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Graceful Elegance!

Back in the Maryborough days I knew keen gardeners and educators, Judy and Allan Morgan whose home now in Samford, Brisbane is their pride and joy. Both passionate about anything they can get their hands into ( building, planting, sewing and cooking) the owners have designed a beautiful, serene space with plenty of scope for entertaining. Their garden relates to the their lifestyle and how it will age. It is both pleasurable, soulful, gracious and well planned. Plant selection, colour and perfume combine to lift one’s spirits. There’s a balance exists between the private parts and the busier playing areas for their grandsons. It’s a love affair that’s worth sharing – a Morgan piece of paradise.

I asked Judy about what she loves most about her garden. She skilfully worded her response this way, ” we purchased this 1.5 acre property 6 years ago and were attracted to the position of a very large dam that traversed the width of the property. The only trees on the block were two large gums. The view and the expanse of the garden created would be uninterrupted.”

Take a look at this and ask yourself, wouldn’t it be a marvellous spot to appreciate, value and enjoy?

Like a mirror the sunlight captures simple beauty and reflections


There are a variety of trees from Jacaranda, Himalayan magnolias, olives, lemon scented myrtles, fruit trees, cedars, poinciana and more. Imagine setting up your easel for a plein air class, or sketching under the shade of waterhousias.

Because Judy and Allan are a close family they  love to watch the sunsets and beautiful reflections on the water with their families. Coming together for a glass of wine and food both down near the dam and fire-pit or under the climbing roses and ornamental grapevine alfresco style is popular. Throw in two active grandsons and as Judy says, “the tree house and flying fox get great use with the boys.” Allan, Matthew and son-in-law Andrew often kick a football or use the kayak to paddle in the dam. Toasting marshmallows in the fire-pit is so enjoyable.

The family and friends gather to share a meal
Anyone for a swing?

For Judy her favourite season is “Spring when the ornamental plum, cherry and peach and crepe myrtles are in full bloom. However, our garden does give rewarding colour in Autumn with the changing leaf colour of the swamp cypress, liquid amber, persimmon and pear trees.”


Fragrant blooms


Planted carefully are agapanthus, cannas, spider lilies and one weeping willow.

Imagine Mary in the Secret Garden finding this?!

The owners have created a calm, lush and fragrant garden with a classical stone urn, places to sit and read and roses that Judy loves to use indoors.

The perfect bouquet


Allan prepared the soil well with adequate mulch after the planting. Trial and error with plant choice, a mixture of natives and exotics with Lilly-pillys, leopard trees, Fraser Island Apple, native frangipani, azaleas, callistemon, tibouchinas and a St Mary’s magnolia. Breath taking.


And even the friendly kookaburra comes to take a closer look.

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A kookaburra’s gaze is something to behold

It’s always hard to choose favourites in the garden. Roses for Judy are very special. Pierre de Ronsard, Cecile Brunner are winners. And when the native banksias are in full bloom, her heart sings. Talking of heart, her own parent’s garden has inspired Judy. The hippeastrum, hydrangea ( my favourite) crucifix orchid, azaleas and day Lillies also bring smiles. Being subscribed to the Diggers Club helps Judy to learn more about plants and shrubs. Also the active pair like travelling so many of their ideas come from magazines, Pinterest and visits to both public and private gardens in Australia and overseas.

ornate garden seat with a view

Del Kathryn Barton, famous artist has said that Autumn is the season she adores. “The light and colours go to a deeper place energising my creative and feeling life. Art is the shifting from summer white wines to reds and a different heart space.” I think Judy would agree.

As a final tip for any gardener, the Morgans believe that mulching is SO IMPORTANT!


And when Allan is not around, you can bet that Judy is out with her lady’s hedge trimmer. I can smell the lavender and rosemary hedges after she’s been through!!


This is the last in my garden series. Thanks Judy and Allan for sharing your beautiful garden with us. As a way of thanks, I am sending you some roses to smell!!






Henriette’s Haven

A long time resident of Mapleton, Henriette’s beautiful garden with its stone walls, magnolia trees and blossoming camellias, shows what one garden owner can achieve over time. I have known Henriette Guest for about 7 years, but she has lived in Mapleton for 30 years. Thoughtful and well kept, Rainbow Park as the house is known, has touches of whimsy, spiritual and nature loving shining through.

Just over an acre in size, the lawns are tidy, shrubs thriving, manicured merging to a rainforest backdrop. As you drive around the bend you will notice a stone carving of Mary and Joseph with its back figure the young colt or ass. Henriette tells me that this was made by a Nambour man at the Garden Expo. A bold front view naturally attracts the passer by. Mingled throughout the garden are gardenias, camellias and rhododendrons that grow well in this part of the Hinterland.



