Saturday, December 02, 2006

November 2006 Post Open Garden

Well after Wednesdays hail and Thursday’s gale winds we are finally opening our garden for 2006. It’s a lot more work than most people realise; basically we start next week on getting ready for the 2007 opening.
The weather is perfect, fine and sunny.
All the usual helpers are here, we need help with the gate and plant sales.
As usual the visitors who know the quality of Judy’s plants are the first to visit, and the Bromeliads are going out by the wheelbarrow load.
Saturday turned out to be a fairly slow day as far as numbers goes, about 300, the ‘Lions Club’ were disappointed as food sales were slow.
The Garden featured on the ‘Garden Gurus’ television show on Saturday evening and this created a lot of interest on the Sunday, we even had visitors from as far away as Bundaberg.
The crowds on Sunday were much bigger with just over 500 visitors.
The ‘Lions Club’ sold out of food and they were very happy, they are going to make a sizeable donation to ‘Young Care’.
Every visitor seemed happy and the comments in the visitor’s book were all good.
No damage to the garden and anyone who wanted a cutting asked first and I was only too happy to oblige.
All over, the ‘Open Garden Scheme’ was very happy as most garden attendance numbers have fallen drastically, ours was an exception.
We then went to the Sunshine Coast for a few days well deserved R&R.
We returned from our holiday with a car load of plants from Jean and Leo Gambles Nursery and the Yandina Markets. Both Judy and I had lots of aches and pains, seems we are better off working than doing nothing. I especially noticed my arthritis had got much worse while on holiday.
The garden featured on ‘Gardening Australia’ on 25 November and looked really good; lots of people have seen it and all comments were positive.
We are hosting the ‘International Tropical Foliage and Garden Society’ annual Christmas party this Sunday 3 December.
I cannot stop myself, I bought a couple of rare miniature Daturas yesterday, they were expensive but worth it as I have never seen them before.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

November 2006 News Pre 'Open Garden'

I am starting off part one this month’s news with a very dry Garden. It has been about two months since we last had any decent rain. There is rain forecast for this coming weekend so I will be keeping my fingers crossed. Everything now is focused on the ‘Open Garden’; Judy is getting her plants ready for sale. I came up with a novel idea for cleaning her Bromeliads by using my compressor with air gun attachment then blowing all the leaves and dirt from the plant. Worked very well and best of all the skin on our arms was free from scratches from the leaves. Never have I seen or personally anticipated rain so much as today, there is supposedly a rain front heading towards us with thunder and good rain forecast, what a bonus this would be for our ‘Open Garden’ in just two weeks time. I will stick my neck out and forecast that with good weather we will get 1200 visitors to our garden, usually 700 to 900. The 1000 is the magical figure. Well I got up on Saturday morning and checked the rain gauge to find to my extreme disappointment that we only had 3mm of rain, looked like I would have to water by hand again. Then the rain started to fall and out I went and fertilized the lawns, absolutely drenched but worth it. By the end of the day we had received 51mm of wonderful rain. Two days later and the garden has changed, it looks healthy and green, an amazing transformation in such a short period. Open garden is now looking good.
Day Lilys are looking terrific.

The ‘Lions Club’ usually run a raffle as well as providing the ‘Open Garden’ catering, I supply the prizes and have managed to get the two Tub-O-Worms, two Compost Mates, a Water Fork, five litres of Natrakelp, 10 bales of Sugar Cane Mulch, Magnum of local wine and a Bromeliad as prizes. Well it's the Wednesday prior to opening and we are having a severe storm with high winds and hail. We can hear and see the hailstones landing, I am tempted to go out and catch them before they damage the plants, but with an acre of ground it's too silly for words.

Inspected the garden debris and leaf litter every where but no real damage. Thursday and gale winds all day really rocking and rolling the garden. Friday, winds have eased and the weekend is looking fine. I will be honest and say I will be glad when it's all over, it's just so much work especially when the weather is against you. Still it could be worse and rain all wekend as does happen sometimes. That would be tragic. Lets see what Saturday brings.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Internet Garden URLs

These are the Garden related sites I visit. Forum ect Hawaii exotics Garden forum/photos/blogs * Open Garden Scheme Better Homes and Gardens Garden site Our garden Blog (Garden news,info) Ginger I.D Pond gear Inc solar pumps Fruit Trees North QLD exotics Ginger info Heliconias, Sunshine Coast Heliconias, Tropicals, Brisbane North QLD exotics Hawaii exotics Sub Tropical/Tropical Garden Club Ornaments for Garden Heliconias South East QLD Garden Info Site * Tropicals, Brisbane (not just palms) This is a garden forum North QLD exotics Sunshine coast heliconias My photo site (1700 photos)* Channel 9 TV show Garden info site AustralianMagazine for warmer climates*
* Great site

