Breath of life in gift of new garden


JENNIFER SIPE is aware of her two new lungs, but not her brand new garden. As she recovers from a double lung transplant in a Brisbane hospital, her friends have been secretly toiling to make-over the garden at her Goonellabah home. The mother-of-one is expec- ted to return home this week and she has no idea her dream garden is waiting. Even husband Robert has been in the dark. He thinks their friends are just pulling out weeds and giving the yard a tidy-up. Heather Churchill, one of the people responsible for the Goonellabah-style 'Backyard Blitz', said Mrs Sipe's plans

to build her perfect garden were put on hold when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis five years ago. The genetic disorder causes irreversible damage to the lungs and left Mrs Sipe with only a third of her lung capacity and in constant need of an oxygen cylinder. Mrs Churchill said she hoped the new garden would help her close friend of more than 15 years recover further following the surgery. "It's a healing place ? get- ting out among the plants and living things," she said. The new garden features a water fountain, blueberry trees, citrus trees, an outside bench and storage space, and an array of flowering plants. Friends have also given in- side the house an extensive

spring clean. Mrs Churchill said the idea to secretly make-over the garden developed after Mrs Sipe received the call that two lungs had become avail- able. "A couple of weeks before she got the call we were talking on the phone and do- ing what we called 'what if' therapy," she said. "I asked 'if you do any- thing to your garden what would you do?'. "That day turned out to be the day after she got the call. "Jen said, 'I'm not going to get my garden done now' and that sparked the thought 'Maybe it will' and it just grew from there." Local businesses made do- nations totalling more than $2000.

Local businesses that made dona- tions were: Richmond Sand and Gravel Lismore, Alstonville Garden Centre, Mountain Blue Blueberries, Bunnings Lismore, Precious Plants Lismore, Blooming Plants Goonella- bah, Youngberries Nursery and Statesman Security Services.

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