Gardens at St Cecilia's

Over the recent years a dramatic transformation has taken place in the gardens surrounding the Parish Centre, the Presbytery and St Cecilia's Church.

In September 2008 the Town of Cambridge removed the giant Ficus Hillii from along the Grantham St side of the property. These were causing a great deal of underground root damage and proved a potential liability to the Parish and the council. This extra light allowed opportunity for some changes to the garden beds, which were under these massive shady trees.

In May 2009 a busy bee was held and brave souls endured rain and hail to transform the gardens along the Grantham St side of the property. Remnant plantings of landscaping, which took place about 12 years ago have been removed. These included dead and dying Golden Diosmas, Raphiolepis indica

(Indian Princess Hawthorn), a self-seeded zamia palm, plumbago and various other shrubs, which were not thriving in the conditions. Three Albany Woolly bush Adenanthos sericeus were relocated and are now adjacent to the church.

The soil was renourished with a healthy layer of soil conditioner.

The plan for this part of the garden included the creation of a true community garden inspired by the original gardens at Gethsemane and the Garden of Eden. This garden offers Mediterranean climate edibles including a selection of figs, Adam's, White Adriatic and White Genoa, three varieties of olives, a hedge of pomegranate ‘Wonderful', citrus includes kafir lime, Eureka and Lemonade lemons, seedless ‘Valencia' orange, ‘Niles ‘seedless mandarin and a Kumquat chino to and a white mulberry. A winding low growing border hedge of rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue' curves through the front of the garden representing the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Westringia fruticosa 'Smokey' is used as an accent plant closest to the lawn area. A quince will be planted in due course.

Echium candicans ‘Pride of Madeira' and Echium Fastuosum will in the spring provide a bold purple flower filled entrance to the driveway welcoming bees and nectar loving birds to the fruit garden. The pathway was lined with Leptospermum ‘Pink Cascade' and Scaevola ‘purple fanfare'.

New plantings of ‘Mary McKillop' roses can be found along the car park boundary on the Grantham St side. These were planted on Fr. Wayne's birthday last year as a gift from The Whitely family.

A stunning conifer will in time stand proudly on the corner of Grantham and Kenmore to welcome parishioners to the church during the Christmas season.

It is envisaged that in a few years members of both the church and the wider community in Floreat will be able to come and pick fruit from the garden, as they need it.

The garden beds have been mulched with a thick layer of street tree prunings which were obtained free of charge from a local arborist.

At the back of the sacristy formal rosemary hedge surrounds a Prunus nigra. This will be used for special occasions in the church calendar.

Giant Lemon scented gums are under planted with adenanthos cuneatus as a ground cover with leptospermum Pink Cascade dotted through the bed, the pink flowers picking up the foliage colour of the adenathos and the Agonis Flexuosa hedges have been trimmed along the Kenmore Crescent side of the church.

Further along the Kenmore Crescent side of the buildings the borders now consist of mass planted lavender flowering yellow leafed plectranthus in the bed behind the variegated Queensland box. Prunus Crimson Spire further punctuates this bed, this tree species is repeat planted throughout the entire property. Blue Flowering Solya is mass planted on the sloping Peebles Road corner bed. A group planting of Dombeya provides an extra element of interest and flowers in this corner of the garden.

The Peebles Road boundary gardens in front of the Priests' home have been planted with sustainability and low maintenance in mind. Plantings include an avenue of Manchurian pear ‘Pyrus Chanticleer' leading to the front entrance. This will provide wonderful autumn colour. A grove of Prunus ‘Crimson Spire' is located outside the living room window. The beds under the lounge room window have been planted with Raphiolepis. Dianella and various types of flax provide clean lines around the letterbox and line the pathway to the front door. Feature planting of two, grafted Corymbia ‘Sunset Red' gums will provide vibrant colour and nectar in late autumn and early spring. These will grow to only six metres. Repeat border plantings of dianella's and flax provide a semi-formal look to the front of the property.

A tightly clipped viburnum hedge provides some privacy form the car park adjacent.

The lawned courtyard beside the parish centre utilized by the playgroup, now features Breynia ‘Ironstone' and virburnum for privacy where azaleas and camellias once struggled to perform. A rare tree originating from South Africa, Cussonia paniculata, in the corner of this area will grow to about 5 metres. It bears small, green stalked flowers in short dense spikes. Flowers are followed by a flush of fleshy, purple-maroon fruits. Though not recommended for eating the fruits are said to be African bush tucker medicine used for treating infections, inflammation and malaria. The roots have been eaten as a source of water.

The cottage garden courtyard between the church and the parish centre now features many types of rare and unusual perennial salvias as well as David Austin's stunning myrrh scented rose, St Cecilia. Other roses include Cardinal and Mary McKillop. A struggling Chinese Tallow has been replaced with a new one to maintain the integrity of the original design, which featured two. Hardy succulents are performing well in this busy part of the garden which experiences high volume of traffic on the weekends. Two marble benches offer stylish outdoor seating for parents with restless toddlers during mass. This area is now regularly mulched with lupin mulch.

These gardens have been completely transformed into a sustainable, diverse and exciting garden for the future by the parishioners at St Cecilia's for the benefit of generations to come and the pleasure of those who worship there now.

Andrea Whitely
May 2010