One of the first things we planted when we started our garden here in Sutton Forest was a little walk of silver birches, in those days to screen off an unsightly area of rain water tanks and to soften the house as you approached down the driveway. This idea kind of grew and now we seem to have lots and lots of silver birch walks! One behind the citrus garden, which shades a pathway leading to the orchard. Another one leads through the perennial garden to the north of the house and most recently, in a spontaneous moment of madness, I bought 300 (or was it 500?) to line the driveway last winter and create some light and shade effects and lead your eye to the house. They grow incredibly fast here in the Highlands and it seems the ones on the driveway love the acid from the pine needles that fall from a stand of pines nearby. Or perhaps it is the 4 inch layer of mulch that gives them a boost. Either way the effect has been almost instant and the little saplings are now already high enough to walk under and will by next summer form a pretty canopy to drive under. For some reason some people don’t like them … I do. I love them planted really close as they would be in natural woodland, and if I wasn’t responding to pressure to keep them spaced, I would plant them even closer. That way the trunks stay slender and look amazing if pleached up really high leaving you with an ‘installation’ of silvery trunks. What’s not to love about them, I say. And so, I will definitely be getting some in stock for you to enjoy at The Potting Shed. Above: Jack, Harry and Bella lamb chilling in the garden in SpringAbove a view of a lovely silver birch lined path at The Burrows in Canyonleigh. Bluebells under birch at Whitley. Hellebores and forget me nots in one of our birch stands.
“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” Alfred Austin
Earlier this summer my friend Bridget invited me to see her parent’s garden in Canyonleigh. I knew from her expression that I was in for a treat, but nothing prepared me for the scale and size and beauty that was in store. From a bare 10 acre paddock, Susan and John Carter have created an amazing oasis – a paradise. 19 years of love and inspiration was spread out before me. Kilometres of pathways wind through covered walkways, avenues of birches and maples, trees and hedges of every kind, arbors of wisteria, dramatic hedges of Rosa rugosa Scabrosa, and this (below) outstanding camellia walk shaded by trellis and trained into tiers of loveliness. How absolutely stunning. I raced home inspired and filled my notebook with sketches of new plans for projects to add excitement and interest to every corner of our ever expanding garden. You see a garden should not be a static place … it is a living, breathing thing and you can do with it what you wish. We are all constrained by budget … but let’s never be limited in our imagination. John and Susan are testimony to the magic that’s possible when you let your creativity run wild. And it is utterly lovely and inspiring. Note: Though they will be babies compared to the lovely example you see below, we will be receiving this week, quite advanced espaliered camellia on trellis … so you might want to try your hand at creating your own Camellia Walk!
Note: John and Susan Carter’s garden “The Burrows” at Canyonleigh is open for inspections by garden clubs and also by appointment. John is an artist who paints under his birth father’s name, Kirton. He established a gallery at The Burrows to showcase his extensive collection of works and it is also open by appointment. Visit http://www.johnkirton.com.au or phone 4878 9384 for details.