Trop­i­cal star

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - LIFE -

for all-year colour, bromeli­ads top the bi l l

It’s line ball who is the big­ger bromeliad fan in this Noosa gar­den – the gar­den owner or the bromeliad ex­pert who sup­plied and planted them. Ei­ther way, the re­sult of their mu­tual ob­ses­sion is spec­tac­u­lar.

But first came the house. What started as a mod­est plan by New Zealan­ders Allen and Bar­bara Peters to add a swim­ming pool to their Noosa Heads prop­erty evolved into a full knock­down-re­build. Lo­cal ar­chi­tect Tim Ditch­field de­signed the house, which was com­pleted in 2010. Its crisp, white fin­ish and clean lines are a per­fect foil for the multi-coloured ar­ray of bromeli­ads that flows across the front gar­den.

The Peters were al­ready hooked on bromeli­ads, hav­ing pre­vi­ously devel­oped a sub-trop­i­cal gar­den at their Auckland home. In Noosa, Allen con­tacted gar­den de­signer and bromeliad grower Michael Radley. “If you want a mag­nif­i­cent gar­den in full colour all year with as lit­tle work as pos­si­ble, bromeli­ads are the way to go,” the owner of Mooloolaba-based Gar­den Mir­a­cles says. “They’re so adapt­able for any po­si­tion, and in the cli­mate here they pro­lif­er­ate. My phi­los­o­phy is that a gar­den should, in 10 years’ time, have grown into a mas­ter­piece.”

To­gether they went search­ing for the spec­i­mens to fill the gar­den, us­ing Radley’s knowl­edge of plant place­ment and his con­nec­tions with spe­cial­ist grow­ers and col­lec­tors. “He didn’t want what other peo­ple had,” Radley says ap­pre­cia­tively of his client.

The catch-all term bromeliad cov­ers thou­sands of species in 56 gen­era, with thou­sands more cul­ti­vars bred by en­thu­si­asts. They grow from sea level to al­ti­tudes of 4000m, in sun and shade, from rain­forests to deserts. Most grow on trees, rocks or cliff edges, catch­ing

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