Around Brisbane

by Sheila Tierney

Click images to enlarge


A retired businessman fell in love with an original Queensland homestead, even though it needed lots of TLC. Many happy hours of tinkering and painting later the house was restored so they could tackle the garden. In the front they discovered a fountain which seems to have been used as a bird bath.

Deciding the home needed a focal point in the back garden he and his son decided to incorporate the fountain into a stone-work pond. A low voltage pump was used, operated from the house. In the future underwater lights will be installed.


Mount Tamborine is a tourist mecca situated one hour's drive inland from the Gold Coast and one and a half hour's drive south from Brisbane so is easily accessible. The air is clean, cool and fragrant and there are wonderful views from the fringes of the whole plateau over the rainforest, palms, rolling green farmland and out to the Pacific Ocean. It is an ideal honeymoon destination; therefore several wedding chapels have evolved.

These wedding chapels often strive to offer garden beds in various colour schemes with different flowering cycles so that, no matter what colour the bridesmaids are dressed in, there is a colourful garden bed to be photographed against. Often they incorporate stone pillars, arches, seats, bird fountains, ponds and waterfalls in the landscaping as it is difficult to have colourful garden beds during winter when the nights bring frost and even during the day there is a nip in the air even though the sun is shining.

Avalon, one of the most popular wedding chapels with 10 acres of gardens, features a white stone Grecian style chapel and orchards. The pond was already made and bridge in place when we were asked to visit and offer our ideas. The " before" photo shows our daughter Nicola discussing with Avalon's gardener how to best overcome the fact that, when they filled the pond and the liner stretched to fit the profile, they found to their horror that the liner pulled down below the water line in the area below where the bridge had been built.

Using spare liner, they cut off and glued several patches to fix it. We gave them a list of plants suitable, within their budget, to give the best effects year round. River sand was run into the pond through a pipe, oxygenators and marginals planted and the lilies placed once the water had warmed up. The first lot of fish got taken by herons but a second delivery, once the plants had grown a bit to offer shelter, lived to give people a warm and fuzzy feeling as they come up for nibbles from the wedding breakfasts served there.

One year later the pond has been featured in many wedding photos, especially with the bridal party standing on the bridge. The day and night flowering tropicals and hardy lilies were planted into 50cm plastic (terracotta look-alike) bowls with extra fertiliser and have responded wonderfully. They have lilies flowering 24 hours of the day, 10 months of the year and flowering marginals throughout the year.

They have incorporated a Hozelock 1000 low voltage pump into the pond which runs water out through a hollow log, down the face of sandstone rocks and causes a flow which the 50 goldfish love to play in when it is turned on to give added effect, and is very useful to add extra oxygen on warm, still nights.


A Brisbane businessman always keen for a bargain had been offered all the large fantail goldfish from a friend's leaking pond if he had somewhere to put them. So he had the ponds made, then called us in to make the stone structures into ponds. Unfortunately the stonemason who has built the 5m long curving sandstone pond, which acted as a retaining wall for the garden behind and with water cascading down the rear wall, had put expensive rounded river pebbles etc in the water feature. This was fine for its original use, but now it was to be used as a real-life pond and was a waste of money.




 Washington Pond - front

 Washington Pond - middle

 Washington Pond - back

This sandstone trough was too deep and too narrow to get a good effect from lilies so marginals were the main feature. They had to be kept either side of the water jets so they wouldn't get bruised or knocked over.


When you buy a house with a brick BBQ standing out in the middle of a lawn, how do you incorporate it into your overall plan of a comfortable place to live in all weather? When the carport was boxed in with a timber wall it allowed an entertainment area to be created in the space between there, the BBQ and the house. For comfort it was covered with 80% shade cloth sewn onto a steel pipe framework. Finding plants to grow in such a shady area was a challenge but rewarding. The owners went to the landscape yard to buy a wall fountain but came back with the seal cub fountain because they fell in love with his engaging smile. The concrete bowl of another fountain set which had been split up was used as the backdrop. It has a Hoxelock 1000 pump in with a variety of fountain heads to suit the wind conditions.

The teardrop shaped pond is 2.5m long and 1.2m wide, 60cm deep over two thirds of its length with a shallow shelf for free growing marginals at the narrowest point. Lined with pond vinyl and with river sand in the bottom, planted with oxygenators, marginals and lilies, it is a haven for frogs and currently has green tree frog tadpoles living harmoniously with the goldfish.


On the Gold Coast land is very expensive and houses are large, resulting in small gardens. A combination of sandy soil, heat reflecting off a white perimeter wall and shade from tall overhanging palms was supposed to create a courtyard in which to sit and relax. The noise of passing traffic and the dust the cars caused made this impossible.






Using a 1m long vinyl lined pond, recycled timber, interesting rocks collected on travels and the noise of a splashing fountain to hide the sound of traffic, the owners now enjoy their own private haven. The fountain gives humidity to the courtyard where the grass is now growing and can be enjoyed at night when the garden lights are switched on. They were delighted just the other day to hear a frog calling - they have no idea where it came from as the only water near them is ocean and saltwater canals.

 Waterlily Acres

The Tierneys 


 Silver Lining

Are Birds Telepathic? 

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