Professor Nimmo RFD attends Queensland Council of Garden Clubs Christmas Luncheon and Biennial Awards Presentation
Queensland Council of Gardens Club President, Mr Phil Adam; committee and members; Curator of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and High Profile Parks, Mr Dale Arvidsson; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people with us this morning.
Since accepting the role of Patron of the Queensland Council of Garden Clubs two years ago, I have been a guest at the President’s Morning Tea on two occasions, and I was very pleased, last November, when Government House was able to reciprocate by inviting Council members to take a guided tour of the gardens.
Some long-serving Council members have visited Fernberg on more than one occasion, notably in 2017 when Governor de Jersey and his wife, Kaye, unveiled the beautiful ‘Queensland Gold’ rose as their contribution to the historic rose rockeries at Government House.
The de Jerseys chose ‘Queensland Gold’ because that year – 2017 – marked the golden anniversary of the Queensland Council of Garden Clubs, and I’m pleased to report that, thanks to the careful attention of the horticultural team, ‘Queensland Gold’ continues to thrive – despite the predations of the Paddington possums!
Like the de Jerseys, the Governor and I take every opportunity to enjoy the meticulously maintained formal gardens at Fernberg as well as the 10 hectares of bushland that surround it.
This little pocket of original forest has been preserved, largely unchanged, in the heart of Brisbane for almost 160 years because, fortunately, none of the successive owners of the 14-hectare Estate have felt the need to clear the bush.
In fact, one Vice-Regal couple, Sir John and Lady Goodwin, were responsible for the very opposite when they had an estimated one thousand trees and shrubs planted in 1928. They also had the Estate declared a wildlife sanctuary and had a five-kilometre network of so-called "woodland walks" constructed.
According to The Brisbane Courier at the time, Sir John even used to take a shovel and rake and spend his mornings tidying up the paths, and Lady Lilian (and I quote) “procured a number of native bears which she liberated in the trees”.
This may have been journalistic license, but those of you who have visited Government House will know that the Estate remains a sanctuary today, not only for animals and birds, but for a thriving population of exotic trees and shrubs that date back to those planted by the Goodwins in 1928, including jacarandas and poinsettias.
They may have been exotics, but it appears that the Goodwins were ahead of a trend because just two years later, in June 1930, following a ballot of Brisbane citizens, the red poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) was officially declared Brisbane’s first floral emblem. Furthermore, Fernberg’s connection continues because the wattles on the Estate today include our city’s newest floral emblem, the magnificent Acacia fimbriata.
Thank you again for the invitation to join you for today’s luncheon and for the opportunity, as Patron, to present the Council’s four biennial awards. These awards are an important way to publicly acknowledge the outstanding contributions made to the gardening community and to horticulture by both clubs and individuals.
I thank the clubs and members for nominating candidates and the Selection Panel for their hard work in selecting the winners – it is no easy task. Finally, of course, I congratulate the winners and wish you all a very happy Christmas and many more contented years of gardening.