‘The Shute’ Montville: Art on the Edge

When you see these pics of The Shute, at Montville in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, you’ll understand why the wonderfully artistic Sue Neale, and her husband John, make a great gardening duo!

That’s really significant because the 1.2 hectare block they bought and began transforming around nine years ago, was ‘a shocker’!

 ”Johno was pretty clever though, says Sue.  ”This was the best of three places he showed me, so in comparison it didn’t seem so bad.”

Early morning highlights on spring cherry blossom and magnolias.

Even near their cottage, (which they’ve since extended) they had to chainsaw through jasmine and hoya; and it’s not difficult to imagine rampant towers of lantana and privet that choked the hillside, as there are still plenty of similar areas in the district.  Like many weed infested patches, if the land is owned by council or government, there are never enough dollars allocated for eradication.

The Neales have been stabilising the hillside with magnolias and camellias, lovely trees such as a cape chestnut, and a liriodendron, large clumps of grasses and thousands of warm climate bulbs. Just this morning they planted a boot-load of crinum lilies given by a friend. Sue says despite the current dry spell, bulbs are really hardy and will survive.

Grevilleas and callistemon attract a concert of birds.

Throughout the garden earthenware bowls provide water for fauna and insects. 

Sue’s also planted Montville roses (Duchess De Brabant) down the hill and hopes they’ll grow huge; these have been receiving extra water recently – recycled from the shower – to help them through this dry spell.

Wispy seed heads of burgundy fountain grass contrast against the silver leaved westringia.

Petrea vines are beginning to ramble over some of the remaining privet trunks that Sue says look like soldiers. (Sounds like they’ll be undercover soldiers soon.)

Most people know the gordonia for its prolific display of large white flowers with yellow centres – but the greatest attribute may be the trunks: they’re gnarled, and sinewy… with stunning bark.

There are a few wet spots that were once filled with rubbish. “We cleaned out two cars, two wood-burning stoves, one sulky and lots of iron beds!!” says Sue. “It’s not been for the faint-hearted!”  In the wet spots they’ve planted lomandra, some trees – and lots of hydrangeas.

Sue’s beautiful mirrored sculptures bring light and movement to the garden.

Even while they were doing all the necessary stabilising and clearing, Sue was busy creating her absolutely exquisite sculptures and art works, and placing them throughout the garden.

We’ve added a few of them here for you to enjoy, but if you’re up near Montville, look out for The Shute, because Sue welcomes visitors ($10pp) and she’ll spend some time showing you around. It’s a real treat! (Ph.0413 014 502)

By the way – here’s Sue’s own blog which she says has helped her record some of the progress of their work. An Arty Gardener’s Scrapbook



Hello to you all………just wanted to say.. Love the website, great pictures giving me the nudge to get out into the garden again and forget problems. I love the arty ideas people have used in their gardens. I will forward the website to a couple more friends.
Keep up the good work.
Cheers for now,
Robynn Butler ( Mirriwinni Qld)


Thanks so much for your note and kind words. 
We think you will deserve a FREE (!) DVD when we have one to send to you in a week or two – especially as you’re also recommending our blog to friends!
We’ve seen the early version and it’s looking good – it’s been a very slow start but hopefully we’ll be able to get on with filming other gardens next year.
Glad you’re getting back into your wonderful garden – we’re so looking forward to seeing it again. 

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