Monday, October 30, 2006

Our Favorite Garden Places

Firstly let me say I am not doing this for any commercial reasons, I have no motive other than to let fellow gardeners benefit from our knowledge based on years of experience and mistakes.
I have talked about soils in my last Blog entry, we now get our soil from ‘Capalaba Landscapes’ it is a ‘premium mix’ with about 80% soil and does not shrink.
We get our water plants Lotus, Water Lily’s from ‘Francois’ at Capalaba 0404151149.
A lot of our Heliconias Gingers and Costus come from James and Jenny Munro at ‘Cooloola Heliconias’ 54853316.
If you don’t want to travel too far from Brisbane, Greg Smith at ‘Palms for Brisbane’ always has a good selection of Tropical plants.
Neville from ‘Wellington Point Nursery’ and Brendan from ‘Rainforest Seclusion’ at Thornlands are both nursery owners who are not afraid to get a new and unusual plants in and ‘Timbara’ Nursery also at Thornlands is great for water feature ideas and general garden gear.
We also purchase some great plants from the Chandler ‘Sunday Markets’ Ian and Helen Wicks have great selection and knows their plants backwards.
The best seaweed product we have found is ‘Natrakelp’ we know it is made purely from Tasmanian kelp which incidently is the fastest growing plant in the world.
We use lots of ‘Sugar Cane Mulch’ we get ours delivered from Win and Andrew Currant on 55462303 or 0414458175, they are farmers from Jacobs Well.
Stump Grinding; ‘grumpy’ on 0421878236 will do a good job for a low price.
Last but not least is our very favourite nursery ‘The Palm Place’ at Wappa Falls Road, Yandina. This is run by Jean and Leo Gamble and they have a selection of great plants and are great people.
Bromeliads, well just come to our ‘Open Garden’ where Judy will have a great selection of named varieties.

Friday, October 27, 2006

October 2006 Garden News

Well the big news is that the TV show ‘Garden Guru’s want to film in our Garden. I consider this to be quite an honour, just hope they can leave it a few weeks until there is a bit more colour in the garden. Just had a phone call and they are on a tight schedule and want to film this Sunday and the segment will be on Channel 9 on Saturday 21 October 2006. How much of my garden will be on I don’t know as the segment will be on water features in pots, I have a few but like all our garden it’s been done on a budget, hope they are not too disappointed.
Well the ‘Garden Guru’ team have been and gone, it’s quite interesting to see the production team at work and how many takes they have to do before the producer is satisfied. Of course the show is very commercial and heavily sponsored, that’s ok as without that we would not have a gardening show of this calibre. Probably the four hours spent filming will be condensed into a five minute segment. I am now starting to think seriously about our ‘Open Garden’ weekend, getting flyers to garden clubs, letters to newspapers and buying bits and pieces that we need for the opening. I bought a 40 kg bag of ‘Crop King 88’ for the lawns and a couple of 25 kg bags of ‘Nitrophoska Blue’ for the plants, this should bring the plants and lawn on to look the best (depending on rain). Still buying more plants every weekend, returned from the Chandler markets with two Cycads and a Tree Begonia, still need a couple more Begonias to fill the dreaded gaps. More wind and more Heliconias down, this has been a bad period for the taller varieties of Heliconias. What luck, my project for 2007 was going to be a water lily pond, I have been looking at poly ponds and they are about $500, I was lucky enough to find one in the ‘weekend shopper’ for $200. So that’s now here and sitting waiting for 2007. I will just enjoy the refurbished pool area for now.

Gale force winds over the last two days, really hate the wind. Had an email from a Sydney production company who have seen my ‘photo bucket’ album and who are doing a TV series next year on ‘Best Backyards’. The next day there was a phone call from the ABCs ‘Gardening Australia’ who want to visit on 24th and 25th and film for 1.5 days, all this time for a five minute segment. It’s all happening. I am happy about all this attention because Judy and I have worked really hard these past few years, so it’s nice to get a bit of recognition for all the hard yakka. Found a rare plant ‘Mexican Mist’ at ‘Wellington Point Nursery’ Neville the owner is always willing to get in something new and interesting, the new plant should be a stunning addition to our garden. The garden is just so very dry, the strong winds we have been having have really taken all the moisture out of the ground. September’s early rain has all but been forgotten. If there’s one thing that gets me down it is the frustration of seeing the lawns turn brown and the continual fight to keep our plants alive, no wonder farming is such a stressful occupation. This spring has been bad because of the strong winds and lack of rain. It could be worse; we could be living in Brisbane which has much stricter watering regulations. I must admit I always get stressed out this time of year and it has always rained prior to our opening, just hope the rain doesn’t decide to hold off until 18, 19th November. On Saturday we had a few miniscule drops of rain followed on Sunday by real gale force winds which lasted all day. Just what we needed I don’t think. Well ‘Gardening Australia’ have come and gone and the segment will be shown on 25 November 2006 at 6:30pm on of course the ABC.

