Lobethal Gardening Festival

By Kendrea Rhodes

The 31st of October is Halloween, and one might expect ghouls, ghosts and goblins, or at least bat flower, ghost plant, or deadly nightshade. But, in Lobethal on the 31st, you will see such an array of open gardens without a spectre in sight. The Lobethal Gardening Festival is an all-day event celebrating private, public and community gardens, rich with native, exotic, edible and ornamental plants. You can expect walking talks, bushfire recovery gardens, and natural imperfection from the eternal work-in-progress of gardening.

The Festival is a ticketed event with guest speakers, Ivy Campbell, Evette Sunset, and Sophie Thomson. Peramangk elder Ivy Campbell will share her knowledge and thoughts of healing the land at the Festival’s opening at 10am in Lobethal Bushland Park. Sophie Thomson will close the Festival with a talk entitled “Lessons Learned in the Garden in 2020”at 3.30pm in the Lobethal Centennial Hall.

Evette Sunset is a landscape designer, responsible for the design of the Lobethal Pocket Forest at the Lobethal Woollen Mill on Mill Road. The Cudlee Creek Fire severely impacted the area behind the Mill in December 2019 and, in under two years, with community collaboration, vision and effort, it has become an important educational tool for fire safe practices, as well as an area of beauty. The plants within Evette’s designs are less fire prone and aimed at slowing the progress of fire. Join Evette for her talk at 1.30pm at the Pocket Forest.

Georgia Pope and Andrew Byrne sit beside a pleasant surprise on the hillside of their open garden: the (purple) Dampiera dysantha, a wildflower popping up throughout the area since the fires. Photo by Matt Kelly. Festival tickets via trybooking.

Lobethal Community Association member, Georgia Pope, is passionate about her garden and the whole township. Georgia and Andrew have lived in Lobethal for six years and have achieved their dream garden due, Georgia says, to the uniqueness of Lobethal.

“I have met so many interesting, knowledgeable, caring, and open-minded people in this town. And there’s something special about this land, such a sense of wellbeing comes from having our hands in the earth,” Georgia said.

Georgia and Andrew’s garden is one of two bushfire affected gardens opening for the Festival. Georgia said that it’s surprising what has come back after the fires, and right now, there are such pops of colour, visitors will enjoy walking up the hill identifying native wildflowers.

Lynton Vonow, Kristina Vonow and Georgia Pope, doing some last-minute gardening in preparation for the Festival. Photo by Peter Stanley. Festival tickets via trybooking.

Seven private gardens will be open for the day including a food forest backyard, a calming gumtree retreat, a children’s wonderland across five acres, another on two acres with little worlds including a Japanese garden and a cubby house replete with miniature veggie patch. Georgia stresses that these are “private gardens. They are not perfect, not manicured to magazine standard, these are working gardens full of passion, joy and experience.”

Both Primary Schools in Lobethal will open their own gardens: one a German Hufendorf Garten full of  traditional German vegetables and chickens; the other with a nature play area, ornamental plants, vegetables and chickens too. The schools (including Woodside Primary School) are running a STEAM challenge competition to identify a problem for a gardener and design the solution.

Gardening is not age defined; it appeals across the board. As well as the primary schools, local family gardens and community gardens, residents at the Valley of Praise Retirement Village in Lobethal will open the shared veggie and herb patches within the Village, and their own private gardens.

Bushland Park will also host several interesting stalls: Australian Plant Society, Australian bush tucker plants and seedlings, Butterfly Conservation, responsible gardening from Landscape SA, Lilium and Bulb Society, Frogwatch, Adelaide Hills Council, CFS and the Beekeeping Society of South Australia.

The Lobethal Community Association, in conjunction with the wider community, welcome all visitors to the inaugural Lobethal Gardening Festival. This is a community fundraising event with proceeds going to future initiatives such as Main Street beautification and showcasing town history. The Festival opens from 10am until 4.30pm on Sunday 31st of October. Tickets are $12 each, $10 concession, and children under 12 free. Book your ticket on trybooking or purchase them from the Lobethal Fodder Store. Refreshments are available through numerous local businesses open on the day.

For more information, please visit the Lobethal Community Association’s Facebook page. The Association is grateful to the Adelaide Hills Council for their support of this event and to Councillors Malcolm Herrmann, Linda Green and Chris Grant for their generous donations.

Story by Kendrea Rhodes.