Ian WintleHow to open your garden

It’s sad news that ‘Open Gardens Australia’ ends in June 2015, after over 25 years of garden openings. You may wish to continue opening your garden as Judy and I do. This guide/story may assist you to continue opening your garden to the public, or to open for the first time. Here is our story.

Our Open Garden back in 2006

Our Open Garden back in 2006

HOW DID WE START? Our garden experience started in the late 1990s when our eldest son Scott became a paraplegic – not only Scott needed rehabilitation but also mum and dad. We needed something that would keep us busy and would not let us dwell on our son’s terrible accident. Thus gardening became our rehabilitation and eventually turned into an all encompassing passion where we spend all our spare time.

Open Gardens Australia provides signs and all-important insurance cover

When we opened as part of Open Gardens Australia (formerly Australia’s Open Garden Scheme)

A few years later we had the idea that our garden might be good enough to open. We then approached the then co-ordinator of Open Gardens Australia, who visited and said YES, so that was the start.

We look back at those first few openings with a touch of embarrassment; really it was not that good compared to what it is now. The trouble with opening every year is that each year has to be better than the last. Many new projects have been completed each year and, of course, we’ve added thousands of new plants. Our garden is not the same garden that we first opened in 2002. I would hazard a guess that since we have opened we have had in the region of about 10,000 visitors, some whom return every year. This return visitor is really important if you plan to continue opening as you want as many return visitors as possible.

Our colourful subtropical garden

Our colourful subtropical garden

Having been through many ‘Open Gardens’, we pretty well know what to expect (that’s excluding the weather of course). We have been lucky enough never to have been washed out. Now that would really be a disaster!

Gardening has not been easy for us as we have not been fortunate with our soil or water; we have clay to a depth of 80 feet and no useful underground water. How do we know this? We sunk a bore through 80 feet of white clay and found the saltiest water the borer had ever seen. With terrible soil and no underground water, why would we do it? Simple, because we enjoy our garden and the pleasure it gives us and our visitors, and I suppose we enjoy the challenge.

Saturday morning brings out the plant bargain hunters

Saturday morning brings out the plant bargain hunters

 

WHO VISITS AN OPEN GARDEN? On the Saturday morning of the opening the bargain plant buyers arrive. Judy has prepared hundreds of beautiful bromeliads all in flower and the best of these are snapped up very quickly. Needless to say, lots of people go away very satisfied owners of new plants. It’s not just bromeliads; we now propagate a range of tropical plants all of which we have proved to grow in our garden.