Posts Tagged With: garden

Another adventure is around the corner…

On Tuesday we leave for Sydney to spend 5 days in  Airbnb accommodation. What??? You have never heard of Airbnb? Check the details here. I will tell you more about it when we get there.

Then we board the “Oosterdam” on Sunday March 22nd for a 2 week cruise to New Zealand.

But I am getting ahead of my self first I have to pack….

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Oh dear, will it ever fit in…

This is quite difficult for me as we have not been on this sort of holiday before, previously our travels have been exploratory experiences spending months, even years travelling around Australia in Matilda, and only needing basic shorts, jeans and t-shirts. Before that our overseas travel was with a minimum of clothes in a small backpack.

 So I am not too sure what I will need.

I am dithering about how many “posh” type things I will need. I can picture me swanning around the pool deck in my usual shorts and tops and I don’t think they will fit the bill so I have actually been shopping!!!!! Not easy as I don’t like and don’t have the patience for it, plus I never seem to find things I like… Any way this time I took friend June with me. She LOVES shopping, so I think between us we found some suitable cruise type outfits. Must say I don’t exactly feel comfortable all dressed up… Maybe that will change after 2 weeks of leisure…

Jack had a great find at his favourite shopping outlet, the op shop… He found a brand new navy blue blazer style sports jacket, very smart, and a matching pair of navy trousers and a very attractive tie for the grand total of $18, $10 for the jacket, $6 for the trousers and $2 for the tie. He is always finding great buys at the op shops. I never can… So now he is all set to be invited to sit at the captain’s table.

So for the past few weeks I have been preparing the garden to look after its self. Weeding, pruning, mulching and today the mower man came to give the edges and lawn a final cut.

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It has been a long hot and wet summer and the flowers are slowly giving way to the ravages of the climate. The Bird of Paradise is starting to wilt

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And the ginger flowers are past their best. But many other flowers are still giving me a lot of pleasure.

Remember the small veggie patch? (click on the link to revisit it)

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Well the caterpillars are still munching the kale, but I am getting a few feeds from what they leave.

Beans are doing well

Beans are doing well

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And I have filled the rest with herbs. Notice the thick layer of sugarcane mulch…

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This was the sunflower patch, they are long gone and I have put in some small cuttings of a croton bush that I have been nurturing along. Can you see them among the protective mulch?

The compost bin is almost full.

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Jack has given the fish ponds their annual clean.

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Here are some more views from around the garden.

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Here it is all trimmed and tidy, I will miss it…

Categories: Australia, garden, photos | Tags: , , , | 43 Comments

Have you ever tried kale?

You may have heard that kale is one of those super foods that will do wonders for you.

I have never tasted it.

As you may know I created a small raised vegetable patch. (check it out here) One of the vegies I put in was kale. But, oh dear, the caterpillars took a real liking to it. (check that disaster here)

Well it has been an ongoing battle and the caterpillars seem to be winning.

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The silver beet behind the kale is doing very well, completely caterpillar free, and we have had a number of meals from it.

So yesterday I decided to admit defeat and buy some kale…

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kale pc 005_3264x2448

This is the curly kale, a different type to our smoother leafed variety in the garden.

Well! Have you tasted kale?

For the first meal, after checking through Google and my on line Taste Recipes, I decided to lightly steam it, as I do with the silver beet. Not good, it was rather tough and chewy. Quite an earthy sort of taste.

Next I found a recipe for a kale and herb pesto. Using the food processor to finely pulverize it and adding garlic, herbs and parmesan cheese then mixed with a dribble of oil and lemon juice. It was more of a success used as a topping for a hearty bean, tomatoe and quinoa casserole. (How healthy is all that!!!)

Tonight I tried making kale chips. I have read that they are the latest in food fashion. The verdict? Not bad, but Jack found the crumbly texture stuck in his throat and he had to gulp down some water. I thought I had maybe overdone the dash of soy sauce which made them rather salty.  

