Keeping the plants alive

He's becoming a familiar figure on the streets of Blackheath with his portable tank of water mounted on the rear of a tractor.

Dave Downey with his portable water tank outside the Victory Cafe.

Dave Downey with his portable water tank outside the Victory Cafe.

Dave Downey is trying to keep alive the plantings around the town.

He is using bore water (not restricted) from his own property. He has rigged up the tank, a pump and a hose and loaded it on to the back of one of his tractors (Mr Downey used to do a lot of work on properties in Hartley).

Every three days he waters the plants along Govetts Leap Road, the highway and Wentworth Street.

"With all the devastation, you've got to have some positives happening," he said.

People have stopped him in the street to comment on his work.

"They appreciate the fact that the stuff is being kept alive and it gives them a good felling in a time of fire and drought.

"When I see flowers and green in the morning, it just lifts my mood."

In Mt Victoria, retired horticulturalist Phil Foster is single-handedly trying to preserve some of the vegetation - but he would dearly like some help.

Mr Foster is hand-watering many of the trees around the village but is encouraging residents to take it upon themselves to keep the watering going.

"If the Gazette can help me publicise the need to be community aware and get involved, that would be great," he said.

A couple of fellow Mt Victorians have adopted some trees to look after but he hopes to galvanise others to do the same.

"We've got to take responsibility for our own community. The bottom line is if somebody doesn't water them, they're going to die.

"If someone has adopted some trees, tie a ribbon around them so I know and won't double water them."

He acknowledges there are "bigger issues" in this extremely dry and fiery summer but, with a lifetime of horticultural work behind him, "I just can't walk past a dying plant".

"I can't hold a hose for the RFS but this I can do," he said.

He either carts the water from home or knocks on the door of houses near the plants, asking if he can use their tap to fill his watering cans.