irrigation system in place, no chemicals used and heavily mulched. Garden supplies the house all year round.

  • Creative, strategically place ornaments throughout the garden

  • Lots of different zones and healthy looking plants. Native animals including echidnas can be found, much to the delight of the Jeffreys’ grandchildren.

Mr Robinson said the Best Native Garden won by Brendan Stahl of Elliminyt was a point of difference.

“Brendan has built up garden beds and imported soil to enable him to grow a different variety of plants than he might otherwise have been able to in Elliminyt.”

The garden also features:

  • Practical garden with fruit trees and vegetable beds. Well laid out, with unusual specimens which add interest.

  • There is something flowering all year round, with lots of colour and variety.

  • No chemicals are used in this garden, and rainwater is collected.

  • About 45 species of birds can be found at the Stahl’s, as a majority of plants are Australian natives. Brendan propagates most of the plants from seed.

  • The garden was established in four years. Plants grow naturally to avoid unnecessary pruning.

  • Brendan has chosen plants suitable to the area, and has been smart and selective in what he plants where, particularly in wet spots.

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