We meet Matt Mitchley, a prehistoric plant enthusiast and landscape gardener in Cairns, Queensland, whose collection ranges from classic to Jurassic!
Matt Mitchley is a collector of many things - art deco furniture, wonderful and weird species of fish, Australian native animals - but his biggest collection is plants. When Matt isn’t landscaping other people’s gardens or working at his wholesale nursery, he’s dreaming up big plant plans for the future.
Matt’s fascination with dinosaurs and all things prehistoric has led to a Jurassic themed home garden, where the main thing plants have in common is their enormous size.
Cairns garden trends include walls, lights, mulch (Cairns Post)
LOW-maintenance foliage, retaining walls and creative lighting are keeping landscapers on their toes right across the Far North.
Vegetable and herb gardens also remain popular in a climate perfect for growing anything.
Staff at Cairns Raw Materials in Portsmith said there was a steady stream of planter mix and mulch, either in bulk or in bags, continually heading out the door, no matter the season.
Designer Garden Co owner Matt Mitchley agreed, with customers requesting mulch after the wet season to keep the precious summer moisture in their garden beds. He said agave was an increasingly popular plant among Cairns homeowners.
“They are tried and tested and one of the varieties can be grown into hedges and it goes really well in Cairns because it is very low-maintenance and has low water requirements,” he said.
“It is planted mostly for their foliage because it doesn’t have a flower.”
Cairns Jurassica Project aims to conserve and preserve some of Australia’s most endangered species
Jurassica Project CairnsA vacant block of land in North Cairns is the fledgling site of a project that aims to address Australia’s growing disconnect between its cites and natural environment while also conserving and preserving some of the nation’s most endangered flora and fauna species.
Horticulturist Matt Mitchley, owner of Cairns based the Designer Garden Company, has created the Jurassica attraction on a block opposite the Tobruk Memorial Pool and International Tennis Centre, with the principal aim being the conservation endangered native plant and animal species.
Jurassic jungle harnesses prehistoric power to reconnect younger generations with nature
Alongside one of the busiest roads in far-north Queensland lies a densely packed jungle that looks like it could have been there for 65 million years.
The Jurassica Project, led by Cairns landscape gardener Matt Mitchley, aims to promote nature and horticulture to young Australians by tapping into their fascination with all things prehistoric.
“A lot of people drive by and they tell me their kids really want to get out and have a look at the garden because it has that Jurassic Park sort of look to it,” Mr Mitchley said.
Open garden: Jurassica theme park garden project
HELEN YOUNG The Australian July 5, 2014
WE visit the Jurassica theme park garden project in Cairns, owned by Matt Mitchley.
DESCRIBE YOUR GARDEN: The garden, which is 3000sq m, was built last year on a derelict commercial site in Cairns and is part of the 202020 vision project that supports greening of our cities. Locals have loved the transformation. It’s one of the largest collections of mature cycads, pachypodiums, yuccas, ponytails and succulents, and it creates a modern-day representation of a prehistoric cycad forest. Some specimens are hundreds of years old, such as Macrozamia mooreii, which is native to Carnarvon Gorge. The soil is typical Cairns deep sand, ideal for these plants. The garden is a pilot for a larger, nature-based theme park that is being launched this weekend.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: Many are rescue plants that I’ve collected over the past five years. I’m a landscaper and I’d see them unloved and unwanted at the tip. Now people who know the site contact me, asking if I want special plants they are removing. Many need a crane or digger but I just can’t say no because I don’t want them to die. Some are spectacular — they are just what I’ve been waiting for. There’s a lot of mature, rare stuff around because there were many specialist nurseries in the area in the 1970s.
WHY DO YOU LOVE THESE PLANTS: I’ve always been in love with the Jurassic age, not really for the dinosaurs but the habitat they lived in. I came to Cairns from England 10 years ago and every garden I went into was like a lolly shop for me, full of spectacular plants. These fierce architectural plants have masculine qualities, especially when assembled together.
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: Bringing in more than 500cu m of fill and the same of boulders to form hills and ridges from the flat, weed-infested site.
EXTRAS: Tea and coffee, entertainment, plants for sale. Interpretive talks at 11am and 2pm both days.
WHAT’S NEXT: We hope to attract investors for a proposed theme park showcasing natural ecosystems of animals, plants and their habitats. Dedicated to conservation, education and entertainment, it aims to engage children and adults with realistic displays such as primordial swamps, arid desert, lagoons, volcano and a cycad valley. Our team has designed the whole project and developed a detailed business package for investors.
369 SHERIDAN Street, CAIRNS NORTH, Queensland 4870.
OWNER: MATT MITCHLEY
OPEN: THIS WEEKEND 10AM TO 4.30PM
ENTRY: $10, UNDER 18 FREE
Australian Institute of Horticulture: National Awards 2015
Matt Mitchley AAIH, Registered Horticulturist, QLD
In recognition of the Design, Construction and Establishment of ‘The Jurassica Project’, Cairns, Matt envisaged the project “Jurassica’ with the aim to conserve and preserve some of the most endangered Fauna and Flora, and to educate by bringing wild places into the city, making them accessible to everyone” Matt and his team have converted an eyesore derelict site in Cairns into a large living classroom that provides an opportunity to open up a whole new world of adventure, curiosity and learning” Matt aims to expand the concept into a large themed botanical and fauna ark.
Cairns newest theme park shows off Jurassic life
IT’S Jurassic Park – minus the dinosaurs.
This weekend landscape designer Matt Mitchley will throw open the gates of Cairns’ newest theme park, which will feature prehistoric plant life.
Situated on a once derelict site on Sheridan St, Mr Mitchley’s Jurassic Theme Park Garden will showcase species such as cycads, yucca and ponytail palms.
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