by Warren Heggarty
Above: Cheryl, Mel from Bunnings and Cheryl’s sister Julie-Ann getting their hands nice and dirty.
Flourish Australia’s Derby Street Penrith service is a great location. There is a bus stop literally at the front doorstep. A Police Citizens Youth Club across the road, next to a Lawn Bowls club. At the next corner is a Swimming Centre. Round the corner is the Nepean Village Shopping centre and Penrith Paceway- home of regular Wednesday Markets.
Alas, the back yard is entirely concrete. But that is no excuse not to do a bit of gardening. Not when you have a bunch of keen gardeners and two local Bunnings Warehouses to help out.
Above: Annie, left, and Isabella from Bunnings South Penrith work on a plant box while staff Catherine and Peter look on. That’s an orange tree behind Annie.
Manager Catherine Andrew said she had been working with Kayla from the South Penrith Bunnings store who was able to arrange a donation of a barbecue for the Day to Day living program, plus some new pot plants to help beautify the place.
On the day, Isabella from South Penrith and Mel from North Penrith Bunnings came bearing bags of potting mix and plants aplenty.
‘I’m really excited about this little project and am really looking forward to having regular barbecues on the site again.’ Said Catherine.
But if your back yard is entirely concrete, how do you actually do gardening? Using pots, plant boxes, and painted pallets of course.
Annie – who describes herself as a ‘bit of a character’- hung various pots on the slats of several blue pallets attached to the fence.
In the pictures, Melissa can be seen working on the main decorative pots. She is painting them with a black roller. The pots are etched in patters that show up green once the roller goes over them. Very nifty.
Above: Maurice shows what you can do even without a ‘real’ back garden. Putting the plants up on pallets like this saves you the trouble of bending down to smell the flowers! In fact, it’s BETTER this way because you can paint the pallets the colour of your choice.
Isabella handed a spray can to Maurice so he could get started on some rectangular terracotta pots. ‘I’m a bit of a stirrer’ he admitted as he shook the can then goaded his comrades on to do their share of the work.
Like a number of the people we’ve met, Maurice doesn’t limit himself to one Flourish Australia location. As well as Derby Street Penrith, he attends Embark Cottage at Blacktown and the Richmond service as well.
Julie-Ann and Cheryl were working with Mel from Bunnings North Penrith. Cheryl was scooping potting mix into pots and Julie-Ann was planting. ‘I’m a gardener’ said Julie-Ann, ‘And Cheryl’s my sister.’ Not only that, Glenn, her husband of eight months is also a member at Derby Street! In fact, they MET at Flourish Australia Penrith.
This is not so uncommon. Panorama can think of quite a number of couples who met and married while both were members or both were employees of Flourish Australia services.
Once the potting mix had been loaded into the pots, people grabbed brooms to sweep up the dirt to make the back yard table and the pavement respectable again.
After the toil in the garden came the barbecue. Daniel and others had been cooking away on the hotplate while the gardening was in progress.
Panorama put it to the people that Derby Street is a great location in so many ways. One of the ladies said outright that she loves it here! She drew our attention to the various fruit trees in the yard.
‘The trouble is there is no parking for the staff’ she said. ‘They are going to build a nursing home next door where the staff park. I don’t know what they are going to do for a parking spot then. Especially on Wednesdays because that’s market day.’
Well at least there will be plenty of pretty flowers to make up for it!
If you’re in the neighbourhood, you will find a Bunnings at The (South) Penrith Homemaker Centre, 2,745 Wolseley Street 02 4737 5400, AND at 2,166 Castlereagh Road, (North) Penrith 02 4720 2000, both open till 9PM.
Above: Derby St. member, Melissa rolls the black paint over one of the feature pots. The etched pattern shows up as green tendrils. The big question is what is going to go inside the pots. Someone cheekily suggested Maurice might flourish in one.
Flourish Australia 232 Derby Street PENRITH NSW 2750
Day to Day Living: (02) 9393 9799
Partners in Recovery: (02) 9393 9770
Housing & Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) and Youth and Community Liaison Support Service (YCLSS): (02) 9393 9799
General Inquiries: 1300 779 270