GYMPIE Municipal Horticultural Society member Raelene Kross sees a lot more than a beautiful garden when the group goes on its regular jaunts.
She sees elements of design, bringing together harmony, purpose, aesthetics and functionality.
And given the harshness of the Australian climate, Raelene also knows the importance of a garden that both looks good and is able to flourish in trying conditions, such as drought.
Horticultural society members brushed up on their design knowledge last Saturday while in the beautiful surrounds of Bruce and Joy Priddy's expansive Tandur garden.
They were joined by special guest Penny Hegarty from Nambour Community Gardens.
"There is nothing like enjoying a fresh morning surrounded by your own green refuge, or taking some well deserved time off in the afternoon after a long day's work," Penny said.
Penny was happy to share some ideas/tips with gardeners, including:
WHAT DO YOU HAVE?
Gardeners need to study their block and determine what are the topographical landscape features such as sloping or flat? What types of soil do you have - sandy, silt or clay? This will affect what types of plants may be grown. Which areas are shaded and which are exposed by the sun? Where does the water run off?
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Car parking, outdoor dining, lawn, vegetable patch, compost bins, garden shed, cubby house and play equipment, trampoline, concrete for ball games, flower garden, bird attracting garden, fruit trees, shady outdoor rooms and swimming pool.
These are some of the things you may like to consider when designing your garden.
WHAT DOES YOUR DREAM GARDEN LOOK LIKE?
There are several types of gardens. Do you like renaissance and formal gardens, cottage gardens, kitchen gardens, rock gardens, East Asian gardens, contemporary gardens, native gardens, or low-maintenance gardens?
Gardeners should look through garden design websites, books and magazines to discover what styles they like the best.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN THE GARDEN?
Gardening is hard work if you want a visually beautiful and healthy garden.
You need to think about weekly mowing, weeding, watering, pruning, composting, mulching and fertilising.
So do you have the time and energy to maintain a cottage garden or is a low-maintenance garden the way to go?
WHAT'S YOUR BUDGET LIKE?
Gardeners will find that the really big expenses are normally hard landscaping such as retaining walls, paths, garden edging, pergolas and water features.
Use of these elements often gives shape and meaning to a garden. For example, having a larger deck is better than having lots of weeds and therefore utilising the space more wisely.
If you can't afford concrete kerbing how about using cheaper products such as timber edging.
There are several ways of getting around things you may like to incorporate into your garden design.
HAVE TROUBLE VISUALISING GARDEN DESIGNS?
Have you ever thought of using a hose? Penny suggested that everyone should place the hose on to the ground that closely resembled the plan then get the mower out by wheeling it around the edges to see if there is enough room to manoeuvre.
This is the best time to make changes while in the early stages.
Embarking on a garden project should be a fun, relaxing experience.
Always remember this rule: A garden is never finished - always tinkering, always improving, always dreaming.