Monday, September 12, 2011

We love Sustainable House Day

We had another great SHD yesterday, with about 110 sign ins, which we reckon equates to about 200 people. The weather was beautiful. How could you not enjoy a day when your house and garden look amazing and you get hundreds of compliments from absolute strangers, you make new connections in the community, you get affirmation that what you're doing is valued by people and you realise that people want to learn from you. It's a huge buzz to know that you can inspire people and teach them things that will make them and the community richer, more resilient and more sustainable. The talks were well received, with lots of interest in solar passive retrofitting and Amy's composting and worm talks.

Shani and Tim from Ecoburbia were there in the morning helping out and Shani's new kid Sunday (half of their milk supply) was a big hit of course!

The gardens were looking great thanks to some help from our friends. One of the great things about home opens is that it forces you to do jobs that would otherwise not get done. So we weeded the whole front garden, put cardboard down and put about 20 cubic metres of mulch down, plus we reapplied sawdust to the paths. The last time we did this was SHD 2009...

We also prettied up the place, for example:

The worm farm painted and yarn bombed the railing.

A succulent potted into a teapot.

My personal favourite, painting the compost slats. Each time we turn the compost a new message appears.

Some things worked out well, such as the orange tree loaded with ripe fruit and flowering and the nectarine tree in full bloom.

The grape vine was starting to leaf up in anticipation of another hot, dry Perth summer. It was good to demonstrate how to do some easy, cheap things like planting a deciduous vine to the north or shading an eastern window to make your house more comfortable.

Some things didn't quite go to plan, such as the sweet peas, poppies and everlastings being a week off flowering. I don't think it mattered that much though.

Here are some of my favourite moments from the day: meeting a mum with toddler in tow really interested in Living Smart (a 7 week crash course in sustainability, $20 all up) and frantically writing down info on where to get free sawdust and how to clad a west facing wall; meeting a young couple who just moved into the street (it's always good to meet the neighbours) and talking to a bunch of 20 somethings who were into everything, such as  preserves ("Wow, we'll have to look for some Vacola jars in the Quokka") and having a ride on the cargo bike. This gives me hope for the future.

We were also surprised by some things, like people saying how lucky we are to have good neighbours. We take this for granted, but we are truly lucky. A few years back a girl called Lily poked her head through the rickety fence wanting to play with Quin and now they're best mates. This is how a neighbourhood should work, but sadly they don't all seem to these days.

We've also become great friends with Lily's mum Sam (knitting guru to Amy), who often rides Quin to school or back in the cargo bike if we can't do it. A while ago we pulled some pickets off the fence, which serves a dual purpose. It allows easy access to the 'top paddock' and lets winter sunlight into a previously unproductive northern vegie bed.

Many people showed interest in Amy's dog poo composting system, so she'll do a post on it soon. Thanks to the volies on the day, Tim and Shani, Tribalivers Mary-Anne and Helen and Sam and Nathan.

We're already dreaming of next year. We went to the open garden of a celebrity gardener recently and it was great, but we can't help thinking ours is as good (and we're obviously not biased). We had a 9 year start on him, but we now have the confidence in our amateur gardening abilities to pass them on a bit. So the plan is to be part of the Open Garden Scheme next spring, which I think will be easier than SHD. We'll be able to focus more on the garden, without doing the whole house too. An added bonus will be charging money to raise funds for our community garden, Hilton Harvest.

And the everlastings will definitely be in full bloom...

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful, congratulations guys. I love seeing photos of the garden.