Being in the Open Garden Scheme for 2013 made me think of Monty Don’s quote, “When enjoying a garden there is that profound sense of, just being in the moment, when you share it, and you know it’s going to change, the weather will change, the climate will move on and it will never be the same again, just, just for a second you were precisely there”. Don’s quote made me think how special these moments are. Occasionally I stop and take the time to look, taking in this moment. Here and there I see little spots in my garden that I love- that give me great pleasure. The weather is exactly right, the sun is gently shining down on me, the intoxicating perfumes are a true delight, while the birds are busy also enjoying the moment and the garden is doing its thing. I love these rare times
However most of the time I am busy working in this ever changing wonderland. And yes, there have certainly been some changes over the years. Initially my in-laws owned the property for over eighteen years, their choice of plants and garden design was quite different to mine. A tall, proud Lemon Scented Gum, planted by Paul, my father in-law, invites you into our property. Being young, enthusiastic and energetic allowed me to slowly over twenty-five years, put my mark on this country/cottage garden. Initially a friend and I fell in love with old-world roses. We were addicted! We loved their form, their perfume, their varied colours and most of all the romance they brought to the garden. Of course with old world roses you must have perennials. -I still thoroughly enjoy finding new and exciting ones. I must mention that at this time, the late eighties, we had plenty of water so creating a garden full of old roses, shrubs and perennials, was both easy and delightful. Haven’t the times changed!
On the 7th of February, 2009, my family and I, like many others, were caught in the Black Saturday bush fires. Fortunately for us, our menagerie of farm animals; the main home; Gary, my husband; Gillian, my youngest daughter; five frightened dogs and I, survived. The fire came four feet from the front of our home wiping out half the garden in one fell swoop. As Gary saw the burning front garden he was confronted with a dilemma, whether to plough the burning garden with the tractor and save the house or leave things as they were and risk the chance of the house catching fire. At this point the paper under the mulch was still burning, Gary couldn’t get water to this part of the garden, and his best option was to plough. Breaking up the mulch allowed us to control the fire. This was a huge success. I later said, “Gary you made a wise decision, saving our home, as I can always make another garden!”
After many clean ups, looking after the animals and caring for ourselves I eventually began designing and developing a new garden. This time I was hooked on Salvias! They are a bit like roses, but not as prickly. As you can imagine it gave me so much fun choosing them! I have also introduced fruit trees into the garden beds, complemented by fragrant herbs, not forgetting a variety of perennials which shelter a growing collection of bulbs. With support from Travis, Gillian and Soren we created new structures and Adam, our part time gardener at that time, helped with digging new paths and a dam-fed watering system which circles our home. I certainly needed this help as I’m not as young as I used to be! To provide some privacy and to dispel the dust I planted a hedge of Escallonia iveyi. Jane a friend helped with research for this choice of hedge. Soren, Gill’s partner, works diligently in the garden keeping the fruit trees healthy, pruning the hedge, whipper-snipping and helping with other garden tasks. Gary has managed to transfer our grass into respectable lawn. Rabbits by the dozens decided the new garden was the place to be, eating and digging out many of my new found treasures. So now the garden looks a little like a rockery, providing protection from the rabbits and elements. I have moved so many rocks Gary thinks I must have had convict ancestors!!
An old lemon tree that was planted here many years ago, gave me the inspiration to create an organic vegie garden. Over the years I have tried a variety of vegetables, some quite bizarre, however now that Gary and I are the only ones eating this produce I keep to our favourites. Straw and manure from the sheep’s quarters are used to fertilise all the gardens. I use many items including empty ice-cream containers which serve as the sheep’s dishes at night, old saucepans for animal food dippers, old metal dishes for planters, an old wrought iron bath houses scrumptious strawberries, one's imagination keeps the list growing.
