I met Dan at the Copley Park Community Garden, and this month I stopped by to admire his garden and have a chat.
My first question to him was "Why garden?".
“My grandparents were gardeners, so I suppose I was always going to be a gardener,” he replied.
Dan’s garden has been built over 20 years, from “nothing but a slab path to the clothesline in the middle of the yard”, to a lush and cool green tropical garden filled with fruit trees, flowers, vegetables, and an enormous old jacaranda tree. Dan knew exactly when it was planted, and he recounted how an elderly lady knocked at the door one day and told him she had lived in this house many years ago, and asked to have a look through the house and yard. As they got to the back yard, she was happy to see that the jacaranda was there. She had planted this tree on Christmas Day 1951, a memorial to a lost child.
“This last season was a spectacular year for jacaranda flowers,” he said, “Every morning when I came out here, the grass was Jacaranda Blue, a carpet, it was just beautiful.”
About 10 years ago, Dan asked the council to plant trees along the verge of his street. The council replied that they would, but each homeowner had to fill in a form to give permission. He knocked on every door, got the signatures, and then they all got their trees. He’s really happy now that when you look down his street, the trees are growing, their street looks cool, shaded, and well cared for.
“It doesn’t take trees that long to grow, but you just have to plant them!”