Annette bought the house at 17 Edgecombe Avenue, Junction Hill, in 1992 and, having a keen eye for potential, realised the property would eventually make a very comfortable home. A modest attempt at making a garden was started by son Scott in 1993 and in 1994 it took several first prizes in the Jacaranda Festival Garden Competition.

Removing the old poor soil.

The house was then rented for a period of roughly 10 years before Annette and Scott moved into the home and commenced the task of renovation and garden creation. The house had been treated poorly but the ‘bones’ were good and a massive renovation turned the house into a very new and liveable home in a great position.

Work in progress, February 2009.

After 18 months of downsizing and culling inside, our efforts were directed at the garden – where we both felt most at home. Initial goals were to tidy the yard and remove most existing plants. Machinery was brought in to remove old, hard, clay soil to allow new soil to be brought in and planted in. While it’s understood that clay soil can be improved with lots of work, Annette felt that given her senior years, she didn’t necessarily have time to wait 5 or more years for that process to unfold! In addition, our experience in improving clay soil has not been good, and depended on us constantly working the soil, something that was almost impossible for us to achieve.

The state of the back garden October 2008.

Before new soil was placed, we added organic, aged cow manure, gypsum (to assist the breaking down of the clay), shredded paper, and mushroom compost. The soil was then placed on top of this and was ready to plant.

It should be mentioned at this point, that there was never any intention of opening the garden for viewing at any time in the future. That was a rather spontaneous happening in 2013.

Building the waterfall and pond.

Irrigation was installed through the entire garden via 19 stations. The gardens were then ready for planting and the fun of buying could begin. Many hours have been spent trawling nurseries and websites in search of different and interesting plants for the garden. It became a way of life.

The garden was designed to focus more on tropical garden plants for their tremendous foliage colour, patterns and texture. So, the garden has a somewhat tropical style to it in most parts.

The formal garden was created and original intentions were for it to be lined with box hedge, but even though we brought new soil in, the topography of the underlying clay soil, combined with a natural spring, meant that during very wet weather the ground below does not drain well and plants who do not like ‘wet feet’ end up dying. This has been the case for the roses also. So, the garden is now designated for annuals only.

Making progress October 2011.

The fern house is in fact a steel shed minus the sides. The roof is alsynite to allow for controlled watering. The plants in here have a very specific fertiliser regime. This was Annette’s favourite part of the garden.

There are 9 water features in the garden which help to bring the garden to life aurally. Fish were once in some of them but birds made short work of all of them and we decided to give up on the fish idea.

Some of the more interesting plants in the garden are Purple Datura, Green Rose, Black Bat Plant, Persian Shield, Pineapple Lily, Beehive Gingers, to name a few.

Remember that anyone can grow plants, it’s what you do with them that makes the difference. The ‘layered’ effect of the front garden and very back garden was planned to be that way and has taken some years to achieve this effect. The peak of this effect can be seen in June when the Poinsettia’s are flowering. Unfortunately, these become quite straggly after flowering and must be pruned heavily to make way for new foliage, which doesn’t arrive until Summer. However, we keep them for the display they give in the otherwise drab Winter months.

The old formal garden..

Gladioli become a focal point of the garden during the Jacaranda Festival with a riot of colour. Quality corms are purchased every year to ensure good flowering. The range of colours is divine and the flowers spectacular. In 2013 the Gladioli flowers were up to 1 metre in length! Stunning. The corm plantings are staggered over about 3 weeks to ensure that there will definitely be some out for the Festival. Timing can be difficult because of the unpredictable weather.

While both Mum and I are experienced gardeners, we have still learned a great deal of things creating this garden. Some of what we thought we knew went out the window when faced with the challenges of building a garden on clay soil.

We hope you appreciate the many hours we have put into making Annette's Garden the splendid place that it is today, considering the difficult soil we have had to start with.