Mist on the mountain and  fragrant roses

Take a closer look at the back and you will find a statue of Francis of Assisi, lover of all animals, standing at the end of the walkway. A tall proud dove cote is erected where birds and possums appear. Stone sculptures like the goose and little girl reading add a touch of the owner’s personality.





Dove cote ready for the birds

A home is a sanctuary; a familiar landscape, a sheltered meeting place with both light and dark, a unique expression of ourselves.

For friends and family, Henriette’s garden is shared at Christmas time, with overseas visitors, neighbours and for church lunches.

There are roses, snapdragons, pansies and freesias, bromeliads and fuchsias.



The pergola sees climbers and potted herbs.


Staghorns, alkorns, palms and natives all marry together. There’s the hard and soft landscapes. When I asked Henriette, what was her favourite time of day to work in the garden, she was quick to respond with, “early morning is best”. Naturally weeds and continual maintenance provide challenges for her, however, the beauty and calm that is around her makes up for any difficulties.

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Overall, there’s a strength about the stone walling that matches the owner’s strong personality. Sitting with friends in the evening glow of candlelight, the shadows of the towering palms, seems like the ultimate celebration of life. Henriette’s green space encourages us out into the world to explore, enjoy and reflect.



Can you identify this plant?

The next garden will take us away from Mapleton closer to the Samford valley. I hope you will enjoy the journey.

Beautiful blooms in a Mapleton Garden

The garden – a place for quiet reflection, mundane work, play, escape or healing – is ever changing. Those of you who have your own plot know that a garden is an extension of the home. The garden owners possess their own individual style, hard work and willingness to create a personal, serene place. Friends and homeowners, Catherine and Max Standage have designed a beautiful home with an equally beautiful garden. Located at the end of a cul de sac with spectacular ocean views of the Sunshine Coast beaches, this property shows that in a short time with careful planning, hard work and motivation, a garden paradise can be achieved.

Of her garden, Catherine says,” I like to look out on my Mapleton garden and stroll around it, enjoying the form of the plants I have chosen to grow in the interesting and ever changing landscape that surrounds us. That I have designed and created this interesting place that was previously a cow paddock brings me great satisfaction.”

A storm is brewing in the distance



Catherine and Max’s garden is essentially an Australian garden filled with banksias, grevillias, golden kangaroo paws, grasses, fruit trees and healthy herbs. It is obvious that any visitor sees the pride in what they have achieved. Inspiration comes from gardening books and from visiting established gardens. Making the garden sit comfortably in the landscape is like easing back into a comfy chair to watch a film – the view, balance and position are all good.

Creative, child friendly, relaxed and well kept, The Standage’s garden demands a closer look.

There’s a seat designed and built by Max to take in the views. What can he see?



Favourite flavouring shrubs are the varieties of vireyas that grow well and picked to bring into the house for floral arrangements. Transformative.



A beautiful arrangement



Blossoming kangaroo paws ready to pick


One of the delights for Catherine and Max of having grand children is when they visit and see the excitement as they discover tadpoles and frogs, butterflies and many other insects, monitor lizards and wildlife. The lawn is important for playing bolle, badminton, kicking a soccer ball, flying kites. Even the kids can pick the cherry tomatoes, beans or watch the eggplants ripen. Limes are abundant. Nectar feeding birds are plentiful.





As the owners harvest seasonal vegetables or watch as different birds visit the garden, all the seasons offer something to appreciate.



A patchwork of stone steps leads onto the lawn


When I asked Catherine about any obstacles they encountered, she mentioned how challenging it was to get rid of the many weeds including thickets of lantana and strangling thorny vines like cockspur which infest the perimeter of their land. Protection of the fruit trees is vital too and the slope of the land keeps them both fit.

Up in the Blackall Ranges, heavy periods of rain come, but also managing the dry times that go on for months can be challenging. The colours of the sky – stormy, indigo grey and  azure blue always a contrast.

Feather sculptures and bird bath enhance the space


As I wander through my friend’s garden, I really appreciate a measure of peace and wonder. What a joy to share in this pleasurable landscape. And like any keen gardener, I ask Catherine what is her most essential garden tip and tool?

She says, ” recognise weeds when they are small and pull them out. Be observant. I always have my secateurs with me when I work in the garden.”

And to finish off with someone’s else’s wisdom, ” every leaf on every tree you see out there represents the opportunities you will have in life.” Some words are like seeds.


