Healing In Our Gardens

1. About Healing in Our Gardens 

Healing in our Gardens is a free Council-led program that aims to support our storm impacted residents with garden inspired and trauma informed events, activities and resources, that help them in their recovery journey.

The free program, launching in September 2022, focuses on rebuilding social connections, restoring hope and helping residents heal and renew, in and through their gardens and local environment and launches in September. 

It will include and reach out to residents (of all ages) whose gardens were directly impacted by the June 2021 storm, as well as providing the opportunity for all residents to connect with, help and support our storm impacted communities.

Over recent months many storm-impacted residents and communities have been reaching out to us for support, ideas, and resources to help them restore and rebuild their private gardens damaged or destroyed in the June 2021 storm or from subsequent clean-up works.

Some residents are now also faced with changes to the landscape and environment that surrounds their gardens. Gardens that were once covered by shade are now more exposed to sun, heat or cold.

Council will facilitate this project in partnership with community, agencies and organisations and create opportunities for community groups to 'parent' these activities and initiatives.

The Healing in our Gardens project will have these main focuses.

My Garden Sanctuary

We know that over 1000 residents have either lost their gardens entirely or had them severely impacted or damaged from the 2021 storms.

The My Garden Sanctuary aspect of Healing in Our Gardens focuses on helping residents restore, reimagine, and rebuild their own gardens.

As part of this program you will be invited to take part in a range of free activities, small community workshops and guest speaker events and may also be  able to take advantage of free seed vouchers or private garden tours.

  • Small community workshops and sessions with experts, guest speakers focusing on how residents can:
    • Start a garden from scratch,
    • Work with changes in the landscape and environment
    • Remove weeds
    • Propagate from seed cuttings
    • Create a garden for wildlife and for harvest
  • Free flower, vegetable and herb seed packets
  • Native tube stock plant vouchers
  • Free nest boxes, created by local Mens Sheds, using timber from fallen trees
  • Local private garden tours
  • Tickets to visit local public gardens
  • Gardening events and workshops at local nurseries.

Lending a Hand

The impacts of the loss and damage to their gardens and surrounding environment for our residents and communities goes far beyond the physical loss.

Many of our residents and communities have nurtured, cared and tended for their gardens and environment over many years, and now simply don’t know where to start or do not have the energy, funds or capacity to heal their gardens.

In the Lending a Hand aspect of the Healing in our Gardens program, residents can connect with and support each other and their communities, by sharing their gardening knowledge, experience, or physical skills.

This includes:

  • Volunteering to share knowledge and or skills with others
  • Propagating and planting sessions
  • Community-led sessions sharing gardening knowledge and skills with others  
  • Connecting with community groups and volunteer groups to help other impacted residents in their garden.

Wildlife gardens

Are you interested in creating a garden that attracts and supports local wildlife?

With some effort and careful planning, your garden can become a space that provides food and shelter for wildlife as they move between larger areas of habitat such as parks and bushland reserves. Once you’ve created a wildlife-friendly garden you’ll reap the joy of having birds, butterflies, frogs, lizards and other species visit your space.

About the Program

The Yarra Ranges Gardens for Wildlife (YRG4W) program assists residents to develop a garden (or an area within their garden) to support local wildlife. The program is run by council and a team of local volunteers who share their expertise and enthusiasm for wildlife gardening. It’s free to join and open to Yarra Ranges residents.

Upon joining the Yarra Ranges Gardens for Wildlife program participants:

  • receive an information pack
  • can book a garden guide who will visit their property and provide suggestions and a voucher for free indigenous plants
  • can join the Yarra Ranges Gardens for Wildlife Facebook group where they can share their experience with others.



Beyond my Fence

One of the most significant reasons people choose to live in the Dandenong Ranges is for the large well-established gardens and the magnificent landscape and nature they borrow, beyond their fences from the surrounding environment.

