If you take a walk around the grounds at Wodonga TAFE don’t expect to see the usual range of garden plants.
Head gardener Matthew Corr likes the unusual, the rare and the different. Planter boxes that once held flowering ornamentals now produce all sorts of edible plants and once ordinary garden beds now grow corn and many old-fashioned vegetable varieties.
“These areas grow a range of root vegetables, tendril producing vegetables – all different plant forms. It’s amazing what you can actually grow in a confined space,” Matt said.
A lover of the old traditional vegetable gardens (called potager gardens), Matt has included them around the TAFE. The gardens are sustainable beds that are utilised by teaching staff. Hospitality classes use many of the herbs and produce, there’s nothing better than picking fresh from the garden.
A potager garden is easy to make – it’s nothing more than a vegetable garden that follows garden design principles to not only look lovely but be productive as well. A focal point is needed to bring the design together. Matt has used a teepee as his focal point in the planter boxes, with hops as the climbing plant.
Potager gardens have been popular for hundreds of years, every household would have had a small parcel of land where they grew herbs and vegetables. Originally lavender and other aromatics were grown to spread on the floor of the house to release their scent when walked on. These gardens evolved to become more formal and beautiful to look at – there’s nothing wrong with mixing vegetable plants with ornamentals.
Where many educational facilities have fairly simple and repetitive landscapes, the gardens at Wodonga TAFE are different.
Having a horticultural department means the TAFE needs variety in its gardens for the benefit of the students. The Wodonga TAFE grounds boast many different and unusual species and different landscaping styles - a wealth of plants to identify and study.
“The gardens around the TAFE are a learning tool for our own apprentices as well as all the other horticultural students, it’s important we show diversity,” Matt said.
I agree this has been achieved. The TAFE grounds are a huge learning tool, how lucky we are in Wodonga to be able to utilise them.
Diary: Kitchen gardening short course at Wodonga TAFE. Four half-day sessions in October. Topics include companion planting, composting, recycling and pest management.
Cost is $250. For more information call 1300 MY TAFE (1300 698 233).
Deb Delahunty is a horticulture teacher at Wodonga TAFE.