WELCOME TO MY GARDEN: Sue Telford with husband John have created a native garden at the back of their business Biggenden Newsagency and their residence. Photo Erica Murree / Central & North Burnett Times
WELCOME TO MY GARDEN: Sue Telford with husband John have created a native garden at the back of their business Biggenden Newsagency and their residence. Photo Erica Murree / Central & North Burnett Times Erica Murree

Birds and bees love the natives at John and Sue's garden

ALMOST 12 months ago, the ground was bare dirt, but today has been transformed with a variety of native plants and a home for small birds and bees.

John and Sue Telford have now owned Biggenden Newsagency for five years, but it wasn't until they built their home at the back of their Edward St business that they started to plan a garden.

Having always had a garden wherever they lived, Sue said they started with bare dirt, trucked soil in and then John started shovelling.

"He put heaps and heaps of gypsum through the soil," she said.

John said the soil couldn't get enough of it (gypsum).

"It does more good than harm, especially in this clay soil," he said.

It was back-breaking work to gather rocks out of Clive Rollinson's paddocks to define the garden beds.

The bird bath, gate, burl and old rusty bike all came with the Telfords from Dalby, as did the concrete animals, including the family of emus and the echidna.

Sue found a parrot at the Lions markets, and it takes pride of place on the old timber gate.

At the side gate, visitors are greeted by one of Craig Nelson's sculptures of a giraffe.

An added feature is the hand-carved sandstone slabs bought many years ago from a Bell dairy.

Sue said they intended to use the stones for a path.

"When we realised its history, we decided to highlight them in the garden," she said.

Being only a tiny yard, in fact courtyard-sized, the Telfords chose natives and shrubs to attract the smaller birds.

John said Suzie was a bit more knowledgeable about plants than he was.

"We worked out what plants we wanted and headed to the nurseries," he said.

"Suzie knew where they were to go, and I did the planting.

"We work together - we are a team."

The blooms are now attracting the honeyeaters and bees, as well as native bees, which are new to the couple.

"We never had them in Dalby," Sue said.

In another life, John was a farmer-cum-groundsman, and Sue is quick to point out "I'm the slave driver".

Sue said once they got the plants bedded in, they now only had to water them once a week.

"Each plant only receives one minute worth of water," she said.

"I count to 60 and then move on to the next plant.

"The only things that get a bit more water are anything in pots, as they dry out quicker."

One shrub that has its branches broken due to the abundance of flowers is the eremophilia, or emu bush.

Sue said out in the wild, the emus would have eaten the nuts that form after the flowers.

John said gardening was great for stress.

"When we close the back door of the shop and walk into the garden, you feel as though you are in another world," he said.

The Telfords were disappointed to have had to leave behind their fruit trees in huge pots.

"The cumquats were beautiful," Sue said.

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