Alan and his mother Shirley
This time last year, Alan Mallet and a team of Drayton Villas residents were hard at work on their entry for the Carnival of Flowers. From mid-May to mid-June, Alan and about five other residents diligently put in new soil, turned it over, and planted an array of annuals. Three thousand annuals, to be exact. “We didn’t use the gardener. He had enough work looking after the rest,” Alan explains. The judging committee assesses floral activity “so we planted lots of pansies, snapdragons, delphiniums, anything that flowers really.”
Come spring, the garden was a riot of colour, with all the flowers blooming by carnival time. “The flowers came out perfectly,” Alan says. Lots of people visited the village to have a look at the flowers, which were set against a backdrop of established trees and shrubs. Alan and his colleagues were Highly Commended for their entry, but are not submitting an entry this year due to the lack of rain.
Alan Mallet lives at Drayton Villas just down the road from his mum Shirley. She’s just 100 metres away, so Alan can walk around there very quickly and check on her. He’s been here for two and a half years: “I retired on the Friday and I bought a villa on the Monday. It worked out very, very well.”
Alan was initially concerned about having neighbours, as he’s always lived on a couple of acres or in a big house with no-one close by. “But it’s a good community. I’ve got great neighbours. We all look out for each other. I go away a fair bit on holidays and they all help look after my gardens and birds. I go walking in the evenings after dark in the village – you feel safe in the community here.”
His favourite memory is meeting the people in the village. “It’s like you’ve come into a place where you know nobody but in a very short space of time you’ve made friends. Everyone was very friendly.”
As for his mum Shirley, she keeps busy volunteering at Mount Lofty Nursing Home and cooking up a storm. She makes tomato relish, cucumber pickles, passionfruit butter and lemon butter, and brings them to Drayton Villas’ homestead to sell to residents. The money raised goes to the nursing home or a local charity. She’s also a member of the Shirley Club, where women called Shirley get together for monthly dinners, state conferences and a national conference. “There are a couple of dozen in Toowoomba, and four or five in the village alone”, Alan says. “It’s a good club to be in because you don’t have to remember anyone’s name!”