Garden Ramble // Tulip Top Gardens

Tulip Top is one of those places I've vaguely thought about visiting for a few years, but never quite mustered the enthusiasm to make it happen. It always seemed like a bit of a tourist trap off the highway into Canberra, with its giant billboard and kitschy name.

But this year a girlfriend suggested a school holiday visit with the kids, and another garden-loving friend posted some gorgeous photos on instagram - through her lens it looked less cliche-tourist-exhibit, more gorgeous cold-climate garden in full spring blossom. I figured that it was worth a visit for inspiration, even if artistically-planned tulip displays really aren't my thing (and are free to see just down the road at Floriade right now).

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I'm pleased to say that my fear of underwhelm was tossed aside as soon as we got past the carpark. This garden is extraordinary! Seen from above, it is a canopy of deciduous trees, pines and conifers set into an otherwise totally unremarkable landscape. ("Unremarkable" in so far as that it is pretty typical for the NSW southern tablelands, in spring, after a long dry spell.)

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But just down that purple-hued slope covered with rosemary (and bees!) is a dreamy cold-climate rural garden, in full spring glory.

The tulips are certainly a feature, along with other bulbs and short-lived flowering annuals, but rather than being the only thing to see (as at Floriade), they are merely a fun seasonal display. They actually play second-fiddle to the extraordinary array of flowering ornamental trees in the garden.

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Not a single kitschy "flowers as art" display to be found - all the tulips were neatly tucked under deciduous trees, or formed into raised beds to divide the garden into smaller spaces for families to picnic and kids to run amok.  

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Our kids picked a picnic spot up the slope, hidden in a grove of crab apples, and it honestly felt like we were the only people there despite it being a super busy day in the garden. What a well-designed garden, that so many people can all enjoy it without feeling on top of each other.

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And the blossom! Oh the blossom! Cue the gratuitous crab apple blossom porn in 3..2...1...

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Another thing that really appealed to me about Tulip Top was that whilst exotic ornamentals were obviously the stars of the garden, they were so neatly mixed in with the occasional gum tree. Rather than completely erasing native trees (or trying to hide them), a few beautiful old eucalypts were incorporated into the main part of the garden, and they looked so wonderful included in this way. I adore eucalypts, and while they can be hazardous if allowed to grow too close to structures, I still want to be able to celebrate them at Widgetopia rather than build a garden that entirely ignores where we are located. Exotic trees and shrubs are shade-giving, bee-friendly, protectively fire-resistant and just plain glorious, but we live in Australia and have so many beautiful native trees and shrubs that can be worked into a mixed garden without losing those features. Tulip Top does a lovely job of that, I think.

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Anyhoo, suffice to say that Tulip Top well and truly exceeded my (granted, very low) expectations. If you live in the Canberra region it is totally worth the $16 entry fee (free for all kids). And if you are heading down for Floriade, definitely pop off the highway to see it - I would gamble that you will like it more than our city's famous tulip festival. 

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Garden Ramble // Roogulli

My wonderful friend and fellow gardening-from-scratch-in-horribly-rocky-ground warrior, Linda, recently gave me a heads up about an open garden over on her side of our little mountainous region. She said that it sounded like a garden much like the incredibly productive one that she is creating, so of course I was on board to go for a stickybeak.

The owners of Roogulli describe their property as a "small farm and big experiment". They are landscape designers by trade and are using their property to test some of their ideas about sustainably sound landscape design practices. When they bought the property back in 2004, it was pretty much heavily grazed paddocks with a couple of trees dotted around. So truly, they started with a blank slate (albeit one with soil, which neither Linda nor I are able to claim) and have built a productive and beautiful garden in roughly a decade. Even though the garden at Roogulli is vastly different from the one that we are building here, I can't tell you how reassuring it is to know that they have achieved all of this in just 10 years or so. It gives us hope that we are not fighting a losing battle!

