IN BLOOM: Antonia McCaskie is holding an open garden at her property.
IN BLOOM: Antonia McCaskie is holding an open garden at her property. Rob Williams

Rare chance comes along

IT WAS a vision of perfect serenity during a desperate battle for life that inspired Antonia McCaskie's gardening obsession.

The Bellbird Park cancer survivor has spent the past 20 years creating the dream that came to her while she was gravely ill during the early 1990s.

She started with welcoming, bright colours at the front.

She then worked her way into thick, rainforest-like shelter at the back.

Mrs McCaskie gets such a calming effect from being around her garden that she is reluctant to share it with more than a few people at a time.

But green thumbs across Ipswich will get to enjoy one of those rare opportunities this month.

Her 1500sq m property will be opened to the public as part of the Open Gardens Australia program on Saturday, May 25.

"I have lived here 25 years, but I didn't start the garden straight away," Mrs McCaskie said.

"First my sister got cancer, then I got it too."

It was during the recovery stages that Mrs McCaskie had a vision of what her garden would look like.

"The front garden is my paintbox; where I play with colours and textures and try to blend it all in," Mrs McCaskie said.

"It is a journey of life.

"My youth is at the front, then there's the halfway gate, then you go past the bridge of tranquillity and into the house of reflection.

"I hope that visitors to my garden will find some of the joy and peace that I have felt in creating it and living in it every day.

"It really reflects my belief that the journey goes on and on."

The garden has transformed significantly since it was last opened to a delighted and appreciative public eight years ago.

The enduring drought called for the planting of shrubs and natives - in among the roses and lavender - that don't require much water.

Part of the front garden is also edible, with the odd herb and vegie patch thrown in.

Horticulturalist and gardening writer Noel Burdette will speak on the day.

Rotary will provide morning and afternoon teas.

Plants will be available for sale on the day.

Garden address: 39 Fiona St, Bellbird Park.

Opening: Saturday, 25 May, 10am-4.30pm.

Admission: $7 (under 18 free).


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