Man of steel

QUEANBEYAN City Council gardener Alan Neal said he is "absolutely tickled pink" with the two handcrafted gates he has created especially for the town's Sensory Garden.

With little experience in "gate-making" but skills in welding, Mr Neal was tasked with creating the steel features.

"These gates are my first attempt at this type of thing. A few people have indicated they would like me to make them the same thing but nobody has actually come forward," he said with a laugh.

"I'm tickled pink with them ... but it's a bit embarrassing [all the attention]."

The green gate opens up to a space filled with plants, artworks, musical instruments and games that has been designed to appeal to the five senses.

The Sensory Gardens, located in Ray Morton Park behind the Riverside Cafe, will be officially opened on September 28 as part of the town's 175th birthday celebrations.

Mr Neal recreated the first gate from a photo provided by councillor Trudy Taylor.

It features a host of garden tools like a rake, shovel and hammer coated in green paint. While the second gate is a little more rustic with a natural finish and based on farm equipment.

The 61-year-old Queanbeyan local sourced the genuine farming tools from friends and the gate showcases a single furrow plough, disc from a disc plough, rabbit trap and a set of harrows.

"I wanted to use old farming implements because when the farmers first started working here most of the implements in the gate are what they would've used," he said.

"Rather than being tossed in a heap, lost and forgotten, I thought it would be great to make them a feature."

Mr Neal clearly enjoys his jobs beautifying the town as he has been a gardener with Queanbeyan City Council for the past 13 years. His started out tending to the town's sport fields but has looked after the gardens in the CBD for the past five years.

Mr Neal said it's actually the people rather the plants that he enjoys most about his job.

"Meeting different people, work is work when you're down on your hands and knees weeding but people come up and do say 'we like what you're doing' especially at the Visitor Centre."

And when it's comes to his own garden? Well, he said his wife is the boss of that.

"I don't do much gardening at home, my wife does that, I'm not allowed. She tells me 'you garden all week, I'll look after it at home'."

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