The kitchen garden is fully netted, which is a brilliant idea but difficult to execute... Certainly a goal for The Coopermarket, but a distant one. Within its confines, there is a small polytunnel greenhouse with wicking beds, as well as open air beds of fruit and veg. The fence visible from the driveway has been cleverly used to espalier apple trees - the perfect use of space and a lovely way to make the whole space look less utilitarian and "caged". 

Beyond the confines of the kitchen garden, the owners have created what they call a "food forest". The trees within the forest are all fruiting (not an ornamental to be found!), and mostly underplanted with edibles or green mulches. The owners have planted a native hedge around the outside, designed to channel cold air away from the fruit trees, which has really made us think about doing a similar thing here... the cold winds in winter and the hot drying winds in summer are a huge issue on our mountainside, and unless we design well to manage them we will always be fighting a losing battle. Excellent take-home from this open garden!

Also within the food forest, a second smaller polytunnel contains old bathtubs being used as wicking beds for herbs and citrus. We have always had so much trouble growing both herbs (I know - seems like it should be the easiest thing to grow right?!?! I mean, I use to grow them on a tiny balcony in the inner city for goodness sakes!) and citrus. We are planning to put in a greenhouse this winter and whilst I do hope to use it to get a small earlier crop of tomatoes, I think it's primary function will be herb and citrus growing... must investigate further because greenhouses are fraught with rapid-solarised-plant-death problems if not managed well in the Aussie summers.

For me, one of the most interesting things about Roogulli was actually something extremely insignificant in the scheme of this beautiful garden - the presence of fumaria! A lot of it, clearly allowed to run its rampant ways and not torn out to look presentable for an open garden!! Fumaria is basically the reason that I started this blog, so obviously I had to ask the owner about it. Although he seemed utterly perplexed that my only question about the whole garden related to a weed-or-not-a-weed, he answered very thoughtfully: yes, he does let it do its own thing, so long as it doesn't take over productive plants; and yes, he is pleased to have it (pollinator attracting, as evidenced from the happy bee below, and an effective nitrogen fixer for the soil apparently). He noted that it dies back completely in the winter and, whilst it does run rampant, so far it hasn't bothered him enough to take measures to control it beyond pulling it back every once in a while. I feel so much better about my decision not to try to eradicate it after seeing it at Roogulli.

I was intrigued by the landscaping around the house too - the only "unproductive" parts of the garden (in that they aren't edibles). Plantings in these gardens are based around native grassland plants, although it is worth noting that the owners are slowly replacing the grasses with small shrubs and groundcovers because the maintenance of the grasses is too intensive. I've never been a huge fan of grasses in gardens - they do provide really interesting shapes and structural focal points, but they can so quickly look unruly. I find it interesting that the owners are slowly phasing them out here... 

I'm always curious about groudcover choices (due to an aversion to mulches and a desire to rid our garden of all dry mulches within the next few years), so I was taking note of the various ones in use here - particularly the beautiful gravilleas which were covered in bees. 

Roogulli was such an interesting garden to visit - "small farm and big experiment" really seems an apt description. Although it's quite different to our ornamental/cottage-y garden (with edibles as a secondary component), this garden is how I imagine Linda's garden to be one day - full and beautiful and productive, with not an inch of space wasted. It'll be fun to watch it slowly come to fruition over the next decade or two!

Garden ramble // Lanyon Homestead & Plant Fair

Goodness, my apologies for the long break between posts on The Tree Diaries!! Life lately hasn't allowed the lovely introspection and naval gazing that this blog affords me, and that's okay. I am reminded of the wisdom of a fellow blogger (and podcaster), Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home: "If you look at balance as something you need to achieve every day - keeping the scales evenly weighted between your partner, your kids, your family, friends, yourself, your spirituality, health, keeping the home, your work - you simply won't be able to do it. Because each day brings different challenges, different tasks and different needs from your life. Instead, you need to learn to tilt. To willingly throw things out of balance. And, importantly, to be OK with that." 

