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“Whatever is growing in my garden has to be hardy to live with me, but is all well loved.” So said Virginia Bond in her garden overview sheet for Australia’s Open Garden Scheme in 1997, the year she first opened her one acre Jondaryan garden to the public. And so obvious it is too, on visiting this happy garden where every plant has an individual identity, possibly a personal name, and an undoubted relationship with its friend and carer Virginia.

Virginia and husband Greg Bond moved into their home, Mayville, when they married 30 years ago. It was an old weatherboard cottage with a century’s worth of history, sitting nonetheless schtum (as houses do) despite the stories it could tell, and somewhat unloved. It was bare of garden except a few straggling gum trees in a horse paddock on the edge of the tiny town of Jondaryan, west of Toowoomba.

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Little did it know of the energy and vision that were to be applied to it and its surrounds by this daughter of generations of gardeners and homemakers! Within 11 years and despite the vicissitudes of climatic and soil conditions, a very much enlarged and beautified Mayville, hidden in her own microclimate of lovely, flourishing garden, was discovered by the Australian Open Garden Scheme. Its then assessor, the much loved and now deceased Mrs Ann Moran, said of this garden: “It has a simple but effective design.”

“Grown like Topsy’s snowball,” is how Virginia describes it. Nonetheless the green thumb that is in Virginia’s gene pool, plus the work ethic that sees her labouring in her garden world all day every day if possible, alongside dogs Gemma and Tonka and chooks Henny Penny and Mrs Chirpy, has created a small piece of Paradise.

The garden is slowly recovering from four years of ennui when Virginia and Greg moved to Middlemount, North Queensland, for work. Mayville felt the neglect occasioned by her absence. Dry, hot summers, severe winter frosts, and above all, the lack of water and loving care knocked it around. But now Virginia is back with a vengeance; the bone structure of a good garden is very forgiving. Even the Lad’s Love, which (says Virginia) only flourishes near a loving home, is flourishing again.

This December, bathed in birdsong and surrounded by her family and friends in this lovely setting, daughter Alice will celebrate her wedding in the garden in which she and her sister Laurette grew up. Perhaps the wedding guests will appreciate the years of toil that have created the garden that surrounds them – ute loads of soil, manure and mulch carted for miles to build beds that hold for the most part perennials rather than annuals, sheltered by a jungle of trees where once there were none.

There is no denying that, to quote an inscription in her mother Laurette Reynolds’ magnificent garden Moorlands at Kulpi, ‘A Garden is a Lovesome Thing, God wot’. Virginia’s Mayville garden in particular.

Words by Jane Grieve | Images via Janine Waters