After a long absence, cats and chickens and gardening in the mountains – we’re back posting – missed my blog – hope you are all still with me….
Winter Wonders #1
Spring or Autumn?
It’s a beautiful day on the Mount. The season is turning and we are approaching the delight which is autumn up here. However, I have this potted plant which I haven’t been able to identify. I have scoured the Plant Encyclopaedia, maybe just looking in the wrong place. It seems like a spring plant not an autumnal one.
It can’t be a crocus as it doesn’t die back. I thought it was an orchid when I bought it pot-bound at a garage sale in early summer. I repotted it and forgot about it. Now it has this lovely creamy white flower.
Maybe my little white cat knows what it is!
Any suggestions welcome.
Happy Valentine’s Day from a secret friend
We have a tall, dark, 6 foot stranger living in our garden. We thought we heard him a few weeks ago. We thought we saw him a few days ago. Then today, here he was staring straight at us. He kept looking at us as we stood in shock. He had never been so close before. We were a little frightened at his stillness. He was hungry and thirsty; he was big and strong. He looked straight at us today, on Valentine’s day. He even left a few deposits!
Due to the recent bush fires in our area, kangaroos are coming closer and closer to houses seeking a little fresh grass. Colin came out to look; Whitey cat was too use smelling the flowers to notice.
See you later big guy, but please don’t surprise me behind the camelias!
The golden dogwood
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.
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.)
She also incorporated sundials, rock gardens, garden seats, sculptures and garden rooms, to name but a few.
The beauty of the surroundings is enhanced by her garden features.
It was the stone walks which captured my interest as well as the stone steps which meandered throughout the property.
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.
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.
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.
It can be a wild old place, this bush land but the newly mowed pathways help.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Florence to Floriade
Our winter school term has just ended and we have made the seven hour drive up to Canberra to meet up with Daughter Number Two and her husband. No, it can’t be compared to Florence, however, since Canberra celebrates its Centenary as our capital, we have come to see its yearly tulip festival, Floriade and some its culture as well.
Last September we were fortunate to take a school trip group to Italy. Travelling through Rome, Siena, Verona, Turin, Milan and Florence, we experienced a memorable time together. One year on, our thoughts turn to that remarkable excursion. I guess it has something to do with the fact that we are coming out of winter and the weather is not dissimilar to the beautiful weather we also experienced in Italy.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Forgive me if I indulge in some iconic Italian reminiscing…
The white marble statue of Michelangelo’s, David in the Uffizi Gallery. (Did you know that an electronic device measures the amount of movement of the marble in the statue by nano millimetres!)
The marvel that is Florence cannot be compared to any other place in the world. It is a man made splendour. Whilst in Canberra we hope to visit some lesser forms of man made art, however, for today we turn to the splendour that is nature in Spring – a celebration of floral splendour and time with family.
We enjoyed a perfect sunny day, basking in the glory of tulips in full bloom. While our thoughts may return to the memories of Italy, we revel in our present time together. How do you keep your memories alive?
Garden Gratitude Theme: Pink
No, not the popular female singer but the crimson colours of the camelias! On this unusually sunny morning and the walkways strewn with pink petals, it never ceases to amaze me how these trees push forth their abundance.
In our decade here on the Mount, we have experienced drought conditions, heat waves, strong, hot northern winds and torrential rains. As a consequence, we have lost our fair share of important trees – a weeping cherry, the year we went to Italy; an established magnolia, the year of the drought and along with it, a magnificent pale pink rhododendron, odorata. With these significant losses we have tried to keep our mainstay trees alive during summer. Perhaps our lovely neighbours’ example of abundant watering makes sense! Our rewards are many.
If you look carefully you can make out our rooster’s tail feathers in the background!
My gratitude really must go to the previous own of this property. She was a remarkable woman. Raising her four children alone and working as a nurse by night, she had a grand vision of the colours in a garden. Painstakingly planting camelias, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs and magnolias she created an English garden beneath a canopy of gum trees. In this season, however, it is the camelia which takes pride of place.
Some of them only briefly make their appearance.
Others linger to create carpets of petals.
At least one of our weeping cherries survived!
With this vision of abundance we marvel at nature itself: its glory, its veritable magnificence which reaffirms our own existence.
The English poets knew their landscapes. William Wordsworth wrote of paths and country meanderings. John Milton wrote about “those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world”. For me these are all found in a garden.
One last flourish before I go (pardon the pun) – happy gardening, contemplating and appreciating!
Garden Gratitude Theme: Yellow
This week end, while I endeavoured to complete my weekly rituals of checking the chicken house, scrubbing their water trough, replenishing the water and reorganising the straw, I sat for a moment to give a little thanks. I say ritual because these repeated acts, like a garden itself, gives me a sense of order and gratitude. Once completed, I can move on to the other areas of my day in need of attention.
This week end, though, I stopped for a lengthier time to notice how many colour combinations had appeared in the garden. There were too many to commit to one post, so I am compiling them into themes. Today’s snapshot theme is yellow – all that is pale, primrose, amber, golden or creamy has a special place in this post. So, let the show begin….
The obligatory golden daffodils…
The first tulip to bloom – you guessed it – it’s canary yellow!
Add a touch of “jonquil” to the mix
Let’s finish off with a compilation
With all its simplicity in a complicated world, let us give thanks for gardens in all seasons – they are the rituals that soothe our souls.
How does your garden grow – is it a metaphor for how you live?