Garden Design: Cushnie Function Centre Caretaker’s Residence

During the Volunteer Selection Project (VSP) held during April 2019, participants contributed to an activity of God’s Way Ltd Environment Branch, which involved preparing an area of the Cushnie Function Centre Caretaker’s property for creating a garden. Positioned between a main road and the caretaker’s house, trees and shrubs planted in this garden would eventually form a sound barrier to minimise road noise and encourage birds and insect life. This activity was referred to as the ‘fish scale holes’ as the design Jesus created for the garden bed loosely resembles the overlapping geometry of fish scales.

The activity involved digging and shaping holes with banks and overflows that would capture rain water and when full, overflow into the next hole. More about the process can be found in the post: Volunteer Selection Project: Week 2, April 2019.


The 'fish scale shaped' garden design

The ‘fish scale shaped’ garden design


In the diagram above, the red arrows indicate the slope of the hill, blue indicates the flow of water and the green lines represent where water will overflow from the holes outlined in black.


A section before implementation of the design

A section before implementation of the design


After two rows of holes have been dug

After two rows of holes have been dug


The design completed and covered with woodchip

The design completed and covered with woodchip


Aerial view showing fish scale shaped garden beds positioned along the roadside

Aerial view showing fish scale shaped garden beds positioned along the roadside

The soil in the area that the holes were dug was very poor with no insect life to be seen. To assist in regenerating the soil to the point where it would be able to support the growth of plants and trees, God’s Way Ltd volunteers added fruit and vegetable waste collected from a local produce store to the holes, and covered this with woodchip mulch. The organic matter would encourage intelligent life like insects and microbes into the garden by providing food and moisture from the decomposing green waste.


Green waste is added to the holes

Green waste is added to the holes

After adding the green waste to the holes, some of the fruit and vegetables began to sprout and grow, however they did not flourish as there has been little rain resulting in no water to sustain them.


Late in 2019, Jesus (AJ Miller) and the God’s Way Ltd board of Mary Magdalene (Mary Luck), Eloisa Lytton-Hitchins and Catherine Spence, decided to enlarge a dam on the Function Centre Caretakers property. The dam still had some water in it, so it was decided to pump the water out of the dam and into the area of the fish scale holes to water and prepare the garden bed for seeding.


In preparation to pump from the dam, Wayne primes the pump with water to ensure there is no air in the line

In preparation to pump from the dam, Wayne primes the pump with water to ensure there is no air in the line


Pipe is attached to the pump

Pipe is attached to the pump


Lay flat hose is attached to the pipe for distributing the water into the garden

Lay flat hose is attached to the pipe for distributing the water into the garden


Water filling up and overflowing into the next hole

Water filling up and overflowing into the next hole


Dam water level reduces as water is pumped out

Dam water level reduces as water is pumped out

Whether or not participants had been thinking about the project design and purpose while they were building the holes was demonstrated in how well the constructed fish scale design functioned.

Pumping the water into the holes highlighted:

  • If directions had been followed
  • How well the VSP participants had levelled the banks and overflows to ensure water flow between holes
  • How much care was taken to construct solid walls and banks

Adding water to the holes highlighted some areas where improvement to individual holes was needed, but that the overall design concept is good and works well.


Water overflowing from hole to hole in the fish scale system

Water overflowing from hole to hole in the fish scale system

Areas for improvement:

  • Some of the banks at the top of the garden area were not constructed high or sturdily enough. Water only just sits below the bank and under pressure could rupture the bank
  • The overflows required some clearing so that water flowed more easily
  • In one area the banks were built too high so the water could not overflow into the next section

Some of the issues were easily remedied by volunteers but others will require a little more work to get them functioning correctly.

The dam water was pumped into the holes using lay flat hose. Volunteers who were present watched the water filling up the holes and the design working beautifully, with water overflowing from one hole to the next. Seeing the design in action and reflecting on the VSP activity and the principles and lessons the participants had the opportunity to learn, it was decided that it was a good project with multiple benefits. The next phase will be seeding or planting out the area so that a variety of native Australian flora can grow and flourish.

Thank you to Jesus for designing the fish scale hole system, demonstrating how to create & implement it and physically contributing to project construction.


Jesus outlines the fish scale design during a demonstration

Jesus outlines the fish scale design during a demonstration

Thanks to God’s Way Ltd volunteers and the VSP participants who contributed to creating the holes. Photos of the water flow are included in this post so you can see the ‘business end’ (as Jesus calls it) of the design, that is, what your hours of hard labour digging up the soil has resulted in.


Construction of holes

April 2019


After adding mulch and water

November 2019


Construction of holes

April 2019


After adding mulch and water

November 2019


Before

April 2019


After

November 2019

Title: Garden Design: Cushnie Function Centre Caretaker’s Residence
Date of Submission: 29 November 2019
Date of Event: 2018 – 2019 and ongoing
Branch: Environment
Branch Manager: AJ Miller (Jesus)
Branch Auditor: AJ Miller (Jesus)
Programme: Eco System Recovery
Project: Garden Design
Location: Cushnie Function Centre Caretaker’s Residence
Post Contributors: Eloisa Lytton-Hitchins
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