Love leaves a memory that no one can steal. Garden BEFORE & AFTER
Thank you…To Mark and Faye Leveson, for letting us into your lives and for allowing us to bring to you what we do best – to make a garden in memory of your son, Matty. While we know that nothing can replace Matty our entire team hope this token of creation will help you slowly find some form of normality in your lives.
Mark and Faye Leveson’s son, Matthew went missing some 10 years ago. He was last seen leaving a night club with Mr Michael Atkins. In 2007 Michael Atkins stood trial for the murder of Matthew Leveson and then in 2009 for his manslaughter.
Years later Mark and Faye were confronted with a decision only the truly strong and brave could endure. The justice system placed Mark and Faye in the coroner’s office to agree that if Atkins showed them where he buried Matthew’s body the parents of Matthew would not continue charges against Atkins for the murder of Matthew Leveson.
After many months of searching in the National Park and excavating the entire area, it was observed the only area not disturbed was where a Levestonia australis ‘Cabbage Palm’ grew.
The excavator driver removed the palm and placed it to one side. A gentle removal of soil under the palm revealed bones, those of a human being.
Matthew Leveson had been found on May 31 with only 45 minutes left of the allowed search time as per the search warrant issued. The dream and wish of Mark and Faye was just to bring their boy home. They were now able to do so.
The palm comes home
After days of forensic work Mark and Faye were allowed to bring the palm home to plant in their garden.
It was some weeks later when Mark phoned 2GB’s Ben Fordham to say the palm was not looking very well, that I got the call from Ben asking me to check out the palm.
The palm, although of good size, was indeed looking limp in structure. We spoke about how it was removed from the ground, how long it was out of the ground and what root stock remained.
Not wishing to move it for a second time I felt it best be left where it was and concentrate on both moisture, shade and drip feed system of nutrients to let it have the best survival chance possible.
An idea is born
When I met Ben Fordham to discuss the palm and how the garden was looking so lost….a later thought that made me say to Ben that we were going to re-design the entire back garden and undertake the build through 100 per cent donations.
Looking at each other with a degree of trepidation, we collectively said “What the heck. Let’s do it!”
I revisited Mark and Faye we talked about Matthew, his likes and theirs for the garden. Slowly a design to build a garden that held your hand while walking through was hatched…. A garden that let you stop think, rest, stop and remember. Elements of the design had to include a water feature, lighting and colour, these being some of Matty’s favourite things.
We used re-cycled hard wood that reflected the timber found in the National Park, is Australian and says “We are strong.” We used this to make a very rustic pergola placed in a location that can be physically enjoyed when inside (the pergola) observing the water view from the garden, but also can be visually enjoyed from the home’s kitchen. The flooring of the pergola was made of Australian sandstone and placed in a flagging style bond with recycled crushed granite. Some stone used in the flooring and pathway was brought from the National Park where Matty was found. The visual difference of this bush rock to the sandstone gives the ability for people to question, due to its visual non-conformance.
A lower hardstanding courtyard garden was left untouched as was an upper level area about 1.6 metres higher than the courtyard and retained by existing bush rock retaining walls. This upper level was bounded by another bush rock retaining about 1.2 metres and supporting the garden bank with a gradient of approximately 35 - 400.
An area that was showing signs of damage because of tree root penetration was used to advantage. This is where Matty’s water feature would be. By removing the damaged wall and rebuilding it we built a water wall that cascaded down the face of the existing bush rock next to the hardwood pergola offering sound, movement and a sense of life.
While other features were introduced to the garden, among the most important was the path, as it needed to be of a type that held your hand from the home to the pergola. With its understated finish Australian sandstone flagging was perfect. In and around the dotted flagging stones were random lengths of hardwood timber. To bind these elements together we used re-cycled crushed granite. A path able to sustain the elements.
The bank was mass-planted with Pennesetum alopecuroides ‘Nafray’. Pure and simple it provided a moving bank of swaying grasses to enhance a sense of calm but also to reflect Matty’s hair. I might add, planting the bank was a challenge to anybody’s calf muscles!
I can see to this day a sea of people picking away at the bank, trying and hoping they could find a place for the plant. Because of the steep nature of the bank and the potential for falls, we rigged up a lanyard, carabiner and harness system for a person to use a hand-held auger to drill the holes. Slow, but we got there in the end.
The level garden
Limonitum perezii ‘Sea Lavender’ was selected for its robust attitude but also its beautiful purple flowers, this being one of Mattys favourite colours. The day these were planted the bees moved in. Just brilliant! The other plantings included Grevillea gaudichaudi ‘ Bronze rambler’, Grevillea ‘Ned Kelly’, Myporium parvifolium ‘Yareena’, Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Boston Ivy’, Viola hereacea ‘Native Violet’, Festuca galuca ‘Elijah Blue’ and then a couple of the old favourite Mondo and Liriope Samantha, for their little pink flowers on spikes and the rambling succulent Apentia cordifolia for its firework pink red flowers.
Work on the garden started on Friday December 1and finished Sunday December 3. We worked from early morning to late afternoon. A huge undertaking that would not have been possible without the help from many companies. We had a sea of physical helpers in the order of 20-25 every day with back-up from catering, drinks, materials supplies. The full list of companies can be seen on the 2GB web site under ‘Mattys Garden’.
On a personal note. The atmosphere that was present in the garden was truly unrepeatable due to the huge positive outlook held by all. The laughing, the can-do, the what next and having to physically stop people from working to take a break and feed themselves. One important role was the continual walking around the garden by Mark, Faye and Rachel with water and fruit, pies. This role in itself kept us going throughout the weekend.
It was our pleasure to be a part of this project and help create a remembrance garden for a loved son!