Many country women take great pleasure in their gardens. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in coming to live in the bush. I’m not a keen gardener as I’d rather be in the office writing.

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But I’ve worked at it (with some help) and I have to say after five years, my garden is gradually improving. This year some visitors even commented, “Margôt, the garden is looking lovely.” I was very proud as no one has ever said that to me before!

But today I had delight in sharing my neighbour’s triumph for a little while at “Cooinda” near Stanthorpe. Margaret Finlay’s spectacular array of colours and hidden delights took my breath away as I explored her substantial garden (which has grown over the years requiring the garden gate be pushed back again and again).

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As I wandered, enjoying Margaret’s “contrasting colours” which appear random but I’m sure have been meticulously placed, I couldn’t help noticing the birds darting and diving around us chorusing the crickets and cicadas. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the garden. I’m told sometimes they are so loud it’s difficult to talk!

Margaret followed along contributing the names of the plants and telling me the story of her garden which echoes the story of her family. The Finlays have had their fair share of tragedy in recent years including losing a daughter and daughter-in-law to cancer. Her garden has become, in many respects, a memorial, nurturing family tributes to members now lost, amongst gifts from concerned loved ones and family eccentricities.

The garden has become Margaret’s life. It’s her work, her hobby, her passion … her retreat. I can’t see me ever achieving anything so heart-stopping at Spring Creek Station but I have to admire what Scott and Margaret have achieved. They’ve created a garden that the family loves to share for weddings, parties, barbeques, tennis tournaments. I imagined imbibing a casual glass of wine amongst the beautiful gums that have been gradually subsumed and provide a stunning contrast to the shrubs and bushes set around them.

It’s impossible not to be infected by Margaret’s enthusiasm. She made me realise a good garden is a learning journey: what works where; the importance of mulching, when to touch and when to leave alone. I shall have to visit again soon. I only scratched the surface!

If you are interested and live nearby, they are having an open garden on November 2-3 (Click here). It’s $7.00 entry and proceeds raised support Kim Walter’s Choices Program based at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. I guess they wanted to give back a little. They certainly inspired me.

Margot Tesch