Sam and Bev Coulton have nurtured the clay soils around their southern Queensland home to produce a garden of beautiful pastel flowers and evergreen hedges, lawns and trees.

Story By Kim Woods Rabbidge

Overlooking a seasonal billabong and a lightly timbered common with box trees, coolibahs and wilgas, “Margoo” is the delightful one-hectare garden created in just seven years by Sam and Bev Coulton in Goondiwindi in southern Queensland.

The Coultons moved to town from their property “Tumbi Umbi” in nearby North Star to be closer to their business Goondiwindi Cotton, which was started 20 years ago as a creative and courageous diversification from farming. Local growers, including Sam’s brothers Ben and David, supply much of the cotton used in the company’s garments.

Margoo, named after Sam’s late mother’s home in Goomeri, near Gympie, Qld, reflects Bev’s vision and passion for gardening. “Occasionally I’m asked for an opinion,” Sam jokes, although he is the master of the lawn and, shadowed by ‘Warren’ the dog, he assists Bev where needed.

The extensions and modifications they have made to the existing home include large, north-facing patios. From them, you’re uplifted by occasional zephyrs of sweet fragrance from hundreds of roses, which were planted in the winter 12 months after the couple moved in. Local Jimmy Dieball was engaged to construct tiered terraces, which arch generously around the home and step down to the billabong. The design is a response to the steep slope and enables the addition of enriched soil.

“There’s so much clay here; it makes great tennis courts,” Sam says. “All you have to do is put up a fence and put down some lines.” So they added tonnes of volcanic basalt soil and cottonseed trash, as well as gypsum, to help break the clay. It’ll be an ongoing process and Sam says they’ll add more mulch every few years.

Gardens always reflect their owners and Margoo is no exception. Bev describes herself as a very structured person. “I love cottage gardens but there’s no way I could have one because I’d always be having to tidy up,” she says. However, she seems to have found a lovely balance here: her seasonal floriferous displays are tempered with manicured evergreen hedges, lawns and trees. The garden has been designed for ease of maintenance: it’s a joy, not a burden.

This story excerpt is from Issue #78

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2011