The Potting Shed

Spring Fever

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I love this quote. It makes me feel so joyful and makes me want to take time and observe even more of the beauty and innocence of this season. How lucky we are  here in the Highlands to be enjoying such an idyllic Spring.  Day after day of beautiful weather, fields green as green from the rains in September and gentle breezes softly drifting blossom through the streets.  Our little garden at The Potting Shed is bursting with colour and each day more loveliness emerges.  First the crocus and jonquils, then the tulips which this year have been glorious and now the delphiniums and foxgloves are putting on a spectacular show. We are pleased to be able to demonstrate that even in a concrete courtyard you can create a garden of variety and interest by using pots and barrels to give height and texture.  Here are some photos taken this week to share with you our passion for gardening and intense love of Spring.    Happy gardening!  M x

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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).

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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.

The Talented Mr Vinks.

I’m pleased this morning to be able to talk about a new range at The Potting Shed – a collection of garden and conservatory  furniture and sculpture by local Southern Highlands artist, Joe Vinks.  These pieces are truly stunning works of art – expertly crafted from fallen timbers, predominantly gum, and embellished with gum and casuarina nuts. They are rustic, elegant and witty. Most of Joe’s commissions are for international clients these days – since a major ski lodge installation for a high profile Australian in Aspen launched him in America, his work is now in demand around the globe. So naturally we are pretty excited  to be able to show several of his works.  Below a beautiful console table, a round occasional table and decorative sculpture, a two seater garden bench, the ‘Outback’ chair, the Bushman’s chair and two versions of his plant ‘wraps’.  These bottomless pots are not only strikingly lovely – they are a very clever design enabling you to move large potted plants, from place to place with ease.   Joe will make gates and all other items to your exact dimensions so if you have a particular need, please let us know.  In the meantime, do come in to The Potting Shed and view this gorgeous and very Australian collection by the talented Mr Vinks.

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Italian beauty.

IMG_0261We are thrilled to be offering the spectacular Italian range of AK47 firepits and accessories at The Potting Shed.  Sleek, elegant design combined with tough, durable finishes elevate these fire pits from utilitarian to art installation. We absolutely love them and visitors to The Potting Shed have been drawn to them … as if they are magnetic.

In researching these products, I was romanced by the poetic descriptions of the Italian design team. Like the fire pits themselves, each ‘mission statement’ is perfectly, thoughtfully crafted. I feel their words help us to understand these lovely, artistic pieces. Come in and see for yourself.

Of the Ercole (above), the hero of the play,  the AK47 studio team say this:  “Strong and statuesque, you cope with bad weather like a mythological hero. You are made of concrete that surrounds a primitive fire.You know how to be elegant and informal, your materials age and are transformed with the passing of time, giving you a more and more authentic flavour. Your generous dimensions mean that you are always the centre of attention. Your common sense can be seen in the way you organise your precious wood.”  AK47IMG_0270ercole_2

 

Below:  Tripee – “You can be seen from afar, reminiscent of nomadic encampments. Within your slender and essential structure you show signs of ancient communication means.” AK47IMG_0258

 

 

 

 

IMG_0271Discolo (below):  “Curious and dynamic, rather mischievous, it doesn’t like to stay still: it dives into the sand, among the rocks, hides in its enclosure or rises up to be completed… A perfect combination of simplicity and efficiency.” AK47discolo_1a

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Zero (below):  “An outdoor wood fireplace, a nest in which to seek refuge, enjoying the warmth of the fire: the eccentric dance of the flames is replaced by the silent burning of the embers.  A sweet warmth that comforts your guests.”AK47zero19

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Mangiafuoco (below): “Small yet great, you can dominate the daring flames that leap upwards, darting and dancing, moving continuously. You can tame them and contain them in your compact shape, a theatre where the natural performance of fire is enacted.”AK47IMG_0257

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The Berlin (below): “Even a crumbling wall can guide the imagination of an artist… Strong iron can be dominated, subdued and modelled. The hard material is enhanced and imposes its qualities with all its strength.”AK47berlin_1b berlin_sde

 

Coming soon!   The Truck:  “It can hold a great load, but it is brilliant and easy to handle. It is agile and moves on command, and immediately returns motionless. They say it can even climb the stairs, it would seem a conjuring trick, but it isn’t a trick, it’s just skill.”AK47

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Local delivery and installation are included in the prices of the major pieces. Call us on 0419 154 860 if you would like to discuss an order.

