Grounds: Cafe Gardens & Garden Cafes

Engine Room Cafe

With a long weekend coming up, it’s time to start planning the all-important city exodus. Why not turn your thoughts to a scenic trip through the Lockyer Valley and up over the range to Toowoomba?

Beat the Carnival of Flowers crowds by going at this time of year, and if you do, consider popping in to the Engine Room Café. No matter what you select from the menu it will tide you over for a good week or two – exactly what is required from a day-trip pit stop!

The best place to sit is the courtyard out the back…it’s not obvious at first glance, but well worth backtracking from the counter, through the gift shop, and up the stairs to sit out and enjoy the winter sun.

There’s a simple timber frame structure overhead and the floor is a mix of deck and old concrete. I was most intrigued though, by the walls.

A simple and fairly cost-effective series of ‘green walls’ has been created by wrapping the courtyard in curving panels of reinforcing mesh.

El-cheapo brush fencing panels are secured front and back…

…and a healthy profusion of vegetation bursts through beneath the dappled light.

Amongst the stars are maidenhair ferns, and a host of bromeliads.

Adding colour are a bougainvillea and a native violet that’s hurled itself around the base of the screens and up the front like a rat up a drainpipe.

Being disinclined to deconstruct the courtyard I wasn’t able to see what was going on behind the screens, but I imagine the pots and growing media are all back there, hanging from the reo mesh.

If you’ve read the story on Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory City Garden you’ll know of my fondness for garden structures made from reinforcing bars and mesh.

I reckon the Engine Room Café shows another way to use this readily available and versatile material to good effect.

Now tell me what you think? Do you like the contrast between the rusty reinforcing mesh and the verdant greenery?

Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Long-Weekend-Planning, and see you soon for more from the world of landscape and design.


Note: the Engine Room Cafe is at 1 Railway Street, Toowoomba.