Doreen Cole’s passion for gardening is reflected in the sign that greets visitors to Girraween Gardens, a little slice of green heaven in South Isis, Childers.
“I’m in the garden, head down, bum up somewhere”. If Doreen doesn’t answer your call, the sign says it all!
Girraween Gardens has been a setting for numerous weddings and happy social occasions for plenty of locals and Doreen, now in her 80s, is justifiably proud of what she has been able to achieve in her sprawling, almost two acres of personalised garden creation.
At the weekend the gardens again played host to around 60 visitors, many from the Hervey Bay Orchid Society on a bus tour around the Childers area.
The visit had been organised by the Childers and Isis District Orchid Society of which Doreen is a member.
Later in the afternoon is was a garden club wandering the lush lawns and enjoying the surprises at every nook and corner of this emerald-coloured treasure trove, and, of course, the tasty afternoon tea.
The gardeners among the group instantly appreciate the work that has gone into creating and maintaining a garden of this size.
The questions about plants, her methods of maintaining them and, of course, the incessant requests for plant cuttings are part and parcel of visits of this nature.
Doreen Cole commenced an infatuation with her garden almost 40 years ago and over that time it has developed into a full-blown love affair.
“Like many people I’m happiest when I’m among my plants. Gardening is really rewarding – you get a wonderful result for the effort you put in.”
However, like every relationship there are stormy times and Doreen and the weather have often not seen eye to eye. A few years ago a vicious November storm almost wrecked her decades of hard work and nurturing.
“A storm ripped through the area. Trees came down, plants were stripped and destroyed. It was heartbreaking and I really didn’t know if I had the passion to rebuild it. I though my get-up-and-go had got-up-and-gone,” she laughed.
But passion overpowers adversity and the garden is again in full bloom and a credit to the perseverance and ability of its creator.
Several years ago the garden featured in the Queensland “Open Gardens” initiative with people from all over the country dropping in to visit Girraween Gardens.
“I just like plants and it’s nice to share time with people of similar interests. The garden has plenty of everything from bromeliads, ferns, cactus, roses, palms – you name it and it is probably here somewhere,” said Doreen.
Hervey Bay visitors Val Glasson and Dee Dee Sayers, both utilising mobility walkers, were still able to negotiate the greenhouse to enjoy the ferns and multitude of indoor plants.
“It’s just nice to be able to put yourself among this greenery and such healthy plants,” said Val. “It’s good for the spirits.”
While the garden is the centrepiece of the property Doreen’s husband Ray, has his own passion for Australian antiques and collectables.
Ray built what he and Doreen affectionately call “The Humpy”.
Hanging over its entryway is an original Union Bank of Australia Ltd. sign that once graced the banking business in the main street of Childers.
The building houses all manner of memorabilia from old saddles and horse gear through to Doreen’s crockery and dolls and items from the once popular Childers Crowe’s Cafe.
Her father’s original accordion that he played at local dances decades ago is a treasured addition to “The Humpy”.
“Visitors find these bits and pieces an interesting and unexpected addition when they come to have a look at the gardens,” said Doreen.
The garden will always remain a focus for Doreen: “There’s a few baskets of washing upstairs that needs folding and ironing but it’s all about priorities isn’t it?” said Doreen with a smile.
Girraween Gardens is located at 438 Butchers Road, South Isis.