A Carnival of Flowers


The sun feels warmer on our backs and the days are spreading out. Its time now to get adventurous and enjoy the delights of the early summer. Toowoomba, one of Australia’s garden cities, is located west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. A university and cathedral city, Toowoomba’s residents also enjoy its 150 spectacular parks and gardens. Situated high on the crest of the Great Dividing Mountain Range, with its cooler climate and rich volcanic soil, ‘Absolutely everything will grow here,’ say the locals. By way of celebrating their love of all things horticultural, a Carnival of Flowers is offered every year during September.


   To savour the delights of this festival, our first stop includes the magnificent grounds of the Laurel Bank Park. Here an incredible free-growing meadow has been planted. Visitors wander amongst a cacophony of colour as they stroll through tulips, daisies, pansies, and an arbour festooned with lavender wisteria.


   Our next stop at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, leads to a room where landscape and botanical paintings from the gallery’s collection have been hung. Scattered among the pictures are stunnng sculptural works, created by members of the Toowoomba Ikebana Group. Decorated in the Japanese style, each piece showcases fresh flowers, leaves, and branches – all appearing in their individual beauty.


   After a tasty lunch and a strong coffee, we decide to spend the rest of the day in the city’s heart. Here lies Queens Park, Toowooba’s premiere site. This key landmark is the focus for the 176th Carnival of Flowers, its Flower Market, the Food and Wine Festival and a Live Concert Series. Many activities are happening here.


   We enter  the park through a lovely cherry blossom walk into the expanse of a typical 19th century Victorian park land and botanical garden. It has been styled as a parterre garden, presenting an arrangement of ornamental flower beds in various sizes, shapes, and colours. All are contained beneath a canopy of stately trees and between areas of expansive green lawns.


   During the 2015 Carnival of Flowers, 100,000 visitors flocked to Toowoomba from far and wide. It was a delight to see so many with us again this year, absorbing the beauty and peaceful ambience of the park. Cameras and smart phones were snapping away in every pair of hands as the children roamed and played freely among the parterre beds. The weather had also been kind as the day was warm and sunny. We finally left the park on a botanical high, and next year we plan to do it all over again.


On a Blue Note …

(a corn flower, also known as the bachelor’s button)

At last, its finally arrived! Our long awaited spring has blest us with sun-drenched days, and a cacophony of bright blooms decorating gardens, shrubs and trees everywhere. While meeting with friends at a garden centre cafe, we exclaim over the palette of yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and white blossoms on display. Then one of us poses a question that makes everyone stop and think. ‘Why are there so few blue flowers here? Is it because nature doesn’t produce them?’

I venture a reply. ‘There are many blue flowers available for the garden from deep royale blue to a pale pastel blue. Do a Google search for “blue flowers” and you’ll be surprised at what’s on show.’

Below I have listed several blue flowers I really love. They include the blue hydrangea, the morning glory, the statice, and the iris.




Last but not least is my very favourite blue flower, the Himalayan Blue Poppy. Once you have seen it, you will never forget its heavenly shade of blue.




Hello Friends, Readers and Writers,

The Amazon kindle store has just published my book, Sparks. This is the final book that I will be writing. Its contents include thirty six pages of short stories in the genres of flash and micro fiction. 

   What can one say when writing flash fiction (1,000 words or fewer) or micro fiction (500 words or fewer)? Sparks presents a collection of short stories in which five different themes are explored: relationships, the arts, nature, the seasons and travel.  To add variety, several pieces of non-fiction have also been included.

    Flash and micro fiction has been written and read for many ages. Access to the internet has also enhanced our awareness of this genre through numerous online journals, devoted entirely to the style. Its brevity makes it easy to download flash fiction into your computer, electronic reader or smart phone.

To purchase a copy of Sparks, visit either of the links below.

Australia: https://amazon.com.au/dp/B01L3G2H3M

the USA: https://amazon.com/dp/B01L3G2H3M

I hope you will enjoy reading these short shots during your moments of free time.


