Serious gardening started for us as rehabilitation after our eldest son became a paraplegic as a result of a motor bike accident in Switzerland. This then changed over the years to become an all encompassing passion. Our one-acre Birkdale property is themed as a ‘giving garden’ where tropical fruit trees and vegetables thrive and supply the household with a constant supply of food.
There is not one day in the year where we cannot go out and pick something to eat. Over seventy fruit and nut trees flourish (over 40 different varieties) and provide shade for an diverse collection of sub tropical plants.
The original soil was scraped and sold by the developer and all that was left was heavy clay, so much work has been done to transform the clay into a rich growing medium. It’s been years of hard work bringing in soil, mulching and composting, but the end result has been well worth the effort.
The garden reflects our changing ‘plant passions’ over the years, with a range of plants as varied from day lilies to gingers and bromeliads. The garden design has never been planned; it has evolved over the years, as we believe a good garden is always changing and evolving. There’s always something new to see in the garden as we are always seeking to do better, and we’re always on the lookout for new, unusual and rare plants. This garden is a true ‘Gardeners Garden’; built by passionate ‘plants people’, hard work and always having to work to a small budget. We share our passion for gardening and do all the work ourselves.
The garden remains healthy and productive all year round thanks to our using ‘smart sustainable gardening‘ practices. These include using kelp fertilizers, composting worms, two native beehives, mulching, large composting areas and collected rainwater. In order to battle the years of drought we have had to purchase seven rainwater tanks storing a total of 107,000 litres of rain water, but without this we would not have the garden we have now. All vegetable scraps go to the compost worms, all green material is shredded then composted in three large areas and the garden is kept mulched with over 160 bales of sugar cane mulch every year.
We have learnt over the years which are the right plants to grow. Yes we’ve made mistakes but like all good gardeners have learnt from them! We are both very happy to spend all day in the garden, believing the garden is our one acre piece of paradise. We have made a financial and physical commitment to have a beautiful yet sustainable garden and intend to keep up the challenge.
Our biggest thrill was in 2009 to win the Gardening Australia ‘Golden Trowel’.
Gardening has made a big difference to our lives. We also try and promote gardening through opening our garden to the public, giving regular power point presentations (three different ones at the moment) to garden clubs, and promoting gardening in schools as well as hosting many bus trips through the garden. I’m constantly updating my three internet sites (over 150,000 people from over a 100 countries have seen/read about our garden through my blogs).
We’ve raised over $30,000 for charity through the past eleven garden openings and raised a further $5,744 in 2013 for a local Lions Club part of which went to purchase a walker for a disabled boy.
Gardening, and our four grandchildren, have given life a meaning that was not there previously. We have now got over our son’s accident as he has done really well representing Australia in disabled water ski-ing and wheelchair basketball sports and most importantly has given us two beautiful grandchildren. We no longer think of him as disabled as he has so much strength of character and a will to make the best out of life. He puts many able bodied to shame!
Scott recently returned from the World Disabled Water Ski Championships with a GOLD medal in the seated jump. This was an outstanding performance against almost 40 other competitors, some whom could actually walk.
The accident that left Scott in wheelchair was a turning point in our lives, which saw us turn to our garden for solace. But what started as a healing and nurturing time for us is now turning into a life time passion and it’s given us an oasis for all the family and many visitors to enjoy. We now really enjoy our present life – sure it’s hard work but it’s enjoyable work and we are at our happiest working in the garden and meeting so many fellow gardeners.
[Ian and Judy Wintle’s one acre garden is open on 22 and 23 November 2014 from 9.00am to 4.30pm. There will lots of plants for sale, and refreshments from the local Lions Club. $6 entry, kids free. 5 Carlton Court, Birkdale Queensland, about half an hour drive east of Brisbane city.]
Click here for more information about the garden opening, or learn more at Ian’s blog ianjudy.blogspot.com