Marj Van Roy

Let it Grow with Manawee Garden Centre

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Since opening Manawee Garden Centre over 30 years ago, nothing gives Marjorie Van Roy greater joy than inspiring someone’s passion for planting, as Georgia Beard discovers.

Name Marjorie Van Roy 

Business Manawee Garden Centre

How and when was your business born? 

My husband Hans and I initially had a gardening and landscape business some 33 years ago. I was trained in horticulture and my quest to find suppliers with a good range of stock for home gardens led to us creating our own place, Manawee Garden Centre. 

We added the front shop a few years later and we’ve continued to grow in size as the public have really warmed to it. 

We retired from landscaping to just specialise in green stock. I do offer a consult service where I can provide ideas for your garden but it helps to have a great landscaping team behind you.

Where did the name ‘Manawee’ originate?

The property was initially a geranium nursery named Manawee, from the Aboriginal word for ‘tomorrow’ and 15 years ago, we changed the name to Manawee Garden Centre to reflect that we are more than just a plant nursery, we are a destination. We always wanted people to gain the bulk of their needs but also feel amazingly happy, as if they were gardening for tomorrow.

What do you love most about Manawee?

I love the satisfaction customers get from coming here. I always said ‘if you give somebody else pleasure, then it gives you pleasure’. It’s not hard for me to continue to provide a garden centre that looks good and produces good stock. 

How does your personal taste in plants translate to your business?

I’m a French country gardener and I love the principles of Paul Bangay and finely cut, manicured gardens. I have to be careful to not give people manicured gardens when they want a relaxed garden. It love that it challenges me to not be so fine-tuned all the time. 

What sets your business apart?

We pride ourselves on the quality of stock we provide. We feed and care for virtually every plant in the nursery before we sell it. When plants come to the Centre, they go into a fertilising care program. They’re not left out there to sell. We detail it, look at its location and how it’s grown, so when you take it home, we know it has an ideal chance of growing. We don’t sell anything we wouldn’t be prepared to take home ourselves. 

We also employ a team with a great knowledge of the industry. We hold workshops for our team quite regularly to bring them up to speed with all the horticultural knowledge that is available.

Why do you love the Sunshine Coast?

It’s a great location where you can garden twelve months of the year. We have our challenges but overall, it’s just amazing. We can tolerate some southern stock and tropical stock, so there’s a huge range of plants to choose from. 

Where do you source your plants? 

We get a small amount of stock from Cairns and Rockhampton and from as far south as north Melbourne. Our biggest sources come from southeast Queensland into the middle of New South Wales and we pride ourselves on transporting our own stock. We won’t bring in stock that’s not up to standard. 

Current trends in outdoor landscaping? 

You find either an incredible tropical garden with heliconias and other big-leaf plants, or a handful of country gardens with natives like grevillea. There’s a lot of uniform planting with big splashes of colour and solid, strong plants, or hedging and trimming.  

What varieties do well in our climate?

Magnolias are my favourite. The range of magnolias, both deciduous and evergreen, from the Teddy Bear Magnolia to the Magnolia Soulangeana – they’re classy plants. 

What has been the biggest change in gardening in recent years?

We see younger people gardening now. If you went back 20 years, mainly the older people were putting their mixed gardens in and growing their veggies, but now that’s completely changed. We’re finding young people are spending a lot of time in the garden, even teaching their children gardening skills. It makes me feel good because it’s bringing the next generation through. 

Top tips for maintaining edible gardens?

Edible gardens can be challenging from mid-to-late December through to early March. While the grasshoppers and grubs are busy having a great feed, you can put your bed to fallow by covering it with straw or lucerne. Once we get out of the last of the heat, I encourage people to get out there and start to garden. Build a good base-tier garden, and don’t make the soil too rich. You should be watering your veggie garden a couple of times a week on average.

What are your most popular plants?

Houseplants. They’ve grown in demand. People are trying to purify the air, and to have greenery in the house. They’re asking for some of the rare and unusual plants like caladiums, philodendrons and peperomias. 

What indoor plants do you recommend?

Ferns are pleasant, and they look nice in a decorative pot. Anthuriums are also good with big bursts of tropical colour. Philodendrons, peperomias and alocasias all do well inside if it is light and airy. Calatheas, ctenanthes…there’s a lot of houseplants to give you height and spill-over.  

Styling advice for indoor pots and plants? 

Don’t sit your plants right near the furniture, near the brightest light or in direct sunlight, they don’t want the heat. Something on a table, low and spilling over, or a cluster of two or three plants in a corner always looks smart. 

When mixing plants and accessories, keep it to a minimum. Group your plants with decorative pots to bring the plants to life and blend with the colour and style of your home. One feature pot with bright colours or a quirky face will look great. 

Why are plants important? 

Plants have a lot to give. It makes you feel good to see them growing and flowering. Until you’ve had some in the house, you don’t realise how good they can be. Sharing your garden with visitors can also make plants a personal experience. 


Fave Hobby:  I’m a piano player, so playing music is of interest to me

Fave Drink: I love a glass of wine every now and again

Fave Food: French cooking, something that involves seafood

Fave Colour: Blue

Fave Garden Style: French country style with lots of pots and classic planting

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