Our Dandenong Ranges is renowned for its beautiful gardens. Many private properties are much larger than a traditional quarter acre block and have substantial gardens that have been loved and cared for by their residents for many years.

The Beyond my Fence aspect of the Healing in Our Gardens focuses on residents coming together to learn more and be involved in supporting and caring for their local environment, biodiversity, sustainability, and place.

This includes:

  • Small community workshops and sessions with experts and guest speakers on: 
    • How our gardens connect with the wider environment
    • Ecological value and sustainability practices
    • What residents can do to promote biodiversity
  • Guided walks
  • Connecting to country in collaboration with traditional owners/guides
  • Local garden tours
  • Learning more about and connecting with local:
    • Friends of groups
    • Landcare groups and environmental projects
    • Nest Boxes for local Friends of groups


Habitat hollows and Nest boxes

The storm on June 9, 2021, saw approximately 25,000 trees fall across the Yarra Ranges, particularly in the hills.

These trees were a loss to the community but also to the native fauna across the municipality. Species that relied on these trees for roosting, feeding, shelter and breeding lost vital habitat.

Many native animals such as Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets, Australian Wood Ducks, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Southern Boobook Owls, Common Brushtail Possums and Kreft’s Gliders require hollows to reproduce.

At Yarra Ranges Council we recognise the need to support native fauna in their recovery from the storm by installing habitat hollows and nest boxes in reserves across the Yarra Ranges to ensure breeding success and stable populations.

These nest boxes will compliment ongoing land management programs across Councils roadsides and reserves, which promote natural regeneration and assist where required with weed control and revegetation. Council will be targeting a wide range of species through this project as many different animals have been displaced.

Some of the trees that fell during the June 2021 storms were sent to a Mill in Macedon Ranges to be milled into many usable projects such as fence posts, sleepers, planting stakes and timber lengths. Many of these materials have been returned to the Yarra Ranges for use in Council parks and reserves. Through collaboration with the Macedon Ranges Shire Council the Healing in Our Gardens Program team requested timber lengths to pass onto Men’s Sheds.

Eight of the Yarra Ranges Men’s Sheds are making two types of nest boxes’: specifically for Rosellas or Kreft’s (previously known as Sugar) Glider boxes. These boxes are going to be gifted to storm affected residents many ofwhom have lost habitat tress on their property.

How can I provide habitat on my property?

A wonderful place to start when considering providing habitat to native animals is planting locally native plants on your property. Native plants will provide an abundance of species with food and shelter, it will also aid in stabilising the landscape if there has been significant disturbance e.g., storm clean-up works. The Yarra Ranges Council has a Local Plant Directory that can assist you in selecting the correct plants. Additionally, there are a few local nurseries with experienced staff to assist you.

If you would like to investigate having nest boxes or hollows installed in trees on your property, the following contractors engage in this type of work and may be able to help you.

  • Ironbark Phone: 0415 607 375 Email: admin@ironbarkenviroarb.com
  • Habitat Innovation and Management Hollow creation only. Phone: 0438 580 342 or 0400 216 206 Email: mick@habitatinnovation.com.au or carl@habitatinnovation.com.au
  • Treetec Phone: 0419 349 268 Email: admin@treetec.net.au Wildlife Experiences Phone: 0409 090 955

Alternatively, if your property experienced storm damage and you would like one free nest box made from one of Yarra Ranges talented Men’s Sheds please complete the form below:

Please note, installation of the box and associated costs will be the responsibility of the landowner. Properties unaffected by the storm can purchase a nest box from the following Men’s Sheds.

  • Croydon Men’s Shed Phone: 0490 329 449 Email:croydon@mensshed.org
  • Belgrave Men’s Shed Phone: 0405 229 481 Email:jandfpodger@bigpond.com
  • Badger Creek & District Men’s Shed Phone: 0412 165 420 Email: badgercreek@mensshed.org

The Healing in our Gardens team would like to sincerely thank the Yarra Ranges Shedder’s from the following Sheds for all their hard work in bringing the nest boxes to life and gifting them to the residents.

