Springtime for the Tamborine Mountain garden festival

THE annual Springtime on the Mountain open gardens festival at Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland is gearing up to be the most diverse and spectacular in many years.  

This year, Festival organisers have brought together a total of eight private gardens - four for the first time and four great favourites - that will open to the public over three days through the last weekend in September.  

The 2015 festival was voted Community Event of the Year in January at the Scenic Rim Australia Day Awards.   

The garden offerings at Springtime this year range from quaint and pretty cottage gardens to broad, open expanses with towering trees and delightful pockets of colour.   

Just a few minutes from the tourist centre of Gallery Walk in Eagle Heights are three treasures; The Haven and Forget-Me-Not Cottage offer the colourful delight of cottage gardens while spectacular Villa Montana evokes Italy.

Further afield, Harmony Gardens is a large informal garden developed over 40 years while Faithfull Garden is newly-established with mass plantings of ornamental grasses and perennials that lead to formal terraces enclosing a rose garden.  

Frances and David Cowper are working to prepare their magnificent two-hectare property, Vistas, for the event.

  They bought the property in 1979, originally with a plan for an avocado orchard. At the time it included just two or three trees. They built a house, prepared the land and then tenanted the property for 22 year.   

When they settled in full time in 2001, the orchard dream had succumbed to disease and borers so they set about building a sprawling garden of wide lawns, tall trees and areas of plantings.

The garden now includes a Japanese section, secluded spaces, a large pond and a sweeping driveway entry.   "My favourite area of the garden changes from season to season," explains Frances.

David's favourite is an enclosed area populated with clivias and begonias.  David is quick to point out that Frances is the creative member of the team.    

"I drive the tractor and plant what and where Frances decides," he says.  

"Tamborine Mountain is a unique environment. Temperate and sub-tropical plants do well although we discovered quickly that what works in the Dandenongs in Victoria is not likely to thrive in our climate."  

The couple acknowledge that much of their early planting was influenced by local gardeners.   

"The Youngman and Wallace families are well established on the Mountain and they were incredibly generous with their wisdom and their time," says Frances.   

She says visitors to the garden during the Springtime festival are welcome to bring a picnic. 

"It is a large space with plenty of room to spread out a rug and enjoy the views over lunch," she says. 

The hub of activities through the three-day festival will be the Vonda Youngman Community Centre in North Tamborine.

The centre will be home to a cafe open for lunch, morning and afternoon teas, plant stalls, entertainment and loads of information about gardening from guest speakers.    

The line-up of guest speakers include Garden Guru Phil Dudman, radio host and magazine editor Paul Plant and horticulturalist and presenter Claire Bickle.   

Trail passes are just $20 per person, with Government Pensioner card holders at $15, dependent children free. Single garden passes are $5.  

Group bookings and coach tours are most welcome, with the price for pre-booked groups of 10 or more at just $15 per person.   

Complimentary trail guides are included.  

Proceeds go towards improving Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens.

For more information and group bookings contact the Springtime on the Mountain convenor, Margaret Pile Phone: 0458 102 344 Email: info@springtime.org.au Web: tmbotanicgardens.org.au/springtime

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