GOOD CAUSE: Kids in Heart Reach Australia programs who come from very poor homes in northern Vietnam are sponsored by Sunshine Coast families.
GOOD CAUSE: Kids in Heart Reach Australia programs who come from very poor homes in northern Vietnam are sponsored by Sunshine Coast families.

Fundraising at symphony of sight Orchid Grove

A GENTLE wander around Orchid Grove during its annual Open Day on September 14-15 will reveal delights at every turn.

Look up and look down in the 1000sqm of tranquil garden with its easy walking pathways and you will discover orchids, wildlife, new scents and sounds and be inspired by the creative work of its founder Chris O'Dempsey.

This is the 15th year Chris has opened Orchid Grove to the public.

Years ago Chris grew award-winning orchids but then he moved to Kingaroy and his orchid-growing passion was put on hold.

When he returned to the Coast and started the humanitarian aid charity Heart Reach Australia, his new home became the perfect place for Chris to revive his skills and share them with the public.

"I wanted to show them off while growing in their natural habitat," Chris said.

"Most of the native orchids are small and need to be sought out among the foliage, usually on trees and branches.

"Some of the exotic and rare orchids can be found either in baskets or in protected spots on the ground."

In the canopy, brush tail and ringtail possums live in boxes. Pale-headed rosellas and rainbow lorikeets also use the nesting boxes and wild birds enjoy the birdfeeder. Native and exotic finches and quail enjoy the sun and protection in the integrated walk in aviary. Nearby, a colony of native bees have made their home in a she oak tree.

Nestled in among the orchids is a Vietnamese herb garden tended by Chris' Vietnamese wife, Angel.

"She's a great cook," Chris said. "Angel has a cafe (on site) that opens on the weekend. Visitors will be able to buy lunch there and some of the food will have her Vietnamese herbs used in them.

"They can also taste some of the herbs and Angel will be on hand to give them information on growing and using them."

Proceeds from Open Day will go towards raising funds for Heart Reach Australia.

"We are working with poorer families, especially children, to help give them a quality of life in Vietnam, assisting with their education, medical and life needs," Chris said.

"We also do a lot of training with young eye doctors. We have built the first-ever medical ambulance boat and a clinic down the Mekong Delta as part of our ongoing programs."

Many Coast seniors are involved in the delivery of the Heart Reach Australia programs.

Chris said a large array of flowering orchids would be for sale at competitive prices as well as some hand-crafted Australian timber furniture.

"The goal of creating Orchid Grove has been to make every area a place of interest, features and new discoveries," Chris said. "It's still an ongoing, unfinished symphony of sight, sound, colour and scent."

The entry fee is $7. The garden, at 17 Barkston Ct, Buderim, 9.30am-4.30pm.


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