Jock Gardner laughingly believes it’s his Scottish ancestry that has guided his thriftiness when it came to collecting plants and pieces for his rather unique Childers garden.
The garden, which devours most of the vacant land around Jock and Sue Gardner’s comfortable Macrossan Street home, is reflective of the professional and business lives the two have enjoyed.
Jock had an extensive career in the Navy followed by his and Sue’s business interests in the Cordalba Hotel and Childers Backpacker Hostel in the years prior to the well-publicised fire.
A map is almost compulsory to negotiate the pathways, fenced areas and nooks and crannies of a garden that showcases beautiful healthy plants and an extensive collection of eclectic memorabilia.
“I guess Sue and I have gathered items and ornaments which align with each segment of our lives. There’s a bit of an emphasis on the Navy with life in the service occupying a large chunk of our lives,” Jock said.
“My mother used to have a fern house. Everyone had a fern house 60 years ago and I was always impressed by the freshness and coolness the plants seemed to create.”
When Jock and Sue set up home in Childers more than 25 years ago the property didn’t have much in the way of gardens.
“There was the obligatory mango tree of course and a fairly large camphor laurel tree.”
Jock said that while he enjoyed working in the yard he didn’t want a garden that became too labour intensive.
“There’s not a lot in the way of annuals or flowering perennials. I have always liked plants that are reflective of Queensland’s tropics like crows nests ferns and tree ferns and some succulents.
Elks and staghorns abound in Jock Gardner's garden
Elks and staghorns abound along with a good variety of bromeliads and numerous hanging baskets ensure there is always something interesting to see at ground and eye level and above.
Reflecting on his claim that he didn’t believe it was necessary to spend a lot of money to have a garden to enjoy, Jock said he could count on one hand the number of plants he has actually purchased.
“I just collect cuttings, propagate plants and most things seem to thrive quite well in the environment we have created here.
“Someone recently asked me what I applied to my plants to make them look so healthy. I’m not a big user of fertilisers or chemicals but I do water with tank water which may make a difference,” he said.
“We have a lot of greenery and interspersed with that greenery are the items we have collected over the years and which invariably have a story behind them,” he said.
“A lot of the ornamentation in the garden has been collected from garage sales, recycling places and even the local tip shop has been a good source of garden feature items. All you need is a little imagination,” Jock said.
“On the odd occasion opportunity knocks. I have been driving past a property where the owner has placed something on the kerbside to get rid of. It’s amazing what you can convert into very useful pot plants.
“I’m always turning something into something new,” he said.
“Having a garden that gives you pleasure or provides a place where you can use your imagination is what drives my enthusiasm for growing plants and growing my creativity.
“I guess I’m a Gardner by name and gardener by nature.”
Last week's garden: Down Duckpond Road to a glorious garden