Garden Project and a Son’s family garden

Newly married and I have already given my husband a project – one that we can do together. Bill will design a small potting shed and I will assist him. As if we both haven’t got enough on our plates without more work! Time management – 3 months! Cost – a few thousand dollars. Time – when it’s sunny and possible. Where?- at side of the house.

What do we need? Bags of cement, pavers, shovels, string, timber, post supports, spirit level etc. and patience, communication and inspiration.

Here’s the plot. Very ordinary.


Next the wheelbarrow and pavers.



And some weeds to pull out. Note the red soil!


Here is the fabulous book I am reading at the moment to inspire me.



I am glad we are not doing a huge renovation. This is manageable, achievable and enjoyable. Coming into the cooler months, I plan to show you a bit more of our little project. Thanks Bill for caring so much and making this a team effort.


Next is my son’s smallish garden in the leafy suburb of Kenmore, Brisbane. Tim has a young family, two boys who are lucky enough that their dad built them a pirate playground with ladder, rope swing, ship’s wheel, telescope and bridge. Ahoy! me hearties. An unforgettable area to escape to! It’s well hidden, too, in a corner of the backyard surrounded by trees, ginger, bamboo and small plants.



Cousin Matilda peers into the distance

Family time together out in the backyard is what make’s this garden special. It’s a garden that well lived in and it wins hands down every time. The hammock full of ants is used for games and grandma rest. The rope is tested for leaping off planks! and the slippery slide and sandpit, well used by all the neighbourhood kids.








From the verandah, parents can watch as children climb the ladder, walk the plank and captain the ship. All hands on deck! Watch out for sharks below!

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There’s a spot for everyone in this garden. Tim has designed his space effectively with attention to productivity in his vegetable garden, a chook shed, fruit trees and play areas.

Healthy cabbages, eggplants and herbs live happily beside seasonal vegetables. Mulching and a good compost is clear in this garden. Mulberry tree, peach tree, passionfruit vines and tomatoes grow well and out on the footpath for all the neighbours to take are basil and rosemary plants growing abundantly. The whiff and scent is amazing!

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Nothing is nicer than arriving at your son’s house and following Riley and Sam into their backyard. Say goodbye to weeds, hello to natives. Want to jump on the trampoline, well it’s squeezed in at the side of the house, a space saving device. Want to toast marshmallows – there’s a fire pit that Tim built.


In a short time really, I have watched this garden grow to provide shade, food and fun. All the neighbours in the street love the sunflowers when they bloom. They enjoy the limes, chives, corn, beans, and lettuces. There are no pets, but from time to time, dogs come and go. You’ll find possums and the odd snake.

One thing I notice every time I come and visit is the love and energy, commitment and dedication that Tim has in maintaining his young family’s garden. He is interested in plants, the environment, permaculture, recycling, bees, worms, raised beds, and escaping into a silence where he relaxes and unwinds. He learns as he goes for the beauty of this garden is the journey undertaken in creating a true home for his family.


Easter in the Garden

My Easter weekend has been spent in and out of the garden – misty spaces, muddy boots and roses blooming. All this Autumn rain is nice however, there’s so much work that I need to catch up on like bending over and pulling weeds, pruning hedges, cutting down nasty branches, and raking the passionfruit up that fall under the pergola.

In the garden down the stony steps I need to be extra careful of the slippery pathways and I find myself surprised, astonished and a bit overwhelmed at the growth. Up on the more level land, Bill and I are starting a project together called My Mist and Moss Garden Nook, simply a fancy greenhouse, potting cabin that I can enjoy. We have started the foundation but the rain has not stopped. You might like to check out the progress of this structure as it emerges near the clothes line.

In time I hope to pot plants, create floral art and spend time writing and recording in my gardener’s journal. Our next trip to the store is to buy pavers.

Easter is about appreciating the hope of Christ, being thankful for the gifts and abundance that we have. It’s about the glory and victory of Jesus over the Cross.

I like to admire my beautiful roses that edge my top garden.

The fragrance is intoxicating. I generally leave my roses in the soil to enjoy although down the track I would love to grow more to pick for the house. Imagine Easter filled with the scent of  David Austin roses.

Any of you who garden will know the surprises that awaits you when noticing the changes of time and the seasons.

Mist settles on the horizon in Mapleton

The garden in Easter brings me dirty fingernails ( I do wear gloves) more compost and mulch to spread, golden pumpkins and their never ending vines and leaves, cherry tomatoes to pick, snipping of the chives, basil and rosemary. It also brings me some aches and pains in the shoulder and back – will I ever learn to bend properly? To not over do things? To stop and smell the roses?

