Topiary

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.

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.”

 

Please plant trees.

Thanks to my friend Diana for passing on these gorgeous images from  Bored Panda’s gallery of tree photos.  Many of you will have seen them before, but they’re definitely worth revisiting.  They’ve inspired me to think outside the square and to get creative with a whole new planting program this autumn.   Take a look at these images and you too will want to go crazy pleaching, espaliering and training trees and climbers into arbors, and canopies of loveliness in your garden. Go for it! See what magic you can weave to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.amazing-tree-tunnels-1 amazing-tree-tunnels-2-1 amazing-tree-tunnels-3-1 amazing-tree-tunnels-3-2 amazing-tree-tunnels-6 amazing-tree-tunnels-9-1 amazing-tree-tunnels-9-2 amazing-tree-tunnels-10 amazing-tree-tunnels-11 amazing-tree-tunnels-15

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You will find the details of locations and photographer credits on Bored Panda’s site.  Here’s what they have to say about “20 Magical Tree Tunnels You Should Definitely Take A Walk Through”

Nature as a whole tends to be a profoundly beautiful thing, but there are few things more magical than finding yourself under a canopy of trees in a tree tunnel on some warm summer evening. Whether they’re formed naturally, accidentally, or with a little help from some patient and talented gardeners, these tree tunnels are sure to enchant anyone lucky enough to walk below their verdant boughs.

The beautiful forms of many of these tree tunnels and the ways in which we’ve copied them goes to show just how much we’ve borrowed from nature. I’m sure that magical spaces like these inspired more than one historical architect to design the gorgeous vaulted ceiling of a gothic cathedral or the arches of some other grand structure. Many ancient societies considered trees to be sacred and maintained holy groves of old trees, and with places this beautiful, it’s not hard to understand why.

Despite how slowly trees grow, they are remarkably receptive to various methods of altering their growth. With strong, persistent and very patient force, trees can be sculpted into a variety of forms. Some of these tree tunnels have been formed and sculpted by careful gardeners to ensure that they conform with their urban surroundings.

A few of the tree tunnels are happy coincidences. The Tunnel of Love in Ukraine, a popular photo spot for married couples, is also part of an operational railway system. The married couples have to schedule their photoshoots behind the times when freight trains are scheduled to pass through. Even unintentionally, these tree tunnels can work their magic on us. http://www.boredpanda.com/magical-tree-tunnels/    Boredpanda.com is a highly visual art and design magazine dedicated to showcasing the world’s most creative artworks, offbeat products and everything that’s really weird or wonderful.

 

More is more …

I know the phrase ‘less is more’ is the catch cry of the fashionistas and stylists … and in fashion that generally is true.  But in the home and garden I say ‘more is more’!  More roses, more peonies, more trees, more hedges, more art and books, more gorgeous things to beautify our lives.IMG_5747_3On our farm we have, amongst lots of other things,  32 geese and some of my friends say I should reduce the numbers to lessen the workload … but I can’t agree.  To see them all take flight and land on the pond in a flourish of shimmering beauty is a sight to behold … their silhouette in the late afternoon as they come through the pines, and the river of white as they wind their way through the orchard gate each night to be fed is so very lovely. Much more spectacular than say 5 or 6 geese.  They add movement and interest to the garden. Plus,  they keep our sheepdog Sam amused!  Every day he wakes me at dawn to let his geese out.  He loves them and swoops excitedly about as they exit the yard into the orchard.  He rounds them up all day long splitting them into various groups, regrouping them, dividing them, herding them.  It’s funny and uplifting to watch.    It’s the same with gardening … one or two of anything looks lonely.  If you can, go for mass plantings.  Even if you have a courtyard garden, be bold.  Better to have lots of one thing than a little, meagre smattering  of lots of different things. And repeat the same plant or plantings throughout to bring continuity and settle the eye. Just as lots of one style of plants looks better, so too does a story of similar pots, or matching barrels. So if in doubt, choose a style of plant you like and say to yourself “more is more”!IMG_1448_2

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A few early photos from The Potting Shed

Well, we’re a long way from being fully set up but we’ve had lots of requests for photos of the shop …  so here are some early snaps taken during setup over the past few days.  We have a lot more stock arriving tomorrow and Friday so I’ll update this page when we have a bit more to show you.  Also  … there’s a new cafe opening next door in the Dirty Janes Antique Emporium on Thursday which is a bit exciting …  we’re setting up chairs and tables outside The Potting Shed so you can meet friends for coffee and have a browse around the 35 antique stands and, of course, pick up a few plants on the way!   See you soon.  Maureen xIMG_9791 IMG_9792 IMG_9794 IMG_9798 IMG_9802 IMG_9804 IMG_9805

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Marqueyssac in the Dordogne

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Marqueyssac_3Inspired by the lovely gardens of the late Nicole de Vesian in Provence, I am working on developing a clipped garden to the north of our kitchen, so the view from our balcony will always be green and orderly.  Not that I’m really the orderly type – but over the past few years I have found the profusion of roses, foxgloves and delphiniums I had planted in long and deep perennial beds, slightly overwhelming and busy.  And  when the gorgeous, blowsy spring show is over and the harsh light of the Australian summer burns out the colour,  the effect looks raggedy very quickly.   And by Christmas it is tired and hot and exhausted.

So bit by bit I’m removing all the flowering perennials from the section closest to the house and replacing them with clipped box, cistus, bay, Viburnum Tinus and  miniature abelia.  It requires a lot of patience as the plants need to be spaced far enough apart for future growth and so there’s a lot of mulch still on view!  But one day, I am dreaming of a view such as this seen at  the Château de Marqueyssac. 

The Gardens Of Marqueyssac

Comfortably nestled into the hills of Perigord are the Gardens Of Marqueyssac. The gardens were planted in 1861 by Julien De Cerval – a maniacal gardener who gave the last thirty years of his life to build Marqueyssac. Boxwoods were chosen as a key plant of the garden because of their fullness, robust texture, and radiant green color. Every path in the garden was put there with an acute intent, what seems accidental and whimsical, was in fact carefully thought out.  De Cerval wanted to create a romantic experience for the garden’s visitors where they would get lost within the paths and enjoy the organic shapes of the plants. In recent years the gardens and nearby castles went under a full renovation to restore De Cervals early dream of the garden and bring people from all over the world to witness it.