The Gardens In 1969

The Rain Forest

The rain forest fills all the South East corner, about two fifths of the frontage of Range Street and all the frontage to Mackenzie Street and extends West approximately to the line shown. As far as we know, all invaders have been removed and this rain forest contains only indigenous trees, shrubs, climbers and ferns. These are representatives of most of the vegetation we have seen in the forests of the Mistake Mountains, Main Range about Cunningham's Gap and the Lamington but the trees are not so tall. There are several varieties of Fig including one very big strangler fig probably one hundred years old, and, in 1969, there are several quite young Figs just starting to get their roots down to ground level.

There were Queensland Lace Bark and other Brachychitons, Lilli Pilli, Red Cedar, Deep Yellow Wood, Ribbon Wood, Hoop Pine, Silky Oak and others whose names we don't know. There are also Birds Nest Ferns, tree ferns and many varieties of ground fern.

On the Range Street and Mackenzie Street frontages there wass a Duranta hedge which is not natural to the forest. It was originally planted as a protection and in fact surrounds all the property except Subdivision 2 of Portions 602 and 603.

The Avocado Orchard

On a slope to the east between the tennis court and the west edge of the rain forest there were eight Avocado trees now about fifteen years old and in most years, bearing well. They needed heavy watering during July, August and September and were fertilised in August each year. There were some Citrus here also but except for one Meyer Lemon, they did not succeeded well.

Proposed Site for Suitable Australian Flowering Shrubs

South of the Avocados there is a bay of open forest, sheltered on the east by the rain forest and on the West by the rising ground. The slope is to the east and it is well open to the sun and warmth from the North. It was proposed to increase the shelter on the West side by planting Australian flowering trees along the line of fence. Along this line, too, there was a pile of unwanted dead branches etc., put there to encourage the return of the Whip birds which were driven away when their habitat was destroyed in Range Street a few years ago. There was a bird bath at point, and all this has resulted in the Whip birds coming back.

The Tennis Court

The tennis court is 120 ft x 60 ft. enclosed with high netting. It was originally antbed but is now grassed. There is a double row of Jacarandas on the east side between the court and the Avocados and a wind break of Silky Oaks, Jacarandas, Cotoneasters and Crataegus running east-west on the southern side.

On the east side of the tennis court there is a row of Doryanthus, the giant red flowering lily of the Cunningham's Gap area. These were grown from seeds collected there. They have grown very well and produce occasional spikes of flower.

There is a terrace for watching play on the west side of the court. On the wall of this terrace there is a "Chimaera" once part of the gothic representation of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. It was replaced when repairs were being done in 1937and bought in London and brought and set up here shortly after.

Two small heads obtained at the same time were built, one into the swimming pool where it throws a jet of water and the other into the West porch of the house.

On the slope above the tennis court there is a bed of Ericas. There are a few Proteas and other South African plants to the south-west of the tennis court and north of the wind break.

The Swimming Pool

This was on the same level as the tennis court connected by a terrace lawn shaded by native trees and extending to the north into an open glade running into the rain forest from which visitors can easily, by looking east and west, get an impression of it.

The Rose Garden

Roses do not do especially well on the East side of Toowoomba but by care and selection of suitable varieties success has been achieved.

The rain forest comes right up to the Rose Garden, the pool, the corner of the tennis court and the Avocado orchard, and this boundary marks the Eastern limit of introduced plants. West of this line there are no restrictions. East of it the curators tried to be Australian only and not only that but to include only trees and plants native to this environment.

Native Orchids

On the trees and rocks about the swimming pool and in the wall garden there are established in natural conditions specimens of most of the native Orchids occurring in South Eastern Queensland.


South of the Rose Garden, the original slope of the land forms a lawn with some now fairly large Eucalypts and Brush Box, bordered by garden beds. On the east side, sheltered from morning sun, Camellias do well and in the garden as a whole there is now quite a good collection of these. The soil is acid and we can choose situations sheltered from the morning sun and under the light shade of the high trees. This slope east of the house above the pool was called the Camellia Lawn but in 1969 there are now Camellias in many other parts of the garden.

Poplars and Azaleas

Along the northern boundary, west of the Rose Garden to a point west of the house there is a row of Poplars inside the Duranta hedge and on the southern side of these is a row of tall growing Indica Azaleas, which also do very well here.

The Western end of this row of Azaleas curls round a group of tall Eucalypts among which there are some Rhododendrons, and more Camellias. Here also is a Magnolia grandiflora, a magnificent tree not much more than 30 years old an about 40 ft high. The Rhododendrons flower but do not thrive. We were trying some more in the wall garden.

Espalier Fruit Trees

Above the Rose Garden and south of the Poplars and Azaleas is a trellis on which an Apricot, two Plums and a Tropical Apple have been espaliered. So far the "Wilson" Plum has been the only one to produce much fruit. Nearby are two Dwarf Peaches which prosper and produce very good peaches in profusion .In fact the fruit they set has to be reduced to about 30% by rubbing off the little peaches so as to give the rest room to develop.

Bearded Iris

There is a good named collection in the "Iris" bed curving round the lawn north of the house and quite a big planting in the "flower garden" to the south. We have had good success with these Bearded Iris though they need a good deal of attention to keep them free of rust.

