Published on 28 November 2019

Green thumb gold

They’re beautiful, they’re water-wise and they’re packed with natives and delicious produce. Now they can add “award-winner” to their list of accomplishments.

Last week, City of Onkaparinga Mayor, Erin Thompson announced the winners of the 2019 Mayor’s Garden Competition. The competition recognises our city’s local gardeners and encourages community interest in local gardens.

Earlier in the year the Mayor visited gardens across the city with council staff to judge the annual competition.

“It’s pleasing to see the passion that people in our community have for establishing and caring for their beautiful gardens and I’d like to congratulate the winners on the time and effort they’ve dedicated,” Mayor Thompson says.

“We recognise residential gardens enhance the presentation and liveability of our city, while our school and community gardens contribute to the sharing of skills and knowledge while building a sense of community and connection to the environment.”

Behold, the 2019 winners.

Best Residential Garden: Mark Staniforth, Willunga

Colour spills from the Staniforth home, right on to the road verge. The front garden’s covered with colourful but hardy geraniums, osteospermums and a variety of succulents, with the plants being drought-tolerant and suited to our hot and dry summers.

Native grey box trees provide shade near the home, with fuchsias and alstroemerias offering yet more colour.

There are no lawns, which further reduces the garden’s water requirements, and an enclosed fernery on the side of the house provides cool breezes during hot summer nights, increasing the home’s energy efficiency.

Garden beds are cleverly defined and contained with local Willunga slate and meandering pathways are neatly mulched.

The back garden showcases a dry creek bed surrounded by hardy native plants that provides nectar and food for local birds and insects. There is a natural flow to the garden with hidden corners and art. Garden beds are neatly covered with groundcovers and mulch to preserve soil moisture.

Congrats, Mark!

Best Community Garden: Elizabeth House Positive Ageing Centre

What a remarkable collection of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, herbs and ornamental plants! Every available space at this positive ageing centre has been productively and lovingly cultivated.

The volunteers take great pride and enjoyment from this garden, and produce is used in the centre’s kitchen or sold locally to sustain ongoing costs associated with the upkeep of the gardens. Nothing is wasted and the centre collects rainwater and produces its own compost.

All the centre’s plants were in strikingly good health, showing vigour and benefiting from organic cultivation practices. The gardens display a number of unique and quirky ornaments and signs, which add to the visitor experience.

You’ll be inspired to garden after your visit.

Best Edible Community Garden: Aldinga Community Centre

This garden lives on some decommissioned tennis courts, with a variety of containerised garden beds and pots filled with healthy vegetables, berries and fruit, scattered throughout.

Vegetable gardens are complemented with colourful flower beds, which provide nectar for bees and support pollination of the fruit trees, and the gardeners have even introduced honey beehives to encourage pollination.

Creative concrete work dotted with decorative mosaics can be seen along the garden’s, which even features a large mosaic lizard next to the children’s playspace. A deserving win.

Best School Garden: Pimpala Primary School

Judges were immediately greeted by excited learners and budding gardeners (and a cute scarecrow) when they arrived at Pimpala, and it was soon clear the kids and teachers take great pride in the place.

Teachers have done an outstanding job teaching about fruit, vegetables and native bush tucker.

Produce grown in the garden is used in the school kitchen and gets get to experience the full cycle of cultivation and processing, making it an enriching experience for learners. The garden harvests rainwater from nearby buildings and composting is successfully done on site.

Plants are clearly marked for identification purposes. Insectariums are situated around the garden to provide safe havens for local insects that prey on pests.

A miniature garden with ornaments and a bird bath welcomes native birds to take refuge. It was a treat to interact with the learners and hear about their passion for gardening and cooking. Well done, Pimpala Primary School!

Best Edible School Garden: Clarendon Primary School

Clarendon Primary School is home to a welcoming vegetable garden, cleverly placed between classrooms.

Kids can walk freely between the beds and help themselves to beautiful fresh food such as strawberries. Produce is used in the school kitchen, sold to generate income or turned into delicious food in the school’s pizza oven!

Chooks provide natural pest control between the plants and relax in their new chook pen, water is harvested from nearby buildings, while green waste is composted on site and reused in the garden.

When judges arrived, the gardens were neatly mulched and weed-free while learners were actively engaged in gardening activities – a deserving edible school garden.

Best Community Garden: Elizabeth House Positive Ageing Centre