‘My Garden Path—We head down the garden path with Rob Blakers, a photographer whose love of natural places has inspired the garden he cultivates for his local community.’
Blakers is renowned in Tasmania for his iconic wilderness photography. I recall witnessing him with his camera, many years ago, at a public meeting in Hobart which debated forestry and environmental issues, where various industry and conservation representatives argued their views. When at one stage a particular industry representative addressed the audience, Blakers appeared demonstrably upset at the words he was subjected to listen to.
I picked him up in my taxi once, years later. He’d been filming near Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Hobart, and was heading back into the city some thirty kilometres away—a good fare, time enough to talk. I mentioned my time working in the forest industry, how I recalled noticing him with his camera that evening of the forestry / environment debate. He probably figured me for a fence sitter—and why not?—but continued comfortably chatting.
Blakers is a skilled photographer, particularly of the Tasmanian environment; this particular ‘Gardening Australia’ segment reveals that environmental photography isn’t a singular preoccupation but merely one strand of a many-storeyed way of life. ‘Activism is seeing what we’re not doing right, and saying stop—and in advocating, pushing towards, better directions,’ he says. ‘Growing one’s own food engages you with the natural world.’ The garden setup allows neighbours or friends or anyone who’s heard about it, to come along with a box—‘or I can supply a box!’—and pick their own herbs and veggies.’
‘From my side I’m just trying to maintain the diversity in the garden, maintain the level of pickable veggies, so that any time people come they’ll have a seasonal selection. People pay thirty bucks for a box. Essentially it’s just a break-even, there’s cost involved in a garden like this … there’s water, there’s seeds, there’s compost soil, there’s fencing, repairs … there’s always ongoing costs, so if we can break even on that—which we have done—it’s just a win-win all round.’