Would you like to join us?


img_6033-1280x1280We meet every two weeks on a Monday for 1-2 hours light gardening, a delicious morning tea and a chat.

If you’d like to join us, please email Fenella at: bellohospitalrescue@gmail.com


Saved by El Niña …

Things were looking pretty dire.  No rain and Level 4 water restrictions meant that only the hardiest of our plantings were still looking good.  For the record – geraniums, pentas, camellias, westringias, succulents, lomandras and some plants in the shade were coping fairly well, but anything else was looking decidedly stressed.

Then just in the nick of time last weekend, we had some rain.  180 millimetres plus, which was more than we could have reasonably hoped for considering how dry the previous two summers have been.

Wellness Garden only the strong survive!

Plants in the shade doing well

Barb & Margaret planting another drought resistant teapot

In December, we celebrated the five year anniversary of the creation of the Wellness Garden with a morning tea in the Col Foster Gazebo.  Kim Cheney from Bellingen Bush Regenerators outlined the work recently completed at the arboretum.  Landcare and Kim’s team received a grant from the  Bellingen Shire Council Environmental Levy to remove vine weeds including Cats Claw Creeper from the adjacent rainforest.

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You can download and print a copy of the Rainforest Species List here …
Landcare Rainforest Species List

We cut back our working bees due to the heat and lack of water but we are hoping that La Niña will bring us more tropical downpours over the next two months


OMG, it’s been 5 years …

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been five years since we commenced the Wellness Garden project.  In November 2014 we received the news that we had been successful in our application for a $5,000 grant from the Bellingen Council’s Environmental Levy Community Fund.  The grant was to fund planting and landscaping the hospital grounds adjacent to the new Sub-Acute Wing.  Keen as mustard, we commenced work immediately …

After forty-four working bees involving volunteer gardeners, local businesses, Lions and Rotary,  that $5,000 grant resulted in a project valued at $90,597.00.
See the amazing statistics here … Wellness Garden statistics

Barb & Gloria Malone with ceramics donated by Coastal Claymakers

Barbara Moore was the project manager and it was due to her energy and determination that the project was completed on time and on budget.  Without her dedication it is doubtful that we could have successfully completed the project.
Read about her big finish here … Barb’s Big Finish

Five years on, our team is still weeding, planting and maintaining the gardens at the hospital.  We’d love a few more volunteers, so please contact us if you would like to help – we garden alternate Mondays for about one and a half hours, followed by morning tea and a chat.

Finding the Frog Pond …

One of our many jobs this winter was to prune and weed around the Frog Pond, which had disappeared under our plantings of tree ferns, lomandra, geranium and native hibiscus.  Talk about wildlife friendly, this is what the area looked like a few years ago …

This is what the Frog Pond looks like now …

Winter is the perfect time for weeding, and Tradescantia (wandering jew) and Tobacco Bush are just two major environmental weeds that fell victim to our secateurs …

We planted a new bed of succulents which are thriving, a memorial garden bench was added to the Wellness Garden, and we were pleased to see that the Wellness Garden and the Col Foster Gazebo was used for a Naidoc Week celebration.

Where would we be without our morning tea?

It’s been a while …

Ooops, it’s been a while since we posted.

That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy though. The Wellness Garden needed plenty of attention to keep it pruned and weed free for the enjoyment of staff, patients, visitors and Mary’s Teahouse customers.

Extreme pruning by Margaret …

So here are some other highlights…

We pruned the rare Dinner Plate Fig, which originates from Papua New Guinea.  This specimen was planted by Doctor Hewitt many years ago.  As we don’t have any of the PNG wasps essential for pollination and seed propagation, we are trying to propagate it using the Marcotting method.  Keeping our fingers crossed.

(Follow this link to read about Doctor Hewitt – Doc Planted 100 Trees in a Year   )

We planted another rare and now critically endangered Wollemi Pine to replace the original specimen which didn’t make it through the first Summer.  The Wollemi was planted in memory of Doctor Hewitt. So far, it seems to be thriving.

Eric the Cat’s garden got a makeover.  Eric was the much loved hospital cat who is buried in the garden just outside the entrance to Hartley House.

We ate far, far too many home baked morning tea treats …

And we’ve got plenty of jobs to keep us going over Winter.
Crikey, where did the Frog Pond go?

Where’s the Frog Pond?

Shirl the Pearl …

This post is dedicated to the memory of Shirley Dunne, also known as “Shirl the Pearl”.

Shirley was one of the founding members of our Gardening Group in 2010 – uncovering archaeological remains in the car park, hacking through the bush to locate and poison noxious weeds, shovelling and barrowing mulch, planting, pruning and watering.
And for many years she was also a valuable BHAG committee member.

Shirley was an enthusiastic gardening volunteer – in fact, so enthusiastic that most of the photos we have show her barely visible amongst the plants , but we did manage to find a few of her smiling face …

We will remember her every time we garden at the hospital …
Thanks for the memories Shirley 💚

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Its a jungle out there !

Shirley & Jodie digging up ferns

Barb & Shirley pruning the hibiscus

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Daniel & Shirley – killing “Big Phil” the giant philodendron

2013 BHAG Gardening Clothes Line Garden 29th April email 008

Shirley, Fenella & Barb T in the Clothesline Garden


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Barb T, Shirley, Barb M & Daniel at Morning Tea – August 2012

Jodi, Daniel, Fenella, Shirley, Barb T, Barb M, Rhonda

Fenella, Shirley and Barb T – The Time Team uncovering ancient drains and paths.


Gardener’s morning tea – Sep 2010


Hospital staff, Barb T, Fenella, Janelle, Shirley & Barb M at a Thank You BBQ

Shirley’s cooking was legendary, and when it was her turn to bake for morning tea, we could always expect something delicious and interesting …

Shirley’s Apricot Meringue Slice

Shirley’s Apple Pecan Cake

Shirley’s legendary scones

Winter Jobs …


Bee on Tabebuia flower

The cooler winter months gave us the chance to complete the two biggest maintenance jobs on our list .. firstly to remove a large Royal Mantle grevillea, which, after many years gracing the steps leading to Hartley House, and providing nectar for bees, had suddenly expired.

We were surprised to discover a rock edge under the debris, it cleaned up beautifully and we planted more Westringia’s to match the bank on the other side.

The second job on our list was to remove excess crusher dust which had been spread around the Memorial Birdbath.  Barb, Fenella and Margaret shovelled, bagged and lifted the gravel dust and removed it from the site.

Throughout winter the Wellness Garden continued to flourish – there was always something flowering, AND something to do.  We weeded and trimmed the Archimedean Spirals, saved an Elkhorn (we hope) which had fallen off a tree, trimmed bromeliads,  and generally kept the garden in good order.

As always, our sessions were followed by a delicious morning tea and a chat.

Time to prune …

The cooler weather has arrived and we have started our annual prune.  As we prune, we keep an eye out for new wildlife arrivals, and we spot an Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly catterpillar on the orange tree in the Wellness Garden, and several Dwarf Tree Frogs (aka Sedge Frog) which have taken up residence in the bromeliad garden near Hartley House.
We finally get to prune the Candle Bush – which dwarfs Marlene and Daniel …

As the hospital café is due to open soon, and we don’t want the Wellness Garden to look bare, we “tip prune” the coleus, lavender and pentas.  Even the “tip prunings” dwarf Margaret !
We bag and remove all weeds from the hospital grounds. This pile came from just one garden bed.  Obviously, we need to visit this section of the garden more often …

And of course, morning tea is a great opportunity to try out a new recipe on a captive audience, taste test offerings from a local bakery, or just bring along a tried and true favourite.