Betty Gibbs has never known the name of this plant. Now has been identified as garlic vine or Mansoa Alliacea.
Betty Gibbs has never known the name of this plant. Now has been identified as garlic vine or Mansoa Alliacea. Erica Murree

Betty creates a great garden spread in Biggenden

AS YOU turn the corner about 15 kilometres down the Gooroolba Rd from Biggenden, you are greeted by the sight of a magnificent spread created by Betty Gibbs.

Betty and husband Rob have been at their 1489 Gooroolba Rd property, where they built their five- bedroom home, for almost 30 years.

The garden Betty started from scratch now covers an area of about an acre.

She said every square inch was originally planted by hand with blue couch.

"It still looks nice but now the vermin grass has come in," she said.

For the rocks around the garden beds, Betty would go out on the motorbike picking up rocks and stones from around the property.

At the front entrance is the name Girraween, meaning Place of Flowers.

She said Pop Gibbs had carved it out.

"The sign came with us when we moved from Biggenden."

The garden lives up to its name with its array of flowering plants, shrubs, cacti, trees including a wonderful bottle tree and down the back a fernery, fruit trees and vegetable patch.

Betty looks after the whole garden herself but son Geoff now does the mowing.

She says she misses doing the mowing but on doctor's orders is not allowed to.

Water is one of her biggest problems.

"Living on the land, water for the cattle comes first," she said.

"For the garden the water is pumped up from the bore but needs the wind for the windmill.

"This means hours shifting hoses."

No water is wasted.

Betty uses water from the washing machine.

"At least this keeps the garden alive," she said.

The use of fertilisers is kept to a minimum but Betty does use lots of manure and mulch.

At present her gerberas are suffering.

"For this time of the year it has been so hot," she said.

"It is unreal.

"Plants have got cooked from the heat."

She originally had a bed of roses but dug them out after they were hit with disease.

Betty concentrates more on hardy plants and shrubs that don't take a lot of looking after.

She said the secret to good plants was pruning.

Betty abides by gardening guru Peter Cundall and keeps a pairs of pruners in her pocket to cut off dead wood and keep the shrubs to a good shape.

A plant Betty found at the Howard markets is one of her favourites.

The creeper has climbed up and over a trellis and is now a hive of beautiful lilac flowers.

It didn't have a name on it so she has never known what it is.

"The creeper gets a bean like pod full of seeds on it," she said.

"I have been able to strike some new plants in the fernery and share them with friends."

The Gibbs have a wonderful vegetable garden down the back which is Rob's pride and joy.

But Betty said the potatoes, for some reason, were not doing particularly well.

The mango tree up on the hill behind their house is flowering.

Son Geoff picked four buckets of fruit the other day so Betty is keen to make some relish.

For the mangoes to be flowering at this time of the year is an odd occurrence but it has happened in the past.

There is presently a lovely crop of mandarins and oranges but they are battling the white cockatoos, king parrots and flying foxes.

"They (the birds) can be so destructive," she said.

"We use to have every fruit imaginable including apricots, nectarines, bananas and lychees."

Betty admitted the garden is getting a bit too big for her.

"We're not as young as we use to be.

"But I do like my gardening; I get a lot of pleasure from it."

If she has any spare time Betty's other passion is restoring old furniture.

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