Life really has been all about "tilting" lately... tilting away from this blog and other creative interests and into my family and homelife. And whilst that has been necessary, wonderful and worthwhile, I am so very glad that I am here again, in this happy space! I have lots of bits and pieces to share (including an incredible Slovenian Gardening From Scratch instalment), but first up is a garden we visited today in the far southern part of Canberra - Lanyon Homestead.

Every year we say that we are going to visit Lanyon during the annual plant fair, and every year we are away and miss it... But not this time! Despite being on our gazillionith week of high summer, we braved the heat and the long drive and saw what the fuss is about.

As a plant lover, the fair was wonderful. So many growers that we usually have to mail-order from, all in one place and ready to answer questions and sell their beautiful (and some rare) plants and bulbs. Miraculously though, I didn't buy a single one (yay for self control!)*. Instead we explored the kids' craft tent, caught up with my bee school teacher who was there with a great backyard beekeeping display, and pottered around the beautiful gardens.

Lanyon Homestead sits on a working farm, right at the feet of the beautiful Brindabella Ranges. The homestead itself is a restored 1850s home, and it is surrounded by various garden "rooms" (although not in a deeply formal, Sissinghurst sense), separated by photinia hedges.

The plant fair was centred around the Bunya Lawn, which is under two giant Bunya pines. My hubby could only remember one thing about Lanyon from his childhood school visit and it was these huge trees - I don't blame him, they were pretty impressive.

I was more than a little enamoured with the picking garden - several large, interconnected beds filled with flowers for the house... Dreamy! The towering canna lilies that filled the middle of the beds were unexpected and impressive but not really my thing - partly because I just don't value them as a picking flower, but mostly because of the sheer bulk of their planting (we tuck ours down the back of the garden, where they can proliferate unchecked and tower over a fence, but not overwhelm everything else). But the bountiful anemones (windflowers) and dahlias that surrounded the mass of cannas - yes please!

The picking garden sits above the kitchen garden and rose beds, both of which seem impressively productive. Beyond these beds are beautiful lawns dotted with old fruit and nut trees, including an orchard planted between the 1930s and 1970s. I find it so helpful to know when trees were planted, in order to have slightly more reasonable expectations of our own, very young garden... knowing that many of these trees were planted almost 100 years ago really keeps things in perspective!

* Self-control extended only so far as the plants... we did buy ourselves a metal pear sculpture from an artist couple based in Dalgety, something we've had our eye on for a while. It will sit proudly in the orchard, perched upon a chunk of rock in the ground that we never did manage to remove.

Anyhoo, the Plant Fair was a fun family day out - the kids' craft tent and enormous serves of Devonshire tea kept the littles happy, and hubby and I got a giant pear - smiles all round! Well worth the long drive.

Garden ramble // Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden

For Christmas this year I bought my mum a copy of Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley. Mum had seen a talk by Wendy about her Secret Garden, and the book is simply stunning, so it seemed the best bet for somebody who doesn't like receiving "stuff"! 

Earlier this year, after we had both fallen in love with the images in the book and the story behind the garden's creation, we went to visit. It was a hot muggy day and the sun didn't bother coming out at all, but the visit was definitely worth schlepping the kids around on public transport for 2 hours!

The garden is tucked away beneath a lovely manicured (but entirely ordinary) council park in Lavender Bay, a short walk from the hustle and bustle of North Sydney. You would never know such a lush and anything-but-ordinary garden hides below - in fact, I have sat in Clark Park once waiting for a meeting and hadn't a clue what I was missing!

The garden is just below the entrance to Wendy and Brett's house - the one made famous by its views of Sydney Harbour captured in her husband Brett's paintings. Wendy started the garden by herself, guerrilla gardening before that was even a thing, and with no real idea of what she was going to achieve. She used the process of ripping out overgrown weeds from disused rail property to deal with the grief of losing first, Brett, and then their daughter Arkie. Labouring, hidden away from the world, very slowly creating beauty out of something deeply ugly - the grieving process mirrored in gardening, no?  