So I think I will stay with the silver beet, spinach, cabbage and broccoli for our greens, and not feel too bad about the caterpillars munching on the kale in the garden, at least they are leaving the other vegies alone…

Has any one out there had more success with kale? If so what is your secret?

This is just to add a little sunshine for my friends in the north…

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Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, kale, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , | 69 Comments

Sunflowers and then the rain…

Welcome to South-East Queensland.

For days the sun has shone and the heat rose to a steamy, humid, almost unbearable 34C.

It didn’t cool down much during the night. The hottest night in 10 years the media told us. They also said 83% of Brisbane households have an air conditioner, and they estimated nearly all of them were turned on.

We are in the 17% that do not have an air conditioner. It was a difficult night….

But the sunflowers love this weather.

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Then today the storm came. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning

sunflowers and rain pc 010_4000x3000It poured down in sheets and bounced and swirled along the driveway.

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The fish ponds over flowed.

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The paved area round the side of the house became a mini lake.

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And the rain forest area lived up to its name.

I will now be able to roll the hose up and put it away for a few days.


Categories: Australia, garden, Queensland, storms, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 56 Comments

CALAMITY, catastrophic caterpillars.


Oh dear what a disaster and disappointment. Overnight the kale crop has almost been decimated by dozens of greedy green caterpillars.

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How did they infiltrate through the netting I so carefully put in place?

I’m devastated. Carefully I pick as many off as I can find and feed them to the fish.

Look at the lettuce.

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Despite all my loving attention they are bolting off to seed.

Then I walk round to the back garden and my lovely big Cycad is in tatters. A small blue moth has laid its bugs which are now powering through the fronds.

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With all the rain we have had and the heat and humidity the garden is a breeding ground for all kinds of voracious bugs and beetles.

But there are still some highlights to bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

Look at the sunflowers…

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I can see a little ray of sunshine peeping out of the green foliage. So far so good.

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The bat plant loves this hot humid weather and has rewarded me with this amazing flower. 

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In the shade of the frangipani tree the Hoya winds its tendrils around and today I noticed this delicate beauty. The first of the summer display.

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Another Heliconia has come into flower. This is a dwarf variety, I think it is called Red Christmas. It only grows to approximately three-foot where the other varieties tower up to six-foot and over.

Gardening is always a mine field of ups and downs. Challenges and rewards that make gardening an endlessly absorbing addiction.

Finally I would like to show you this strange-looking flower. Can any one identify it for me?

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In August 2012 we stayed in a camp ground in a small town called Pine Creek in the central out back area. As we walked round the town I noticed a lady watering her garden and we hung over her fence chatting.

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It was a riot of colour and stood out from all the other dry, dusty out back gardens along the street.

I commented on the strange-looking red flower growing profusely around her garden and like all generous natured gardeners around the world she gave me some seeds.

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I carefully carried them back home and eventually the seeds were scattered in a pot, then moved into the garden and true to what that generous lady told me, they grew like weeds and are now spreading all over my garden. I did take a note of their name but that bit of paper disappeared.

Can anyone help me?

Thanks to Toni , one of my blogging buddies, I have found out that this plant is cocks comb. this is what Google says

“Cockscomb flowers are also known as Wool Flowers or Brain Celosia, suggestive of a highly colored brain. The flowers belong to the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Cockscomb blooms with a compacted crested head 2-5 inches across, on leafy stems that are 12-28 inches long. The flower’s name is suggestive of a rooster’s comb. The Cockscomb flower blooms from late summer through late fall. The Celosia plant is an annual dicotyledon.” (For more information click here)

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, Northern Territory, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 53 Comments

The Garden in Summer.

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It has rained for over a week now. Good steady rain that soaks right down to the roots. Even our outback farmers have had rain, the first for them in over 2 years. With the rain comes the heat and humidity.

Look at my garden it is like a jungle and all the tropical flowers are flaunting their beauty.

