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Eva’s garden is her happy place

Eva Raddatz will tell you she enjoys nothing more than spending time in her garden and time with her family. They have been two joy-filled constants across the span of her life. Looking around her room at Palm Lake Care Deception Bay, it’s clear that so many years have passed but nothing has changed…

Born and bred on a farm in Stanthorpe, Eva is no stranger to feeling the sun on her back and the soil beneath her fingernails. Dubbed ‘Betty’ for most of her life, she was just 18 when she married her husband, Lyle ‘Sunny Jim’ Raddatz. Shortly after marrying, the couple moved east to Redcliffe with a shared dream to start a pineapple farm.

“There was only one problem,” Eva explains, with a laugh. “It wasn’t pineapple country.”

In search of the next best thing, Jim began work at Golden Circle. While he worked, Eva raised their children. She was 20 when she had their first son and would go on to have three more children. And, with the birth of every sequential child, her sense of family was only strengthened. Though her children have lived and worked all over the world throughout their lives – one in Africa with the United Nations, another closer to home in Vanuatu – they have all returned to the Redcliffe area seeking to indulge in the same sense of family that Eva instilled in them as youngsters. Eva will tell you she loves having them, and her many grandchildren and even great grandchildren, so close by.

“They visit a lot, and call when they can’t visit,” she beams. “There are a lot of them to keep in touch with!”

Family means a lot to Eva – you can tell as you look around her Palm Lake Care Deception Bay suite. The space is elegantly decorated with beautiful pieces of dark wooden furniture – tangible memories from her beloved family home in Redcliffe. Perched on top of these pieces of furniture, and on wall after wall, are photos of her favourite people. There’s her mother on her 100th birthday, her husband – young and smiling in uniform, as well as all those gorgeous third- and fourth-generation children.

But, true to Eva’s earliest love, her most prized possession sits just outside her suite, through the glass door that conveniently joins her private space directly to the sunny courtyard she shares with her neighbours.

“It’s taken me 12 months to get the garden looking like that,” Eva says, proudly. “It’s certainly my happy place. I always feel at home when I’m gardening.”

What Eva doesn’t realise is that this hobby and passion benefits so many more people than just she. Her skill in the garden is well-known by all those family who come to visit her, but it’s also well-loved by all those other lucky Palm Lake Care residents who live alongside the wannabe pineapple farmer with the greenest thumb.