The garden isn't protected. North Sydney Council has managed to secure a temporary lease over the property from the NSW Government, but the fear is that one day this extremely lucrative piece of land will be sold off to developers and turned into high-density apartments... Which is a fate that is very hard to conjure when you spend some time in this pocket of green, but is all too possible when you think of Sydney's foreshores...

Anyway, I highly recommend that when you have some time in Sydney you visit the garden in person, but until then, a virtual ramble to bring some green (and purple!) into your Monday afternoon. I'll pepper you with some of Wendy's own words from the book, but first, this:

Starting a garden is a sign of hope, that it will grow and last.

Here's to being hopeful!

Wendy has used a lot of iresine (Iresine herbstii, also commonly known as bloodleaf) in the garden, and its purple pops so vividly against all the green. On that: 

"I have always gardened visually, putting together leaves and plants of different sizes and shapes, but I felt that there needed to be some colour in amongst all the green. The plum colour of the iresine looks beautiful with the light on it."

"This isn't a flower garden, as I don't have enough sun. It's more about using foliage, leaf shapes, textures and colours up against each other, like you're painting or sculpting. The pigments I use are plants, leaves, come flowers when I can get them, rocks, mulch, wood, bark. Light and shadow."

Tropical milk weed (Asclepius curassavica) which I identified using the apps I was testing the same weekend

"Steps and paths are the bones of the garden, along with rock faces of cliffs and the largest trees."

On the rock walls (made from sandstone used as landfill on this site): "I like plants to spill over the dry stone walls to soften them, but not to obscure them."

Ginger (Alphina zerumbet) in flower. On pinks: "I like some pinks, but they must have a strong balance of green. I hate the synthetic-looking inks in several modern breeds of plants, that look so genetically modified and fed on steroids, they shout out, "fake, bad mistake," like bad facelifts."

"These angel's trumpet flowers are commonly called daturas, although the variety I have, where the flowers hang downwards, is now officially named Brugmansia. I still call them daturas. The armchair experts will scold me, no doubt, but Brugmansia seem such an ugly name for such a heavenly flower."

"Most of the apricot-coloured daturas, and some of the white ones, I propagated from cuttings from historic Bronte House, when my friends the Mullers lived there. Daturas put on such a display of flowers all year round. They really are the dominant flowers of the Secret Garden."

The view of the garden from Clark Park... that's Wendy's house on the right (with the turret), and the Secret Garden drops down below the manicured lawn.

Who better to quote before you enter the garden than Van Morrison...? 

Garden ramble // Walter Peak High Country Farm (NZ)

This post is way overdue as we visited New Zealand late last spring, but I couldn't bare to let these photos wallow deep deep in my camera roll, never to be seen again. So, late they are,  but for those of you desperately awaiting spring's arrival they might be just the kick you need to survive the tail end of winter!

The Walter Peak High Country Farm is, these days, entirely run for tourism. I find it sad that nobody lives here and enjoys this garden and beautiful home, but I am grateful that it is open to the public and we were able to visit. In order to get here you have to catch a beautiful old steamboat across Lake Wakatipu, which is such a stunning way to arrive - looking around at the scenery it is hard to imagine animals being farmed in this dramatic landscape, let alone a traditional cottage garden growing here. But then you pull up at the wharf and are greeted by exactly that! It is truly stunning and the juxtaposition with the lake and the high barren peaks all around enhances the beauty of the garden.

Anyway, I will let the photos speak for themselves.... There a LOT of them (sorry, I promise this is a curated collection, but it is still lengthy). So perhaps grab a cup of tea and settle in!

Garden ramble // The Bundanoon Garden Ramble

It's been well over a month since this year's Bundanoon Garden Ramble... as I said in my last post, I'm in mega catch-up mode now that spring has apparently just flashed past. Despite how belated they are, I can't bare the thought of letting these photos sit in my camera roll never to be looked at again. They were just too inspiring to suffer that sad fate (which is really only fair for the thousands upon thousands of screen shots I take of stupid things I see on the internet each day that really MUST be messaged to family and friends).

