The Discovery Kitchen Garden at the Australian National Arboretum consists of a large, raised bed approximately 6m long and 1.5m wide. It has a canopy of decorative steel umbrellas, which are as functional as they are aesthetic.
Ange, a Friend of the National Arboretum Canberra, has been managing and maintaining the garden with a small team of volunteers since October 2016. The garden is funded by Friends of NAC and also the NAC. Produce, seeds and other goodies from the garden are available at their seasonal market stalls, with proceeds going to Friends.
The bed has a diversity of plants including vegetables, herbs, flowers and companion plants, many of which are left to produce seed. Two must-haves currently growing are scarlet runner beans and Poppy ‘Ladybird’ (Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’). Poppy ‘Ladybird’ is an autumn and spring flowering annual with deep red petals with distinct black dots. It is in its element when planted en masse. Scarlet runner beans are a perennial legume to 2m with showy, scarlet-coloured flowers followed by tasty beans. They are herbaceous in cooler climates.
This cottage-style garden creates interest year-round, as well as all but eliminates pests – Ange said the main pests they have to watch for are snails and slugs, which are removed by hand. There are also handmade female moth cut-outs throughout the bed to deter Cabbage White Butterfly.
Ange says the garden is the perfect place to come and see what’s in season and what to plant. Volunteers, who maintain the garden every other day, are happy to answer any of those niggling gardening questions. Children also love to explore the garden, looking for bugs and pollinators amongst the flowers.
The garden is watered by hand, which is the perfect opportunity to see what needs doing and enjoy some Zen time amongst the flowers. Soil is topped up twice yearly with imported organic matter and compost made on site. Plants are fertilised with Seasol PowerFeed when they are actively growing.
The Discovery Kitchen Garden is holding its next market stall on Saturday 21 November 10am-2pm. Card only, no cash.
The Arboretum also runs free guided tours of The Discovery Garden.
For more: nationalarboretum.act.gov.au
Ange’s pickled green beans in olive oil
- 500g green beans, cut thinly lengthways or diagonally
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp dried oregano
- Olive oil to cover (extra virgin olive oil can be used if preferred)
- Bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil.
- Add sliced beans and cook for a few minutes until just tender.
- Drain and run beans under cold water to stop the cooking process, drain well.
- In a ceramic bowl, mix well the beans, sliced garlic, oregano and some of the olive oil.
- Carefully spoon seasoned beans into sterilised jars.
- Top up with olive oil ensuring there are no air bubbles and seal tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator.
- Once opened, ensure olive oil covers beans until consumed.