Listening in Lornas Triangle with Horticulturalist Angie Roach

Listening in Lornas Triangle with Horticulturalist Angie Roach

 

 

W.P.S.C celebrates 2024 International Woman’s Day by highlighting the Bittern Bushland reserve on the corner of South Beach Road and Disney Street, named Lorna’s Triangle, while talking to Horticulturalist and Nursery Woman Angie Roach about the legacy of such a special place.

 

“Do you know about the Mistletoe bird who spreads the seeds of the mistletoe …?”
Angie asked me, as we sit on the large boulders at the entrance to Lorna’s Triangle Bushland Reserve, canopied by the swamp gums and pointing out shapes of trees to each other.
“Bunurong men make Bundi out of the part that connects to the tree!“
Angie says shaping her hands as if using a tool.
“The haustorium?!“ I exclaim, and we excitedly begin our conversation together looking up at the mistletoe, expanding on topics in an equalled state of awe.
 

 

 

 

The plaque at the main entrance Angie and I sit near, tells us that this rather unassuming and yet completely magnificent corner of remnant heathland was the legacy of Lorna Bennetts OAM. A Conservationist and also the first woman be elected to Council, representing Bittern and later Balnarring in the then Shire of Hastings. She even became one of the Shire’s Citizens of the Decade 1980-1990.
 
Lorna’s triangle is close to the W.P.S.C studio ( and home ) and in its quiet way sealed the deal for us to live where we do.
According to the Heritage Council of Victoria, the bushland was protected from the real estate boom of 1913-1920 and is of “Regional landscape significance as an area of remnant open forest woodland and wet heath formations.”

 

Over 90% of Grassy Woodlands and Swampy Scrub have been cleared since European Settlement on the peninsula and Lorna’s Triangle feels untouched the deeper you go in, there are vista’s one would expect to see in an early Australian Landscape painting hanging in the National Gallery of Victoria.

 
“You’ve got grasslands and woodlands and wetlands all in this one place” Angie points out, extending her arms out to each area she describes. We both agree on superlatives for each place, pausing to reflect on the moss of the wetland and how truly magical it feels there.
 
I first met Angie Roach at Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association when she was managing the bush nursery. She taught me about plants like trigger lilies, native broom and velvet tussock grass.
She now works at Mossy Willow Farm, regenerating the soil and taking care of the leafy greens.
 
“You know, we talk about the trees communicating and supporting us, and about the innate wisdom of plants we get from our ancestors but we forget about the soil and our connection to the microorganisms. What’s this earth seen? “ Angie asks as we gaze over the ground and back up into the bushland.

 

 

We both know about the same amount of information on Lorna Bennetts and her legacy of fighting for the Bushland Reserve to exist.
A black and white image of her kind face occasionally pops up in an internet search, along side facts like, she was a foundational member of the Bittern Mothers Club, the secretary for the Bittern Progress Association and had a husband called Fred.
There is a picture of her from 1989, piled piper like on the cover of the Frankston & Peninsula’s The Independent, surrounded by school children all walking through the Bushland.  I click on the article but it is an image only.
Lorna is a recognisable Nanna figure.

 

Other than that we don’t know much else about her, her name, we certainly know. It makes people giggle, she is Lorna of Lorna’s Triangle, yet as Angie and I talk it seems Lorna’s benevolent presence is calmly with us in the trees, and the rocks and the soft leaves on the ground.

 Angie and I talk of our shared Celtic heritage, of mythologies we learnt and didn’t learn, of how Angie was gardening at age 3 and has never stopped since then.
We talk about communities and the area we live in, named after a shy wetland bird.
I think about the humility behind the force of people who get things done.
It feels as if Lorna is there as it begins to lightly rain, neither of us mention it.
We talk about the wisdom of the trees.
 
“Working with plants you realise there is a presence, they have their own presence. And as humans we are nature and I think people forget that. We are all really connected, you just have to know that. Working with plants helps us tap into that.” Angie says.

 

 

I ask Angie about earthing and how she feeds the chooks in bare feet, she laughs and tells me that when she’s been in the city or out and about for too long she begins to feel slightly agitated, walking in bare feet or ‘ earthing ‘ helps to get grounded and more present.

I understand Angie to be a very present, feeling person. I let go of anything I was going to ask her and let our conversation flow.

 
We speak about water the time her and her daughters were out in Western Port in a rescue boat driven by a friend. Ange and her daughters dove into the water once they were right out in the middle of the bay, “I’d never swum in the middle of the bay and you know, there are probably so many sharks but there we were, you just feel held in that water.  And the these dolphins turned up, swimming around us. Western Port ! There is something incredible about that water, the water certainly has a memory and there you are being held in it!”
We agree that humans, for a moment, when we witness a wild animal become connected to our wildness. “I see you“ she says referring to her encounter with the dolphins, “but you see me!“

 

Angie tells me about how she was lucky to do a weed audit on an area in H.M.A.S Cerberus that is out of bounds to the public. “This place we came to, it looked like it was planted but it wasn’t, it was full of Trigger plants and Dianella, just so many of them and then large areas of coastal banksia, I almost cried. That banksia forest totally untouched, It was just so beautiful!“

 

I am there in my mind. I can see what she saw, for just a brief moment.

 

The greeting ‘Namaste’ means I see the divine in you, Angie and I say it to each other as we leave our conversation and go our seperate ways.

We giggle a little. My hands form a little triangle.

I turn back to thank Lorna Bennetts, ‘Thank you Lorna’ I say, 'I see you but it was you who saw me, you foresaw all of us and the nature that we are.'

 
Here’s to strong women,
may we know them,
may we be them,
may we raise them.
 

 

Do know about the small Mistletoebird ?! It is the only Australian representative of the flowerpecker family, or Dicaeidae. The Mistletoebird is known as the Australian Flowerpecker. Feeding mainly on the berries of the mistletoe they play important part in the dispersal of misteltoe.” I know about the little flowerpecker because Angie Roach told me, she learned about it from Isaiah, when together with a crew from Willum Warrain they seed collected in Lorna’s Triangle.

Thank you Angie Roach for sharing your time with me, you can find out all about her over at Green Heart 💚