Opening the Queanbeyan Sensory Garden has given Open Gardens Canberra Incorporated an early opportunity to work towards achieving our objective of supporting charitable organisations.

As a not-for-profit community organisation, Open Gardens Canberra plans to use any surplus funds at the end of each financial year to help us meet this objective. At the moment we are considering several options including making direct donations to charities or operating a garden grants program to local communities. When we reach a reasonable degree of financial security, we will decide the best approach.

For the moment we are focussing on our principle objective: to open gardens in the Canberra Region to the public so as to promote the enjoyment, knowledge and benefits of gardens and gardening for all.

Those two little words at the end are particularly important. When I first heard about Queanbeyan’s Sensory Garden, I was immediately keen to promote the wonderful work being done by the Richmond Fellowship, the Queanbeyan City Council’s genuine commitment to supporting people with disabilities, and the creative way the whole Sensory Garden came about by involving the community and local artists.

Gardening and being outdoors in general are now recognised as making a major contribution to the wellbeing of city dwellers throughout the world. People with disabilities need this kind of boost to their wellbeing more than most.

The Sensory Garden has a special place in our Queanbeyan Gardens Weekend. Because it is a public garden, obviously already open to the public, promoting it under the Open Gardens Canberra banner has little to do with promoting our association and of course, we will not be charging an entry fee. Open Gardens Canberra will be in the background, providing the opportunity to spread the word about the contribution Richmond Fellowship has made to the community, and Queanbeyan City Council’s inclusive thinking. Of course, we are also acknowledging good garden design in a public space.

Shirley Pipitone, President

2 April 2016