Maryvale is a large outback Queensland cattle property located south of Morven, in dry arid country. The original homestead -- built in 1883 -- has been added to over the years and likewise its garden has evolved over time. Ninety year old date palms guard the homestead like sentinels, while more recent plantings of cottonwood poplars, magnificent weeping Chinese elms, claret ashes, and a massive white-trunked lemon scented gum stamp the green lawns that surround the homestead.
Chemical free pest control is carried out by a family of echidnas that bustle and burrow in the garden and beneath the house, gobbling up termites (white ants).
Climbing roses, agapanthus, water lilies, camellias, gardenias and japonica, as well as a vegetable garden and citrus orchard are included in the extensive garden. The stone walls, sculptures, arbours, and large paved courtyard all help to create this tranquil and pleasing oasis.
Jenny and Robert Crichton -- the owners of Maryvale and our charming hosts -- shared their home and garden with a large crowd, many of whom had travelled vast distances the visit the garden. Our travelling time from Mitchell was around 1 1/2 hours each way, in a south westerly direction.
On our way home, we stopped several times to look at the native vegetation. We collected samples of 13 different flowering plants which I've sketched and recorded this past week. The acacias and sennas provided stunning splashes of yellow, while tiny bluebells nestled in amongst flowering grasses.
The wealth of plants that grow in this seemingly uninteresting arid country, never cease to amaze me. It's a botanical feast, a feast I'm keen to learn more about and record using water colour pencils.