A very professional team should be a great segment. The ‘Garden Gurus’ have also been back and will show a segment on 18th November featuring our garden and how it evolved, should be good for the Sunday’s ‘Open Garden’. It’s such a busy time of the year, not enough spare hours in the day.

Soils are Soils

Having solid clay from the surface to about 80 feet deep has made gardening in our estate very hard work.
We have not forgotten that clay is a soil and that plants will grow in it, but if you want a really nice garden then you must put a lot of hard work into improving the soil.
We have had to bring in all the soil for the garden beds.
We have tried various organic mixes with only fair success and the shrinkage with some of these soils was just too much, which meant that the beds had to be done over and over again.
Some of the soil mixes were 90% sawdust or crusher dust and absolutely useless.
I am now very particular and look for a pure 80% soil mixed with coal and manure.
When establishing a new garden I usually put a layer of animal manure as a base then add the new soil and cover with compost, then cover again with sugar cane mulch. I am a mad keen composter, nothing in our garden goes to waste ‘what comes out goes back in’.
I have a Greenfield 6hp shredder which I use a lot, I put all the soft wood, leaves ect through it, then straight to the compost heap.
I also put a lot of liquid kelp into the soil, as I believe this is a great stimulant for healthy plant growth.
It does not happen overnight, it will take years to get the soil good but the end result is well worth it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some hints and Ideas

1.When hanging a few hanging baskets use barbed wire as this will stop the pots from moving.

2.Use Sugar Cane mulch, if you buy by the bale it will last longer, the coarser it the better it will let the water through. Lay to a depth of 60 to 100 mm deep. We use about 180 bales a year. Also helps prevent weeds and helps the soil.
3.Buy a shredder and recycle all or most of your garden waste, do not waste your money on an electric toy, go for a 6 to 8 hp petrol shredder. I use a 6hp Greenfield and this handles most of our garden waste.
4.All garden waste is composted including lawn clippings, I use Urea, blood and bone and mushroom compost with some crushed granite dust. This breaks down to great compost. The animal manure seems to accelerate the process.
5.We use Kelp liquid when planting all new plants into the ground and dip cuttings into a rooting compound plus water them with a kelp liquid We are great believers in Kelp.
6.If you want a cheap Water feature get a half 44 gallon plastic drum from your local produce center and place in hole and surround with rocks.
7.Second hand pavers make a great mowing strip, just a small amount of cement in a trench, a rubber mallet and line level and away you go.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Creating a Pot Water Feature

Obviously you must have a large enough clay pot that will keep the water cool enough during our hot summer so the fish do not boil.
My smallest pot contains about 150 litres of water.
The first job is to hose out the inside to get rid of loose particles.
Then the pot must be sealed, I use water based bitumen paint, two coats within two days then leave for a minimum of 10 to 14 days.
Use tap water not rain water as tap water contains more mineral content, then use a chlorine neutralizer and a pond conditioner.

I lay a besser block on the base and place the water plant pot on this block (the besser block gives fish a place to shelter).
Cover the dirt in the pot with loose gravel this will stop the dirt from making the water cloudy.
Do not use organic soil, use pure dirt.
Put your fish in and a bit of waterweed then feed the fish once a week.
If you are in Queensland depending on height of pot you may need to make it cane toad proof.

Monday, September 25, 2006

September 2006 Garden News

Well we had 25 mm of rain last night and what a blessing it was to parched gardens and lawns, more please.
Very sore today, lots of aches and pains today after cutting back six Custard Apple trees and then putting the waste through the Greenfield shredder.

It’s the last day of winter and we have had just over 90mm of rain this week. What a great way to go into spring, I am looking forward to squishing into the moist lawn as I walk around the garden.
I bought a few bags of Mushroom compost, supposed to be spent but in the last few weeks we, friends and workmates have had many kilos of beautiful mushrooms.
I have ordered a native bee hive hopefully it will all be set up in the next month.
Planted a couple of tree ferns and large birds nest anthurium’s around the garden, no matter how much I seem to plant there is always room for more.
We had a day of 70 k winds, of course from the west and this is the second worst possible thing for Heliconias other than a frost as the leaves just rip to shreds and some of the larger plants that were about to flower have been knocked down.
Have to do some repair work around the pool fence as the foxtail palms have pushed the fence posts out at an angle and to me it looks untidy, I will fix this up and put sleepers in behind the fence and fill up with soil.
This has turned out to be a bigger job (isn’t this always the case) than I thought as the Foxtail Palm roots had entwined themselves around the cement base holding the posts in and I ruined two posts trying to get the posts out, plus a few blisters.
The job is now completed and looks much better, some people would not notice but I am happy with end product.
Another big month on ‘photo bucket’ with nearly 5000 hits on my album, have to renew my yearly subscription this month, costs $25 U.S but by sending a bank cheque it ends up costing about $48 Aust. It’s worth it to see so many people enjoying our garden.
The Hippeastrums are all coming out and are quite a sight.
Everything now is so many weeks to the ‘Open Garden’ this garden opening has turned out to be the biggest event of our year.
Had a phone call from a north Brisbane garden club who want to visit our garden on a bus trip just prior to our opening, that’s ok as they will not be too much trouble.
I actually bought myself a new fishing rod this week, one of these days I will get to use it, hopefully next year I will be able to go part time to three or four days a week at my work. Working full time five days a week plus doing a seven day weekend in the garden is getting a bit too much.
Another 14mm of rain this week but followed again by some very strong westerly winds which knocked down a lot more Heliconias especially the ‘Purpurea’ which was a pity because it should of flowered this year, and I haven’t seen it in flower yet.
I picked up my hive of native bees and placed them next to a Lychee in full flower, are they ever happy little bee’s.
I am very pleased the way this blog is turning out I will make improvements as I go along, having the time to do all this is my biggest hurdle.
We are going through the ‘kitchen renovation’ phase at the moment, Judy is about to get a nice new timber kitchen with all new appliances, as I want a say, compromise is the word of this month (both of us).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

