They call it ‘The Garden City’ and every year, in the spring, Toowoomba transforms into a kaleidoscope of colour, with blooms flourishing across parks, streets, front gardens and backyards.
For the past 70 years, The Chronicle has championed these outstanding gardens with The Chronicle Garden Competition. This year, things look a little different and the Chronicle have reimagined the annual event as a way to rise money for charity.
Beauty in Bloom – all year garden | Les & Fae Stephson
Les and Fae have picked up many awards since they first entered The Chronicle Garden Competition 30 years ago, but they’re certainly not resting on their laurels. Les still spends every day in their central Toowoomba garden, conjuring up new ways to grow their spectacular space. This seasoned green-thumb couple boasts a garden of standard and rare grevilleas, camellias, and succulents all year round. In the Spring, the flowering plants feature – snapdragons, dianthus, and petunias, just to name a few.
With a wealth of awards under their belt, the couple note a little bit of work each day has kept this garden lover’s dream alive and thriving for the past 30 years.
Patch Perfect – a floral utopia | Caitlyn Mason & Sam Clothier
For the green-thumbed pair behind one of Toowoomba’s prettiest plots, gardening has been a revelation. Together, they’ve transformed a ramshackle block and now everything’s coming up roses. The phrase “think pink” rings particularly true for Caitlyn and Sam, owners of Norwood Roses. Nestled among a sea of David Austen shrub roses, hydrangeas and poppies, the perfectly pink Norwood Rose cottage, has offered a space to dream for this pair of flower fanatics.
Originally a quaint corner shop, the property was bought in 2016 and quickly converted into a floral utopia featuring winding antique brick paths, topiaries made from different buxus and a year-round floral showcase.
Oasis on the Downs – Country Garden goals reached | Paul & Noela Rubb
Like many successful gardeners, Paul and Noela had no grand design for their magnificent garden. They just made a start and things gradually came together.“Paul has an eye for design and it all evolved over time as we worked our way around,” Noela explains. “Our plan was all in Paul’s head,” she laughs.
Originally dairy farmers from the Acland area, Paul and Noela Rubb relocated to their gorgeous Haden property in 2006 and immediately begun planting their award-winning garden. Shortly after settling, the pair learned their property was open to bad wind breaks so introduced ornamental olives and bottle trees that are now a key feature of the property. Speckled with tributes to their previous work together, the pair have installed gorgeous cattle troughs brimming with spring flowers as well as a large wheel rim that boasts green and gold ivy year-round. It is this clear attention to detail that has landed the couple Large Homestead and Country Grand Champion four years in a row in the gardening competition.
A Helping Hand – The Mulberry Project | Louise Noble
The Mulberry Project is more than a luscious vegetable patch. It’s a place where members of Toowoomba’s growing migrant community can reconnect with the foods they miss, gain valuable skills and share stories of their distant homelands. Imagined under a mulberry tree in Nobby in 2016, The Mulberry Project has sprouted into a social enterprise creating pathways to employment in farming and food for disadvantaged communities.
Volunteers, trainees and refugees join forces to grow chemical-free food such as peas, tomatoes and herbs to share as well as sell at their local markets. In its four-year history, The Mulberry Project has hosted over 200 volunteers and aided 20 community members into full-time employment; achieving its mission to create joy for many through assisting disadvantaged community members. It’s absolutely, a garden for good.
Local Legends – an award-winning sanctuary | Bob & Val Ford
Bob and Val Ford were convinced to enter what was then The Chronicle Garden Competition by ABC garden expert and former champion, Rod Hultgren. In the 31 years since then, there has only been one year in which Bob and Val didn’t collect a prize. Their garden blossomed into an award-winning sanctuary boasting winding vistas and beautiful nooks.
In Spring, their garden bursts to life in a crescendo of colour – pansies, stocks, petunias, snapdragons, dianthus, cinerarias, primulas and cliveas all blossom, balancing their lawn perfectly. There’s also a Japanese dwell space, complete with a seat and mirror creating the perfect photo spot. They love gardening and it shows. It’s also no surprise the Ford’s garden boasts a mantlepiece overflowing with award, and has been featured in Gardening Australia as well as Your Garden magazines.
