Garden a place to heal and reflect

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Lee Patrick has encouraged other women in the community to help with the garden.
Camera IconLee Patrick has encouraged other women in the community to help with the garden. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Albany’s Noongar Centre has begun to bloom with flowers and bustle with work, with the centre’s garden transformation under way.

Noongar Centre director Lee Patrick said the project, which included three separate sections of the garden, flowed from the theme of compassionate communities and loss of loved ones.

“It started off when some young Aboriginal women were having stillborn babies and we wanted to have a place where they could go and make memorials,” she said.

The community garden section has been seeded with white and purple flowers — colours often connected to grief, according to Ms Patrick — as well as herbs and plants such as rosemary, lavender and camomile.

“People can use those herbs in tea, which they can drink as they sit in the garden,” she said.

Noongar artist Kiya Watt, who has recently become a director at the centre, has started painting a mural next to the community garden.

“Noongar people are saltwater people, so that’s what the blue represents, and I’ll also include some animals,” Watt said.

Ms Patrick said the reflection garden was a significant part of the project.

“Lester Coyne planted some trees in a circle in this area, which represent the family, so we decided to create a reflection garden in the middle,” she said.

Ms Patrick said the large coffee rock in the centre represented the grounding and foundation of a family.

“The rock is a symbol for family being the core of the Aboriginal community,” she said.

“We’ve just started spreading limestone pebbles around it, and later we are going to get tree stumps to put in a circle which will represent the seven stages of grief.

“This will be a place where people can come and just sit with the spirits of the ones that they lost.”

The project is being funded by the City of Albany.

Ms Patrick said this particular part of the garden was an area dedicated to women and encouraged all aboriginal and non-aboriginal women to volunteer and help out.

“We want everyone to feel welcome here at the centre,” she said.

“Creating those bridges between us all is a really important thing — we all come together around grief, early deaths those sorts of things.

“So hopefully this will be a begging and we can extend on that later on.”

Kiya Watt painting a mural at the centre’s garden.
Camera IconKiya Watt painting a mural at the centre’s garden. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

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