16 Nov Every day’s a good day to garden with Harry
“Every day is a good day when you get out of bed. It’s only a bad day if you can’t get out to see your garden.“
At 80 years young, Harry has worked out what matters in life. The avid gardener and resident of Uniting Ronald Coleman Lodge in Woollarah reckons life is “all about making a contribution”.
Harry moved to the Uniting aged care home a year ago to be closer to his daughters. “They looked around a fair bit and thought this place was the best option for me,” he said.
It wasn’t long before he was taking over the a neglected garden bed on the rooftop of his new home and recruiting a team of fellow green thumbs to get it growing and flourishing. The beautiful garden now includes a huge variety of edible and aesthetic plants including radishes, beetroots, cucumbers, strawberries, sunflowers, roses and an array of herbs.
Local council helped the gardening group install a small hive with a colony of native stingless bees and they’re looking forward to their first harvest of honey in the coming months. “You’ve got to have variety,” said Harry. “I’ve got over ten varieties of capsicums and chilies here.”
For Harry, it’s all about the team work and cooperation that comes with the project and the way it enriches the lives of the people in the community he calls home. The food that’s grown is there for sharing, with residents encouraged to come into the garden and have a taste of the produce. The kitchen team also makes use of the herbs and leafy greens.
“I do a lot of the work, but it’s not my garden,” said Harry. “I like it to give people pleasure. I want them to be able to come out in the morning and see the flowers or pick a strawberry. When it’s somebody’s birthday I pick them a sunflower to put in their room.”
Having worked as a market gardener in his younger years, the rooftop garden also serves as a reminder to Harry that he has expertise to share. “I’ve still got a life. I can do things,” he said.
Harry’s top gardening tips:
- Get yourself a good fertiliser – sheep manure is Harry’s pick – and don’t be shy with it.
- Give your plants loving care. “I water my garden twice a day. In the early morning and the cool of the evening,” said Harry. “I talk to the plants too, but the main thing you’ll hear me say is ‘Grow you mongrels’.”
- Have fun with it. “Me and my mate Simon had a competition going to see who could grow the best potatoes,” said Harry. “You’ve got to make your own fun in life.”