the Drought and how we cope

How have we coped?
It seems that the drought started about 4.5 years ago, about the time we joined the ‘Open Garden’ Scheme.
Up then I can remember just how hard it was to get a dry weekend where I could spray the weeds.
So, since then each progressive year has got worse, the saviour used to be the summer rain but this year even that failed.
Our first attempt to beat the drought was to sink a bore, we had high expectations and with three diviners saying we had fresh water we were very excited and confidant.
Well, the bore went down through 70 feet of solid clay, then struck basalt rock which the driller said was good news, then finally at 80 feet up the water gushed, boy was I happy.
The driller then put his salinity meter in the steam and it went completely off the dial, we had found the saltiest water he had ever seen in 20 years of drilling. That was enough, we paid him his money and he packed up and left leaving me with the biggest mess you can imagine.
The back lawn was covered in fine clay mixed with salt; I couldn’t leave it there or use it in the Garden, so all I could do was to shovel it into my box trailer and take to the dump (times two). What a job, it was hard enough getting it into the trailer but worse was to come. By the time I arrived at the dump the clay had congealed like jelly and was one sticky lump that wanted to keep my shovel every time I penetrated the lump, it was almost a scene from the movie ‘The Blob’. I did it but it has to go down as one of the worst jobs ever.
We then turned to lots of sugar cane mulch putting about 100 bales each year on the Garden, we find this much lasts the longest and really does the soil good when broken down, also because it is so coarse it lets the rain in.
Water restrictions came into force and Gardeners started to be treated as criminals, so we had to look at new avenues for watering.
We already had a small 5000 litre tank which we used to refill the swimming pool so we decided put one 15,000 litre water tank in to water one of the new shade houses I built, later we put another 15,000 tank in and have made room for one more, unfortunately there is no rebate in the Redland Shire so I am hoping the State Government will ease their rebate criteria. When we get the next tank we will have 50,000 litres of water stored (providing it rains enough).

I have a hose connected to the tanks and have a small electric pump attached to a sack truck, which can be moved between tanks.
We also never plant without putting water crystals and kelp in the hole first.
Hopefully we will be as drought proof as we can.
I am just so envious of those people with dams or good underground water.
P.S: We have now put the extra tank in and the State Government will give us a $1000 rebate and all tanks are now full to the brim thanks to some wonderful spring rain.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Newspaper Article about Garden

August 2006 Garden news

I have decided to now submit a monthly diary and articles to my blog just to let fellow gardeners know what has happened in the ‘Wintle Garden’ during the previous month.
Only 10 weeks to go for our fifth ‘Open Garden’. This year should be the best yet.
I have put some video clips onto my ‘Photobucket’ site, the video is from the ‘2004 Open Garden’ so things have changed quite a bit since then, must of, because I seem to be working or building all weekend every weekend. Anyway, although it does not reflect how the Garden looks at the moment it will give you some idea of the layout and size of our Garden. My ‘photo bucket’ album has had over 3500 hits this month.
A garden is always evolving and changing and ours is no different.
The first job was to raise a sunken water feature, basically it was a plastic drum cut in half and buried into the Garden. Well, since placing it we have built new Gardens and have raised the Garden level to the point where the water feature looked low and stupid. So out came the tools and it’s a bugger of a job to get out due to the underneath suction, but after some real effort it came out and was repositioned under a new bed of crusher dust, rocks replaced and new fish put in.
I had to clean out another large water pot as the water had become stagnant, another dirty job.
We had a visit from ‘Garden Dan’ and his wife and they left with a boot full of Bromeliads to start their collection.
I am still laying Sugar Cane (58 bales) mulch in the hope that we may get more rain soon.

