The X Factor


As posted on this blog earlier, we have the great pleasure and privilege of having the very talented artist Clara Adolphs working in my old Potting Shed at our farm in Sutton Forest. Through a chance conversation earlier in the year, I discovered that Clara needed a studio space and as I had just opened my garden shop in town and was no longer working from home, my Potting Shed was available.  It’s quite a large space, with a workbench and windows looking out over gardens to the north and French doors opening to the garden on the east. After an inspection Clara declared it was perfect and moved in with her canvases and oils.  And off she went.  Painting, painting, painting.  Some months later she called to let me  know Vogue Living would be sending a journalist to do an interview and later a photographer would come to take photos of her at work.   The interview was scheduled before Clara went to New York for an important  invitational drawing course -and soon after she returned it was time for the photo shoot.  So that day I rose early, had breakfast then out to help Clara with preparations before the photographer arrived at 9am. Great excitement.  And some nerves.  It’s a big deal being featured in Vogue so it had to go well and we wanted the space to look perfect. Together we cleaned and tidied and swept and arranged the space and when Peter arrived I made coffee and left them to it.



The flurry of excitement to prepare for the shoot took me back to my PR days when as a concert and theatre publicist for many big touring shows I was, at quite a young age, responsible for minding lots of international stars and settling nerves before dozens of press conferences and interviews.  And in every case the common denominator was the same – whether it was Mick Jagger or David Bowie, Leonard Cohen or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tina Turner or Joe Cocker,  the Bolshoi Ballet’s Prima Ballerina or the remarkable skating duo Torvill and Dean… what was evident was what is known as the X Factor.  These were really big stars.  They got there because they had special talent, special drive, special personalities … they had lots of  ‘it’.  They took their work seriously and every single interview and photo shoot was treated with importance. These sorts of people really do shine …  and that, of course, is why they’re called ‘stars’.

And there in our garden shed, as I watched the talented and beautiful young Clara Adolphs preparing her canvases and arranging her studio, I knew I was in the presence of another star – another artist with loads of X Factor. Good luck Clara with the final week of your exhibition ‘The Man in Me’ at MiCK the Gallery in Woollahra.  Though you won’t need luck … I think you just have ‘it’!
MiCK Project Show
83 Moncur Street, WOOLLAHRA NSW 2025 (previously Eva Breuer Gallery)

Gallery Hours | Tuesday – Saturday 10-6, Sunday 1-5 | until 26 October 2014 only

Click here to watch a video of Clara at work in her studio.









The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

I’m excited to announce that in addition to our shop in Banyette Street, Bowral, we now have a beautiful new plant gallery at Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar   –   “The Potting Shed at Lydie’s”.  It’s early days, and more stock is arriving daily, but if you call in to Lydie’s super glamorous shop this weekend you will find us in The Walled Garden which is now filled with potted foxgloves and delphiniums, lavenders, geraniums and advanced topiary in buxus, bay, citrus and olive.  Inside in the conservatory we’re showcasing big ‘glamour’ plants including massive crassulas, cycads, cyclamens,  Pieris and spectacular orchids – all perfect to beautify your home and garden.  Follow us on Instagram for lots of images, ideas and updates.  Hope to see you soon at The Potting Shed – now at Dirty Jane’s Antique Market in Bowral and Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar. (address below).
















The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment

117 Old Hume Highway
Braemar NSW Australia
Open 10am-5pm (EST) Every day.

I’ve got five dollars

ella-fitzgeraldOne of my favourite songs is Ella Fitzgerald’s “I’ve Got Five Dollars“, recorded the year I was born and just one of many wonderful songs from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook. Every time I hear it, Ella’s chocolatey voice melting the crazy lyrics into such beautiful rhythm makes me feel good, so this little story appealed to me.  Some weeks ago at The Potting Shed  I apologised to a lady for giving a handful of five dollar notes as change … it was all I had in the till.  She said “no, that’s brilliant .. I love getting five dollar notes.  I collect them.”  Gathering her goods she continued “You’d be amazed how quickly they add up, then when I have a hundred of them I go and buy something special.”  What a great idea I said. And she assured me you don’t even miss the five dollar notes in your wallet, if you take them out and store them in a little box or container. Impressed by the simplicity of the idea,  I have started a collection myself, towards a trip to see the famous gardens at Prieuré d’Orsan.  Then just last week another customer came in and told me she would cut off her right arm if she could only have the spectacular Turkish water trough that had arrived the day before.  “No need”,  I laughed. “Just save up your five dollar notes and very soon you’ll be able to buy it … without losing a single arm!”  I told her about the other ladies advice and smiling she said it reminded her of her youth in London when everyone would put sixpences into Haigs Dimple Whisky bottles and once full it held exactly forty pounds.  A lot of money in those days we agreed.  “We could only spend the notes” she said, “because we saved the sixpences for the Haigs Dimple;  the pennies for the gas meter and the shillings for the train station.”  Off she went chuckling to her husband that she would soon have enough for the water feature .. and did he have any five dollar notes in his pocket!