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The fish ponds are covered in lilies and the water hyacinth makes its short but beautiful burst of colour.

Remember I grew some sunflowers from seed? Well they are now settled in to their bed in full sun and they are racing away.

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I'm so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I’m so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

The veggies are scattered around in different areas of the garden and we have eaten lettuce since the beginning of December. I am into the second crop and also rocket, spinach, silver beet and lots of herbs.

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Remember the cradle we built? Well I have put a shade cloth over it as well as the bird netting, the sun has been fierce, 30+ degrees by mid morning. But see how they are lapping up the attention.

The climbing beans at the back are racing up the frame and will soon be ready for Jack to climb them in search of that giant!!!!!

Rosemary in full flower

Rosemary in full flower

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

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Oh dear something else is sharing the kale with us. Baby grass hoppers have made an appearance, so it will be a race to see who gets the most, them or us…

Two more sleeps left in 2014 then it is a new year and time to start thinking of new dreams, decisions and destinations.

Best wishes to all my blogging friends, it has been lovely getting to know you through your comments and visiting you in your part of the blogosphere during 2014. I’m looking forward to following your adventures and sharing Word Press journeys with you all.



Categories: Australia, garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

How does my garden grow?

It is a week since we built the no-dig garden bed. Did you see it in progress? (Here it is).

I’ve waited patiently for the heat from the compost to cool down. It is cooler now and rain is forecast for the weekend. A good time to put in the seedlings.

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Jack calls this a cradle for my babies! The crows and magpies thought I had built it for them to play in, so this fooled them and keeps them out.

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The netting is easily lifted to get into the bed. The green plastic wire at the back will eventually have beans growing up it.

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I planted these silver beet yesterday and they seem to have settled in OK, so now I am planting the other lettuce and rocket seedlings.

These are sunflower seedlings I carefully nurtured from seeds. This bed gets the full sun so I’ve put the old screen door over them for protection for a couple of days. I love sunflowers and these will grow to 5 feet, all being well…

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The seedlings are slowly taking over. Front right is the box I grew the sunflower seeds in. Still a few waiting to be planted out. On the seat I have some kale and rocket seedlings. Kale is one of the new super foods, even though the kale plants are still babies I pick one of the leaves as I wander by and nibble it. Maybe it will turn me into super woman (she says with a grin… )

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The first crop of lettuce have just about reached their use-by date. Home grown is so tasty, we have salad almost every day.

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This is the herb corner. Basil, coriander, oregano, parsley, rocket, chillies and at the end of the line a mini capsicum.

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These little beauties are just bite sized and I’m waiting, rather impatiently, for them to turn red.

This is a lovely time of the year. It is hot but cools down in the evening, that is when I love to be out in the garden.

Here are some flowers that add a splash of colour at the moment.

The clouds are rolling in, maybe we will get some rain, but I hope we don’t get the storms that hit Brisbane last week. (click here to see the storm) The poor folks in Brisbane are still struggling to clear up and another storm would be catastrophic. We are only 100 kilometres south of Brisbane but didn’t get any of the hail, torrential rain and winds that blanketed that area.

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

The joy of creation in the garden.

I have been inspired by the gardens at the different houses we have been house sitting at.

At Geraldton, Naomi made raised beds from old water tanks and had a flourishing veggie garden on pure sand. (Take another look at it here and be inspired) Malanda had a large organic veggie garden fuelled by copious horse manure and lots of love. (Check it here)

So I came home determined to create an organic veggie patch.

The garden, now, is a crowded tropical paradise, lots of shady areas, so were am I going to find a place for vegetables? Then last week Jack pruned back some of the natives along the road front and suddenly the morning sun flooded along the front of the palms. But palms are voracious thieves stealing all the water and nutrients that veggies need. So I will use Naomi’s solution and make a raised bed.

