THIS weekend is one that keen local gardeners – and aspiring ones, too - look forward to all year.
Ten outstanding Lake Macquarie domestic gardens will be opened to the public as part of Lake Macquarie Garden Club’s annual Open Gardens and Art Trail.
It’s an opportunity to learn new techniques, problem solve, and get lots of inspiration for plants to try at your place.
What’s more, the event is a fund-raiser for the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
Event founder Lynne Turner said visitors can pay $5 to see an individual garden, or $35 for a passport to see all 10 gardens over Saturday and Sunday.
The inaugural Open Gardens and Arts Trail last year exceeded all expectations, raising $25,000 for the HMRI.
“The open gardens are located on both eastern and western sides of Lake Macquarie. From Marks Point to Jewells, Mount Hutton, Speers Point, Bolton Point, Toronto and Coal Point on the western side of the lake,” Ms Turner said.
“After the success of the event last year we will be presenting another 10 unique gardens that haven’t been shown to the public previously.
“Visitors could decide to cycle the route, walk, take a bus to the various gardens, or walk parts of the waterfront of Lake Macquarie to get from garden to garden.
“Owners of the properties will be on hand to answer your questions and share their passion for gardening.”
Among the gardeners who will open their gates to the public this weekend are Peter and Louise Cooper of Coal Point.
Mr Cooper keeps bees, which adds another dimension to the garden.
“We started with one flow hive two years ago, and that became eight,” Mr Cooper said.
“We’ve planted a lot of bee-friendly plants, they’re pretty, and the bees love them,” Ms Cooper said.
Among them are lavender, hebes, succulents, cuphea and murraya, she said.
The Coopers have made progressive changes and additions to their garden in the 11 years that they’ve lived at the Coal Point Road property.
“We had three large spotted gums that we had to take out. Removing them created a major shift in the garden because they had provided a lot of shade,” Mr Cooper said.
The couple put salt-tolerant grasses in, and are always looking to add drought-tolerant plants to the garden.
Ms Cooper said she and Peter typically spent between four and five hours tending to the garden each week.
She said she considered gardening both a chore and a pleasant pastime, and something that was the source of much satisfaction.
Mr Cooper said having bees often influenced their gardening choices.
“It’s not just about the flowers, it’s about the trees as well,” he said.
The presence of eucalypts, a primary source of nectar, was important for the bees, he said.
“And bees are dynamically connected to the entire ecosystem, so you have to be aware of that and to respond to what the bees are doing.”
Ms Cooper said she hoped visitors to her garden went away with some ideas to apply in their gardens.
“It would be nice if people could be inspired to go home and plant more flowers and more bee-friendly plants,” she said.
For the garden addresses, go to the Lake Macquarie Garden Club page on Facebook, or email email@example.com.