Annette was born into a family who had a passion for gardening. Locals will know the Caldwell name which has long been synonymous with gardening.
The 1980 Champion Garden of the Grafton Jacaranda Festival Garden Competition was won by Les and Dorothy Caldwell (above) of 16 Miller Street, Grafton (photo courtesy of The Daily Examiner.)
Les and Dorothy Caldwell, Annette's loving parents, started out living in Bacon Street in Grafton where together they created a beautiful garden which they entered into the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald Garden Competition. This was a prestigious Competition where expectations were high. Judging was undertaken no less than four times a year – once each season. Therefore, the garden had to have all round appeal and be in first class condition all the time.
Les and Dorothy took out some major prizes in this Competition, regularly winning the North Coast Zone Title and going on to win Best Garden in the State. Grafton was now starting to get a name for good gardens.
Floral garden at the rear of 280 Bacon Street, Grafton. The Caldwell’s previous prize-winning garden.
In addition to this, Les and Dorothy used to regularly participate in the annual Jacaranda Festival Garden Competition, in their Bacon Street family home and then in their Miller Street home, which they moved to in 1970. In this competition they took out Champion Home Garden for 5 consecutive years until prior to Les becoming ill and subsequently passing away in 1988.
Front garden of 16 Miller Street. An unbroken border of Marigolds frames each bed in the garden, creating continuity and flow.
Les was an electrician and very adept at creating things. Together, Les and Dorothy used to light up the family home and garden at Christmas, which started yet another tradition. At this time, few people lit their homes and gardens and so the popularity of the display was immense. The Miller Street Garden was lit as part of the Garden Competition providing a unique opportunity for night-time viewing.
Les and Dorothy’s illuminated garden. Grafton had a unique section to its garden competition which allowed the gardens to be lit at night for public viewing. No other garden competition on the East coast of Australia had this as part of their competition. In other years, the Caldwell’s recreated a Jacaranda tradition of the Maypole in their garage as part of their illuminated garden.
A garage display of dolls doing the traditional Jacaranda Maypole Dance was a feature of their illuminated Garden. This section of the Jacaranda Festival Garden Competition was unique to Grafton as the late Spring weather lent itself to outdoor night-time activity.
The Jacaranda Queen and Princess being photographed in the back garden at Miller Street.
An elevated view of the back garden with the beautiful Clarence River in the background.
Back garden with fern house in view.
The fishpond garden at the back of 16 Miller Street. This pond and waterfall was hand built by Les and incorporated a fountain statue made from crushed marble.
Elevated view of the front garden of Les and Dorothy’s Miller Street home.
(The Far Side cartoon) This cartoon was surely written for Dorothy!