Bloom­ing good way to re­lax

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOUR BACKYARD - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

IT’S the sat­is­fac­tion of be­ing able to make some­thing beau­ti­ful that led to Barry Wait’s two favourite hob­bies.

He is an avid gar­dener, and it was in his Monto yard that a more re­cent pas­sion of flower ar­rang­ing blos­somed too.

“I work at Ridge­haven (Aged Care) and some­times I re­ally need some­thing to take the stress out,” he said.

“It’s just some­thing I can sit down and fid­dle with. I try to get all the flow­ers for ar­rang­ing from my gar­den, that keeps the cost down.”

After cre­at­ing an oa­sis of leaves in the bowl for flower ar­range­ments, he then uses flow­ers to cre­ate the cen­tre­piece in a fan shape or spike.

“Small sta­tus flow­ers are good for filling gaps, and if you use green and gold leaves that adds a bit more colour,” Mr Wait said.

“Ar­rang­ing ferns and glad­i­oli leaves to make shapes and twists looks re­ally good as well.

“And small sta­tus flow­ers, es­pe­cially the white and pink fairy sta­tus, are good for filling gaps.”

But the prime in­gre­di­ent in his cre­ations are the 30 or so roses from the front yard, which have a strong enough stem and flower to keep well in an ar­range­ment.

“Rasp­berry tiger (roses) hold their cen­tre very well,” he said.

“Some­times you have to get the flow­ers just be­fore they are open­ing up, so they are per­fect by the time a com­pe­ti­tion comes around.”

To place first, sec­ond and third in flower ar­rang­ing at CWA state level com­pe­ti­tions, Mr Wait had to en­sure the mas­ter­pieces were hardy enough to sur­vive the trip down to Bris­bane.

“I was pretty stoked (with the wins). I had to make them two days be­fore the ac­tual com­pe­ti­tion and they would get down there and still win,” he said, with a laugh.

One of the se­crets to his win­ning gar­den is the cou­ple of bush houses built to pro­tect del­i­cate plants from the el­e­ments.

“One of them is made from a stock crate on my ute when I was a dairy farmer, I just slung some mesh over it,” he said.

“Some plants, like be­go­nias, you couldn’t put in the full sun, so they are very use­ful.”

Be­go­nias are one of Mr Wait’s favourite plants for their great va­ri­eties and beauty.

“You can re­ally make a col­lec­tion. Some are hairy, oth­ers are just like vel­vet,” he said.

“And you can get cut­tings just from the leaf.

“I read up on them a bit once and it said to put them in African vi­o­let pot­ting mix and that was re­ally suc­cess­ful.”

He also likes to use cre­ative flair in the yard, mak­ing a sand gar­den, a statue gar­den and even “bar­be­cued straw­ber­ries” – straw­ber­ries grow­ing inside an old bar­be­cue.

“I usu­ally have an idea of what I want in my mind, and that just ex­pands as I go along,” he said.

Ferns are the theme on the Waits’ back porch, while 17 aza­leas wel­come vis­i­tors from the road.

“I love all the dif­fer­ent colours and the per­fume of aza­leas,” Mr Wait said.

“And ev­ery­one I ever get a plant from, I think of that plant as that per­son in my gar­den.

“I have a huge pot­ted fern that was my mum’s. So I al­ways think ‘that’s mum, hang­ing on the porch!’”

Although Mr Wait loves the chal­lenge of gar­den­ing, he works by a golden rule.

“If some­thing dies on me, I will try it again. And then again. But after three strikes, that’s it, I have to give up,” he said.

Judg­ing from Mr Wait’s ex­pe­ri­ences, gar­den­ing could also hold the se­cret to stay­ing young.

“I still think of my­self as young, I don’t feel any­where near the age that I am,” he said.

“You do the thing you love and that keeps you young. I still spend a lot of time in the gar­den, at least an hour a day.”

And there is one more perk to be­ing such a de­voted gar­dener.

“More gar­den means less mow­ing. I don’t like mow­ing, but we have to do it ev­ery five or six days at the mo­ment. That’s why per­haps I should make some more gar­dens,” he joked.

PRETTY PETAL: Barry Wait's en­to­mophilous flower was once a sou­venir for some pass­ing tourists, who liked the flower so much Mr Wait gave them a cut­ting to take home.

This rose is named after race­horse Makybe Diva for its tow­er­ing height.

Aza­leas bud up in the face of rain and re­open when the sun comes out.

PHO­TOS: EMILY SMITH

Be­go­nias, cacti, ferns and suc­cu­lents are pro­tected from the sun in Barry Wait's bush house.

A king par­rot steals toma­toes from Barry Wait's Monto gar­den.

Barry Wait finds peace in his gar­den.

It is the tumeric bulb that is good for eat­ing.

Gold­fire ix­ora bright­ens up a cor­ner of Bar­ryWait's gar­den.

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