Nature Becomes Fine Art

Simplicity in yellow.JPG

Several  years ago I experienced the pleasure of participating in a 3 week workshop. The program featured Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. This art form involves so much more than simply putting flowers in a vase as it is steeped in the philosophy of developing a love of nature while working in a meditative way.

Ikebana, GGC, 2

Ikebana is finally being acknowledged as a form of fine art as it qualifies in the same sense that painting and sculpture do. This practice has a long recorded history; it is supported by articulate theories and is concerned with aesthetics and creativity. In my search for the workshop, the only place it was  offered was at the Brisbane Institute of Art.

 Ikebana, GGC

Ikebana unfolds in its creative process within certain rules of construction. Its materials are living branches, leaves, grasses and blossoms. At its heart lies the beauty resulting from colour combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the meaning within the total form of the arrangement. It is disciplined, refined, uncluttered  and fulfills the dictum that ‘less is more.’ And what a joy it is to work creatively with living forms of nature.


File written by Adobe Photoshop? 4.0

Mary IkebanaWorkshop, 4

Late Winter

Native floral image 1

Although our late winter landscape may appear barren, the first new buds are beginning to appear. Trees, shrubs and flower stems are slowly shrugging off their winter blues, just waiting for the life-giving spring rain and warmer days to carry us all into a new season. But what can we do when neither a flower nor a bloom has awakened to spread its scent and colour throughout our homes?

Search no further than the magnificent spread of foliage that is always available and can look stunning when arranged artistically in a container. The early new leaf colour of the eucalypt, arrayed in bright red will eventually darken to become its olive green leaf , yet a single branch, displaying all its colours, creates a beautiful table decoration.

Native floral image 4

Stones, timber pieces, gum nuts and pine cones combine well with native plants to create a pot-pourri of textures and colours. Even something as simple as a collection of leaves and branches from the same tree, arranged in a striking vase, can lift the decor of a room. Many of my nature-loving friends carry garden secatures in their cars, to harvest the interesting greenery growing near the roadside. There is often great beauty in these plants that generally remain unnoticed, bypassed or unloved.

While we wait patiently for spring flowers to appear, nature still provides the materials with which to create an attractively decorated home. Branches and leaves displayed together in unusual containers also ‘do the trick,’ so head outside and become a creative foliage collector.

Natural foliage cropped

Next blog post entered on 2nd September.

The Final Cut

Bark and leaves

This tree may have been planted as early as 1917 when the first settlers arrived in Samford Village. A beautiful, very old eucalyptus tree, Eucalyptus mellidora, stood in the bottom corner of our land, bordering the street near our mailbox. It had a large trunk and many branches, always covered with shards of hanging, paper-like bark. Its dark green leaves were long and slender—typical of all eucalyptus foliage.

Eucalyptus mellidora

When our tree blossomed, short bristles of white stamens erupted from its green seed bulbs. It was an amazing sight when white garlands festooned the entire tree. In its prime the magnificent canopy must have been very large,  but when the overhead power lines were installed along the street its crown was deemed to be, ‘too high.’ Off went its entire canopy, leaving this mighty tree wearing what appeared to be a crew cut. With the passing of time more and more branches were trimmed away until the original form of the tree had been completely altered. By the time we purchased the property, our tree resembled a  wounded and shapeless warrior – one still clinging tenaciously to life.

Marked for death

During this past year a neighbour informed us that he had reported our tree to the local council. “Could be dangerous, as when I back my car out onto the street someone might hit me because they couldn’t see me. It won’t be long now until the thing is gone.” Several days later my heart sank at the discovery of a large, blood red circle painted on its trunk. Our proud, wounded warrior had been officially marked for execution.

It didn’t take long for the council trucks to arrive, to hear the the chain saws gnaw into its main trunk, and to watch the branches being sheared away as all was fed into the hungry maw of a wood-chipping machine. Whenever we collect the mail or leave home, passing the space where a once-proud eucalyptus tree had grown, all that remains is its stump. It still leaves a pang of loneliness.

Tree stump for the blog

I miss my tree.

From now on I will be publishing one blog post every two weeks. The next post will appear on August 19th.

Yellow roses, Carrington

We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.

Mary Oliver