Tea for two or three?

We have spent much time in our autumnal garden this Easter break. While last year I tried my hand at baking hot cross buns, this year I was not so adventurous.

20140421-194121.jpg
And I was quite pleased at the result….

20140421-194249.jpg
I had great intentions of baking a special Easter cake – a simnel cake perhaps, but all I could muster was a healthy muesli slice. Taking it into the garden for afternoon tea, I turned away for one second under the arbor to find one piece missing.

20140421-194955.jpg
You guessed it, stolen by a cheeky chicken.

20140421-195412.jpg

20140421-195705.jpg
Others joined in quickly, including naughty Long John Silver, the rooster.

20140421-195844.jpg

20140421-195910.jpg
Must have been tasty – even Whitey cat wanted some 🙂

20140421-200021.jpg
I hope you had a Happy Easter holiday.

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.

20131020-203540.jpg

20131020-203618.jpg

20131020-203642.jpg
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.)

20131020-204443.jpg
She also incorporated sundials, rock gardens, garden seats, sculptures and garden rooms, to name but a few.

20131020-204955.jpg

20131020-205124.jpg
The beauty of the surroundings is enhanced by her garden features.

20131020-205338.jpg
a delicate, pink clematis

20131020-205421.jpg

20131020-205526.jpg
It was the stone walks which captured my interest as well as the stone steps which meandered throughout the property.

20131020-205621.jpg

20131020-205707.jpg
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.

20131020-205847.jpg
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.

20130929-143919.jpg

20130929-144001.jpg
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.

20130929-144320.jpg

20130929-144425.jpg
It can be a wild old place, this bush land but the newly mowed pathways help.

20130929-144913.jpg
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.

20130929-145333.jpg

20130929-145846.jpg

20130929-145913.jpg
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.

20130929-150434.jpg
The first iris of the season

20130929-150745.jpg
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?

20130929-152311.jpg
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.

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

20130902-212832.jpg
A Romanesque pool

20130902-212931.jpg
With extra fountain!

20130902-213021.jpg
A lady in waiting…

20130902-213108.jpg
A thatched gazebo

20130902-213144.jpg
A wind powered water source…

20130902-213235.jpg
Some wagon wheels – strategically placed, of course

20130902-213310.jpg
A pot or two …

20130902-213350.jpg
A little lake.

20130902-213422.jpg
With a foot bridge…

20130902-213458.jpg
And a lake house…

20130902-213552.jpg
Some rock feature..

20130902-213647.jpg
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!