Thought for the day.

Good morning from The Potting Shed!  Even though I am a hopeless insomniac … have been for years … I do love getting up early in the morning. It’s my favourite time of day.   I used to worry about being tired from lack of sleep but now I know it really doesn’t slow me down so I get up, make a cup of tea and toast and settle in to read my favourite books and blogs.  I’ve learned to love the middle of the night and to embrace the extra 3 hours I get from being wide awake between 1am and 4am.  And this morning in the wee, small hours before snuggling back into bed for a precious hour more of deep, relaxing sleep,  I read this lovely quote on a styley blog I enjoy called Belgrave Crescent … and thought I would share it with you … in case, like many, you’ve been wondering what to do when you grow up! IMG_6038“An amazing thing happens when you get honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born.”   — Jes Allen

 

Gardens of Plenty

Chelsea_1Earlier this week I picked Marylyn Abbott’s lovely book ‘Gardens of Plenty’ from the shelf to gain inspiration for an unfinished section of garden on the way to the chookhouse.  It’s a pretty area filled with roses, clematis, peonies, salvias and borders of alchemilla mollis.  But in the middle is a little unfinished space edged in miniature box and partially planted with, would you believe it, strawberries!  It has had many themes – a huge bed of silver beet so that I could pick greens for the chooks on the way to feeding them each morning; this was ‘fancied up’ to a gravelled terrace with a little table and chairs which looked lovely but in the heatwave had to be moved to a shadier area; it then became a place reserved for bee hives, and now finally, a rather uninspiring, unfinished patch of strawberries.  It deserves better.  So out came ‘Gardens of Plenty’ to start a new plan. Then the very next day into my inbox popped a note from my friend Paul in London to report that one of his favourite entries at Chelsea this year was the ‘Topiarist’ Garden designed by Marylyn Abbott, pictured below with Monty Don. Winner of a Chelsea ‘Silver Gilt’ award, “The Topiarist Garden” took its inspiration from the courtyard in front of the bothy at Marylyn’s West Green House garden. This poetic description by the designer gives you a delicious insight into her creativity:

“Envisage the garden as the personal space for the Head Gardener who is influenced by the tradition of “Topia opera” – fancy gardening. In this small walled space, he  indulges his passion for eclectic topiary designs, haphazardly placed amongst his favourite white perennials, flowering climbers and delicate rose – Adelaide d’Orleans. Annual flowers  planted in a sunken chequerboard of pots make this space a fantasy of informality. He takes great pleasure in clipping topiary into flamboyant shapes. As he clips and shapes he hums quietly along to himself from Mozart’s Madamma, il catalogo il questo; the “catalogue aria” which lists his master’s conquests.

BBC TV featured “The Topiarist” display and Marylyn’s West Green House in their coverage of the Flower Show and I have included pictures below along with a few from her earlier home here in the Highlands – Kennerton Green in Mittagong.

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I’ve not yet been to the West Green House Gardens but according to the Telegraph’s Stephen Lacey it is a garden with a special and distinctive sense of place and he selected Marylyn as one of the top 20 living garden makers for the Telegraph. He writes “her swash buckling annual potage displays, fountain gardens and torch lit operas reflect her energy and zest. Through her books she has pumped fresh air and sparkle into the world of period gardening”. Below are pictures of her garden there.

 

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Below:  Another of Marylyn’s designs – Kennerton Green in Mittagong.

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Here is an excerpt from Home Life magazine about Marylyn’s earlier garden at Kennerton Green  – which was one of the most popular open gardens in Australia. When Marylyn sold a few years back Home Life’s CHRISTINE REID took a final tour around the glorious grounds.

“Nearly 20 years have passed since Marylyn Abbott took over as the custodian of the garden at Kennerton Green, Mittagong, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. During this time, Kennerton has taken its place at the forefront of the grand gardens of Australia, thanks to Marylyn’s expansion and diversification of the garden plantings in a series of spectacularly themed garden ‘rooms’ including a birch wood, a potager (vegetable garden), a bay tree parterre and an iris-rimmed lake. But that era is now coming to an end. The garden, much loved and cared for by two generations, is being handed over to new owners.

Over the years the garden has welcomed many friends, photographers and visitors through its gates who have returned time and again. As a tribute to this iconic property, we are treating readers to one last loving look at the beauty of this special place in Australia.

