On Saturday 5th November 2022 I wrote an online piece for Canberra City News that received positive feedback from readers as well as directly from friends.
Given Cedric’s impacts on gardening in Canberra and following the editor’s suggestion, I have published it again with slight edits for the January 5th 2023 hard copy edition of City News.
I visited the wonderful Bryant garden in October last year – the one established by Canberra’s famous gardener and “CityNews” columnist Cedric Bryant. This garden is a reminder of things that could be.
That visit was about seeing his garden for the first time since his death in October 2021. Everything in the garden was looking healthy and lush.
Tragically, the pleasure experienced from roaming about such a garden is not going to be there for many future residents of Canberra.
Canberra is now being reshaped by the de-greening programs of the dull and disingenuous leadership of Andrew Barr (Chief Minister – Labor) and Shane Rattenbury (ACT Greens leader) and their subservient Greenslabor government politicians and chief bureaucrats.
Under their infamous de-greening programs, ad hoc and non-enforced planning rules have encouraged the removal of trees and shrubbery in established suburbs for the building of large and expensive housing – with little space left for replacement greenery and for abundant gardens.
During this last decade of their relentless reign, new suburbs have been created with restricted spaces available for shrubbery and trees – let alone any gardens. Canberra’s biodiversity has been slowly diminished.
This Greenslabor approach to de-greening, to creating heat-island suburbs and hacking away at the established suburbs was carried out as if this government believed that climate issues were not really that serious. It is as if the climate crisis is for someone else to confront.
The dynamic duo (Barr/Rattenbury) have little interest in aesthetics and design. Good architecture and beautiful landscapes are not what Canberra has been building since these Greenslabor leaders have dominated this city.
A fully established and well-designed garden with a well-designed climate-ready home attached must be something foreign to them.
Cedric Bryant was passionate about gardens and this city’s landscape – both as a bush capital and as a town where residents used to be encouraged to construct and enjoy their own gardens.
As you take the time to sit and enjoy a garden such as Cedric’s, you appreciate the benefits of having such a green space around your home. A garden changes with the seasons, you change things as new ideas occur to you, you enjoy the visitors to your garden – being the critters and birds who show up and inhabit as if they have assumed that it was created for them.
A garden is a place to sit quietly and ponder (spare us the Greenslabor City Renewal activations).
There’s so much to be said and has been written about what a garden brings to the people who have the opportunity to enjoy a landscaped well-designed garden. Having a garden at home was appreciated by many during the scariest stages of the pandemic.
The Greenslabor era in Canberra will be remembered for the monies that were fritted away on pet ideological stupid projects. They will not be remembered for cherishing good design, biodiversity and aesthetics – and for looking after those in need.
One wonders what Barr and Rattenbury and their obedient party members think their legacy will be. Maybe they will award themselves trophies for the evictions of their own housing tenants.
Once the dynamic duo have gone and people with values get back into government, history will not be kind in recounting the damage they did and the countless lost opportunities.
There are many people in this city who appreciate Cedric’s legacy. They know more about plants and gardens thanks to his sharing of his knowledge and passions. There are many private gardens designed by Cedric Bryant. His legacy lives on. He is still with us.
For those lucky enough to have a garden with a home attached, please make sure you enjoy it as much as possible. Cedric Bryant would definitely encourage you to do so.
Now it is time to sit out in my garden and ponder the universe – or just watch the birds having fun.
This article is a version of the piece originally published online with City News
Paul Costigan is a commentator on cultural and urban matters