Monday, October 11, 2010

Brisbane Open Garden


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 or heavy equipment 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  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 wondered 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 then two more in 2006 (no rebate in Redlands). Another two 15000 litre and one 5000 litre tank were purchased in 2008 and in 2010 we put in our largest tank of 24500 litres; this now means that we have seven tanks with combined storage of 107,000  litres of rainwater for use in the garden. We hope that this makes us drought proof.
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 petrol shredder and use all the lawn clippings. Our main mulch is sugar cane of which we use about 160 bales each year.
We have over 70 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.  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), I must admit I have said this over and over again and still find more projects to do.
For those who have been regular visitors to our garden, you would have seen many changes and this year is no exception with five changes made to the garden. Visitors will not be disappointed on their return visit.
This year will be our first open garden when we have not been in drought.
With the years of drought our Garden practices and our ability to cope has been severely tested and we have had to become ‘smart gardeners’.
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 colourful plants that we collect throughout the year.
There are many water features spread around the Garden. These range from a Goldfish pond with a running waterfall, water pots and small in ground ponds all filled with plants and fish.  Heliconia’s, gingers, costus and calatheas abound.  There is a lovely swimming pool area with its own little rain forest area. You are also welcome to walk through the bromeliad and orchid shade houses that are crammed full of hundreds of colourful plants.
By using good smart gardening practices utilising natural soil conditioners and fertilizers, rainwater, mulching, worm farms, composting and native beehives this garden remains healthy and productive all year round.
Our garden gives immense pleasure, relaxation and tranquillity just by being in it’s within its beautiful grounds It is interesting garden and one that is was 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 our visitors during our ‘Open Garden’.
This garden is not fancy it’s all about plants and landscaping.
 It's been a big year with two television segments, runners up for 'Australian Gardener of the Year' and lots of guest speaking at garden clubs.
This will be our very first year not in drought, so the garden should look spectacular.


BernieH said...

I saw the TV segment about your garden ... it is truly a magnificent garden and something to be very proud of!

It's refreshing to something done by the gardeners themselves and not, as you say, by the professional landscapers designers and their team of labourers. Not that I would want to put them out of work ... but it's nice to see a garden that's been achieved through hard yakka ... it provides lots of inspiration. Well done.

Marleneann said...

I saw it too!
Great garden and nice owners.