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From little cuttings, big plants grow – streetscape community garden in Waterloo

It all started with some cuttings and a green thumb. Now, a streetscape garden in Waterloo is giving millionaires’ rows in Surry Hills and Woollahra a run for their money reports Linda Daniele in the South Sydney Herald of November 2008.

“It’s looking wonderful at the moment,” says Murray Gillett of the community garden he maintains with fellow residents of nine terraces in Raglan Street.

Combining nine large flowerboxes and four street gardens, Murray is adamant the whole thing originated from cuttings and says it’s certainly possible to build up a great garden this way.

“We don’t have bucket loads of money to be spending on plants. It’s all done on a shoestring budget. I have an established garden at the back, so I started with cuttings of geraniums and bromeliads from there,” he says.

Deciding seven years ago to create a front garden to help buffer and add interest to the 1890s bald-faced terraces – entered directly from the footpath – neighbours appreciated Murray’s efforts, and the whole thing literally grew from there.

“There are a few people who aren’t interested, but that’s ok. It takes only a couple of hours a week to maintain, and other residents are free to get involved as much as they like,” he says.  

Murray says that many residents in the area have been inspired since the City of Sydney Council started planting trees and agapanthus in the streets. The plantings helped people to develop pride in the area and their homes, he says.

Residents of the Raglan Street terraces certainly deserve to be proud of their greening efforts. For five years running now the community garden has been a finalist in the Council’s gardening competition in the category of best streetscape frontage.

“We might never beat the winner where people have million-dollar houses and lots of money to spend, but it’s a real achievement for a row of government [Department of Housing] houses to be acknowledged for our garden here too,” Murray says.

Keen to get some gardening tips, Murray shares the following when asked: “It’s a good time for gardenia cuttings now. Put ten cuttings in a glass and forget them, but just keep the water up. You’ll get a good strike rate from that. Then plant them out, and there you go – new gardenia plants!”

Photo: Ali Blogg - Raglan Street gardens

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2008