Written by Bloomhill volunteer Sue Custance

A love of nature with no fear of getting their hands dirty, the gardeners of Bloomhill Cancer Care are also good mates, and it shows.

Coming from a diverse range of professions and backgrounds, the group I met with are comfortable in each other’s company while enjoying a chat and a laugh.

Among the group, Christoph stands out, in that he quite obviously is yet to begin his professional life. As a uni student studying law and business Christoph approached Bloomhill. He was looking for somewhere to relax and be stress-free time while enjoying some gardening. It’s Zen time and while he might be literally getting his hands dirty he is also clearing his mind of upcoming assignments and exams. It’s a win win situation and one which benefits all.

As someone the others look to for direction, Vanessa oversees what needs to be done and how it might be best planned.

“If someone doesn’t know what to do, then they ask Vanessa,” Sylvia quipped. Morning tea at the gardeners' table in the cafe is like that. Everyone has their own personality and they are free to show it. They all get on with each other and they also get on with maintaining the surrounding grounds. Whether that be mowing, weeding, potting, watering, propagating, raking, mulching, whipper snipping or even building pathways.
John was a farmer so has a good knowledge of the soil and certainly isn’t afraid to get stuck into the labours of the land.

Terry is a retired carpenter. He tells me he pretty much does what he is told to do whether that might be putting together a shed or a bit of concreting here and there.

Sjieuwke is of Dutch heritage and New Zealand born. As the multi-national of the group, this proud to be known as an Aussie, is also a graphic artist who enjoys design. She has been able to put some of these skills into the grounds and gardens.

Brian was a rigger for 55 years working overseas in an amazing array of countries. America, Mexico Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan are just a few of the places he has been. “And he never had to pay for his own ticket.” Brian starts the week on a Monday when he blows the leaves from the deck, carpark and driveway. The rest of the gardeners arrive bright and early on a Tuesday to meet up and beautify the grounds we all enjoy.

Sylvia moved from Melbourne to the Coast almost 18 months ago when she retired from a career in nursing. As a garden lover she was especially interested to learn more about Queensland plants. With Tuesday mornings allocated to gardening at Bloomhill Buderim, Sylvia also works Wednesday and Thursdays in the Op shop at Nambour.

Richard is an ex-brickie. He also puts in many hours when an Op shop requires a new fit out. He might just be a jack of all trades and he is also Vanessa’s husband. Actually it was through Richard that this group found their so-called group project manager.

Not wanting to miss anyone out, the group tells me that Lyn who has been volunteering for more than 20 years and Kerry are unfortunately away for the day.

Here are some gardening tips:

  • Christoph – If you play classical music for your plants they will grow quicker. An experiment has proved this fact.
  • John – Get the soil right and everything will be good. Make the most of Buderim’s rich red soil.
  • Terry – Mulch well, especially in summer. Do a good water before laying 3 or 4 inches of mulch, leaving a margin around the trunk.
  • Sjieuwke – Consistently care for your garden. Take a look around every day. If you see a weed pull it out.
  • Brian – Don’t forget you can propagate plants. One frangipani from my back garden has turned into eight.
  • Sylvia – Place plants in a suitable position. Sun, shade or a bit of both. 
  • Richard – You don’t have to spend a lot of money to care for your garden. During the year we rake the dropped leaves into small piles and put the mower through them for ready-made mulch. Twigs are collected and put through the chipper making more mulch. Our garden here is as self-sufficient as we can make it.
  • Vanessa – Be aware of choosing plants that the kangaroos eat. They love roses.

The group all contribute in their own way. They are multi-skilled and always find something to do. With a variety of personalities and different backgrounds the group are ready for a yarn, a laugh and lots of gardening.

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Photo: Richard, Sylvia, Brian, Sjieuwke, Terry, John, Christoph, Vanessa