The rain has eased and I come inside. Muddy shoes at the door, gloves soaked in the laundry tub and a sweet text from my daughter who sends me this photograph.


Sometimes the cute bunnies hop about in search of chocolate eggs. Unfortunately, there are no hidden eggs in my garden this April. There are red geraniums, red peppers and a red faced, sweaty grandma who loves her Mapleton garden.

Stay with me for a garden series showcasing my friend’s unique and stylish gardens. Until then, have a safe and happy Easter with those you love.


A Bag of Cuttlefish and a wind swept beach, the honeymoon after the wedding

Have you ever walked on a beach where the froth and foam skate on the sand? Have you walked hard against the wind as the surf pounds out its ocean beat? We have. That is, Bill and me.

We are on our honeymoon at the Sunshine Beach in Queensland and rain has hit us, but that’s OK. A five minute walk to the steps of the beach and we take off for a long walk wearing our rain jackets. Up ahead is the Noosa headland.

As I walk reflecting on our wedding, I stop to gather cuttlefish. I think I’ll take home a bag for my brother’s budgies. Cuttlefish are strewn all over the sand dunes.

A few days here and a calm descends after a busy build up to the wedding last weekend.


Is there really no-one seen on this pristine beach?


There’s something liberating about the beauty of the beach – smell of sea, endless horizon and wet sand under your feet. We are surprised at the few people here.

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Like all honeymooners, Bill and I look forward to long walks, reading, national park adventures, eating out and reflection. Plus a good dose of sleep, bubbles, pandanus and surprises.


I was thankful for good weather on our wedding day – Saturday March 3 at 3pm in the Chapel at Matthew Flinders Anglican College, Buderim. ( my last teaching school)

A day full of surprises and joy. A ride in a Willey’s Whippet vintage car called Hilda with a handsome driver Ian Abraham.





More surprises with a handsome groom waiting for me. Family and friends cheering on.

The little grand children present and all dressed up, ready to provide hugs and hand shakes.



Guests from London, Townsville, Maryborough, Gerringong, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Girlfriends, old neighbours, new locals, bushwalkers and teachers.

Reverend Lizzie Gaitskell in the Chapel of St Nicholas, Matthew Flinders Anglican College.






A drip sticky date pudding cream cake! Fine speeches and good Australian country Celtic music playing. As guests mingled, memories and stories were told. Children tried on the masks and dress up hats. A poet in our midst with a hearty round of applause. Dancing.


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Flashjack swings into action!

But prior to the marriage service, I was able to pamper myself with a new hair style and make up, be helped by a beautiful lady called Diana who took some photos in her garden at Tanawha. This gracious lady made my day stress free.

Sitting on the swing surrounded by a bed of camellias was surely a delight. That swing brought me back to my childhood when days were carefree and simple. The motion of going backwards and forwards, lifting my legs in the air and feeling the wind on my face – wonderful. Here I am, ready to say ” I do.”

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Here are my tips for any newlyweds and their honeymoon.

Keep it simple. Pick one or two amazing places that you would like to visit that allow for relaxation as well. Allow time for reflection. The moments pass by so quickly; you want to savour and give thanks. Travel lightly.

Stars, Romancing & Author talk.

Who would have thought that soft cuddly toys like a cute lion, turtle and white bears would feature at Romancing the Stars at Immanuel Lutheran College? While the animal toys sat still ready for photos, the real writers and illustrators moved about sharing their wisdom and stories with a groups of people, including me.

The system of 20 authors rotating to different groups to talk for a limited time is wonderful. In pairs, they spilled out their plots, ideas, favourite pages, inspiration and techniques to communicate in such a warm and intimate way. It worked. It was speed dating at its best.

My first author encounter began with Peter Carnavas and Samantha Wheeler, both enthusiastic, committed and entertaining speakers. Naturally titles like, My Brother is a Beast and Turtle Trackers allow our circle of listeners to find out more about their style of writing and themes.

What a great pair, passionate and well published, Peter and Samantha were oozing enthusiasm. Coming up on the next round was Aleesah Darlison who showed us Emerald and Yah! It’s Library Day with amazing illustrations by many school children. As she thumbed through the pages, Aleesah pointed to the magical children’s drawings and the way the picture book can be used with librarians on special occasions. Aleesah has published widely and is a gifted speaker.

Next Taryn Bashford brought her book The Harper Effect which is a coming of age novel about “letting go”, embracing the future, and inspiring kids to follow their dreams. Many young people make bad choices, so Harper needs to learn how to win. A worthy read that reflects the colour “purple” for wisdom.


