Gardening Australia comes to the Wetlands

By Pauline Husen

In March, FROGS Landcare volunteers played host to Costa Georgiadis as he visited the Goulburn Wetlands. Many of you will know that Costa has long been interested in the Wetlands—he planted trees with local school children in 2016 and live-streamed an impromptu visit in 2022. This time he came to film the Wetlands and its gardens for a segment on Gardening Australia.

The visitors arrived early one Wednesday. As it was a normal working bee day, there were plenty of opportunities for the film crew to interview and film volunteers engaged in caring for the Wetlands. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at how television is made—it involves a lot of talking and waiting. At one point, filming was halted as Costa took a video of a caterpillar moving across the concrete path. Indeed, it was a very attractive caterpillar!

FROGS Landcare volunteers played host to Costa Georgiadis as he visited the Goulburn Wetlands, image by Heather west.

The team divided their time between the Australian Plants Society (APS) Gardens at each entrance and the rest of the Wetlands, which is the regeneration project. The top garden, the Banksia Embankment, was of particular interest due to the measures which have been taken to mitigate against damage caused by flash flooding following the removal of bushland above May Street in 2021. One of the plants which caught the attention of the film crew because of its structural beauty was Homoranthus prolixus (Barraba Heath Myrtle), which almost looks like a bonsai. When we came across the lifeless remains of the striking Hakea petiolaris (Sea Urchin Hakea), which I hadn’t had the heart to remove and which he had admired on his previous visit, Costa became quite lyrical, noting the shape of its dead leaf was ‘voluptuous’—the producer and I instantly had visions of a Botticelli beauty. He also admired the stark blue star-like seed pods of the Eryngium ovinum (Blue Devil), which are recent additions to the gardens, in the new extension near the picnic shelter.

The successful collaboration between FROGS Landcare and the APS was justifiably discussed at some length. The Southern Tablelands Group has propagated most of the plant stock for the regeneration of the Wetlands, as well as designing, creating, and maintaining the gardens at each entrance of the Wetlands. These gardens play an educational role, with the labels making it easy for local gardeners to see which Australian plants grow well in the Goulburn climate.

It was a treat to show the team around the lower garden, the Woodland Garden, later in the day. Costa enthusiastically explored the winding path through the woodland, discovering the very tactile Melaleuca incana ‘Velvet Cushion’, which has lovely velvety soft leaves and requires no pruning at all to create the pleasing rounded shape. The beautiful bark and silvery leaves of Eucalyptus pulverulenta (Silver Leaved Mountain Gum), which form the foundation of the woodland, also came in for some effusive praise. Happily, some birds were singing during filming, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the three layers of plantings to provide habitat for birds and wildlife.

Morning tea with Costa and the Southern Tablelands Group, image by Heather West.
The Bird hide, overlooking a water bird environment, image by Heather West

The film crew also spent time with Frank Antrum looking and listening for birds throughout the Wetlands, while President of FROGS Landcare, Heather West, outlined the background and aims of the whole project.

It’s quite a coup for the Goulburn Wetlands to have the opportunity for such widespread free publicity. And it was certainly a pleasure to have our work appreciated in such an enthusiastic way. We all hope that when the episode is first aired on 31 May that it captures the heart of the story—that individual volunteers and community organizations have cooperated to transform a barren wasteland and eyesore into a valued community amenity and green space.

This article constructed by Pauline Husen who works in a the Wetlands, known as the APS Garden and is a member of STAPS and FROGS