Window Boxes of Prague

We are reaching the end of our stay in Prague. It was more than expected – a truly wonderful city. Here are some gardening ideas to bring home – we should all have at least one window box or the like.
  They are often simple geraniums in bold colours.

  The full sun and the heat from the masonry walls ensure a dramatic display. 

 Begonias are another popular species for window boxes.   These can be found in the windows of most residences and restaurants – delightfully simple. 

 (oops, I think this ivy is fake!)

  

Some need a little more love.

 This red geranium is at Prague castle. Ok, this may be too much. However, none of these are beyond the average home gardener, like us. Happy gardening!

   

Pots of Prague

We have been visiting Prague to research some family connections (see my blog Findingstanvodak ). Even though this has been quite time consuming, not to mention difficult, as we do not speak Czech, we have still managed to incorporate some sightseeing. 

These beautiful pots caught my eye during a recent visit to the famous Prague Castle.

 Healthy begonias   Mixed geraniums  Great pot    Very formal  I don’t think any of these displays are beyond the average gardener! Just good soil, good pots and plenty of time.   

  Backdrop is nice! Happy pottering about!

Spring or Autumn Take #2

After visiting the Melbourne International Garden Show, I am again confused . Are we in autumn? Then these wonderful tulips belong to the Northern Hemisphere not Down Under. e

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This interesting contraption from fifty years ago sorts the bare bulbs into sizes. What intrigues me are the fantastic displays which are often not seasonal and brought here from thousands if miles – was this also the way in the 1960’s or were the seasons recognizable ?

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Thank goodness we finally found some maples turning to mellow yellow.

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More special arrangements to come later – stay posted! Hopefully they will be seasonal too.

A Garden Odyssey

November is the time when all the magnificent Open Gardens are on display. I visited one such garden this morning in its splendour. Set on eleven acres and around one hundred and forty years old, Dreamthorpe, is a woodland wonderland with unique garden architecture and, my favourite, the wistful, wisteria walk!

Of course, my interest is stone walls, as I described in my last blog on the Edna Walling cottage garden. As I entered the property, a magnificent stone wall welcomed me beside manicured green paths.

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A unique garden also displays unique garden architecture. This garden was no exception: terracotta urns, classical statues, wildlife habitat and some modern pieces.

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This one is reminiscent of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and good times. This garden revels in its own beauty!

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Fancy a new home for your bird life?

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Yes, I did promise some modern garden pieces – which do you prefer?

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However, it was the design layout and the plants themselves which stole the show. Here are but a mere snapshot of their breathtaking beauty….

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A wall of pink rhododendrons.

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a hedged narrow path – leading where?

To a lake, of course!

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My favourite was this spectacular lavender wisteria walk – magical, secluded and other worldly!

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This property is more notably recognised by its row of gothic ancient cedars which, on a cold, foggy night, are eerie sentinels watching over the garden.

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Dreamthorpeis a must see in autumn and in spring. Open gardens give us inspiration and preserve the magnificence of nature in all its variety and possibilities – an odyssey any garden lover would like to undertake.

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Edna Walling Cottage

Edna Walling was one of Australia’s best known landscape gardeners. Both a gardener, writing for the1920’s publication Australian Home Beautiful and an accomplished photographer, she was commissioned by many distinctive owners, including the Murdoch’s of Cruden Farm.

Last night we stayed in a cottage in the Dandenongs, one hundred kilometers from our own home on the Mount, surrounded by her signature garden features – walled gardens and sweeping stone stairways. It was a delightful stay. The cottage was charming and our hosts friendly and accommodating. The property, known as Mawarra is referred to in many publications as one of her greatest achievements.

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Edna’s memoir recalls the eureka moment when she suddenly understood something fundamental about how to develop her design style. At this time stone walls as a design feature, had rarely been used in public or private.. She was to describe Mawarra as a “symphony in steps and beautiful trees” and predicted that it would “weather into greater beauty as the years went on – she was right.
(Harding, Sue. The Unusual Life of Edna Walling, 2005, Allen & Unwin, 72-3.)

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She also incorporated sundials, rock gardens, garden seats, sculptures and garden rooms, to name but a few.

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The beauty of the surroundings is enhanced by her garden features.