IMG_9952Even if you have only one five dollar note … we have lots of lovely things you can buy with it at The Potting Shed.  Or if you want to save a stack of them, we have some more serious treasures to tempt you!


Mister Shylock was stingy

I was miserly too

I was more selfish

And crabby than a shellfish

Oh, dear, it’s queer

What love can do

I’d give all my possessions

For you

I’ve got five dollars

I’m in good condition

And I’ve got ambition

That belongs to you

Six shirts and collars

Debts beyond endurance

On my life insurance

That belongs to you

I’ve got a heart

That must be spurtin’

Just be certain

I’ll be true

Take my five dollars

Take my shirt and collars

Take my heart that hollers

Everything I’ve got belongs to you

I’ve got five dollars

Eighty-five relations

Two lace combinations

They belong to you

Two coats with collars

Ma and Grandma wore ’em

All the moths adore ’em

They belong to you

I’ve got two lips

That care for mating

There for waiting

Will not do

Take my five dollars

Take my coats and collars

Take my heart that hollers

Ev’rything I’ve got belongs to you



Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.


A perfect pear.

IMG_9854One of my (many) goals for The Potting Shed is to provide an outlet for local artists and craftsmen.  So I was delighted when this lovely pear was carried through the gate by a former Sydney jetsetter, now semi-retired and living in the Highlands.  He loves working with steel he explained, as a hobby,  and would I be interested in some of his pieces to sell at The Potting Shed. Yes indeed, I said and next day he pulled up in his ute and showed me a beautiful obelisk he had made for his wife, the legs still covered in dirt fresh from her rose garden!  Elegant and perfectly proportioned, it was just what I had been looking for, for my own garden.  And therefore I was sure it would be ideal for The Potting Shed. Off you go, I said.  Make me more.  And so I am waiting for the ute to pull up again, hopefully this week, with more steel woven magically into art by this George Clooney lookalike, who prefers to remain anonymous.  I’ll let you know when more goodies arrive – but in the meantime, if you’re looking for a special piece for your courtyard, orchard or on a table in a conservatory, this pear is simply, quietly stunning.  It is, as a friend and seasoned collector noted, ‘just right’.

IMG_9852 IMG_9853

Clara’s Studio

IMG_9897Since opening The Potting Shed a few weeks ago, I have had very little time for my garden at home and so my other potting shed which overlooks our kitchen garden is sitting empty and forlorn.  Through one of those “six degrees of separation” instances I had a call from a gorgeous young local artist, Clara Adolphs. She had heard from a friend that I had a studio to rent.  Actually no, I said, I was looking for a live-in gardener to manage my garden now that I was back full time at work …  but as luck would have it, my potting shed was now empty and had a lovely view and would she like to work from there in return for minding my dogs while I was at work. She came and loved the space and moved in with her easel and paints and set to work. Perfect.  The potting shed has a new use and has been renamed ‘Clara’s Studio’, the dogs are delighted and we have our own super talented ‘resident artist’.  We feel very grown up!   IMG_9898 IMG_9900

You can view more of Clara’s works at Mick the Gallery, 44 Gurner Street in Paddington, open Tuesday to Saturday 10-6pm.


Light is Fugitive

Good morning from The Potting Shed.  Yesterday I was given a lovely little stool to decorate my office and I promptly dressed it up with a big bowl of old fashioned roses from the garden.  It made me think of this beautiful picture by Laura Jones, which unfortunately was sold by the time I got to the exhibition opening recently.Image

What talent we have living here in the Highlands.  Laura resides in Exeter and her exhibition “Light is Fugitive” (from a quote by celebrated Australian artist Margaret Preston),  is on until March 21 at the gorgeous Gallery Ecosse, opposite the General Store. Don’t miss it.  Laura’s pictures of floral arrangements reflect her considerable skill as a trained florist and her masterful use of colour. She has taken the subject of floral still life and added a modern zing, a liveliness, a bold use of colour. The result is wonderful.  I dream of having one of Laura’s works hanging here in my little Potting Shed!

Cressida Campbell exhibition

We’re loving Cressida Campbell’s  beautiful botanical works – pencils and watercolours on ply and exquisite woodblocks – now on exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries July 9 – August 3, 2013.

This beautiful watercolour on plywood called Hoya still life has sadly sold but you’ll find many more beautiful works to tempt lovers of botanical art at Philip’s gallery.

Philip Bacon Galleries, 2 Arthur Street

Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, AustraliaEmail

Phone +61 7 3358 3555

Fax +61 7 3254 1412

Or online at: