Cynthia Hoogstraten and her husband Dave are blessed with two gardens – one in Bundaberg and the other at the beach, both sanctuaries holding special memories.
“My parents influenced my desire to create my gardens over the years which has provided me with a sanctuary to come home to,” Cynthia said.
“With a little Balinese influence and points of interest throughout, my current garden developed over 23 years.
“Together with my ever-supportive husband, Dave, who does the hard labour, we feel blessed to be surrounded by plants that delight our senses: colourful bougainvillea, desert roses and snake plants always give us joy.
“Water features, including ponds and birdbaths, attract the frogs, parrots, magpies, and swamp birds.
“Our favourite spot is sitting on the deck overlooking the clusters of bromeliads and heliconia, as well as the fruit-bearing mango tree and carambola.
“The small pond boasts a flowering water lily each day and once a year the magnificent irises bloom.
“As soon as we pour fresh water into the birdbath, the rainbow lorikeets come out to play, chatter and dip into the fresh water.”
Cynthia said she feels “in tune” with her plants and prefers that they are low maintenance.
“I have noticed over the years; the conditions have changed to a dryer and warmer climate and I have seen some losses,” she said.
“Still, it is about adapting, and some plants tend to thrive, like my cycad which has flowered for the first time.
“I love seeing new growth and plants that have just popped up from dispersion by birds or carried on the wind.
“Many plants have been given to me by friends and with a little tender loving care, it does not take much to start a garden.
“Especially this year, the garden stores are experiencing an excellent trade as people realise the benefits of connecting with the earth, growing their produce, and finding solace in nature.”
Cynthia and Dave recently built a new home at the beach and have relished the chance to once again grow a garden from the ground up.
“Developing a new garden has again allowed us to be creative, and my vision was to establish a garden labyrinth,” Cynthia said.
“This is both a reflective and sensory space which allows me to de-stress and take time out from my studies.
“A mixture of plants provides not only fragrance and colour but also a connection to my past and heritage.
“The drunken parrot tree was first planted by father back in 1963 from seed picked up in the Brisbane Botanic Garden.
“It flourished in his garden and he proudly propagated a seedling which he gave to me.
“It is a healthy specimen which attracts parrots that love the nectar from the clusters of red flowers.
“Dave propagated a seedling from it, which is now growing at the entrance of my labyrinth.
“My parents are never far from my thoughts and their memory lives on in my garden.”