We had the August meeting of ITFGS about 30 members came and had a wander around the yard and bought some plants, I gave a bit of a talk about our Garden. It was not the best time to view the Garden as a lot of the more colourful plants like the Costus, Gingers and Caladiums are still dormant, and of course the Day lilies are still a couple of months off flowering. We will be holding the Society Christmas Party in December and the Garden will be at its best then.
The ‘Open Garden’ magazine came out this month and all the small photos in the Queensland section are from our Garden.
The frame and base went in for the new Water Tank, had a small painful episode when the sledgehammer hit my foot and not the supporting stake ‘ouch’. There is a lesson to be learnt, never hold the stake in place with your foot and never ever be wearing thongs; I should be old enough to know better.
The new tank arrived and set in place, then I fixed up all the plumbing, the overflow will drain into the adjacent 15.000 litre tank, which will be the one we pump from.
One of the big jobs each year about this time is to trim and prune our five Custard Apple trees; if we don’t do this then they will be massive. All except for the hardwood is put through the Greenfield Shredder and mulched; it is then composted and ready to put back on the Garden in about six months.
Made a couple of Bromeliad stands for Judy and welded heavy-duty castors on the big galvanised plant benches that we use during the ‘Open Garden’.
Put a set of solar lights in the roof of pool gazebo.
Judy had a pre “Open Garden’ Bromeliad sale, I set up some shelters and plant stands, the interest was poor but Judy ended up selling enough plants to make it worthwhile.
It’s hard to think that spring is only round the corner, what happened to winter? It was certainly one of the warmest winters I can remember. I think the Garden will do all sorts of strange things this year as in plants blooming early.
Where are the westerly winds? We have only had a couple of days of them so far and it is now very, very dry, looks like August will be a month without any rain whatsoever.
That’s all for this month, just hope that when I post the September blog that I can mention all the rainfall we had (I live in hope).

My weekend

On Friday I left work at lunch time knowing it was going to be a busy weekend.
First job was to clean out a drain as heavy rain was forecast, then as I had the Karcher out I cleaned the weed growing on the waterfall, this is a bit awkward as I have to catch the dirty water as it falls.
I then cleaned all the dirty filters then topped the pond up with rainwater.
I then dug the compost over and also dug in some nitrogen and blood and bone, as it was defiantly going to rain this would accelerate the composting process.
I then hopped on the ride on and mowed our one acre.
I then remembered that I had forgotten to pick up the fish for tea, so I hopped on my Motor bike and rode down to the local fish shop and bought some nice whiting.
By the time I got back it was time to have a look at
So that was Friday afternoon.
Saturday was decision day, do I wait for the rain to fall or do I make a start, I made the start by putting the trailer on the car, driving it round to the back yard.
I then got out my loppers and pole pruner and set about trimming a large overgrown ‘Barbados Cherry’ and ‘Brazil Cherry’ that needed a heavy prune, by the time I finished I had filled a very big trailer.
I then took this load to the dump.
Judy then said she wanted one of the rainforest tracks widened, so out came the rocks and then replaced in their new position.
I then had a few new trees/plants to put in, dig holes, soak with kelp, get some new soil then fertilise.
I then painted part of the fence surrounding the pool area.
Onto for a while then end of day.
Sunday arrived and as usual we get up early and go to the Chandler markets; we actually were foolish enough to think it would be too wet to go and that we could have a sleep in, ha-ha.
Bought the usual fruit and veges, no plants this weekend.
Decided to replace the cracked pot built into Gazebo so instead of buying a new one for $200 I decided to move the big pot from the front yard and replace it with a nice flowering shrub.
Had to repair two tubes in the sack truck first, then get the big heavy so and so pot out and into the new area, took quite an effort, then getting it into place was difficult as the base was larger than the hole, alterations were required, did that and still too big, next thought was to place a couple of besser blocks on the base to lift pot, it worked. Then I realised that the previous waterproofing had worn in a few places so that was another job to recoat, lucky I had found a new tin of pond seal at the markets the other week.
Cut a few Bromeliad pups off mothers for Judy, then decided to spray the whole garden with kelp and power feed.
Time to walk around the garden and feed all the fish in various pots around the place.
Has a look at where the new 15,000 lite water tank is going and decided to pull out the rocks surrounding the soon to be demised lychee tree then knocked cement off them and placed them in a pile for future use.
I then pondered for a while how I would build the base for the tank and what materials I would need.
Too late to do any more work outside, so onto ausgarden for a while.
It’s been a very busy weekend and I need a nice meal and a beer.
Judy obliged and we had a lovely meal of Roast Lamb, potatoes and peas with mint sauce, and for pudding stewed Rhubarb, apples and pears bought that morning at the markets.
Too tired to do anything else other that watches the magnificent new Documentary on the ABC followed by Bleak House.
Monday completely refreshed by my lazy weekend ready for another five days of work.
By the way it did not rain.

