Wander through the shady pink bouganvillea arbour next to the river in Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands and you will come upon a gardener’s delight, Epicurious!
Brisbane is a beautiful city, but there is a wonderful surprise for gardeners and foodies to explore. In 2013, Brisbane City Council set up an ornamental and productive picking garden in the South Bank Parklands which has been a big hit with all the visitors.
I spoke with Jill who has been a volunteer at Epicurious since the beginning. There are 14 volunteer gardeners taking turns, who are available for a chat or to just watch them work from 7am-2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There are free veges, herbs and flowers that you can choose from in the garden’s harvest cart. However, Jill told me that the cart operates on first come basis, so get in before the first ferry arrives or most green stuff has disappeared with the morning work crowd!
Apart from the harvested goodies, you can ask the volunteers to cut some leaves or herbs for you to taste or to explain about how to grow a particular plant or vegetable. They are very happy to help. Jill told me that there are many parents who bring their children in to show them how their food grows and get some ideas of what veges they could grow at home.
Darren has worked at the Parklands for over 15 years and 2 of those in the new Epicurious garden. There is seasonal rotation of all the plants in this garden, so there is always something new happening. I watched him finishing to plant a bed of sweet corn and give the sugarcane mulch topping a deep watering. He has a big job, as the Epicurious Garden is 1500m2, made up of 30 different sized beds and some small tree sized pots. There is a large pond in the midde with water plants, watched over by a mammoth statue of Confucious. The benches running alongside the pool are a welcome place to sit and contemplate the beauty of this green space.
Most of the plants have interpretive signs and some have links to recipes you can try at home. Families can get new ideas of edibles and ornamentals they can try at home and get some information on how to plant them, what soil they like, how much sunlight they need and the lead time for the potential crops they can harvest.
There are shiny leafed coffee bushes full of fruit. A sloping bed has been divided into three parts to showcase three types of sweet potato green, yellow and deep red, but apparently the green leafed variety produces far more sweet potatoes!
At least four varietals of tomatoes laden with fruit wind up obelisks, with malabar greens sharing their space. A bed of ginger points to the sky, not yet flowering. Groves of citrus – lemon, oranges and limes – heavy with perfumed flowers and bees humming and hovering over the sweet nectar, border the path. There are various beds that are full of young veges like Giant Red Mustard leaf, protected by netting. Indigenous food plants are also interspersed in this food forest.
I found a bench and realised that they had planted a hedge of Turmeric behind to cast shade. Close to the Harvest Cart, there are Haas avocados and Kensington Pride mangos next to young figs. There are mounds of herbs like oregano, rosemary and thyme all through the garden.
If you are after some ideas for your own garden or just love to wander around and check out what’s growing, drop by if you are in Brisbane!
Open Backyards recognises the traditional owners of the lands at South Bank, the Turrbal and Yuggera people. We also pay our respects to their elders, past and present, and the elders from other communities who visit from time to time.