Lifelong gardener Ruth Mclaine’s colourful backyard and patio, filled with tasty veggies and bright blooms, quickly caught the attention of fellow residents after she moved to GemLife Woodend earlier this year.
Ruth and her husband moved to GemLife ten months ago after deciding to downsize their ten-acre property just south of Mount Macedon in order to spend less time on maintenance and more time doing things they enjoy.
“We looked at a couple of places similar to GemLife but didn’t like all the extra costs like the exit fees. That’s what initially drew us into GemLife, the fact that we own our home and just pay rent for the land so we still get to keep all the capital gains on our home,” said Ruth.
Gardening has been a hobby of Ruth’s for the majority of her life, and one that she says is the perfect at-home activity for people of all ages.
“I started gardening when I was a child after I found a Jockey’s Cap lily bulb in our laneway and I planted it at home. It had the most magnificent flower and my gardening just continued from there and has never stopped,” she said.
Gardening is a hobby that can be done year-round with the proper plants.
“I love plants and flowers with lots of perfumes and colours. I have a variety of plants that flower and release different perfumes at different times of the year, so there is always something,” said Ruth.
Gardening is a terrific way to bring life into your home and make the most of this period of social distancing.
“When you’re in a confined space you need to have things around you that are meaningful. While we’re stuck around here there’s plenty of chances to do things, people just have to be willing to get their hands a bit dirty.”
With years of experience and many trials and errors, Ruth has plenty of knowledge to share with those who are interested in getting started with a garden of their own in the coming months.
“A good tip for beginners, especially if you don’t want to spend lots of time hand-watering all your plants, is to get pots with a water jacket on the bottom. You can get them at Bunnings and then your plants won’t need watering as regularly,” said Ruth.
“Here at Woodend, you need to make sure to get plants that will survive the frost during the cold months. Daffodils work great, and there are plenty of them at shops at the moment, cyclamen, lilies and Winter Sweet are fantastic for winter and are going to start flowering again soon. Winter Sweets
have beautiful dusty yellow flowers that smell heavenly on winters nights.”
For those less interested in flowers and perfumes, a vegetable garden is a good alternative.
“We’ve always had a veggie garden and we have lettuce growing in tubs and tomatoes ripening against the fence in our backyard. Spinach and parsley both work well this time of year,” said Ruth.