GREEN THUMB: Daphne Austin has been gardening for 65 years and can’t imagine living in a home that isn’t surrounded by plants.
GREEN THUMB: Daphne Austin has been gardening for 65 years and can’t imagine living in a home that isn’t surrounded by plants. Helen Spelitis

Orchid queen shares her top tips

DAPHNE Austin is the Queen of orchids, or at least has a legitimate claim to the title.

At her Boyne Island home Mrs Austin has literally thousands of plants and hundreds of orchids.

Her orchids even featured in Australian Orchid Review.

"That was about five years ago and they're still talking about it," Mrs Austin said.

"I like orchids. They're easy in a way because if you get sick for a week and can't water them, they won't kick their toes up."

Mrs Austin spends at least two hours every day in the garden, re-potting orchids and tending to her plants.

She takes such good care of her garden that a rose bush - which she grew from a cutting of a 100-year-old specimen - now stands more than a metre tall in her front yard.

Out the back of the house is a mandarin tree from which Mrs Austin picked 100 mandarins just last week.

"People said I wouldn't be able to grow a mandarin tree here because of the soil and weather," Mrs Austin said.

"I have put a lot of hard work into the soil and that's why most of my plants are in pots. The soil here is hard clay soil."

Mrs Austin has been gardening since she was nine years old, helping her mother out in the yard.

"I used to always pick the biggest carrot and the biggest cabbage.

"I love gardening. It takes a lot of time and effort, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Mrs and Mr Austin moved to Gladstone 15 years ago from just outside of Mackay and joined the Calliope Garden Club when it started three years ago.

She said it was the nicest club she had ever come across with meetings that include 'show and tell'.

Daphne's tips:

  • Keep your orchids nice and clean by pulling the dead leaves off regularly
  • Water them three times a week in summer until the water runs through the pot
  • Don't over fertilise