Open garden raises funds to open life

173230_02 Suzanne de Pelsenaire in her garden.

By Danielle Kutchel

A verdant paradise will throw open its gates this weekend in the name of charity.

Suzanne de Pelsenaire will once again allow the public to wander through her whimsical garden to raise funds for the Bionics Institute’s recently established BabyLab, which helps to further improve the quality of hearing for babies and children who receive cochlear implants.

Visitors can expect to find a number of rare plants and trees in Ms de Pelsenaire’s garden, aptly named ‘Serendipity’, as well as old favourites.

Some of the rarer species include the vibrant neomarica caerulea and the ferraria undulatum.

The more common plants to discover include Californian poppies, hydrangeas, fuschias, banksias, maples and magnolias.

The emphasis of this garden is on year-round colour and perfume, with inspiring views of great beauty from every room in the house.

Ms de Pelsenaire’s paradise is designed so that you can never see it all at once, with each section flowing into the next, leading visitors ever on.

“It’s only small, but it’s packed full,” she says, “there’s not a square inch of space I can poke anything into at the moment!”

As well as offering a beautiful walk, volunteers from the Pakenham and Lang Lang Garden Clubs will man plant stalls at the property all weekend, selling pots of visual and olfactory delight.

Other friends have helped Ms de Pelsenaire prepare for the weekend with mulching, weeding and tidying.

The charity day is something of a personal endeavour for the keen gardener, who says a cochlear implant several years ago gave her a new lease on life.

“It gave me back my life, my social life, my joy of life, and the ability to communicate with people freely and for myself. This is why I do my open garden. It’s a lot of work but it’s my way of giving back,” she says.

She says the benefits of the BabyLab will be immense for children developing their speech.

“The earlier children have hearing, the better their speech and their communication and integration into life will be.”

Ms de Pelsenaire’s garden is located at 23 Salmon Street, Koo Wee Rup and will be open on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October, from 10.00am until 5.00pm.

Entry is $5 with all funds donated to the Bionics Institute in Melbourne.

Any plants not sold by the end of the weekend will be donated to the Lions Bushfire Garden Recovery Group at Tonimbuk, which is assisting in re-establishing gardens destroyed in the March 2019 bushfires.

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