First a trip to Bunnings, the local hardware store to do the homework. A 2 metre x 1 metre, ready-made corrugated raised bed would cost $99, ouch… I could buy a lot of veggies with that. So to plan B, make our own.

We bought 9 Planks @ 1.8 metres, 3 of them cut in half for the sides, and 4 battens for the corners at a cost of $14.

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Jack assembles the structure then paints the inside with a special paint that will stop any of the chemicals from the tanalising treatment seeping into the soil.

While he does that I clear the area where it will go in front of the palms.

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The blue box is filled with tough rhoeos that will be going to a new neighbour who loves receiving my rejects. Notice that large bromeliad right in the middle of the patch? It will have to come out…

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I will have to find this a new home.

Now to bring the bed around. I am going to create a no-dig garden.

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In the base goes cardboard, old carpet, papers that have been soaked in a bucket of water and other organic rubbish.

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The compost is ready and it goes in next.

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Followed by a liberal sprinkling of chicken manure. Then more compost.

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Lucerne mulch gives an added boost of nutrients, then more cow manure.

In the 28 degree heat the sweat is dripping off me by now, but it is nearly finished.

mixed garden bikes buses pc 038_3264x2448Finally top off with sugarcane mulch, and give it a good watering. Jack has built it with the corner battens raised so I can put netting across to keep off the birds. Crows are a real problem.

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Now I will wait for it all to settle for a week before putting in the seedlings.

Finally I want to share these photos of the Poinciana in full flower. It is about 9 years old and this is the first year it has  flowered so well.

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mixed garden bikes buses pc 011_3264x2448


Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

Revitalising Rain.

Today it is drizzling. OK that is not going to get down and dirty into the soil, but oh how much the plants love that soft refreshing moisture.

Look at them, they are smiling as they lift their faces to the heavens.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose

I've forgotten the name of this one...

I’ve forgotten the name of this one…

But take a close look at it, it is beautiful

But take a close look at it, it is beautiful

Even the water lilies enjoy the rain.

Even the water lilies enjoy the rain.

Nasturtiums delight me with their orange glow and peppery taste

Nasturtiums delight me with their orange glow and peppery taste

This is only tiny and almost a weed, it tends to take over the rockery area if I don't curb it's enthusiasm.

This is only tiny and almost a weed, it tends to take over the rockery area if I don’t curb it’s enthusiasm.

Finally here are my lettuce only just 4 weeks old and giving me a delicious wholesome feed.

Finally here are my lettuce only just 4 weeks old and giving me a delicious wholesome feed.

It is a pleasure to wander around the garden and share the beauty of nature.

Categories: Australia, flowers, garden, Goldcoast, photos | Tags: , , , , | 29 Comments

Come walk with me in the garden…

It is spring in Australia, the garden is thriving. The heat of summer is still around the corner but at the moment nature is revelling in the warm, gentle temperatures and all round my garden the flowers are showing their appreciation with a vivid tropical splash of colour.

I love to walk around early in the morning and welcome the new growth.

Come with me and I will introduce the beauty of tropical Queensland.

Paperbark tree.

Paperbark tree.

Winter has been kind this year, quite cold for this area, down to approx. 8-10 deg at night, but there has been a reasonable amount of rain. Unusual as winter is normally the dry season. It shows in the lush green foliage and this paperbark tree has never flowered so well.

Below are the fish ponds created, by Jack, from 3 old bathtubs.

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The bees are gorging themselves on the nectar. Can you see one coming into land?

The fish ponds

The fish ponds

When we arrived back home, after 8 months travelling around Australia and house sitting, I planted some herbs and lettuce seedlings in pots. In front of the ponds is a lovely sheltered and sunny position and now 3 weeks later they are almost ready to use.

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Oct 2014 garden pc 018_4000x3000

The Star Jasmine is in full flower and the scent wafts delicately around you as you pass this section of the garden.

Walk along to the other corner of the back garden and there is another pond.