Promoting your Open Garden

Your Garden is coming up for opening and of course you want to show it off to the most people possible because you are proud of the result of years of hard work and effort.
Do not expect the ‘Open Garden’ Co-Ordinator to do everything for you, remember they are very busy and have many other Gardens to look after.
You know more about your Garden than anyone else, so why not do most of the groundwork and promotion yourself, and you can start this several months ahead of your opening.
The first point to remember is that there is no other Garden in Australia like yours. Your Garden is unique and this uniqueness is what you should promote. Highlight what your Garden has to offer be it a specific plant types, landscaping, sculptures, or the wildlife that visit or live in your Garden ect.
Look up the Local Garden Clubs and offer to talk about your Garden, how it started, how it has changed, what there is to see and any specific plant interest you have, you can also talk about how you came into the ‘Open Garden Scheme’ and what it has done for you. Pass a few flyers around while you are there. You will be well received.
Most Nurseries’ will put out your Flyers regardless of whether you are having a plant sale or not. If you do not have plants for sale why not contact your local friendly Nursery and see if they are interested in setting up a plant stall, suggest they make a small contribution of their profits to a charity 10% seems to be the usual.
If you live in one of the big City’s then you will have either Community TV or Radio, contact them and tell them about your Garden, who knows you could be the ‘Gardening Guru’ of the future. Here in Brisbane we were lucky to have a Gardening show on Briz 31 which has a large following, they were always looking to film small but informative segments, it is surprising how big an audience some of these niche shows have.
Local Newspapers are always looking for interesting local news; your Garden Opening is news and brings a lot of people into the area. Write a story about your Garden and send it in to them, include a few photos if you can, the more interesting you make it the more likely they are to run a story.
Take a chance and contact the major newspaper in your area, you have nothing to lose.
Do you have a Digital Camera? Do you take photos of your plants, gardens, projects ect? If so start up an Internet Photo Album ‘Photobucket’ is probably the best, they will give you some free space and later on if you are happy you can go unlimited for $25 US dollars per annum.
Let people know your Photo web site address, go onto sites such as ABC chat, garden webs, local Nursery’s, ect. Even some of your local Organisations will have their own websites, why not ask for a link to your album. This is what I have done and during one month the album received 7000 hits.
If people can be tempted by photos of your Garden on a computer screen then they may be tempted to see it in real life.
Do you have a Neighbourhood Watch group in your area, if so approach them and see if they will advertise your opening in their newsletter?
Produce stores and Landscaping yards are good to place flyers; most Gardeners buy either fertilizers or soils so next times you are in the store or yard ask about leaving a few flyers there.
Real Estate Agents are always keen to promote the local area and will take flyers.
Your Local Library is also good, just think how many people go there to borrow Garden books.
Local Tourism Office will take flyers; to them it all goes towards the promotion of the Local area.
Refreshments are always a good idea. With our Open Garden the ‘Lions Club’ completely organise the food and drinks and the home made cakes go really well. The secret with the food and drink is not to charge too much. The ‘Lions’ also run a raffle, which has a nice plant donated by us as a prize, plus a couple of other items donated by businesses in the area. For example The ‘Sands Hotel’ has donated a magnum of wine and the ‘Waterfork’ people donate a ‘Waterfork’ in turn for us allowing them to demonstrate the fork on the open weekend. The ‘Lions’ usually make about $1500 or more on our weekend which is then distributed to several charities just in time for Christmas.
Think outside of the square, get out there and tell the world how good your Garden is.
This means that you have to target a specific group of people like yourselves who love Gardening.
Happy Gardening

Our 2006 Open Garden

It’s worth the trip; it’s worth the time to enjoy Ian and Judy Wintle’s
‘Giving Garden’ situated on Brisbane’s Bay side suburb of Birkdale.

