Community watering efforts at Jirdarup Bushland keep new plants alive

Mike, Rachel and Steve (Friends of Jirdarup volunteers) standing beside one of the three tanks used by the Friends. The WA Christmas Tree provides some welcome shade.

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Vicki using the tank at the entrance to the bushland.

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Town of Victoria Park staff filling up the tank at the entrance to the Bushland.

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Thriving plants in “the Garden”, showing a lot of growth since the tubestock was planted back in June 2019. The plants were staked to help identifying those to be watered much easier.

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Helen watering one of the 2000 newly planted seedlings.

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A gargantuan community watering effort by the Friends of Jirdarup Bushland this past summer was rewarded by over three quarters of the watered plants surviving their first year. 

Jirdarup Bushland precinct  is 19 hectares of public land incorporating the ‘Bush Forever’ Kensington Bushland site, the revegetated George St Reserve, and Kent Street sandpit, due for rehabilitation over the next few years.

In recent years, with Perth’s increasingly dry winters and long hot summers, any new seedlings planted in Jirdarup Bushland have often struggled. 

According to Fiona Audcent-Ross, one of the coordinators of the watering initiative, the group were determined to do something about it. 

“Through grants from the Town of Victoria Park and SERCUL, close to 2000 native seedlings were planted in June 2019 as part of the Friends’ annual program of activities,” said Fiona. 

“Through the initiative of one of our members, Jim Mellor, we decided to trial a hand watering project for the first time.”

“We did this by obtaining a 1,000 litre portable water tank, putting a call-out for participants and plastic buckets, and were delighted by the positive response!” 

Recognising the value of the initiative, the Town soon installed two more IBC water tanks, provided weekly tank refills and a long hose to allow for watering 50 metres inside the bushland.  

To assist with watering the huge area at Jirdarup Bushland, the Friends also divided the newly planted areas into ‘watering zones,’ cared for by small teams of volunteers who hauled buckets of water from tank to plants. 

Steve Bethell, another major participant of the watering project, managed zone five which he fondly refers to as ‘the garden’, where most plants are still growing strongly.

 “The focus on our own little ‘patch’ meant we got to know the plants and wildlife up close. A highlight for me was the first sighting of an endangered painted button  quail in the bushland!” said Steve.  

Other zones at the entrance to Jirdarup Bushland are particularly degraded and have proven difficult to revegetate in the past. But with extra care and attention over the summer, these areas have also responded well. 

Fiona explained that the project was only made possible with the help of 20 passionate Friends who contributed 455 watering hours over a five-month period. The effort is estimated to have provided the Town a cost savings of over $22,000. 

The Friends of Jirdarup will work with the Town’s Natural Areas Team Leader, Steve Szydlowski, on planning the 2020 planting season and intend to be organised and equipped for another summer of bushland watering. 

As well as planting and watering, the Friends of Jirdarup are also active in organising community events and advocating on behalf of the bushland. 

“Last year we had hundreds of community members involved, all dedicated to the preservation of Jirdarup Bushland precinct,” said Fiona.

Interested community members are welcome to join the bushland watering and other activities. The Friends can be contacted via their Facebook page, where you can also catch all their news.

 Find out more about similar “Greening Vic Park” projects around Town that are contributing to our community-led Urban Forest Strategy.