Townsville arborist and horticulturist Julie Roach visited her own gardening guru recently to have a look at the property he has developed over a lifetime.
John Roach has been a horticulturist all his life... from searching for ground orchids in the local scrub of his primary school at Lucindale (SA), to overseeing the establishment of the plantings in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens’ Tropical Conservatory. More recently he spent eight years as the Senior Horticulturist at the Townsville Botanic Garden and then over thirteen years service for what is now the Cassowary Coast Regional Council as the Parks and Gardens Coordinator.
This is truly the wet tropics. The soil appears almost edible and the site drainage is exceptional.
From the deck of the beautiful, lovingly renovated Queenslander strategically sited near the top of the east facing slope, there is a backdrop of the Basilisk Range lit by the soft light of the setting tropical sun. The garden has become what it was once conceived in this gardener’s eyes, nearly twenty years ago. This shows amazing foresight and a commitment to producing an artwork on such a grand scale.
The 12.14 hectare (30 acre) property has numerous gullies and creeks, and a variety of aspects with a range of microclimates. The well drained, volcanic basalt soil has allowed John to indulge in collecting a huge selection of plants. Many of these plants have their own story, as John has grown them from seeds or cuttings. He can recall the details of all the parent plants.
Extensive areas of revegetation now link and preserve the diverse rainforest clad gullies, with their now clear-flowing streams. This was a priority when he first took on this challenge.