WINNER: Betty Sullivan with her beautiful peacock trophy for winning the Toowoomba Chronicle Garden Competition.
WINNER: Betty Sullivan with her beautiful peacock trophy for winning the Toowoomba Chronicle Garden Competition.

Betty's lovely little garden makes a big impact

THE CARNIVAL of Flowers is always a poignant time for 87-year-old Palm Lake Resort Toowoomba resident Betty Sullivan.

Her second son, Barry, was born during the first carnival in 1949 and died from a brain tumour during the 50th.

"He was born in flowers and he was taken in flowers," said Betty.

It makes her quadruple garden competition win this year all the more special.

"It's always Barry's garden in September," she said.

In the Toowoomba Chronicle Garden Competition, Betty won first prize in the retirement/lifestyle unit dwelling category, second for best floral garden and third for the best front garden, as well as first prize in Palm Lake's own in-house competition.

They aren't her first wins, and will undoubtedly not be the last, with Betty already making plans to redesign the garden for next year.

She and her daughter Debra have been living at Palm Lake Resort for six years, and Betty said she had gotten to work straight away on digging out everything that was there and starting her own garden.

Debra has inherited her green thumb and is the resort's gardener, but Betty is adamant: "She doesn't touch my garden," she laughs.

"I've only got a pocket handkerchief, so I make the gardens go vertical," Betty explained, with varieties this year including petunias, snapdragons, anemones, pansies, primulas and poppies for a start.

"It's colourful alright," Betty said. "You can see it from everywhere.

"I'm very proud of it actually."

And so she should be. She spends about five hours a day in the garden year-round, and says the hundreds of visitors (many of whom are decades her junior) who come to view the garden during the carnival are often amazed that she can still achieve so much at her age.

"The more you do, the better you are," Betty said simply. "I can bend down and touch my toes and do anything I like."

Always a gardener, and with six kids to raise and money scarce, Betty said her early gardens focused on growing all the fruit and vegetables her family needed on their quarter acre block.

"There's nothing like picking your own," she said.

But for Betty, it doesn't matter what you are growing, so long as you are outside.

"When you're out in the garden, you've got no worries," she said.

"It's peaceful and hours go by and you haven't realised.

"My garden calls me outside."

And it just goes to prove, size really doesn't matter.


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