TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN STORIES give you an insight into many of the local businesses and characters you will find when you Escape to Tamborine Mountain.



They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but should you have to choose at all? Janene Gardner, owner of Under The Greenwood Tree Bookshop & Artspace doesn’t think so. Marrying her passions for literature and art in one magical, ever-changing space, Janene has as much to say about her time both on Tamborine Mountain and in her industry as is contained in her many books, and each word just as fascinating. We were lucky enough to sit down with her (and her two shop dogs, Finn and Pippi Longstocking) to hear her story.

by Kyle Hitchmough

How long have you owned Under The Greenwood Tree?

I will have been here eight years in June this year. Previously I had another business, Marks and Gardner Gallery at Secret Garden. We were there for 11 years. They’re a wedding venue now.

What was your inspiration to open a shop like this?

I’ve always been involved in contemporary art. I  had galleries in Brisbane but when my children started school I moved the business to the mountain, which became Secret Garden, and then swapped across to here, and I have no desire to leave. Books are my other passion, and I wanted to combine the two.

Where did the name come from?

Under the Greenwood Tree relates to Thomas Hardy’s book of the same name. It came from that, but also from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. There was a good tree outside, so it had a literary reference, an arts reference, and it was literal as well.

For those who might not be familiar with your shop, can you explain how you operate?

It’s a very tiny little space, a lot of people refer to it as a TARDIS because it just keeps expanding inside! I have the bookshop area and then a separate little tiny house gallery, I call it. I usually have a solo show every six weeks that focuses on one artist, with drinks and everything. But also, mixed in amongst the books are glass cabinets full of lovely other bits of jewellery, fine sculpture and design work. It’s a mixture of art and books and allows me to indulge in all the things I like!

And what kinds of books do you carry?

Unlike most big bookstores, who tend to have many copies of a few books, I have a huge range with only one copy of everything, because I want to fit in absolutely everything. A lot of the modern bookshops now, the publishers send out lists of the new releases, and the shops will just order those, whereas I do a lot of research and order a lot of backlist titles. There’s a reason they’re still in print. They’re good books! You’re not likely to see the stock in my shop everywhere else. It’s a very carefully curated collection of books. I love trying to find old classics and beautiful editions.

Which of the niches you cover do you feel is your most popular draw?

It varies constantly. Some days might be all about art and other days might be all about books. Of the artists that I’ve got showing here, Monte Lupo’s exhibitions are always really popular. It’s a program operated by Multicap for people with a disability who have an interest in the arts, where they work with professional artists. Every year I do a show for them. It’s usually got a theme, and that’s always pretty special. In terms of books, real book lovers often come and visit me from a long way away and I think amongst the younger age group there’s a real interest in classics and beautiful editions.

Have you noticed any particular trends in your clientele?

No, there’s a real variety of people. The mountain has an incredible collection of retired academics and retired professionals who read very interestingly across a wide variety of books. I order quite esoteric non-fiction, because they’re interested in history, science, philosophy, really interesting stuff. We get a lot of younger boys and girls, too. I think what people really like is to be able to speak to somebody one-on-one and get recommendations and feedback about books.

Are you a local? What’s your opinion on the Tamborine Mountain area and community?

Yes. I’ve lived here for nearly 23 years. What’s wonderful about it is the sense of community, it’s a very nurturing spot to live. Because you have so many of the original families still here, there’s a deep interest in the local history. There’s a passion and a drive on the mountain for the area, I think there’s more community groups here on the mountain than anywhere else!

Do you have any personal favourite things to do on the mountain?

There’s so many different spots! We go every week to Spice of Life, we also to go Main St. Provedore because his lemon pastries are amazing, and the coffee is really good. Just the fact you can live somewhere like Hartley Road and be totally private but be able to walk to the banks, the library, the post office, the cafés, that’s truly special.

What do you think Under The Greenwood Tree really provides to the area?

I think it’s very unusual nowadays to get a small bookshop selling new books and one-off pieces of art and jewellery. I provide a service to the community as well because you can come here and buy cards and artwork by local artists, putting money back into the community. I donate to various different associations on the mountain on a regular basis. It’s about supporting local.

What’s your favourite book?

Oh, that’s hard. I read at different levels at different times. I keep three different books on my bedside table, one beautiful prose book, one nonfiction book, and then maybe just one really light book. At the moment I’m really loving Muriel Barbery’s A Single Rose, a beautiful short book.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your time here?

When I first opened up here, I had these two girls who were wandering around for absolutely ages. Eventually I asked them if they were writers, or librarians, and they said “Actually, we are writers.” One of them turned out to be Brooke Davis. She’d written a book that I’d never read, because I thought it looked a bit chick-lit-y, which I don’t normally go for. The other was Holly Ringland. She had just got her first book deal with Harper-Collins. They said they loved the place and we had a lovely time together. Holly came back when her book was being published and asked to have her first book launch here, which I thought sounded wonderful. It was called The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, and it went on to be the bestselling book in Australia that year, and we had the very first launch here. I wanted to combine it with the art so we had this wonderful art and book opening. I look back now and Holly has gone from strength to strength. Her second book is just to come out and it’s huge. And I ended up reading Brooke’s book and I absolutely love it, I sell it constantly!

Is there anything else you’d like to go on the record?

I can’t stock everything, so a lot of what I do is ordering in books by request. New orders come in regularly! And, of course, I’m so thankful for the support of the local people.

Under The Greenwood Tree Bookshop & Artspace