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Green Thumb Express: Plants donated to help drought-affected outback gardeners

By Chrissy Arthur, Monday August 25, 2014 - 06:36 EST
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Founder of Green Thumb Express Gay Tully and ABC Garden commentator Tom Wyatt - ABC
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Retreat station hosted the Green Thumb Express plant giveaway. - ABC

Hundreds of donated plants and cuttings have been given to outback Queensland families whose gardens have withered and died in one of the most widespread droughts on record.

About 200 plants were handed out during a garden day at Retreat Station, near Jundah, over the weekend. 

It was part of Green Thumb Express, a social media campaign started earlier this year by Windorah grazier and garden lover Gay Tully. 

The idea came to her when she arrived home from mustering to a dry creek and a dying lawn.

"A lot of people had phoned up and said, 'what can we do to help out in the drought?'" she said. 

"I thought, well pot up a plant and send it west, and that is how it all started."

Green Thumb Express' Facebook page had almost 1,000 fans, many of whom signed up to be donors, depots or couriers for the flourishing charity.

"The city realise we've been through a dreadful drought and they want to do anything they can to help out, it's just amazing," Mrs Tully said.

"Bush people are a little bit funny in accepting anything for nothing, I might add, so you've got to give them a bit of a push."

More than 75 per cent of Queensland is drought-declared, and the ongoing dry has been heartbreaking for country green thumbs.

Some families travelled long distances to attend the garden day and pick up their gifts. 

Julie Allen from Tarcombe near Stonehenge struggled to keep her garden going and had lost trees and other garden beds.  

"We love where we live. We are going through tough times, but it will get better, it always does," she said.

"But to get lovely gifts, and things like that, bits of garden, it is kind of exciting, it is like Christmas.

"A garden makes a home."

Surprising outback gardens

ABC garden commentator Tom Wyatt was a guest speaker at the event and was impressed with the healthy garden grown at Retreat.

He said it should be an inspiration to other country gardeners not to give up hope.

"It makes my mouth water to see these types of gardens out here, where you think the environment is very harsh, and they've got plants that are growing here better than on the coast," he said.

"People are even surprising themselves with the types of plants they can grow. 

"I tell people, if you like it, grow it, just find out where it comes from, and see if you have got that type of environment somewhere in your garden and try it." 

With recent outback rain, and spring just days away, now is the perfect time to be replanting.

For those further out west who missed out on rain, in Bedourie and Birdsville, Mrs Tully hoped to reach them in the future.

"I have people away that still have plants ready to come west, so I am just saying to them, hold off until further west gets rain, and then we can help them out as well."


© ABC 2014

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