This is the sunny corner of the garden and we have a raised bed full of plants grown from cuttings put in by my friend June, who looks after the garden while we are away.

Round the side of the house and through the gate hidden under the shrubs and into the front garden

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A rustic brick path meanders through the back of a wide border and past the compost bins.

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Can you see the bench? Jack made it from all old recycled bits and pieces he found at the rubbish tip. It is wide enough to have a lay down if you are tired. But today we will just pause to take in the view.

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I put folk art around the outside and across the top it says

“Sit and rest a while for the joy of life to catch up with you”

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There is another seat over the other side. Seats are everywhere.

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The house nestles among the trees and shrubs, so now let’s walk around the other side of this border. Past that other seat.

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The road is just in front of these beds but the shrubs hide it.

A selection of some of the things flowering at the moment.

Finally walk past the front of the house and along the drive.

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Look what Jack found.


This walk is inspired by Jo over on “Restless Jo” she takes us on lovely walks each Monday and has formed a cyber walking group of people from around the world who will show you some of their favourite places to walk. Why don’t you join them?

walking logo

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, Jo's Monday walks, photos, Queensland, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , , | 45 Comments

The Breathtaking Beauty of Spring

Today I entered a wonderland of spring beauty. I was mesmerised by the stunning beauty of Tulip Tops garden. The glorious sight of beautiful beds of tulips, pansies and daffodils surrounded and enhanced by the delicate blossoms of 1000 trees in all shades of pink and white and the delicate green, swaying branches of the weeping willows.

Classical and gentle instrumental music drifted through the air accompanied by the sweet song of the birds. As I slowly walked through this magic place and passed by a small stream and waterfall I heard a chorus of frogs joining the symphony of sounds.

I tried to capture this unique and tranquil paradise to share with my blogging friends. These are just a few of the almost 200 photos I took.  

So many shades of pink and white blossom trees

So many shades of pink and white blossom trees

Some of the trees had pink and white blossom all on the same tree

Some of the trees had pink and white blossom all on the same tree

So delicate and dainty

So delicate and dainty

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The tulips are the heroes

The tulips are the heroes

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Jack also took almost 200 photos

So many different coloured blooms

So many different coloured blooms

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Tulip Tops PC sx40 031_4000x3000

A gentle stream flowed through the garden

A gentle stream flowed through the garden

A waterfall flows over an embankment and a chorus of frogs sing along with the sound of the water

A waterfall flows over an embankment and a chorus of frogs sing along with the sound of the water

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Tulip Tops PC sx40 110_4000x3000

Every where the cheerful faces of the pansies smile up at me

Every where the cheerful faces of the pansies smile up at me

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A bed of pansies line the walkway up the hill to the look-out point.

A bed of pansies line the walkway up the hill to the look-out point.

At the top is the stunning view across the Hidden Valley

At the top is the stunning view across the Hidden Valley

A magnificent blend of colours.

A magnificent blend of colours.

Some are still waiting to open and show us their beauty.

Some are still waiting to open and show us their beauty.

These gardens are breathtaking.

These gardens are breathtaking.

Pat and Bill Rhodin

Pat and Bill Rhodin

The most amazing fact about this glorious garden is that it is a private garden and is totally created and cared for by an energetic couple, Pat and Bill Rhodin, and Bill also has a full-time job.

Just imagine the work-load. 10 acres of garden. Half a million bulbs and flowers planted by hand every year. All the annuals are bought as small seedlings then grown on in punnets till large enough to plant. I never saw one weed, the lawns were immaculate and the plants so healthy they glowed and obviously were cared for with love.

The garden was established in 1997 and is open from September 13th to October 12th. Entrance for seniors and children is $13 and for adults $14. That includes free tea and coffee and a free sausage sandwich.

I have seen many interesting places and things in Canberra but this is a highlight and I still have to see Floriade.

Categories: Australia, garden, New South Wales, photos, Tulip Top Garden, Tulips | Tags: , , , , | 31 Comments

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