How does your garden grow?

A new program is giving ratepayers the opportunity to add a native touch to their gardens.

The free native plant program entitles ratepayers to four native plants of their choice per year.

Cr Karen May said the program was designed to encourage residents to incorporate more native plants into their gardens.

“Local native plants thrive in our warm, tropical climate,” she said.

“They provide food and habitat for native wildlife and many require less water and maintenance than exotic plants.

“Better yet, all of the native plants available through this program are grown in council’s Mackay Natural Environment Centre (MNEC), which provides a range of educational and volunteer opportunities for the community.”

MNEC produces more than 100,000 plants each year, which are used for a variety of council and regional projects.

Cr May said the free native plant program would give residents the chance to try growing local natives in their gardens, many of which were not available commercially.

“This program will help build awareness about the benefits of local native plants and give residents a greater appreciation of these species,” she said.

“We have native plants to suit every situation, whether you’re after flowers to brighten your garden, a shrub to screen a fence or a tree to provide some shade.”

The free native plant program will be officially launched at the Botanic Gardens Day this Saturday, June 1, from 9am to 2pm, at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Residents are encouraged to bring along a copy of their current rates notice to the event to pick up four free native plants.

Alternatively, plants can be collected from the MNEC, located at 6 Swayne Street, North Mackay, on the following dates:
> Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13, from 9am to midday
> Friday, August 9, and Saturday, August 10, from 9am to midday
> Friday, September 6, and Saturday, September 7, from 9am to midday
> Friday, October 4, and Saturday, October 5, from 9am to midday.

The program offers a wide range of plants to choose from, including trees, shrubs, grasses, groundcovers and climbers.

As part of the program, schools and community groups are entitled to 50 free native plants per application.

For further enquiries about the free plant program visit nursery@mackay.qld.gov.au.