on change, and how organic that is


..few things, first, last week I went along to one of the saddest moment of Tending (if not the only one): Betty, the manager of the Cafe’ at SCA didn’t get her contract renewed, so left the Cafe’!
On Thursday a number of people came along for a bite and a thank you. One last bite at Betty and staff’s food and a thnkyou, for that food, the laughs, the chatty times, the support, the hints and advises, and -as for Tending’s direct benefit- the plants, the compost, the coffee, the cakes, the recipes, the keen involvement and general great, outstanding support..
Now you understand why I feel sad about the departure..


But as they say, bad news never come alone, they come in triplets.
Second bad news is that Tending didn’t get the funding it applied for, which means we are now officially in limbo: the end of June marks the end of the year ‘contract’ originally envisaged by Ross Gibson, to start off this pilot adventure, and indeed it has been an adventure, and a far-fledged one on that regards too.
We are still waiting for another application lodged in which might rescue the research project, but as it stands we will have to cull our enthusiasm and hold back our dreams of food forests, effective integration of agricultural practices within an art curricula and definitely, most definitely, no wink at relational art as a legitimate tool for social interaction..
Third reason to be sad is personal, weeds.
As the news came in that we didn’t get the research grant, the campus management decided to act on some complains from the public, who allegedly were concerned for the safety of Callan Park, particularly in regards to the possible encroaching of weeds on the surrounding areas.
It was also felt that a general tide-up of the courtyard were Tending is hosted was due, to satisfy care-taking commitments in regards to Richard Goodwin’s artwork Carapace.
It is my experience as a crusader battling for the reappraisal of the value of ‘weeds’ (whatever that might mean), that most gardeners and ground keepers understand my concerns and appreciate the logic behind it. They are tightened up by the constrictions of presentation though. When something looks ‘unruly’ it is deemed to be messy, unhealthy, poorly managed and therefore un-economic.


The people coming over on the week-end did an amazing work, there was a lot of organic material in that back block, which got collected and removed. They went around and pruned the bushes, see here the cassia (I believe) and the frangipani.
Me and Michele were a bit concerned about the use of Round-up though, which apart from the fact that it is highly un-ethical to use the poison anywhere near growing vegetables, it is also illegal within the boundaries of the Leichhardt Council.. carefull guys, you might follow-up on some complains by a dissatisfied citizen, yet you might also be liable for using restricted products on public land..
With all due respect of course.
I’ll finish off with a cartoon I made to complement an article which hopefully is gong to be published on the Plant Protection Quarterly, the leading scientific journal from Australia featuring local and international original papers on all aspects of plant protection:


on how to plant garlic, or rather, a rainy day


Today was absolutely wet. The ghastly rain of the past week didn’t stop yet.
So braving the weather, we went off to Tending.
We started the day collecting a bunch of dirt from Glenn, the chief gardener from WHOS, the help center situated in Callan Park.
This association deserves a dedicated posting, so today I’m just going to talk about the rain:

Bucketing down..

Luckily we had the chance of putting down a garlic bed, in the intermissions, as it is getting late for it. Apparently the garlic should be planted by solstice (next week) so we were kind of in a hurry..

Below is Lucas explaining what, why and how of the garlic planting:

Tending’s review



A sharp and wholesome review appeared on RealTime Magazine #103, by Alana Hunt.
Below are a few paragraphs that I particularly enjoyed:

There is a genuine warmth and unpretentiousness that characterises the project both in person (on site) and via the blog (online). Characters emerge in the unfolding narrative of Tending—characters that can just as easily be plants as people.


But Tending is not an artistic process without products. Indeed, gardens themselves provide ideal places to explore the dynamic between process and product. As Ihlein explains, “one would quickly tire of digging the soil if, season after season, there were no yields.” Some products Ihlein and Bonetto have seen emerging from the collective labours of Tending include: physical pleasure; a clear mind; some lettuces, cucumbers, pumpkins and lots of basil; knowledge about what to plant at different times of the year; new friendships; heated discussions about the definition of art; some small wages; a series of guest lectures; an open-air studio; an improvement in soil quality; a restful place on campus…

Read the full article here.

Bryden and his “Techno Tree”

Bryden's Techno tree

A few weeks back, we reported on 3rd year student Bryden, who is using the Tending Garden as a site to develop his project called Techno Tree.

With the help of Tending, Bryden was able to secure a small amount of funding from the Sydney University Student Union to buy some electronics for his project.

I asked Bryden to describe what he’s been up to for our readers:

Hi Lucas.
I’ve been busy of late doing bits and pieces on my weeping willows so I thought I’d write you a few lines and send through some pics of the processes, outcomes and related stuff on the Techno Tree Project.

Where I grew up on my parents property in the Blue Mountains, we had a lot of trees and open spaces to spend most of our days. There used to be a whole row of big old willow trees in the gully where our mud brick house is but most of them have since been knocked over by wind, given way under their own weight and struck by lightning. Within a matter of weeks a bunch of new sprouts would emerge from the remaining branches and the tree brings itself back to life.

Having cultivated a collection of branches from a particularly old and interesting looking Willow, I wanted to position simulated images and sound amongst the living off-cut branch in a kind of gardening-experiment media-object that pays homage to the willow tree. I also wanted to draw attention to plants, technology and human interaction between the environment and the technology we use amongst it.

Moving images as part of a sculpture seem to work really interestingly in an interactive space. Macro photographic videos of leaves, bark, branches and surrounding natural features are worked into an atmospheric soundtrack of similiar organic dimensions.

Power supply for the video, sound and light in the trees is designed so that it may be self sufficient once a solar or wind powered input is connected. For now there is a sine wave invertor and a small 12v battery providing all the power the work will need.

Talk Soon!

As an addendum, today Bryden sent through the following philosophical thought:

Hi Lucas.
Hope you’re well.
Had a little quote I wanted to shoot to you re: Techno Tree:

“When we are seeking the essence of ‘tree,’ we have to become aware that what pervades every tree, as tree, is not itself a tree that can be encountered among all the other trees”.
– Martin Heidegger

Hope you can use it on the tending blog!
Talk soon,

Wow! thanks Bryden. If anyone can help interpret this densely packed cryptic utterance from old Marty Heidegger, be our guest!

(Hint: it comes from his classic essay The Question Concerning Technology…)