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Canberra Today 2°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Isaacs neighbours keep the Floriade dream alive

Isaacs Neighbourhood Group gardeners Betsy Joseph and Bill Ruse… “It is easy for any community to take it on. Everybody is happy to chip in,” says Betsy. Photo: Lily Pass

LAST YEAR, a group of neighbours in Isaacs got together to produce “Floriade in the Suburbs” at their local IGA and now they don’t want to let it go.

Betsy Joseph had previously filled out the Floriade application form on behalf of school and community groups, so she was given the task of making sure the details were correct, while Bill Ruse and the Isaacs Neighbourhood Group began clearing out the pots.

“There were some big pots that are still there and we’ve used them, but they had junk growing in them; there was a ratty little pine tree and it hadn’t been tended to in five or six years,” says Bill.

Floriade provided tulip and daffodil bulbs and pansies for the Isaacs Neighbourhood Group, which were planted in July.

“The last pansies are at the end of their beautiful life now, they’ve been looked after well,” he says.

To liven up the area again, the Isaacs Neighbourhood Group has begun removing the pansies and looking after the bulbs to reuse.

The group has also replaced the flowers with petunias to maintain the colourful environment until Floriade kicks off again in spring.

“We figure once the petunias die off, we might have a period of no colour, but we’ll clean them out and tidy it up in anticipation of ‘Floriade in the Suburbs’ again, if it happens again,” says Bill.

Betsy says there was plenty of interest in community groups taking part in ‘Floriade in the Suburbs’ in 2021, which is a promising sign of the event’s hopeful return this year.

“Events Canberra should be happy to continue it in the community because people are enjoying taking part in it and seeing it,” she says.

Bill says they’ll keep looking after it, even without “Floriade in the Suburbs”.

“Having started it, it would seem a shame to not chip away at it and keep it looking reasonable, and it doesn’t take much time,” he says.

“If we let it go, it’s another big effort to refresh it, so we just regard it as an extension of our own home gardening.”

The Isaacs Neighbourhood Group has a WhatsApp group chat where members share updates and photos, and let each other know when the plants get watered by someone, to avoid overwatering them.

“It brings people together, watering the flowers or seeing the flowers, it brings people into the community and it makes you feel good,” says Betsy.

“A family came along with their three little kids and they seemed to have fun helping out, which achieved something, so there’s good community involvement,” says Bill.

“As it came along, more people were asking whether they could be part of it and join the group and what started off with just people we knew, we’re growing little by little,” says Betsy.

The application to take part in “Floriade in the Suburbs” is straightforward, and Betsy puts all the requirements in place and makes sure the form has all the correct details.

“It is easy for any community to take it on. Everybody is happy to chip in and help is what I’ve learned,” says Betsy.

The Isaacs Neighbourhood Group has also received comments from locals visiting the shops, about how nice the flowers look.

“The shop owners are very appreciative, too. The IGA and the Supersweet patisserie really like it. They’re quite pleased with what we’ve done,” says Bill.

Supersweet patisserie used petals from the flowers to decorate cakes and desserts, so Betsy has begun planning to include more edible flowers in the 2022 display, as well as little vegetables and herbs for community and shop use.

“I love to see it growing,” says Betsy, and it also helps to boost income for the local businesses.

Betsy says with COVID-19 and working from home, she’ll go to the local shops to get a coffee, and it’s nice to see the colour and flowers.

It provides a positive scene and a nice distraction from the pandemic, and Betsy would love to see other communities do similar things in their suburbs.

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Lily Pass

Lily Pass

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