House Lawn

A fairly large area was levelled before the house was built and this area east and north was mostly open lawn. Great care was taken at that time and in all formation work that has been done since, to remove and preserve the top soil and when the required work was done, then to put the top soil back.


West of the house is a brick paved courtyard from which two concrete running strips lead through the grass up to Range Street just West of the Rhododendrons.

The drive is bordered by a lawn on the west then the long west border and behind that there is a good wind break of Cupressus Lambertiana Horizontalis, a Tecoma capensis hedge and behind again a row of Eucalyptus Tallowoods now about 40 years old. By this means, the garden was very well sheltered from the West.

Rock Gardens

West of the pool there was a fairly large rock garden among columns of basalt brought in from the Toowoomba Quarry and there was a sandstone rock garden west and south of the brick courtyard. In both these rock gardens there were individual rocks of substantial size and individual beauty and they form a good background for the plantings that have been done there.

The Flower Garden

On the south side of the house, this was surrounded by hedges; these were double to make a good wind break. The garden is terraced on the contour lines as shown, so that every bed is level. On the north or uphill side of each terrace there is a path lower than the level of the cultivated bed. These paths form pondages so that even in heavy rain there is no run-off.

The flower garden was used for growing cut flowers for the house and for giving away for concerts of the A.B.C. and local Chamber Music Society and the like. In this garden one whole terrace was taken up by named varieties of Bearded Iris being increased and the whole of the west side of each of two others is full of daffodils, mostly in rows of named varieties.

In the South Eastern corner are Poinsettias and Hibiscus.

The Wall Garden

Named now for its tall brick wall on the south side, it has hedges on the other three and a grove of Tristania conferta which give a high cool shade. This garden is cool and shady and yet not dark. Camellias including some Reticulata, deciduous Magnolia, the dwarf double Azaleas and now a few new Rhododendrons are the main planting in it. There are some English Bluebells and native Australian Violets.

In this garden there was a Camellia "Asphasia Macarthur" now measuring 31.5 inches round the bole 6 inches above ground level. This Camellia was transplanted from "Barrymount" garden about two years ago when the garden there was broken up for subdivision. Its true age is not known but it has been known to us for 46 years since Mr. G.H. Griffiths went to live at Barrymount and it was old then. From the age of the original Barrymount garden it could be from 90 to nearly 100 years old.

The Compost Pit

The Compost Pit is managed in six divisions. We compost everything we possibly can and try to waste nothing. Rougher material like weeds and spent plants, flowers from the house and dry waste, newspapers etc. go into the first division on the east side. They are kept moist and turned first into No. 2 division an then into No. 3 from which they are used on the garden. We found that No. 3 empties usually in 4 to 5 months, by which time No. 1 is full again. We turn No.2 into No. 3 and No. 1 into No. 2 and so start again using No. 3 and filling No. 1.

The three divisions on the west side are worked in the same way with grass clippings and leaves from the lawns. They make a finer compost and we sometimes incorporate some fowl manure when we can get it to hasten rotting and improve the fertility of the compost.

As well as making and using a lot of compost we use the longer mowings when dried, for summer mulching and in the vegetable garden much green material is dug in.

Each winter we get in a supply of stable manure from a racing stable and this when rotted down is used in the spring for mulching

The Vegetable and Berry Garden

The vegetable garden was protected south and west by hedges and terraced on the contours in the same way as the flower garden. We did not try to grow everything in the vegetable garden, but concentrate on those things which generally are better picked and used straight away.

In the summer

Sweet Corn, French Beans, Squash, Lettuce, and also Tomatoes and Butternut Pumpkins.

In the winter

Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leeks and Lettuce.

There were also six very good rows of Asparagus and several trellises of Boysenberries, Youngberries and Loganberries. These all do very well.

We get some Raspberries and are trying to learn how to succeed with Strawberries here. They cannot be grown in winter as they are at Redland Bay for example. Here they come in the late spring and summer but we don't think they would ever be a commercial success here.

We get some Passionfruit but they are difficult too. Self-sown vines do best but then the possums are the main beneficiaries.


The Cottage

The cottage was at that time occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Falvey. Mr. Falvey is a T.P.I. Pensioner from World War II. Mrs Falvey helps in the house at 6 Range Street for a few hours each day.

Water Supply

There is a bore and windmill from which water is pumped to one elevated and one 20,000 gallon low level tank at the Range Street entrance and reticulates through the garden.

There is another bore with a not very satisfactory supply, equipped with a pumphead and electric motor from which come water can be obtained in emergency.

There is a centrifugal pump and electric motor near the pool by means of which the pool water can be pumped back into the 20,000 gallon tank or on to the garden. There is also a centrifugal pump near the compost heap for boosting pressure when watering the higher levels of the garden.

Storage Sheds

There are two wood and galvanised iron sheds, once cowbails and hayshed, now used for storage of garden material.

Air Raid Shelter

This was made in the 1939-45 War. It is an underground splinter shelter only. Now concealed entirely by shrubs and creepers, the entrance is in good order and the shelter can be used for the cool storage of bulbs etc., if wanted.

The Paddocks

These still contain some Eucalypts and Brush Box, big trees, open forest country.