Please note that online plant orders are currently unavailable. Learn more.

Please note that online plant orders are currently unavailable. Learn more.

Seed Savers Garden coming to Heronswood

Sharing the passion and skills needed to protect the future of heirlooms at our new garden.

Image: The heritage gardens at Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa. 

 

Over the coming year, we’re building an exciting new Seed Savers Garden at the home of The Diggers Club, Heronswood. 

Our dedicated team of gardeners are creating a unique living space that will be a working demonstration and education garden where all gardeners can come to learn and experience the art of seed saving.

Heirlooms are in our hands

Growing a plant from seed is perhaps the most empowering act a gardener can undertake and the more gardeners that learn the simple skills of seed saving, the better our chance of preserving these historic treasures for the future. When a gardener sets a seed in the earth, they are part of a long line of gardeners stretching way back in history and extending beyond us all into the future.

The simple act of sowing a seed links a gardener to an unbroken chain of observation, selection and cultivation that stretches back to the earliest domestication of wild plants for human consumption.

It is this history and lineage that is encapsulated by the concept of an ‘heirloom’ seed; a tradition handed down from one generation to the next as a valued and treasured part of cultural identity. As large global chemical companies continue their rampant acquisition and amalgamation of seed companies, the traditional garden varieties that our ancestors preciously guarded and handed down are disappearing – and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

The best thing we can all do as conscious gardeners is to learn the principles and techniques of seed saving to empower ourselves to preserve the diversity of our food crops.

Australia's food heritage

The vast majority of vegetable and flower crops we grow in our gardens today have their origins in other regions of the world. Tomatoes originate in Central and South America, melons were first domesticated in South Central Africa and beets have been cultivated in Europe since ancient Greek times. Whilst there is a growing movement to document and cultivate First Nations staple foods, the Australian diet is as multicultural as our people – we are, after all, an immigrant culture that celebrates the history and diversity of our forebears.

The Diggers journey with heirloom seeds began nearly 30 years ago in 1992 when Clive and Penny Blazey visited The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in Iowa, USA. By this time, the founders Diane and Kent Whealy had been running SSE for 17 years and they had a well-established network of ‘seed stewards’ across the country, donating and preserving heirloom varieties that were facing extinction. Back then, the protection and preservation of heritage or ‘heirloom’ vegetable and flower seed varieties in Australia was virtually unknown, other than what was happening within family and community seed exchanges.

On returning to Australia, Clive and Penny set about the task of raising the profile of heirloom vegetables and we continue in this mission today.

Over the last three decades, through our trialling and seed production programs, Diggers has rescued and reinvigorated many Australian heirloom vegetables like Pea ‘Franks’ (shared by Diggers member May Barnes), Carrot ‘Western Red’ (courtesy of the O’Connor family) and Cucumber ‘Crystal Apple’, an iconic Australian backyard variety that featured in seed catalogues in the 1930s.

A new generation of seed savers

The last 30 years has been a valuable and rewarding journey, but the work is not done! The global coronavirus pandemic has heightened interest in gardening and growing food at home, so the need to preserve and pass on vegetable varieties suited to small-scale and local food production has never been so great. We want to support all those interested in the age-old art of seed saving to gain the skills and knowledge needed to save the seed of the future.

Our new Seed Savers Garden will demonstrate the basic seed saving techniques necessary to pass seeds from one generation to the next. It will include seed crop management (i.e controlled pollination), separation and isolation systems (i.e. caging, bagging and timing to maintain varietal purity), rogueing for trueness and general cultivation to maximise seed production and viability. We will also run workshops on seed cleaning techniques, including easy-to-make cleaning equipment.

How you can help the future of heirlooms

Saving the seeds of the future and preserving the best of the past is central to The Diggers Foundation mission. There is no government body that supports the preservation of heirloom vegetable and flower seeds – it has always has been the community of gardeners and small-scale farmers who have been the stewards. Without government funding there is a real danger that many of the heirloom vegetable varieties carefully selected and curated over generations could be lost forever.

We are seeking your support to help us maintain our living collection of Australian heirlooms – to catalogue, record, preserve and, most importantly, grow these wonders of yesteryear.

If you would like to share and preserve an heirloom variety from your family or community, please email us at info@diggersfoundation.org

More

“I want to get people out into the garden”

Georgina Reid visits Michael Bates’ striking Sydney garden

“This garden solves all its problems with plants”

Georgina Reid visits Ian McMaugh’s jungle courtyard in the urban subtropics

A brief reflection

Stephen Forbes (a Diggers Director) shares his experience as the former Director of the Botanic Gardens of South Australia

All in a day’s work

The Heronswood kitchen garden produces an enormous 3,000kg of organic produce each year. How do we know? Because everything is meticulously weighed and measured.

