The Todd family have been determined to keep a green yard throughout the drought. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)
It’s been so dry on Queensland’s Darling Downs that Kirsten Todd and her family haven’t planted a winter crop for two years.
- Some residents in southern Qld are doing all they can to maintain their gardens despite the drought
- They say even a small patch of green, and the act of gardening, can help to alleviate stress
- A nursery owner says she has been watching Midsomer Murders just for a glimpse of flowing water
There is no grass in the paddocks surrounding the farmhouse for their cattle, for which they’ve been buying feed, but during the drought they have been determined to keep a small garden growing around the home.
“It’s my therapy — life’s too short to come home and sit outside on dirt,” Ms Todd said.
“To have somewhere to go to have a cup of tea or a beer and unwind at the end of the day and forget all your troubles is really important.”
Queensland Health says there is evidence to suggest gardening can ease symptoms of anxiety, and Ms Todd said she has had her fair share during the drought.
Kirsten Todd says green grass is as important for adults as it is for children to play on. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)
“I was in the office the other day paying some bills, and I felt quite stressed,” she said.
“So we all came outside and did some gardening.
“I felt like the mental load just kind of just came off my shoulders nearly immediately.
“Looking at green compared to the brown outside the fence can make you forget about what’s going on outside the fence.
“I think all farmers love to grow things.
“We’re keeping our cattle alive, but there’s no grass, there’s no crops, so having a garden is a thrill — at least something’s growing!”
Kirsten Todd has filled her farmhouse garden with hardy plants. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)
Saving every single drop
An hour’s drive from the Todd farm, Penny McKinlay tends to the plants in her nursery at Pittsworth.
Not many people are buying garden plants this season, but farmers have dropped in to just enjoy looking at the plants.
“It is so pathetically dry here we sit down on a Sunday night to watch Midsomer Murders because at least the streams are flowing and there’s green everywhere,” Ms McKinlay said.
“We don’t care how many murders there are as long as we can look at the scenery!”
Penny McKinlay says hardy plants like roses and geraniums are farm garden favourites. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)
But she says some people are going to great lengths to keep a little bit of green around the farm.
“There are people saving every single drop from their shower and from their washing machines and sinks to keep their special trees and roses alive so they don’t have to start again at the very end of it all,” she said.
While her own garden business has not been thriving, Ms McKinlay practices what she preaches.
“Gardening can wipe away the dust until tomorrow,” she said.
“Every afternoon as I walk around the place, the wind drops and the old silky oaks have their lovely gold ‘coins’ on show, and the birds come in, you think ‘well, God must be in his heaven.
“‘All is right in the world.'”
Alison Kelly has a small patch of green grass in her garden at Pampas. “The signs of life,” she says, “are a sign of hope.” (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)