Blooming good way to relax
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.
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.