An oasis of green in the bush

Clive Blazey introduces this secluded getaway, not far from Daylesford and Ballarat

Beautiful Vegetable Gardens

Biddulph Grange: one of the wonders of the Victorian age

Heronswood gardener and Botanica tour leader, Julie Willis, visits a masterpiece rescued by the National Trust UK

Botanica Spring Garden (Japan)

Clive Blazey visits Japan for the Botanica Spring Garden tour

Botanical Ark (Daintree, Australia)

Clive Blazey visits Alan and Susan Carle's beautiful garden in the Queensland rainforest

Castel Ruggero (Chianti, Italy)

Margaux's family create perfect harmony, “A living personification of my mother and father”

Choosing perennial flowers for the

wilder parts of the garden

Cloudehill (Olinda, Australia)

Owner and garden creator Jeremy Francis takes us through the four seasons at Cloudehill

Collecting Amazon Lilies in the wild

Andrew Carrick tells the story of re-establishing lilies in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Create a summer flowering perennial border

Julie Willis creates Heronswood’s summer perennial border and explains its subtleties.

Cruden Farm (Langwarrin, Australia)

John Christie tells us why trees are an integral part of the gardens at Cruden Farm

Designing landscapes

Landscape designer Keith Edwards explains how he designs

Gardening can change the world

Georgina Reid wonders why we don’t value the natural world

Gardening is about progression

“Gardening is a progression beyond the innocent cultivation of obvious plants” clive blazey

Gardening is for the birds

Creating a safe space for bird life in your garden.

Gardening with Biologicals

Stephen Forbes explains the importance of what we can’t see in our gardens

Gardens By The Bay (Singapore)

Clive Blazey introduces the wonders of Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Growing 200 fruit trees in your backyard

Marcelle Swanson visits inner-city fruit grower and author Louis Glowinski

Heronswood (Australia)

Is Heronswood one of the world's finest gardens?

Illuminating shade gardening

Canopies offer gardeners both respite and an opportunity to embrace gardening in the shade.

Meet Australia's citrus gurus - The Tolleys from Renmark

Clive Blazey discovers a garden where citrus, dates, mangoes, peaches and apples thrive

Moira’s Garden (Gaza)

Andrew Laidlaw describes how the first Global Garden of Peace is taking shape in Gaza

Ninfa (Lazio, Italy)

Clive Blazey visits the 'world's most romantic garden', the inspirational Ninfa in Italy

Playing with Perennials

Q&A with Heronswood's Gardeners

Get to know Heronswood's talented gardeners

Sissinghurst gardens is given the kiss of life

Tommy Garnett, our finest garden writer, describes the redemption of Sissinghurst

Szálás (Subotica, Serbia)

Ines Balint shares a special garden connection and love of food with her family in Serbia

The colour wheel at Heronswood

A new garden development that highlights why ‘it isn’t easy being blue’ in the flower garden.

The garden at Broughton Hall

A dramatic landscape garden that marries horticultural skill with an artist’s eye.

The grandfather of citriculture

Marcelle Swanson talks to world-renowned citrus expert Ian Tolley about his life's opus ‘Commonsense Citrus’

Three up and coming gardeners

Tony Fawcett explains why an outstanding gardener should be on every farmer’s list of go-to gurus

Tim Entwisle's Top 10 Favourite Plants

The Director of Melbourne's Botanic Gardens shares his botany of desire!

Two hundred years of hard gardening experience

Clive Blazey talks with Will Ashburner and Frank Broersen

Vegie gardening from Alaska to the Sunshine Coast

Kevin Redd doesn’t follow the rules, choosing to experiment with the vegies he loves, no matter what his climate.

Warrior for environmental change

Marcelle Swanson asks Joost Bakker about his philosophies for a sustainable future

Waste is a human Invention... there is no waste in nature

Clive explains how our waste is a symptom of an unsustainable lifestyle

Why garden?

Exploring new research into the wellbeing benefits of gardening.

Wildflower Meadow

One of our biggest aims at Diggers is to ensure that gardeners succeed.

Winter Solstice

Wisley (Surrey, UK)

Lisa Remato visits the inspiring RHS garden at Wisley
Back To Top
Member Exclusives
2022 Gardening Diary and Calendar Combo
2022 Gardening Diary and Calendar Combo
BOOKS: ADIAC22
2022 Gardening Diary & Calendar Combo The complete garden combo for 2022! The beautifully illustrated Diggers Club Diary features a week to a page, seeds to sow each month, blank pages for seasonal observations, and handy pockets for your seed packets and plant labels, while The Diggers Calendar showcases stunning garden photography to inspire y...
Member $35.00
Checking stock, please wait..
A YEAR OF VEGIES - SEED BOX
A YEAR OF VEGIES - SEED BOX
SEEDS: S921
18 SEED PACKETS: The gift that keeps on giving for a year. This collection will guarantee 12 months of heirloom veges. The recipient will receive seeds for each season ensuring a supply of heirloom vegetables. The pack contains a total of 18 packets of vegetables seeds (Beetroot, Bean, Broccoli, Carrot, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Onion, Pea, Silverbe...
Member $59.95
Checking stock, please wait..
2 year membership + Garden Calendar and 2 Seed Packets
2 year membership + Garden Calendar and 2 Seed Packets
Membership: MNE2CA2
Join the club and receive an exclusive gift, valued at $30. A stunning calendar featuring key dates, a guide to which seeds to sow each month and plenty of space to add your own events. Plus two free packets of some popular seeds – Tomato 'Black Cherry' and Lettuce Heirloom Mix.
Member $79.00
Non-Member $79.00
Checking stock, please wait..