The existing garden, originally developed in the 1950s by Sir Jock and Lady Pagan, was left largely undisturbed by Marylyn – but it has been nurtured and enhanced, building upon a symphonic theme of green and white.

Mature trees, such as the golden elm, oaks, and the flowering cherries, are treasured, while the magnificent Wisteria floribunda ‘Kuchibeni’, a feature of the front lawn, continues to stop garden visitors in their tracks with its awe-inspiring blooms.

However, it is Marylyn’s addition of more lasting plant structures, characterised by ordered geometry, that brought a new harmony to the garden. For example, the parterre at the front entrance to the house was created from a turning circle for cars. The white gravel reflected too much light, but the addition of the box-hedge parterre breaks up the void, while the decorative topiary bird at the centre adds a quirky touch. In another area, 80 clipped bay trees are geometrically arranged in hedged beds in the formal manner of a medieval enclosed garden.

Marylyn turned to history books again when creating the ornamental vegetable garden where flowers, fruit and vegetables are grown together in the tradition of the French potager. The garden also features a central pool filled with goldfish and a pretty cherub statue − another reference to the ponds of medieval times, where monks would keep their fish.

Water is a major component of the garden, instilling peace and tranquillity to each area. There’s the ornamental lake in the birch wood; a small dam surrounded by an Edwardian-style rose garden; the long canal in the old rose garden and a recent installation of fountains and running channels of water in the paradise garden.

The mood is unashamedly romantic as you tread softly along grassy paths through the silver birches. In spring, it is even more so, with pretty freesias, bluebells and hoop-petticoat daffodils scattered below. The pink and white Edwardian-style rose garden is dreamlike, with its roses on swags around the dam and old-fashioned shrubs such as deutzias, viburnums, lilacs, rhododendrons, and pink and white dogwoods.

To visit Kennerton Green is to enter a different world… a world where the hustle and bustle of everyday life is left behind and there truly is time to stop and smell the roses.

The spring flowers have always been a particular highlight of a visit to Kennerton Green. The magnificent tulip display comes first, followed closely by the irises which are at their peak around mid-October. Finally, it’s the roses’ time to shine. They take centre stage in the first week of November. Then, during the summer months, the garden simply becomes a cool, green space.”

 

A Sparkly Day

IMG_0106Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was a sublimely beautiful day.  Dreamy.  The Potting Shed was filled with families, dogs and children, lovers and friends out walking in the autumn sunshine. Music filled the air and everyone was relaxed and travelling slowly through the day.  Sunshine bounced off every surface as it does at this time of year when the light drops lower and the angle of reflection is intensified.  The day sparkled on the droplets of water caught in the leaves of the Lady’s Mantle, on the reflections in the birdbath and on the wonderful glass beads adorning one visitor, Karen Black,  as she approached The Potting Shed counter.  Where did you get those lovely beads I asked, and may I take a photo.  At the Burrawang Markets she explained as her amused husband announced I was the fourth person that day to ask to photograph her. They were made by local artist Louisa Rose & Co. and they are now on display at The Milk Factory Gallery in Bowral.  It’s amazing what a bit of sparkle and a splash of colour does to catch the eye but I suspect it was this lady’s gorgeous personality as much as those beads that made her stand out in the busy crowd yesterday.

The Milk Factory Gallery and Exhibition Space/art & design centre/cafe is at
33 Station Street (rear), Bowral NSW 2576 if you would like to see more of Louisa Rose’s work.  Happy Easter from The Potting Shed. 
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High Tea at The Potting Shed

IMG_0026Seen yesterday, basking in the autumn sunshine and enjoying High Tea in the courtyard at The Potting Shed are (left to right) Hope Disher, Elizabeth Grose and Amy Geraghty.

The elegant tea house ‘Your Vintage Occasion’ opened recently in the Dirty Janes Antique Market next to us, and it has been an instant hit with locals and visitors alike.  Offering traditional and speciality teas, coffee and a delicious menu including soups, sandwiches, scones and sweets it’s a lovely place to meet friends or to celebrate a birthday or special occasion.  High Tea’s are $25 per person and include freshly baked scones, a daily savoury selection, assortment of desserts, a pot of the finest loose-leaf tea or an espresso coffee. Owners Cath and Lisa (below), formerly of Links House, are experts in the art of elegant hospitality and their food is fresh, delicious, and very well priced. IMG_0021IMG_0020   IMG_0027  IMG_0025

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’.

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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. www.mickthegallery.com