ENTRANTS in this year's Chronicle garden competition are feeling the pinch as unseasonably warm and wet conditions play havoc with their plants.
With less than seven weeks until the iconic Carnival of Flowers begins, gardeners are resorting to desperate measures in the hope of presenting their garden at its best come September.
Highfields gardener and competition entrant Kevin Drew has rigged up a pedestal fan in his front yard to help dry out his garden beds and ward off moisture-loving diseases.
"We have experienced a milder winter than average with the lack of normally cold and frosty conditions encouraging the flower plants to mature earlier," Mr Drew said.
In his garden and across the city, peach and plum trees are in full bloom - three or four weeks early.
His wisteria is heavy with buds, and the violas need "de-heading" to remove flowers and encourage growth, every second day.
"It's a worry," Mr Drew said.
"The flowering peach will probably be finished flowering before carnival comes.
"The flowers come out early and it's a big job to take all the flowers off. They are nearly growing up behind you.
"If you don't take them off now those flower plants will be no good at carnival time."
Mr Drew said the warmer temperatures coupled with wet conditions were presenting new challenges.
"With showers of rain nearly on a daily basis, the shaded areas of the garden are on the wet side, making it difficult to control diseases," he said.
It is he and his wife Dianna's seventh year in the competition.
"In all the time we have done it, we have managed to get things reasonable," he said.
"But this year, it is really out of the box. Nature has taken over from us. We can only do our best."
Toowoomba Regional Council public gardens co-ordinator Frieldhelm Karl Grams said conditions had favoured the annual garden beds.
"It has been a very good winter for us," Mr Grams said.
Gardeners across the parks have already removed the flowers of annual plants like pansies once.
Plans are in place for another two sessions of "de-heading" before the middle of August.
"The rhododendrons are in bloom now and won't be for carnival. But it is good for the locals. They can enjoy it now."
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