Over the last few years Dave Hallmark and his gardening team have been working to replace the plants in Maranatha Village in Kallangur that were suited to a drier climate with an abundance of tropical flowers and trees that will provide more shade and a refreshing atmosphere for residents.
“What we’ve done is gone back to the original sub-tropical look. The area was a rainforest in the early years, years and years before the area was developed,” Dave said.
“We’re taking a lot of cuttings from other plants, and we haven’t spent a lot of money but we have an extensive nursery now.”
Along with cuttings from plants they already had, families of Village and aged care residents at Kallangur have also donated some plants for the garden, in memory of their loved ones.
“There’s a couple of places around the Village that are memorial type areas for people who have passed away,” Dave said.
The team is also including nostalgic pieces into their garden designs to spark fond memories in residents of yesteryear.
The new gazebo near the pond will have a nautical theme and include fishing gear and life jackets families have donated to give it a feeling of a pier.
Old farm machinery such as ploughs and diggers that residents may have used in their lifetimes are also being incorporated into the gardens to prompt conversations with family and friends.
The old orchard that stood on the grounds before the new units were built is being brought back with fruit trees being planted all around the Village.
“Any areas we have available we are putting avocados and fruit trees back in. Mangoes and macadamia nuts all grow well here, as well as limes, lemons and mandarins,” Dave said.
”In Acacia Lodge there are oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes that are just starting to produce now.”
Residents also help out by maintaining some areas of the gardens.
Paul and Jane Bundesen in particular are a couple of “unsung heroes“ when it comes to weeding and maintaining a particular piece of land down the bottom of the Village.
For Dave and his team, it’s a long term project that requires patience as many plants take years to develop, but the journey itself brings joy for themselves and the residents they serve.
“There’s always conversations around the garden. We’ll be working away and the oldies will come out for walks every day and have a chat,” he said.
The well-being of each resident is at the centre of everything they set out to do, and splashes of kindness are scattered around the Village for specific individuals to enjoy.
“If there are particular types of herbs or flowers people like, we try to get it outside their rooms so they can see it,” Dave said.
New ideas are incorporated into their plans all the time. They are currently working on a cactus garden, which will be an observational area only.
“It’s totally evolving all the time and it’s never finished.”