After 20 years of Service in the RAAF and nearly as many addresses Judy, our two sons and I were looking forward to putting roots down in one place. We acquired our one-acre block here in Birkdale in 1988 and proceeded to build a house that would actually be our permanent home.
It was a bare block so we started well and truly from scratch. We decided from the outset that we would have a reasonably nice Garden, one that would return something back to us. It must be pointed out that we have done ALL the work ourselves, no Landscape Gardeners in our yard. It is basically a gardener’s garden built by sheer hard work and effort, the only help being shovel and wheelbarrow.
We started off the Garden by planting a variety of Tropical Fruit Trees and basically lots of lawn. It was not until after three or four years after our eldest son became a paraplegic through a Motor Bike accident in 1996 that we really started to put our heart and soul into the garden, which then became an integral part of our own rehabilitation, ‘the harder you work the less time you have to think’. It hasn’t been easy, very hard work ‘poor soil’ and ‘no underground water’. We rely on rainfall and the Garden hose; sometimes I wonder with the changing dryer weather pattern if we should have taken up a less stressful hobby. In 2005 we put in a 15000-litre rainwater tank and two more in 2006 (no rebate in Redlands). We now have four tanks with combined storage of 50,000 litres of rainwater for use in the garden.
The soil is solid clay down to about 70 feet (we know this because we drilled for fresh water and found salt water at 80 feet), so over the years we have had to trailer in many metres of different mulch’s. We bring in quite a lot of Stable and Mushroom Manure and compost everything that is able to be put through the Greenfield Shredder and use all the Lawn Clippings.
We now have 77 Tropical Fruit and Nut trees, with approximately 40 different edible varieties, we have Sapotes, Star Apples, Longans, Custard Apples, Sapodillas, Hog Plum’s Wax Jambus, Lychees and of course several types of Mango’s just to name a few. We also have a productive vegetable garden, which reflects the time we spent living in Malaysia, it is full of Asian vegetables. No matter what time of year it is we can always go outside and find something to eat, be it fruit or vegetable. Our Garden is a ‘Giving Garden’ and if we cannot eat it the Bats and Cockatoos will.
The garden changes every year and is still evolving, it will never be a truly Sub-Tropical Garden due to lack of water and poor soil. I endeavour to do at least one major landscaping project and a few minor ones each year until I feel the garden is complete (very close now). 2006 will be our fifth year in the ‘Open Garden Scheme’.
Even if you have visited our Garden on a previous occasion please rest assured that you will see enough new additions that you will not be disappointed on your return visit.
The main addition during 2005 was the 100 sq metre Bromeliad shade area, which you walk through on your way to the first rainforest walk. There was also a new Garden that complements and joins two existing tracks and Gardens. There are a number of new Projects completed in 2006 including a large front and rear expansion/refurbishment of the pool area garden which now includes an African thatched roofed oval Gazebo with timber deck, two more 15000 litre rainwater tanks and refurbishment of several garden areas including another water feature.
The garden featured regularly on Briz31 and has featured on Brisbane Extra the Sunday Mail and the ‘Courier Mail’. It has also been judged to be one of the best 50 Gardens in Australia by ‘Better Homes and Garden’ magazine.
You will be able to walk through the many rainforest tracks, which are covered by a canopy of exotic, and different Tropical fruit trees. The under plantings are full of many spectacular mass plantings of rare Bromeliads, Heliconias, Gingers, Orchids, Costus, Caladiums, Cordylines , Calatheas as well as many other varieties of unusual plants we collect throughout the year.
There are many water features spread around the Garden. These range from a Goldfish pond with a large running waterfall, Balinese water pots and small in ground ponds all filled with plants and fish. Heliconia’s are a relatively new interest, we now have over 50 different varieties, and we also have 33 different Costus, 53 Gingers and a selection of Calatheas. You will be able to admire the refurbished swimming pool area with its expanded gardens, new Gazebo and exotic garden. You are also welcome to walk through the Bromeliad and Orchid shade houses that are crammed full of hundreds of colourful plants.
*Extras*. Kasper Schnyder (Fruit and Nut Tree Expert) will be on hand to answer all your questions on Fruit and Nut growing in the sub-tropics and Norm Robinson will be demonstrating the ‘Waterfork’.
Our Garden gives immense pleasure, relaxation and tranquillity just by being in it’s within its beautiful grounds It is interesting experience and one that is able to relieve the stresses of a working day, it is a garden that gives us something back in return, and we are very proud to share it with you during our ‘Open Garden’. Judy and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Please feel free to talk to us during your visit, we would love to meet you and will try and answer all your questions to the best of our ability. The ‘Lions Club’ will be at our Garden all weekend and will provide refreshing morning and afternoon Teas, also a sausage sizzle lunch. The ‘Lions’ Ladies will lovingly home cook all the cakes and biscuits and all proceeds from the food will go to a ‘Lions’ Club charity just in time for Christmas. Lions will also run a raffle with nice prizes such as a ‘Waterfork’, wine, bales of sugar cane mulch and a bromeliad.
It’s worth a visit’
This is a garden that you can easily spend an hour or two in and feel that you have spent your $5:00 entry fee wisely.
You will also have the opportunity to purchase a large selection of named beautiful Bromeliads and other quality plants all reasonably priced and propagated by Judy.

An Open Garden

Thank goodness I did not have the problems with a tooth abscess like I had last year which was the worst pain I have ever experienced and never want to go through that again.
Having been through three previous Open Gardens we were expecting the bargain Plant buyers first and true to form they started to arrive at 9:00am.
Judy had prepared several hundred or so beautiful Bromeliads all in flower and these were snapped up very quickly, one purchaser remarked that she had previously bought a Bromeliad for $60 that Judy had for sale for $25.
Needless to say lots of people went away very satisfied owners of new plants.
After the initial rush of plant buyers people then started to explore our Garden, our philosophy is that on this open weekend our Garden belongs to our visitors who are free to spend as much time as they like in the Garden and hopefully go away with a good feeling and perhaps some ideas for their own Garden.
When you think about it, a Garden is much like a work of art, it is designed and created with just as much passion and creativity, it is then shown to the Public through Art Galleries, Open Garden Scheme ect for people to enjoy. Perhaps the only difference is that a Painting/sculpture once completed is finished but a Garden is never finished.

