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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Stannus

From little things, big things grow ...

What do bonsai and scale models have to do with sustainable living? Find out at next weekend's Sustainable Living Festival!

Ludovic and I have been working hard behind the scenes to put together an integrated building and landscape display for our stall at this year's Tamar NRM Sustainable Living Festival. This FREE festival will be held from 10am - 4pm next Saturday 2 March 2024 at the Inveresk Precinct in Launceston. Understandably, we are quite busy at the moment. However, I thought I would 'scratch out a few words' to let you know what you can expect from our display.

Ludovic is creating a scale model of a home that we would like to call home ourselves one day. This house has a relatively small footprint, and is designed to maximise the power of the sun. This is a topic close to Ludovic's heart and one he has written on recently. I won't repeat his words here. However, if you are interested in knowing more about the benefits of solar passive design, read Ludovic's blog, Harnessing the Sun: The art of solar passive design. Alternatively, you may like to visit us at our stall at the Sustainable Living Festival where you can speak with Ludovic one on one, and get to see the finished result of the model seen below.

A cut out figure stands in a scale model display home
'Ludovic' checking out construction progress on his latest design ... our model display for the 2024 Tamar NRM Sustainable Living Festival

Ludovic has inspired me to think about vegetation at scale to complement our display. My idea? Bonsai! However, I do not have any of these 'miniature' plants at home and they take some time to reach their potential. So, I put the feelers out to see who does. Long story short: Shane Boyce from the Bonsai School of Tasmania and Launceston Bonsai Society said he could help me.

It turns out that selecting bonsai to accompany a scale model home is not as easy as it sounds! Sure both the house and tree are smaller than usual. However, you need to ensure that the ratio between the house and tree is similar to what you would expect to see in real life. For us that ratio is 1:25, given the size that Ludovic has constructed his model at. You also need to consider the size of the leaves on the bonsai, which can still be quite large in proportion to the bonsai-ed tree.

I also wanted a tree that is deciduous in real-life given our display's objective is to demonstrate an integrated building and landscape design that harnesses the sun's power during winter, whilst staying cool in summer. Shane's solution? The Chinese Elm, otherwise known scientifically as Ulmus parvifolia, which whilst not fully deciduous can lose its leaves in autumn in some climates. Did you know that parvifolia means 'small leaves'? Bonus! Shane selected the smallest-leaved version of this tree from his collection for us to loan.

A man uses a tape measure to measure the dimensions of a bonsai Chinese Elm
Shane Boyce measuring up this beautiful bonsai Chinese Elm for use in our display at the Sustainable Living Festival

At the festival, I will be giving a presentation on an area of gardening that is quite different to bonsai. Shane is the local expert in that area, no competition there! Instead, I will be presenting on a topic very close to my heart, plants that can be both 'productive' and 'ornamental', and could also potentially encourage biodiversity in your garden. Why can't your garden look and taste good?!

I will be presenting my talk, 'Good looking gardens to tickle your taste buds!', from12:40pm - 1:10pm in the Breakout Room at the Sustainable Living Festival next Saturday. Why should you attend my talk? Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to plug a garden gap, I aim to provide you with inspiration and tips so that you can grow more of your own food at home. I won't give away any more details now about what I will be talking about next weekend. You will just have to come and see me present!

The Sustainable Living Festival program is jam-packed with activities and workshops - from electrifying your home to knitting, test-driving electric vehicles, managing your rubbish bins, remade fashions, managing your bins, garden inspiration, becoming waste-free, making preserves and ferments, and taking steps towards 'going circular' - there's something for everyone at this year's festival. So don't just come and see me!

We are very pleased to see that our good friends from Seed Freaks, purveyors of authentic Australian grown heritage seeds, will also be in attendance! Florian Bonenfant will be presenting on regenerative agriculture and seed saving. So check out their stall and find yourself some seeds to get your garden jumping.

Please do let your family and friends know about the Sustainable Living Festival. For some, it might just be a life-changing experience.

In the words of songwriters Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, "from little things, big things grow..."

Au weekend prochain! (See you next weekend)



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