Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Some Toowoomba Gardens

In choosing which gardens to visit while in Toowoomba we were spoilt for choice. As well as the prize winning gardens from the garden competition, there were exhibition gardens raising money for varous charities. We chose three of the exhibition gardens.
The first thing I noticed as we walked up to the first garden were the clivias in bloom along their front fenceline.
Clivias of various shades were in full bloom

There was a bushhouse with ferns and begonias

bromeliads growing happily on tree stumps

a rustic fence feature

and beds of flowers
lots of flowers
so many flowers - so much colour

I love the way this conifer had been trimmed and trained to provide shelter for shade-loving bromeliads.

If they'll grow successfully in our garden, I think I could fall in love with abulitons.

 The second garden was just around the corner but quite different in character. The landscaping was very modern and precise, with an oriental theme through much of the garden.

wide pathways, large rocks, camelias growing on the slopes

an abuliton trained as a standard

their pond

from the other direction - a waterfall
Overlooking the waterfall, a weeping cherry, conifers and maples

Rocky slopes were planted with low growing clipped shrubs and flowers


ground orchids

The third garden was different again. My first impression was it was a very old traditional garden. I was right and wrong. The house was built in 1870 which for Europe would not be old, but considering Australia was only first discovered by the British in 1770, it's old by our standards. The home played host to the first Carnival of Flowers committee meeting in 1930 and some of the plants in the garden are very old. However, it fell into disrepair and the current owners began to restore it only 18 months ago.

They discovered a photo of the tree, a pin oak, to the right of the house in a photo taken in 1930. It was  waist high at the time.

The tennis court is a new addition.

 Most of the garden is being restored in keeping with the house and its history
 including the choice of plants.

Don't children just love a pond.  

I loved the bed of pansies along the front of the house.

Each of these gardens is open for the entire ten days of the carnival. Apart from the pleasure of sharing their garden, the owners receive nothing. All proceeds go to charity. I left with huge admiration for the work these generous gardeners have not only put into preparing their gardens, but the commitment to having people stream through the gardens each day.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

I love a parade.

Toowoomba is only an hour from here. I've been there many times but this was my first visit to their Carnival of Flowers. The carnival lasts for ten days with a food and wine festival, carnival rides and sideshow alley, free entertainment, a garden competition, garden tours and exhibitions from local garden clubs and artists, and more. This is their website.

We only went for one day and wanted to visit a number of gardens (I'll post about them later) but first I had to see the parade.

There were floats by many local businesses, charities and community groups.

and marching bands

and even dogs.

There were people on stilts

more floats 

 people in colourful costumes

and even dogs in costume

A number of the floats were promoting causes such as breast cancer and koala protection or highlighting the regions surrounding Toowoomba - most of which are farming communities.

The floats were dripping with flowers - real flowers mostly. It's no wonder Toowoomba calls itself the garden city.

and did I mention there were dogs?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Visit to Westwood Hall

One of the advantages of living in the sub-tropics is the range of plants and garden styles that flourish. While we try to push the envelope towards the tropics, other gardeners prefer to grow temperate climate plants.
The garden we visited yesterday was completely different to ours but just over a kilometer away. Westwood Hall is open under the Australian Open Garden Scheme. We hope to visit quite a few gardens from the book over the coming months.

This garden is set on 1.2 acres - not much larger than ours.
The original trees have been retained to provide shelter for more sensitive plants. Pathways through the garden take you uphill and down through a series of terraces and  "garden rooms".
John, the gardener, a retired Anglical priest, and his partner Kim, told us they chose the land to create the garden. John walked the land, pictured the design of his garden and started planting a couple of years before he built the house. He said the land had been part of a dairy farm prior to being divided for housing, so the ground had many years of fertilising before they began to care for it.

At the top of the hill they have created a lookout. 
 From here you can see over most of the garden.
They grow tulips in a parterre garden,
and cherry blossoms and other temperate climate trees,
and roses, lots of roses,
 and many types of flowers I haven't seen before.
They are successfully growing quite a number of plants that the books and "experts" say can't be grown in Queensland. They said they've learnt what can grow, through trial and error (and I'm sure a fair degree of TLC). Although our average temperatures are quite mild and warm, this area has its share of cold as well. I'm guessing where we have to protect our plants in Winter, their greatest challenge would be our hot Summers....anyway, on with the tour....

 I was intrigued by their vegie patch.

 It was so neat - nothing like ours.
Plastic owls stood guard to scare the birds away.
They'd be horrified if they saw the way we encourage birds into our garden.
I loved the strawberry patch.
 Again there was an owl standing guard, and a plastic snake to scare the birds.  
 Even the potting area in the corner of the garden behind the shed was tidy.
I like to check out the work area of a garden -
 the compost bins, potting area, the wheelbarrows and shovels.

 Towards the bottom the the hill the pathway opened to a grassed sunny area planted with a range of cottage plants and annuals, and at the centre of the garden was a very large lily pond. John explained that the pond served a practical purpose in collecting run-off from heavy rain as well as its cooling effect and beauty.
 Hard to tell from the photo, but the fish were huge.
There was much more, but the battery on my camera went flat.
When will I learn to check  it before we go looking at gardens?
Inspired by the garden, we went home and spent the afternoon tidying our vegie patch.


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