Sheila, Ian & Nicola
by Sheila Tierney
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Ian and I first became interested in waterlilies during 1970 when trying to buy some in Queensland, Australia, to put in our one acre dam which was the focus of landscaping on our new six acre property. We could only buy three colours locally, but knew there were more because we had seen them featured in gardening magazines. We had to buy them by mail order from other states within Australia.
Some lived and grew well, some died - why was this? - how come some of the roots were different? - some flowers different shapes? - what were the similarities between the ones which loved to live with us which the others didn't have? These were the burning questions which resulted in research, study and eventual fascination with the world of water gardening, which is now our passion.
We live in an A-frame house on three acres of land among hills at the back of the Gold Coast, one hour's drive south from Brisbane. We are on the outskirts of a small village called Canungra which retains its colonial rural charm and is a haven for tourists who visit to escape the pressures of city life and listen to the noise of babbling creeks and bird song.
The road we live on goes to O'Reillys Rainforest Guesthouse in Lamington National Park. (Don't miss this web site!) O'Reillys became famous because a light plane came down in dense bush and the government mounted a rescue mission. They didn't find anything so, after one week, the search was called off. Bernard O'Reilly, who lived on top of a high mountain, reasoned out the details of their flight path, the strength of the wind on the day, the length of the time they had been flying and therefore the most likely area where they would have crashed. He set off to find them and was successful in rescuing two of the passengers. He had taken food and water for them, made them comfortable and returned with farmers to help carry them out. A memento cairn with carved brass plaques is on show outside the guesthouse to commemorate the rescue.
Now over 250,000 visitors a year go to O'Reillys to walk along the various bush tracks to see waterfalls, spectacular views over valleys and enjoy the bird life. Those having meals on the deck are often visited by rosellas, lorikeets and lyrebirds anxious to eat up the crumbs dropped from the tables and scrounge a bit from you too. The lyrebirds are fond of the currents in a slice of fruit cake and pecked them out of the slice on my husband's plate before he could eat it!
A private botanic garden has been set up at O'Reillys and many visitors have sent plants from their own countries to them. Now such plants as edelweiss from Switzerland can been seen growing there and probably nowhere else in Australia.
Lower down life goes on at a more gentle pace. We have sheep to graze the river banks and nature strips as they are too difficult to mow. In the winter we have to feed the lambs hay in the mornings and grain at night. It is a real bunfight and not something to find yourself in the middle of -- I have re-arranged the feed trays so that I can put the food in while I am on the other side of the fence. They have a fenced yard with little housie to get in if the weather is cold or wet. When we slash long grass it gets put into the sheep yard and they sleep on it. Their sharp feet break it up and it gets turned into good humus which is then taken out into the garden and used around fruit trees in the orchard and on the flower beds. Of all the animals we could have had to keep the grass down on the steep slopes I chose sheep because I am bigger than they and their manure gets spread and doesn't sit in noticeable heaps on the grass.
We have lived on this property since 1994 and chose it for