Neglected gardens leave a bad impression

roscoeSometimes, a good idea can go bad.

That’s what’s happened to the Roscoe Street garden, a small community planter at Bondi Beach. What had most likely been a raised patch of veges has become a neglected installation that offers a poor impression of community gardening — for community garden is what it is billed as — as it does the practice of footpath gardening.

I don’t know the history of the garden or who built it. The words painted on the timber frame suggest it was conceived as a public good.

I have to point out that the Roscoe Street remnant is not typical of footpath gardens, most of those that I have seen are well maintained and a useful improvement to the urban streetscape.

The necessity of maintenance

Not long ago I heard someone bemoaning a local government for raising the question of maintenance about a garden being planned.

I disagree. I think maintenance is a fair question for councils to ask of people planning footpath and community gardens, especially in areas of transient population such as Bondi Beach. I don’t know if it was people moving out of the area that led to the abandonment of the Roscoe Street garden, however the condition of the garden last I saw it — dereliction — suggests that maintenance should be part of any planning for community/footpath gardens.

An obvious public good — or not?

Sometimes, well-meaning people imagine that a food garden in a public place will prove such a good idea that people will be attracted to it and make use of the thing. I’ve found that assumption to often be erroneous. What one person sees as an evident public good is not necessarily seen as that by anyone else.

I assume the Roscoe Street planter was installed without Waverley Council go-ahead although council does have a policy that allows footpath gardens. I imagine that, sooner or later, most likely when some local, permanent resident calls council, a work crew will arrive in their truck and demolish it.

Spontaneous, pop-up or guerrilla gardens, whatever your chosen term, are those made without council permission. They have to be planned for just as does any officially-approved garden. Ongoing maintenance is part of that planning.





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