Apparently the gardens in the Bundanoon Garden Ramble change each year - there are so many amazing ones to choose from in such a small town - but we managed to see 5 of them. One deserves its own post, but the other four will be lumped together here. 

The Garland Lane gardens

Two neighbouring gardens were open on Garland Lane. There were whispers around the ticketing tent that one was great and the other a bit ho-hum, but I don't agree - both were beautiful in their own way. Also, the "gossip" at open gardens is more than a little lame.

The first garden had beautiful lawns with cut-egde garden beds. Not a metal edger in sight. I can't begin to imagine how much work they put in to keep those beds looking tidy, but I definitely thinks it's worth it.

I love the way the beds are laid out to encourage you to wander a longer way through the garden. There are glimpses of the next section but you really have to potter to see it all. 

I'm not a massive fan of mulching as a final ground cover in garden beds but it serves it's purpose and actually looked quite good in these beds. I do wonder whether they intend to fill them with ground covers eventually instead of using bark mulch... it kind of looks like that is the goal.

The second Garland Lane garden had a seriously blah front garden (sooooo 1970s dreary and sad) but opened up to a stunning garden out the back. "The back" being at least half an acre, if not bigger, so I use that term loosely. Whole beds were filled with rhododendrons in flower and there was a variegated tulip tree that must have been at least 20m high. 

This garden had the most perfect woodland underplantings and was definitely a source of inspiration for how we might underplant in our own garden one day.

The garden on Amos Lane

I don't even know where to start with this one... My goodness, it is probably the closest thing to my "dream garden" that I have ever seen. And the house was pretty dreamy too, to be honest. The funny thing is that I didn't manage to take a single photo that captured its beauty. I tried to explain to my husband how perfect it was but didn't have the photographic evidence to back me up... I will just have to refer to the loveliness that is etched into my mind. 

A few things were obvious from the photos that I did take though. The orchard was so neatly laid out, and the "seasonal" structures seemed to be permanently (and perfectly) in place. We wrangle to put up caging and netting around fruit trees each year, partly because our orchard is also our backyard so we don't want the cages to be permanent. But the ease of pruning and netting in this garden was pretty obvious. It was also a good reminder that keeping fruit trees pruned to a manageable height makes an awful lot of sense, especially if you want them to be productive rather than ornamental (and bird-feeding).

Whole shade garden beds were underplanted with vinca which I'd never considered for our garden (because, ahem, I'd never heard of it before). Anyhoo, said vinca has now been acquired as 2 punnets of six seedlings and will be planted in the maple grove. Hopefully we achieve a similar lush effect.

I can't really explain why I loved the house so much and what I hope to achieve by admiring it - our house is not weatherboard and there is no way that I will ever succumb to venetian blinds (wooden or not) again because I have absolutely no desire to spend my life dusting, no matter how pretty they are. But the effect from the outside is almost too much, especially when there were roses blooming outside bedroom windows and vines creeping up walls.

I spent far too long looking into the little matching weatherboard shed and the potting garden... and took a very rare selfie whilst I was at it. Everything you need to know about me is pretty much summed up in this photo - I never do my hair, I almost always wear stripes and jeans, my phone is often popping out the top of my pocket and I spend much too much taking photos of gardens :)

The garden at Lorna Close

This garden was a rose-lover's paradise. The whole street-side garden was filled with old English roses and bourbon roses. Swoon!

The back garden was separated into two sections by an espaliered fruit tree "fence". The reason for the partitioning became clear as we wandered through - the part visible from the house was ornamental and the furthest section (also beautiful) was functional.

The back section had an amazing play area for the gardener's grandchildren, filled with hopscotch, teddy bears picnic-ing, fairy doors, oversized spiders in oversized webs, a blackboard, fantastic carved wooden pencils... my daughter was just blown away by this area and could have stayed here all day exploring. The back section was also were the vege garden, bee hives and hills hoist were tucked away. None of this was ugly or needed to be hidden behind a proper fence so the way that it was tucked neatly behind the espaliered trees was perfect. A subtle and elegant solution.