Soon we are introduced to Emma Middleton’s lovely lion picture book called There’s a Lion in the Living Room. For the younger reader, this book will appeal with its rhyme, hidden images, delightful Tom and Tilly and the storytelling appeal as children can become active participants in the clever plot. Fatherhood is praised. I sense this book is designed for ages 3-7 years. Emma’s next picture book is due later this year, called The Bear in the Backyard.

Look out for it and any performances by Emma Middleton.


With Emma was Sue McPherson who in 2012 published Grace Beside Me. Essentially this is a book about growing up. Sue was thrilled with the television series that is based on the book starring Fuzzy Mac a thirteen year old girl. Teachers will be interested in the study guide that suits the series.


Now in between listening to the authors, a delicious dessert was served with tea and coffee. Also thanks goes to the amazing hospitality students who served us yummy canapés and hot foods at the beginning of the evening with a glass of wine. Kelly Dunham certainly works hard at providing a great venue and rounding up the right speakers and dedicated helpers. Jenny Stubbs assisted too with her fine appreciation and love of children’s literature. Both women have patience, passion and pull.

I really enjoyed all the next round authors – Robyn Osborne My Dog Socks, a heart warming story using alliteration, rhyme and the outdoorsy adventures of a boy and his beautiful dog. The final sentence, ” he is my best friend” sums it up.


Every now and then you meet a new author, University student whose creative writing course took her to publication. Tash Tursgoose is one such person. Creating an illustrated book for older readers, Tash showed us the space on pages being symbolic. Starting as an assignment, the book transcends time periods.

Be prepared to read and explore Makeshift Galaxy by Tash and know that this young woman insisted on designing the cover with its silver appeal. I was privileged to meet Tash at the Mapleton Booklovers Valentines evening recently, so knew what to expect.

The Big Hug Books by Shona Innes are ones to keep a watch for. As a clinical and forensic psychologist, this woman has used her experiences with her patient’s anger, anxiety, depression etc to offer hope to others. These books have been published in China, Hungary, Japan, France, US and the Netherlands. Anger is Like Armour is suitable for both children and adults, and deals with protecting themselves from getting hurt. Your Mind is like a Garden is about mindfulness.


I like a full time teacher who keeps up with his writing. David Rudkin published his Quirky Miller in verse. He is a down to earth Maths, Science teacher who genuinely likes writing in his spare time.

Up on the Blackall Range where I live, is Maryanne O’Flynn whose 2 picture books deal with zebras and echidnas. Maryanne loves illustrating and thinking about themes of acceptance and self esteem. I know my grand children would enjoy Too Many Stripes and Polka Dot Float.


Who can resist a writer of depth and maturity, and at only 31 years old, Lynette Noni has topped some of the YA best sellers. Akarnae is a book mostly for years 7-10 about healthy friendships. Whisper intrigues me with “one word could change the world.” Check out this talented author who travels and writes constantly.


I did purchase a copy of Whirlpool by Emily Larkin, another young author who spent her school years at Immanuel Lutheran College. Her white bears graced the stool next to her and involved a simple message that life can present dark times and happy times, colours changing from warm pinks to lonely greens and blues. These emotions are what little ones understand. I recommend this picture book for ages 5+.

Prue Mason and Kerry her husband were somewhat jet lagged after their holiday, however, conversations with them were engaging and so interesting. If you are keen to read about 10 Australian aviators, then their book is a must. It’s written in the first person narrative with excellent illustrations, facts and details. Ross Smith, Dr William Bland, Bert Hinkler and Kingsford Smith feature in this non-fiction book.


Jenny Woosley shared her story with us and the independent journey of publication. A passionate teacher, Jenny is probing into themes of diversity and difference. I liked her title Brockwell the Brave. 

A moving story called The Boy who Grew into a Tree by Ross Watkins captivated me. Written by Gary Crew and illustrated by Ross, this is a gem of a read. But it’s his popular book One Photo that has been well received with teacher notes about loss, love and legacy. Shortlisted for the 2017 Picture Books of the Year, it’s a book worth buying. As I love photo opportunities and capturing memories, I see this book as a rewarding one to share with others. Early Alzheimers can be traumatic for families and so in his honest prose, Ross creates an unforgettable story. Dementia and its impact is attached to personal objects and memory. I challenge you to use this book and think about hope and comfort in the face of hardship.

All in all, this years’s Romancing the Stars was full of fun, fervour and friendships. Books of Buderim, owned by Fiona Blond stock many of these titles and offer a superb love of the written word in a a friendly community.

So did I take home a soft cuddly toy? NO but I did buy a lovely Peter Carnavas print that I will frame on my wall. YAH!!