How to sustain wildlife in Hepburn Shire

March 23rd, 2020How to sustain wildlife in Hepburn Shire

GLENLYON resident Jill Teschendorff and Wombat Forestcare have produced a new book.

GLENLYON resident Jill Teschendorff and Wombat Forestcare have produced a new book, Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire.

Jill, who wrote the book, which was published by Wombat Forestcare, said she was inspired by the beauty of the region and its abundance of bushland and wildlife. But she was also aware of the environment being under threat by increasing urbanisation.

“At the time, there was a real concern about the lack of interest in Hepburn Shire council in terms of the environment, with no biodiversity officer, and no books being specific to our region.

“So there was that sense of depression and helplessness that so many people feel these days when they see the natural environment shrinking and wondering what we can do about it, how we can make a difference.

“So I thought, well, get off your dot Jill, get up and do something. We’ve worked on our patch here (at Glenlyon) and we have pretty much restored the riparian zone of the Loddon River – our property goes down to the river.

“I’ve got a large exotic garden but also a pretty large indigenous garden – when we came here it was the usual scene of blackberries and gorse as high as your head. You couldn’t even see the river.

“And now we have a large, vibrant garden that just teems with wildlife, birds and kangaroos that come and eat on the front lawn, and echidnas that wander in. It’s been totally altered.”

Jill said she talked to Gayle Osborne at Wombat Forestcare many years ago and they decided to create the book and provide information for people to create their own vibrant gardens.

“It’s taken a long time with a few stops and starts along the way but it has morphed from just a book into something that is very accessible and which should appeal to everyone, not just people familiar with gardens or who are interested in the environment. We are hoping that accessibility will mean that people will buy it and give them the groundwork on how to go about establishing a garden that will create habitat.”

Jill said she and her husband John Cable moved to Glenlyon in 2000 because John had a life-long dream of keeping bees and wanted a country property.

“John was my first boyfriend when I was 14 and he was 16. We met up again 32 years later and he said I was the first girl interested in moving to the country.

“When John retired he looked around for ages but couldn’t find a property that appealed. One day he went up to Castlemaine and saw a property in the window of Arie Eyles’ real estate business. It was a public holiday and the door was shut but John saw movement inside and hammered on the window.

“Arie came to the door and told him the property was in the ‘Toorak of the country’ and John said ‘well, I can’t afford it’ but we came and had a look and it was just perfect. It was on top of the big hill overlooking the river.”

Jill, a former nurse and academic, said she had always been a gardener with the love instilled by her mother who took her children on bush walks, telling them about the relationship between plants and wildlife.

“It just whets your appetite and you see things people who are not familiar with bushland don’t actually notice.”

Meanwhile Jill says Hepburn Shire Council is getting back on track with the environment with the employment of a biodiversity officer a great step.

“There is just a lack of awareness in many people, it’s not that they don’t care, they don’t know. For instance, if you remove the insects from your garden, you also remove the birds. It is so important to understand the whole food chain.”

Words: Donna Kelly | Image: Contributed

PICTURED: Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire is $15 per copy and available from Jill at jt.bee@bigpond.com or Wombat Forestcare through Gayle at info@wombatforestcare.org.au

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