For much of the walk along the canal in Pinelands, it’s very much the same view, until you reach the home of Steve Horwood, a geologist who has created a little green haven next to the waterway.
For more than 10 years, Mr Horwood has been busy tending the patch of land near his home, introducing a variety of plants that now cover a 200m stretch of ground along the canal.
He now has the luxury of exploring some rare plant species right on his doorstep.
When Mr Horwood moved into the area in 2005, he asked council to let him remove a tree at the back of his home. When the tree was gone, he planted a new one, but he didn’t stop there.
“I approached the council and requested permission to have the back section of my house fixed, as I wanted to have this garden with all the different plant species in it. It was a major challenge, but I love gardening, and I was excited to get the work done,” he said.
He suffered a setback recently when a resident decided to cut down some trees.
“The neighbour thought he would be helping, as he believed there were criminals hanging out in the bushes, so he just started hacking away at the trees, not realising that he was doing more harm.
“I then tried to fix what was damaged, but it was already too late to save some of these trees,” Mr Horwood said.
He continued nurturing the plants, extending the garden metre by metre in the hope of turning the banks of the canal into a green sanctuary for the community.
“Many people don’t know, but these plants and trees require constant love and attention in order for their full beauty to be explored. I have always had this fascination with plant life, and to have something like this is not only exciting, but it could be educational too,” he said.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Pinelands resident, Robert Chisholm, jogs along the path next to the garden with his two dogs, but only recently started bringing his three-year-old son along and introduced him to the different plants along the way.
“It’s very different to this empty space you find on most of the path, filled with weeds and these holes dug up by the moles. There is a variety of plant life to explore and this could become a really good educational experience for the community,” Mr Chisholm said.
The garden had also attracted some “very different” animals to the area, and he said he had recently spotted an eagle.”What he has done is simply amazing. It takes effort and time. Effort and time that he dedicated to simply beautify this area and the community has to appreciate that,” said Mr Chisholm.
Donald Bett, who has lived in Pinelands for 17 years, also praised the garden. “This was an area well-known for muggings and robberies, but ever since that breathtaking garden was started, it has dropped and people now feel much safer walking or jogging on the path.” Mr Bett said. “The community needs to be supporting projects of this nature, and we need to get behind things like this, because it benefits us all in the long run.”
Mr Horwood is looking to get a water supply through the City to water the plants during the hot summer days. “We must understand that these plants have feelings, and when they are not feeling well, they die. I was always supporting this project out of my own pocket for all these years, but it would be nice to get some help, as I would love to see this garden stretching beyond this 200m mark.”
From proteas to milkwood trees, from eagles to moles, Mr Horwood’s little ecosystem on the side of the canal has left behind a positive impression on nearly everybody who has explored it.
“I would love to create a space one day where the schools can educate the children, in a place that would have so much more plant life and animals,” he said.