Julie and Tony Hitchens opened their magnificent Kyogle Road gardens to the public over the weekend.
Julie and Tony Hitchens opened their magnificent Kyogle Road gardens to the public over the weekend.

Thanks for giving

By HUGH KEARNEY

"IT makes you proud to be an Aussie."

Gardener Julie Hitchens, who threw her spectacular Kyogle Road garden open to the public over the weekend for the tsunami appeal, said she had been blown away by the response.

Ms Hitchens said the offers of assistance, the generous donations of food, goods for raffles and countless other services had made the opening a tremendous success, exceeding expectations.

On Saturday alone, 386 people had visited the sprawling, picturesque garden which was formerly a cow paddock and swampland and when they left, close to $4500 had been donated to the appeal.

When the garden re-opened at 9am yesterday, cars were lining up along the road, with more people keen to inspect the premises and Julie was hoping for at least the same amount to be raised.

Julie and her husband Tony had won numerous Tweed garden awards at their previous address but had never opened their Kyogle Road garden to the public since starting to develop it six years ago.

All that changed when the Indonesian tsunami struck on Boxing Day and the couple decided to open their garden as a fundraiser for the appeal.

"We knew there was a lot of interest in it, because people have seen it develop slowly the past six years and it is very visible from the road," Julie said.

"It has been a lot of hard work in a very short time to get it ready and I want to thank my husband, Tony my slave, my daughter and son-in-law and my son," she said.

Local businesses have donated bread, cakes, sausages, drinks, craft goods, plants, even a portable toilet for the weekend.

"The things my friends and complete strangers have done to help is just amazing, and the generosity of people coming through the gate just blows me away.

"We are givers," she said. "It makes you proud to be an Aussie."

Julie said people had come from as far as Maclean and Brisbane especially to see the garden.

"One woman from out near Toowoomba who comes to visit relatives down this way said she has been taking photos of the garden since it started and was delighted to hear it was opened to the public," Julie said.

"Another woman had just bought five acres on a hillside, very much like this, and wanted some ideas on how to handle it."

Sitting enjoying their morning tea, courtesy of the Uki Red Cross, Rose Fogarty and Iris Burns of Numinbah were very impressed with the garden.

"I've seen it develop from a bare paddock and a bog. Everything is so harmonious, nothing clashes," Rose said.

Iris said she thought the garden was magnificent.

"Being a bit of a gardener myself I realise what has gone into it," she said.

Julie said takings on the first day had exceeded expectations and she wouldhave a final overall figure for the weekend by today.



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