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Kitchen cultivate At home with Sandra Norris The Canberra Times

“Sandra Norris has 48 fruit and citrus trees in her garden in Theodore and you can see them this weekend. She and her husband Peter Lock moved to Theodore in 1999 and started these new plantings in 2012 because she wanted to grow her own food in a sustainable way. There are a variety of garden bed shapes and sizes which enables her to grow lots of different vegetables, herbs and bee attracting plants.
Many of the fruit trees are grown in preloved, recycled or reclaimed pots, and other fruit trees are espaliered to save space including a Valencia orange and eight stone fruit types on four trees in a five metre row alongside the house. A Meyer and Eureka lemon are grafted on one tree purchased at Willow Park in Pialligo. There is a kaffir lime and four cumquats, a ‘Story’ apricot tree from which Sandra made six pots of jam. Nellie Kelly passionfruit that has produced dozens of fruit this season which delights Peter who comes indoors with handfuls of his passionfruit which are his favourite.
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Link Sandra Norris at home in Theodore. Photo: Karleen Mi
Satin bower birds, lorikeets, king parrots, galahs, small corellas and cockatoos visit the garden and, from the fruit trees it is 50 per cent to the birds and bugs and 50 per cent to Sandra. However netting the peach trees this season was productive and resulted in lots of large fruit.
The garden is on a slope but is not terraced and Sandra says Peter has been the muscle, for which she is very grateful. A small riverbed takes heavy rain water down to an absorption pit and the garden uses water from three tanks. Sandra does not use chemicals in line with her philosophy of a sustainable environment, there is a compost heap and she makes her own potting mix.
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Link Sandra Norris, of Theodore, in her backyard. Photo: Karleen Mi
The garden is called Ysadora for a goddess and used for wedding services for which Sandra has a Facebook page. It is kept very neat so all the plants can be seen, to identify any problems with them. Small spaces in the garden have been pla
ed so they are useful, peaceful and practical and four grandchildren enjoy whimsical features including a fairy ‘room’, two hens called Cluck and Cluck and goldfish.
The kitchen harvest includes a honeydew melon ready to eat, ‘Walnut’ pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic, onions and chillies. Lettuces are thriving in raised beds and a kiwi fruit overhangs a garden seat. Sandra enjoys cooking, particularly Asian dishes, so kaffir lime and herbs such as coriander, Vietnamese mint, a bay tree and basil have been grown. Pickled leeks and a green tomato relish are favourites for which Sandra has shared the recipes.
Ysadora, 7 Cochrane Crescent, Theodore will be open on 18 and 19 March from 10am to 4pm as part of Open Gardens Canberra, entry $8pp, children under 18 free. Tea and coffee will be provided and some light refreshments. For the local Cancer Support Group which has 950 patients of all ages and with all types of cancer, Sandra is raising money at the open weekend by selling plants that she has been potting up during the past ten months. There will also be giant sunflower seeds and camellia seeds for sale.

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