Happy Habitat – a native sanctuary comes to life in three years | Richard & Anne-Maree Lindeman
Park Rangers, Richard and Anne -Maree Lindeman’s affinity for native flora and fauna has manifested into a natural refuge for local wildlife. Spotted with native grasses and sandstone rock features as well as tree ferns and orchids, the garden they have created is truly a wonder, especially given they only started three years ago.
They are particularly fond the ‘amoeba’ garden of Melaleuca ‘claret tops’ that mimic the plant’s form by utilising the naturally compact rounded canopies. It’s safe to say, this distinct focus on planting native flora has been a treat for the local birdlife, frogs and fish, over the past three years.
Shades of Green – an eco-friendly oasis | Charmaine & Peter Williamson
Hailing from “Bethuel” in Mount Lofty, a very special place built by the famous “Old Mr Moss”, Charmaine and Peter Williamson’s garden is an eco-friendly oasis, an ode to the couple’s passion for sustainability and the arts. Their garden boasts a hand-built solar watering system that saves 100 litres of water daily, as well as a tool shed, shade house, veggie garden and hydroponic system created entirely from recycled materials.
With 25 years under Charmaine’s belt as an artist and Peter’s background in plant science, the couple’s ingenuity has sparked wide-spread interest from the likes of Sophie Thompson at Gardening Australia who awarded them 1st Best Sustainable and 1st Best Productive Garden in 2019.
Top of the Class – a Playground inspired by children’s stories | Toowoomba Primary School
For a group of Toowoomba primary school students, digital distractions are no match for the hands-on appeal of gardening. Busy planting, weeding and harvesting, they are learning as they go. In a perfect reflection of the aims of Garden for Good, seeds of positivity planted by the Gowrie State School cleaning staff during COVID-19 have blossomed into a sea of colour and smiles in the playground.
With tributes to their favourite children’s stories including The Lorax, The Frog Prince and The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, this garden delights kids of all ages, and all of the butterflies! Bright flowers, lemon myrtle and grevilleas are just some of the gorgeous plants on display in this bright community hub.
Peace & Plenty (Bunnyconnellen) – a paddock to plate tranquillity | Ninian & Ann Stewart-Moore
Ninian and Ann Stewart-Moore, who purchased the olive grove and winery in 2016 after moving down from North Queensland. As lifetime graziers, the Stewart-Moores are dedicated to sharing their connection with the land with their visitors and Bunnyconnellen has proved to be the perfect place to share this paddock to plate experience. Bunnyconnellen was originally a dairy farm called ‘Hillview’ and there are even some of the original dairy structures standing today. The old machinery shed is now the cellar door, which is affectionately called “The Shed”. It was converted into the olive grove and vineyard you see today by then owners, P. and J. Simmonds, who changed the name to Bunnyconnellen after “Bunnyconnellan” in Myrtleville, Ireland.
Enjoying hosting visitors, Ninian and Ann warmly invite you to discover more about their home and will make sure your experience at Bunnyconnellen is not only a memorable one, but one that you will want to repeat over and over.
A Garden for All Ages – a family-friendly labour of love for 36 years | Janice Canning
With five children and nine grandchildren, Janice Canning is just the woman to create the ultimate family garden. A child’s zone, sitting areas for the grown-ups, and plenty of produce, means there’s something for everyone. Janice Canning’s love of gardening was inherited from her mother and grandmother, and for the past 36 years she has tended her garden in Rangeville just out of Toowoomba.
Truly a family-friendly garden with bright pots and pavers, as well as highly sustainable succulents, natives, and drought resistant varieties. She loves the joy it brings to her grandchildren’s faces when they pick vegies, herbs or fruit from the garden, or when they play in the 30-year-old cubby house.
To vote for you favourite garden, visit The Chronicle Garden for Good