Queensland Council of Garden Clubs Inc Presidents’ Morning Tea
Kaye and I are delighted to join you here today and we look forward to chatting to you over morning tea.
It is particularly pleasing to be here at the Botanic Gardens because of the very strong historical link between the Gardens and Government House.
When Queensland’s Governors first took up residence in Paddington in nineteen-ten, the Director of the Botanic Gardens was John Frederick Bailey, and it was he who was engaged to supervise the layout of the Government House gardens.
Bailey was a most fortunate choice because his philosophy was simply to follow nature. As a consequence, the only formal gardens on the estate were created close to the house, leaving ten hectares of natural bushland largely untouched as it had been since the house was first built.
A second stroke of good fortune was the appointment of Bailey’s friend and fellow horticulturist, Ernest Bick, as Head Gardener.
Bailey and Bick were a great team, working together to shape the splendid Fernberg gardens which have been maintained to this very day, protected by heritage legislation.
The significance of their work is one of the reasons that the estate now has that heritage protection, but their contribution also continues in other, unexpected ways.
One of the most beautiful Government House traditions can also be attributed to Bailey and Bick — the rose gardens.
Roses first became a feature of vice-regal life in Brisbane when the wife of Lord Chelmsford, our tenth governor, imported no fewer than five hundred rose bushes from France for the gardens of Old Government House.
When Fernberg became Government House, the roses were simply transplanted — and in defiance of the poor soil and tropical climate, the tradition has continued ever since.
As the current residents of Government House, Kaye and I take great pride in the history and heritage of the estate and gain enormous pleasure from the gardens, I can certainly agree with the great Roman lawyer and philosopher, Cicero, who is recorded as saying “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”.
And I know you all take great pride in your endeavours, which is why you are part of this wonderful organisation – sharing your vast horticultural knowledge not just amongst yourselves, but also for public benefit, encouraging greater understanding of our heritage. As Governor and Patron, it is a delight to support you.
Kaye and I wish you all a most successful and invigorating day.