Tucked away at the end of a ‘no through road’, on the outskirts of Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, is the fascinating property of David and Olive Hockings. On former dairy country David combined his passion for botanical exploration with growing flowers for export, a small production nursery,
and establishing unusual, rare and just plain interesting plants in an extensive garden around their home. Local horticulturist Joan Dillon explored the
garden with David. Images by John Dillon.
Many of these plants are now large trees but others are lovely flowering shrubs or sometimes rather rampant herbaceous perennials. Not all have names, some are possibly new species and others are the subjects of heated botanical discussion. Like economists, not all botanists agree!
David was born on Thursday Island and spent his early years as what would now be called ‘a free range child’ exploring his local environment. He was fortunate to have an ‘uncle’, his great grandfather’s nephew, who established the Hockings Museum on the island and to whom anything of interest was sent. Uncle Percy would then paint it and find out what he could about it. An interest in the natural world and how it worked was clearly in the family genes.
Early in his public service career, David recognised that the average garden expert and gardener needed and wanted more information and he inherited a radio gardening program in Toowoomba when Dr Alan May was transferred to Brisbane. Given his interest in plants he joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock in 1960 as an extension officer, although not initially in amenity horticulture. At that time many professionals regarded horticulture as a hobby rather than an industry but garden clubs and societies were flourishinG. David established an extension service for nurseries, cut flower growers and home gardeners.