It had rained a couple of weeks prior to our opening so the place was looking green and lush, after another year of drought conditions the rain was most welcome as we had started to despair. Nature is truly amazing; the difference the rain made was incredible. We actually had a green Garden for people to walk through.
We asked the inventor of the ‘Waterfork’ (Norm Robinson) to demonstrate and he was very pleased with the results for the weekend. We had asked him to provide one of his ‘Waterforks’ as a ‘Lions Club’ Raffle prize as his payment to be in our Garden Opening.
We have always asked the ‘Lions Club’ to cater for our ‘Open Garden’ openings and again they did this very well, they also ran a Raffle which had some nice prizes including a nice ‘Bromeliad’ donated by Judy, a ‘waterfork’ , a magnum of wine donated by the ‘Sands Hotel’ and ten bundles of ‘Sugar Cane ‘mulch donated by the grower.
On Sunday we have a different type of visitor, these are the ‘lookers’ some of whom spent up to four hours in our Garden, most were enthusiasts and had a million questions or photographed everything of interest.
The ‘Lions Club’ made almost $1800 dollars for charity, they were very happy with this result and so were we as our back Patio area had been converted to an outside rest area where visitors could sit down and participate in some nice home cooked food, a refreshments then continue the tour of the Garden.
We try to make our Garden opening an interesting experience with plant sales, food and drinks, expert advice on Tropical Fruit growing and care, demonstrations of Composting techniques, demonstrations of Garden Equipment and last but not least the fact that Judy and I took the time to meet and greet as many visitors as we were able to, we also had lots of little native animals hidden in logs and trees around the Garden which were a hit with the Children.
We will open again as we find the open weekend to be a fantastic experience and a real pleasure to meet so many like minded people who are interested in Gardening.
The main comments in the visitor’s book was that how relaxing and tranquil our garden was, not one bad comment from nearly 800 visitors.
After two hectic days and hundreds of visitors later it’s time to head up to the Sunshine Coast for a well-deserved break.
A week after the opening and I am already thinking about new ideas and plans for next year. Can I be cured?


In the few rare moments when I get time to sit under the back Patio and enjoy the view our back Garden my mind starts to wander, this is the time my wife dreads, it is where I get my Garden inspirations and of course that means time, money and lots of hard work.
Having been married longer than a life sentence for Murder (only joking of course) my wife can read me like a book, she knows ‘the look’.
My ‘mind Garden’ always starts big and grand but always ends in a compromise and the end result is usually good.
I am not ashamed that I have a fixation with curves; all my Gardens have sweeping curves this is something I will not compromise on. There is obviously no underlying motive,other than being a mere male, hope that does not sound too sexist, it must be my age.
I am able to picture a new Garden in my mind (dangerous) but just cannot put that mind picture onto paper; I just roll out the Garden hose (for the curves) collect the rocks, fire up the cement mixer and go on from there.
My wife and I can disagree with the type of plants to go into the new Garden. I have
learnt over the past 38 years not to argue, so sometimes she wins, and sometimes she
will lose, at least I have the advantage of knowing where the ‘Roundup’ is kept (what a great invention that is).
I particularly dislike what I call rubber plants (succulents) funny how they don’t do
well in our Garden, must be the unsuitable soil.
All jokes aside we have ended up with a Garden with something virtually for everyone, it is a Garden full of compromises just like a good relationship.

Manure for thought

I love manure, the older and smellier the better.
The odour is a gardener’s delight.
I am lucky as there is a stable just down the road and I can fill up a trailer anytime for $10.00, it’s hard work shovelling especially if it’s a bit wet and tends to make a bit of a mess inside the car after finished, wife loves the smell ‘’I think not’.
I do not but it on the Garden pure, but mix with lawn clippings and waste I have put through the Greenfield Shredder.
The Greenfield shredder is probably the most useful piece of equipment that I have, it shreds just about everything and never clogs up. I have learnt that about the only thing not to put in are the fibrous plants like gingers and Heliconias.
My ideal compost consists of manure, lawn clippings, shredded material, crusher dust, urea and blood and bone.

Leave for a few months and you end up with great compost.
I do not turn the heap over as my heaps tend to be too big and also I do not have the space to put the turned over material, doing it my way just takes a while longer to compost.
I do not put the vegetable scraps on the heap as we have two large areas where we breed compost worms, so all household scraps feeds the worms, no meat or fish of course.
You realise the value of composting when you think back to what our soil was like initially, where the developers scraped and sold all the topsoil on our estate leaving only silty clay top, and compare to now where the garden soil is now a rich dark loam.