That's it for the Garden Ramble round-up... for now! I have one other garden to share with you which I think deserves a seperate post. It was the least ornamental, most productive garden I have ever seen, and it was quite incredible. Stay tuned.

 

Garden ramble // Crookwell Garden Festival

Yesterday, with plans ditched for the day, we spontaneously took a drive with the littlies up to Crookwell to potter around some gardens in the Crookwell Garden Festival

Open gardens are my jam! Seeing what other people have planted, how they have designed their spaces, and what a bit of patience (like, hmmm, 50 years of patience) might mean in our garden. Crookwell is part of the southern tablelands of NSW so it has a very similar climate to us. We only visited a few gardens, but the inspiration was absolutely worth the drive.  

Of the gardens that we saw, two were absolute standouts: an Edna Walling-designed garden 'Kiloren', and a garden just outside of Crookwell called 'Bowood'. Both have elements that we are super keen to incorporate into our garden. My instinct is definitely toward Edna Walling-style gardens, with their free-flowing curving beds that are filled to the brim with perennials and self-seeded annuals, grass "pathways" that lead you around to the hidden parts of the garden, minimal pruning and views of the garden from every window of the house. Spending time in one of her gardens and chatting to the people who actually live there was just kind of incredible. 'Bowood' is a much more structured garden but not so formal that I can't imagine elements of it working here. It was actually probably the garden that most made my heart skip a beat (yup, definitely a garden geek!).

So, photos! Lots and lots of photos! I do apologise that there are so many - this is a very limited selection of the hundreds that I took yesterday (that don't feature my two children... be grateful that you aren't being forced to sit through all of those!).

Kiloren

As I mentioned above, 'Kiloren' was designed by Edna Walling, 64 years ago when the 1.3 hectare garden was just an exposed and empty hillside. The garden has one of the Walling classic features of stone walls delineating the different parts of the garden and forcing the visitor to explore all of its nooks and crannies. It is filled with amazing trees that have been allowed to grow quite freely with minimal pruning, so they have taken unusual shapes and form their own living structures (my daughter loved walking under the 'bridge' of a tree branch). The garden is filled with birches, amelanchiers, viburnums, aspens, crabapples, lilacs and hawthorns. Underplantings included heaps of tulips, lily-of-the-valley, hellebores, aquilegias and forget-me-nots.

Bowood

The stone house at Bowood dates back from around 1850 and is absolutely stunning in and of itself. We entered via the turning circle at the front of the house, the centre of which is filled with a grove of golden and claret ash trees, and is bordered by a fairly young birch grove. The front verandah of the house has a beautiful clematis and is flanked by perfectly-planted wide garden beds.

Walking through two camellia hedges leads to the more formal potager garden with its perfect symmetry and super stylish obelisks. As much as I loved this part of the garden it is not the sort of the thing that we will include in ours. Our 'potager' (The Coopermarket) is never going to be this formal or tidy but that's okay - it's our functional and productive part of the garden, and I can live with a bit of chaos! One thing that I would definitely like to steal from this garden is those espaliered fruit trees - the apple and pear! My goodness, they were stunning in full flower yesterday. 

Anyhoo, I'll leave it at that. Oh, and if you're in your mid to late-thirties and want to feel really really young, go along to an open garden weekend. Honestly, you will be the biggest novelty going round ;)

Garden ramble // Glenmore House

After a post about weed matting (hardly pretty or inspiring!), how about a virtual ramble around the garden at Glenmore House in Razorback NSW? Glenmore House runs kitchen gardening days and I have booked in to go to the Introduction to Kitchen Gardening at the end of August. I am not a total newbie to kitchen gardening - we've been at it in The Coopermarket for about 4 years now - but I have always been a bit hit and miss with our vege supply, and could definitely improve my planning and methods.

Anyhoo, the kitchen garden is only one part of the garden at Glenmore House. The whole space is a huge source of inspiration in designing our garden. The conditions are different (annual rainfall is quite a bit lower here than in Razorback, and our temperature range is much broader), but I still think that there are a number of ideas that might work for us.

