A true garden flourishing with good friends
EVERYONE needs friends, and the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens certainly has a lot of them - but that doesn't mean it doesn't need more.
The Friends of the Botanic Gardens is a volunteer group that, according to founding president and honorary life member Kate Heffernan, serves many important roles within the 32-hectare site at 230 Benowa Rd, Ashmore.
She said the friends undertook a lot of honorary activities to promote and support the gardens, and there were many ways to help.
Roles include leadership and inspiring the community, planning, planting, propagating and gardening, fundraising, coordinating events, education and visitors services (including guiding and children's programs).
They are also involved in a range of technical aspects including assisting with plant collections, records and the herbarium as well as creative activities including arts and crafts and floral arranging using Australian native plants.
For Kate, a horticulturist by trade thanks to a grandfather who regularly took his young grand-daughter for walks to Lane Cove National Park, the garden is a great passion.
"We started off in 1997 as a group fighting to get a garden going on the Gold Coast," she said.
"We were a group of 12 people back then, and now - 21 years later - we have 12 sub-groups within the friends of the garden."
Kate said the garden itself was proof of the power of volunteers, and although it now also had council staff employed to help maintain it (something she and the friends are proud of), volunteers still play a major role in running the garden which showcases and preserves local native species from Lismore, out to Beaudesert and north to the Sunshine Coast.
She said what had been created over the past two decades was "an oasis in the centre of the Gold Coast that you don't expect".
Kate herself is employed one day a week by the council but is still heavily involved with the Friends of the Garden group and despite now living over the border, spends time volunteering in a number of different capacities, from helping to train guides to working with media.
For more information about the gardens or becoming a volunteer, head to goldcoast.qld.gov.au/