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. Our main mulch is sugar cane of which we use about 160 bales each year.
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 Jambu, 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 great 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 (almost there). This year will be our sixth 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 were 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.
In 2007 the main addition has been an extension to an existing garden featuring a ‘water lily’ pond. This is a stunning and colourful addition to the garden and just about completes the landscaping.
In 2006 the garden featured on the ABCs ‘Gardening Australia’ and Channel 9s ‘Garden Gurus’ and has previously featured in articles in both 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 splantings 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 about 50 different varieties, and we also have 30 different Costus, 50 Gingers and a selection of Calatheas. You will be able to admire the refurbished swimming pool area with its expanded gardens, new Gazebo and Bromeliad/exotic garden. You are also welcome to walk through the Bromeliad and Orchid shade houses that are crammed full of hundreds of colourful plants.
As usual our good friend Kaspar 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 again be demonstrating the ‘Waterfork’. Our friends Doug and Kaye from NatraKelp will have a display stand selling their kelp products and our friend David will have a promotional stand for his agency selling pots and fertilizers at a special ‘Open Garden’ price.
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 ‘Waterfork’, Compost maker, worm farm, 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 leave relaxed and satisfied and hopefully with new ideas for your garden.
You will also have the opportunity to purchase a large selection of beautiful named Bromeliads and other quality plants all reasonably priced and propagated by Judy.
In November our Garden will be open as part of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.
Our ‘Open Garden’ will be held on Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th November 2007 between the hours of 9:30am to 4:30pm at 5 Carlton Court, Birkdale (UBD Brisbane 184:A1)
An admission fee of $5 is charged by the ‘Open Garden scheme’ this helps develop Community Gardens throughout Australia. Children under 18 admitted free.
Please enjoy our Garden. Ian & Judy Wintle.
Internet Photo site: http://smg.photobucket.com./albums/v160/Ianrobert