Mickey Robertson bought Glenmore House in 1988 and she has established the gardens since then... so all of this has been the result of around 30 years of work. I always appreciate knowing how old a garden is, to get an idea of what one might expect to be able to achieve. It's easy to see a beautiful garden and think "yes, that's exactly what I want my garden to look like! Let's do that!" and forget that, hmmmm, okay, but you might have big gaping spaces, tiny trees and weedy-looking shrubs for a long time before you get there!

But knowing that, it doesn't hurt to spend some time being inspired... and these four websites provide inspiration in spades: The Design Files / The Plant Hunter / Slowpoke / Lean & Meadow

{All photos below are via the talented people behind these sites and are linked directly to their websites. I have cropped some photos to feature certain aspects. This post is merely a curation of the work of others, and I'd highly recommend that you visit the original sites!}

First of all, given my current obsession with all things pathway right now, I love the mix of loose gravel paths and rustic stone pathways throughout the garden. We are working on a similar mix, but ours are so new and raw, whilst the paths are Glenmore House are established and appear to be just a small, unobtrusive part of the overall garden. They are all edged differently (some straight into grass, others run into garden beds, some have woven willow edges...), but your eye isn't drawn to those differences.

Large open grassy spaces shaded by trees, exactly what we are working towards (we have the large open grassy spaces... just waiting for those trees to grow up a little!):

I love the way the lawns are used as pathways to guide you around the garden... and that hydrangea bush! Just stunning!

The garden "rooms" and little spaces, and the vistas just beyond... your eye is always drawn to a glimpse of something. I adore when gardens don't reveal themselves to you all at once and give you a chance to explore.

All the nooks and crannies, buildings and fences in this garden add interest everywhere you turn.

Something that I am not great at and really want to learn to do well, is layering and filling in garden beds. It's done so very well at Glenmore House.

And lastly, that kitchen garden!!! Dreamily busy and productive!

I can't wait till I get to explore this garden first hand in August, but until then all of these photos should keep me busily daydreaming, plotting and planning!

Garden ramble // Pialligo Estate

As somebody who loves both wine and bacon, it was inevitable that I would one day visit Pialligo Estate. It is a winery and a boutique smokehouse making award winning bacon. I have yet to experience either the wine or the bacon, but I popped in there (sans kids!) today just to have a little look around the gardens.

It was a pretty miserable foggy day. The garden at the Estate seems to be quite new (in fact, the hardscaping still seems to be a work-in-progress). And being mid-winter, it is hard to get a good feel of how it will look come spring and summer. But still, there was a lot of beauty in the space. And that main building - be still my heart!!! I have always been on the fence about what we would do if our house burnt down in a bushfire... I adore where we live, but don't know if I have the heart to rebuild. But now that I have seen this building, well, I think if I could get somebody to replicate this for me, I might just be okay...

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There are many crepe myrtle 'Natchez' (thank you random label still attached to one of the trees), which have a lovely seed pod. Such pretty little things against a horribly foggy winter sky.

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The lawns are gorgeous and add some much needed green to the winter garden. There are a number of evergreen plantings - a lot of box which will form border hedges (I'm not sure what variety of box has been used) with lavender mirroring it, and viburnum (I think

Viburnum tinus

), which add a lovely little bit of red in the flower buds. The garden is very formal and not at all what we are trying to achieve on our property (which would be definitely be more in the William Robinson "wild garden" category), but it is totally in character for the place.

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Along with the main vineyard (each row headed with a beautifully hip-py rose bush), there is also a small olive grove. We have been talking recently about putting an olive grove in behind The Coopermarket, where the ground is perfectly "Mediterranean" - my newest euphemism for our rock and clay - so this was timely and interesting to see.

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The hardscaping (particularly the retaining walls) and the main building are just so perfect. The stone work on the building... and the huge main doors... ahhhh, soooo dreamy!

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The gardens are gorgeous even in the dead of winter, but I can't wait to go back and see them in spring... and to eat the bacon and drink the wine of course!