Meet the gardeners: Jason and Ben

Published on 04 November 2022

Meet the gardeners - Jason and Ben

As spring kicks in, Kiama’s floral displays delight locals and visitors alike.

We spoke to two of Kiama Council’s gardeners, Jason Pappas and Ben Johnson, about how they keep Kiama in bloom.  

What floral colour will we see in Kiama this season?

Jason: We’ll have the usual summer display in central Kiama, which is petunias in deep purples. reds, pinks and blues (variety: ‘high society’). As well as Salvia ‘blaze of fire’.

The winter display of snapdragons have been amazing this September-October. They’ve flowered late, but beautifully. However we’ll be taking them out this week to ensure the displays will be in full bloom and looking great over the Christmas holiday season.

Next summer, I’m considering changing it up a bit by adding some yellow marigolds to the mix, and maybe blue salvia.

What does your typical day involve?

We work 6.15am to 3.30pm and our days are spent planting, watering, looking after the soil (adding mulch or compost) and tending the various garden beds around town.

How do you get the annuals looking so good each year?

Jason: There’s several steps – first we pull out the previous plantings, turn the soil over and add mushroom compost for two to three weeks. Then we plant the next annuals. Once the flowers are in, we water every two or three days, depending on the weather.

When do you plant?

For our summer annuals, we plant mid-October or early November, and take them out between March and May. Our winter annuals are go in mid-May to early June.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Jason: I started at Kiama Council 2017 after finishing high school and my Cert 3. I like the early starts and being outside on a nice day.

Ben: I’ve been here two years. Kiama is such a nice place to work, the people are nice too. It’s a great community and we always get good feedback on the gardens.

What are some of the challenges?

Both: Although it’s out of our control – it’s challenging when there’s difficult weather and a lot of rain.  In term of the plants, dealing with diseases and pests on the annuals is a challenge.

Any tips for home gardeners?

It’s important to have a good understanding of your soil and surroundings. Some plants only work in certain areas and with certain types of soil. For example, some plants don’t like salt, some won’t tolerate frost. It’s also really important to look after your soil with mulch, compost and the right nutrients. Finally – prune and deadhead at the right time to ensure your plants look their best.

What other flowers can people enjoy in the area?  

As well as the eye-catching displays in central Kiama, this year our Parks & Gardens team will create floral displays in Jamberoo CBD.

The roses along Manning street have also been popular, and they have benefited from the addition of some of our own compost, created from our FOGO collection. (see below for our free composting workshop). We also work with natives, particularly in the garden outside the Administration Centre.

There’s also some great community gardens in our area – for example in Gerringong and Minnamurra – our Municipality boasts some very talented, creative and committed gardeners!

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