Heartbreakingly Gillian, my youngest daughter, passed away unexpectedly on February 7th 2012 at the young age of 31 but it is she who has given me the courage to “have a go”-“take a step” when in the past I wouldn’t- I would want to do something but I would hesitate, miss-out. Now I think of Gill and off I go-maybe this is why it has taken me all these years to be part of the Open Garden scheme. Gill loved my garden! She loved to come and pick bunches of flowers or huge posies of fragrant roses giving them as gifts or taking them home to enjoy. She was also eager to help in the garden!! Once when Gary had just purchased a hedge trimmer Gill and Soren happened to be visiting, Gill saw this, her eyes nearly popped in excitement. It wasn’t long before off she went, trimming here, trimming there, I can tell you I wasn’t far behind, all in a flutter, very worried about my dear plants! We now have two, extremely manicured, Xmas shrubs! I miss Gill every day and I remember the special connection we had with gardening, the pleasure it gave us both. Because of Gill I “took the plunge” then reaped all the pleasures Replica Fendi Handbags.
New experiences bring new ideas. Now we are in times of drought, or fear of, so I look for plants that not only look fantastic but are also drought tolerant-I have to say I have lost a few plants over the years, usually from lack of knowledge! I continue to learn, chatting to knowledgeable friends, visiting my favourite gardens/nurseries, constantly reading and forever planning. Also I have moved out of my comfort zone in relation to colour. Orange is currently one of my favourite colours. I love gardening and all it entails, black, broken fingernails, an aching back, hair in a mess, lugging rocks, a weeded garden bed, the feel and smell of rich soft soil, fat lumpy worms, hours choosing the perfect plant, looking back and hoping my choices will fulfil my expectations, the list goes on.
The garden always has something flowering, popping up its bright face to delight me. Both the garden and I look forward to meeting you over the coming weekend and we hope you enjoy a stroll through this ever-changing country/cottage garden.
If you would like to view more images of the Open Garden Weekend, please visit our Gallery
Comments from Annette after the Open Garden Weekend
I am delighted! The whole weekend has filled me with total happiness and satisfaction. I have waited over twenty years to be part of the Open Garden scheme and it has been worth the wait. Visitors were incredibly lovely, taking their time to soak up the splendour of the garden then moving on to sit around the dam edges enjoying homemade delights as they chatted to friends and visitors.
It was a weekend full of generations, happy children running through the paths or feeding the angora goats, young parents nursing tiny-tots, mothers and daughters, friends together, discussing their thoughts on garden design and plant choice, older couples amazed at how close the plants are planted as well as the garden enthusiasts who obviously share the joy of gardening together. One young woman chose to have her birthday celebration at Wallingford, our property—there were many generations together on that occasion! Not forgetting to mention Gill and Travis’ primary school teacher, Marlene Williams, who was the happy face as you entered the garden and Howard Brown their secondary school teacher and vice principal, with his wife Jenny. How lovely to see them! And Gary has enlightened me of a visitor who had worked on our property approximately fifty-four years ago. He chatted to Gary for some time filling him in on much of Wallingford’s history. Another joy!
Friends and family rallied together to set up the stalls, make tea and coffee, sell plants and chat to visitors as they entered. I am so thankful to Gary, Marlene, Soren, Jane, Michelle, Travis, Katherine, Celia and Kate for all their help. A little hello to Alistair and Tamsyn, my adored and adoring grandchildren for being there on the Sunday and always making Nana’s day a happy one. Overall, Gillian’s Rainbow Bridge committee managed to raise well over $2,200.00. Fantastic! This will definitely help Gill’s program.
The whole thing has been an incredible experience and one I am thankful to have been involved in.
Open Garden - 26th & 27th October, 2013
A mystery text sent to us late Sunday afternoon from, as it turned out, it was our niece Clair;
“I hope today was also a brilliant day for you both and now you can sit back and be so proud of what you have both achieved.
Annette your garden is a perfect art work so cleverly considered and designed and still flowering in my mind. I am so inspired by it. It is a lovely feeling to have a connection with your property, remembering with love, Nan and Pa, your whole family and my childhood spent playing there.
I know Gill, Nan and Pa would be thrilled to see it full of flowers, inspired visitors and all the happiness it brought people.
Love from your proud niece.”
The following are comments from visitors to the Open Garden Weekend;
Especially enjoyed the “Edna Walling” feel of the garden around the house.
The nicest garden I have visited in years. Beautiful!
Wonderful colour combinations-a beautiful garden-a credit to you.
Inspirational! Looking forward to “next time.”
A delight around every corner. Thankyou Annette and Gary-a real joy.
Betty and I think this is the best cottage garden we’ve seen!!
Beautiful garden, I love the rocks and the colour combinations & foliage contrast.