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a delicate, pink clematis

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It was the stone walks which captured my interest as well as the stone steps which meandered throughout the property.

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We both enjoyed this quiet and distinctive retreat. It made us appreciate what we also have in our garden – own own stone walls, garden rooms and flowering specimens.

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A wonderful experience and what a historic garden to wake up to each morning – a sheer pleasure.

Go to the back of the block, sit down and stop

As any one with a large (or even not so large) garden knows, there are always jobs to do: extensive seasonal tasks like pruning and planting as well as weekend jobs such as raking and weeding. With so many tasks we are often left with little time and energy to simply sit and contemplate our efforts let alone the stillness and solace a garden can bring. So today, after we finished the mowing (well, Colin actually did that), the raking and the wheelbarrowing I have decided to spend some time at the back of the block, simply sitting and contemplating.

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Though quite rugged and unruly, the back of our block extends to the next street via a series of steps. Flanked by rhododendrons, emerging, acanthus it winds its way down and up the hillside.

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It can be a wild old place, this bush land but the newly mowed pathways help.

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These little moments of quiet in our frantic world seem few and far between. The habits of keeping busy, keeping time and keeping track suffuse those little moments when we allow ourselves to stop, sit and listen to the rustling of the leaves in the breeze, chirping of the birds and the buzz of the insects. That’s what I’m doing now sitting on these old chairs. Join me for the outlook.

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Here on the Mount it can be up to seven degrees cooler than in the city. The cool weather and the altitude can also impede our time outside. In my first few years here I used to garden in mid July wearing two pairs of gloves and two pairs of socks – on my feet, that is! By the time Spring came along I could sit back and enjoy my hard work. Some of those rewards are still evident in this cold climate garden.

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The first iris of the season

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The clematis searching for sun
Sitting here in the sun, I am reminded that the garden offers us such peace if we allow it to show us how to slow down and discover what it wants to tell us. How does the garden speak to you?

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Share your gardening comments with me, I’d like to read your thoughts and suggestions for utilising both tasks and down time in the garden.

The Light of Democracy

It always amuses us that when we go on holiday we are drawn to the historical aspects of the city or place we are visiting. As we drove through Ned Kelly country on our way here to a Canberra, we often discuss the places such as Glenrowan and their significance for our cultural heritage. Of course, when in Canberra a must see for Australians and overseas tourists alike, are the old and new Parliament Houses. They are icons of our identity.

Set parallel to one another and only 300 metres walking distance apart, the two Houses are indeed worlds apart, both in architecture and modern significance.

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I can’t really say which one I preferred. New Parliament House circa 1988, is certainly modern and thrust into the 21st Century with its bright and colourful chambers and glass and steel facade. However, what caught my eye in both Houses we the similarities in light fixtures. It is as though one looks back to the past for inspiration and knowledge whilst the other seeks to find innovation and foresight. Both “light” our democratic paths.

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These beautiful fixtures are, surprisingly, in the new Parliament House. The ones that follow are beautiful examples that reflect Old Parliament House’s 1927 Art Deco influence.

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One can imagine the historical figures of politics and royalty standing beneath these illuminated pendants.

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Indeed, both venues balance the old and the new and are tributes to the men and women who guide and led our nation in peace and in war; in times of great social change, political upheaval and national pride.

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The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays, to shape what we are and what we do. Sir William Deane, 1996. (Judge and former Governor General).

Let us now remember to see the past as an investment in our future and see our future as a beacon of hope and enlightenment.

Those special garden features

Father’s Day at a heritage listed mansion, Rippon Lea, built in1867 yielded its many treasures both inside and out. If you’re looking to upgrade your garden feature any time soon, here are my top ten suggestions

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A Romanesque pool

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With extra fountain!

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A lady in waiting…

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A thatched gazebo

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A wind powered water source…

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Some wagon wheels – strategically placed, of course

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A pot or two …

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A little lake.

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With a foot bridge…

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And a lake house…

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Some rock feature..

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To top it all off, a tower from which to view your vast garden empire!
I think I overshot my photos to twelve top garden must have’s.
We had a lovely day sitting in the sun – our first warm day and just in time for spring. Happy Father’s Day Dennis!