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Our Open Garden Story

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Joined: Mar 28, 2007
Posts: 41
Location: Brisbane, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:36 pm    Post subject: Our Open Garden Story Reply with quote

Ian and Judy Wintle’s Birkdale Garden 2007
‘A True Gardener’s Garden’

It’s worth the trip; it’s worth the time to enjoy Ian and Judy Wintle’s
‘Giving Garden’ situated on Brisbane’s bayside 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. We also have another 15000 litre tank on order. This should make us ‘drought proof’, only problem is the 22 week wait.
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 have about 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, 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, I have said this over and over again and still find more projects to do). This year will be our sixth year in the ‘Open Garden Scheme’.
For those of you that have been regular visitors to our garden, you would have seen many changes and this year is no exception with enough new additions that you will not be disappointed on your return visit.
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. I have also extended the pool area deck to meet the surrounding gardens complete with a rectangular water feature, and of course many, many new plantings.
With the prolonged drought our Garden practices and our ability to cope has been severely tested and we have come through the worst even becoming a finalist in the Queensland Governments recent ‘Water-Wise’ Garden competition.
In 2006 the garden featured on the ABCs ‘Gardening Australia’ and Channel 9s ‘Garden Gurus’ and has previously featured in newspaper articles. 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 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 (I must admit the tropical plants have bit hit hard with this winters extreme cold). You will be able to admire the refurbished swimming pool area. 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 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 (‘Young Care received $2000 last year). Lions will also run a raffle with nice donated prizes such as a ‘waterfork’, compost makers, worm farms, bales of sugar cane mulch, natra-kelp and bromeliads.
‘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 and if you have any suggestions for us we would be keen to hear your ideas.
You will also have the opportunity to purchase a large selection of beautiful named Bromeliads of different varieties and other quality plants all very reasonably priced and propagated by Judy.
In November our Garden will be open to the public as part of Australia’s ‘Open Garden’ Scheme.
‘Open Garden’
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th November 2007
9:30am to 4:30pm
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:
Blog: ianjudy @
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