  • Badger Creek and District Men’s Shed
  • Montrose Men’s Shed
  • Belgrave Men’s Shed
  • Morrison’s Men Shed
  • Croydon Men’s Shed
  • Mooroolbark Men’s Shed
  • Monbulk District Men’s Shed
  • Yarra Glen and District Men’s Shed




Register for the program

As part of the Healing in our Gardens program a calendar of events has been planned with many more events, activities and resources to come to help you get back into your garden, environment and build more community connections 

You can register to be part of this free community recovery program and learn more about how Healing in our Gardens can support and help you by filling out the form below. 

Click here to view form.

If you haven’t already registered to come along to this free launch event, and want to learn more about Healing in our Gardens and how it can help you, please contact Deb Sargentson – Community Recovery Officer at D.Sargentson@yarraranges.vic.gov.au

2. Healing in our Gardens FAQs

Why should I register for Healing in our Gardens?

Registering for Healing in our Gardens has lots of benefits for you:

  • This will help us know what parts of the Healing in our Gardens program interest you most, and how we can best help you
  • It will ensure you're among the first residents to know about upcoming events and activities that meet your interests
  • It will also ensure you'll be among the first residents to hear about any new things happening in the Healing in our Gardens program
  • You'll be able to attend events, participate in activities and receive gardening resources - all for free!


When are the Healing in our Gardens free event and activity calendars available?

The monthly Healing in our Gardens calendar will be released by the 18th of each month, for the next months events and activities.

For example, you will receive the calendar for October by 18th September. The calendar will also be posted on our Healing in our Gardens website page.


Why do some events have different registration information?

Some events we have included in our Healing in our Gardens Events and activities calendar, are organised by our local community groups or organisations. Follow the information included in our calendar on how to register for these events, directly with the community groups or organisation running the event.


How do I register to attend an event or activity included in the Healing in our Gardens calendar?

Go to the Events section on our Healing in our Gardens Website Page to find the event or activity you want to register for. If the event has been organised by our Community Recovery team or another Yarra Ranges Council team, you can register for the event on the YRC website. If an event has been organised by a local community group, follow the details of how to register to attend that event - which will normally involve registering to attend via the community group's website.


What if I can't make it to an event that I registered to attend?

If you need to cancel a registration more than two days prior to the event, please email the event organiser (this will be in the event information. If you are cancelling within 48 hours of an event you have registered to attend, please call the event organiser, or if you cant find those details, call our Community Recovery team - Deb on 0497 715 382 or Sue on 0477 056 265

There is no fee for cancelling a Healing in our Gardens event you have registered for, and now can't attend. The sooner you can let us know though, the sooner we will be able to offer your place to another resident.


What if I'm not finding events of activities in the Healing in our Gardens calendar that meet my needs?

We hope that wont be the case, as the events we promote and create are informed by what impacted residents are telling us they want.

Some months might offer more events that are of interest to you, than others. We aim to include and offer a wide range of garden inspired events for all our storm impacted residents registered with the Healing in our Gardens program.

If you have any feedback for us about the program, or any events or activities you think should be included, please contact Deb Sargentson on d.sargentson@yarraranges.vic.gov.au



3. Events

View events happening in the Yarra Ranges as part of the Healing In Our Gardens Program.




4. Launch Event Recap 

Catch up on the launch of Healing in Our Gardens which is a Yarra Ranges Council program that consists of garden-inspired events aimed at helping residents revive their gardens a year after the most devastating storm event in the state’s history.

At the launch, residents were able to learn more about the program, meet community garden and environmental groups, as well as local nurseries, organisations and individuals who are partnering with Council to bring the Healing in our Gardens program to you.  

In this video you can hear from Council officers about the program and future plans along with the presentation from Phillip Johnson.