The Potting Shed Bowral

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

Songwriters

HART, LORENZ/RODGERS, RICHARD

Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

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A troop of kangaroos

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Did you know a grouping of kangaroos is known as a ‘troop’.  Not a herd as I have always thought …  incorrectly telling our visitors “hopefully you’ll see a big herd of roos over the ridge” as Chris takes them off  in our old Landrover on the compulsory ‘boundary tour’ of our property.  Almost always there is to be seen a ‘troop’ of kangaroos up on our top paddock which adjoins a huge olive grove on one side and lovely gum studded country on the southeast looking towards Exeter.  In the cover of these gums lives a large family of grey kangaroos.  Sometimes, when food or water is short, like it was last week before these lovely rains, they venture down into our paddocks and even into the garden.  Over the past month, as water levels in dams and springs were sitting at their lowest for years, I spotted quite a few heading through the paddocks at dawn, and then one morning as I went out to feed everyone, there was a lovely young male right in Pigley’s yard.  Pigley, focused as always on her breakfast didn’t care at all and I moved quietly away so as not to frighten the lovely creature who was already stressed having been separated from his family and struggling to return home through our sheep-proof fencing.  They are such interesting animals.  Majestic and strong and like poetry in motion when in full flight. I find them compellingly beautiful.

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Some years ago I was lucky enough to have my camera on hand when  a pair of males started  boxing in our front paddock, in the early morning mist. How pleasing to capture such classic images of ‘the boxing kangaroo’.

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IMG_0030Below:  Kangaroos feeding and play fighting by the dam, while little birds pick bugs from their coats.IMG_0078

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We love it when we see kangaroos grazing in with the sheep.  Below a shot taken last Spring of a family ‘flying’ through Pigley’s paddock. IMG_8152

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IMG_9417Above:  Again, taken from the kitchen window, these young roos were feeding in our vegetable garden when I disturbed them.  Off they sped past a startled gaggle of geese,  around the pond and through our new plantation of pin oaks. They’re such magnificent animals, it’s awful to think they are shot down for competing with stock for feed … but that’s the reality for farmers in Australia.  Man against nature. Luckily this family lives pretty safely and peacefully in our neck of the woods, and that we only get occasional visits makes them even more special to us.

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Below:  A local farmer and his wife who assist wild animals for WIRES, brought a little orphaned  joey over for a visit one day.  She was adorable, living in her little pillowslip ‘pouch’, she had quickly become house trained and never soiled her safe haven.  They grow up to be wonderful, intelligent, well mannered pets so it must be heartbreaking to release them back into the bush.  Thank goodness for WIRES and the many volunteers and vets who donate their time to helping injured and rescued animals from the wild.  If you would like to assist them in their work, or to register as a volunteer, here’s the link. Meantime, next time you see a group of kangaroos on your travels, you will know you are looking at a ‘troop’!

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The Winter Rose

IMG_3743In spite of one of the warmest Mays on record, we all know winter is on the way and with it comes some of my favourite things.  Bracing morning walks with the dogs, snuggling up with comfort food and red wine in front of the fire, clear sunny Highland days and frosty star filled nights. Electric blankets and feather quilts.  Slippers and dressing gowns.  And the loveliness of The Winter Rose.  Or more correctly Helleborus niger.  I much prefer the common name for this romantic flower. The very name adds glamour to the garden through winter into spring and this plant is indeed to me a winter rose.  Native to the mountainous regions of Europe, Greece and Asia Minor, Helleborus niger is a member of the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup family.  It blooms at Christmas time in the northern hemisphere, hence its other common name, The Christmas Rose.  Niger, the species name, means black and refers to its dark coloured roots.

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IMG_9755I love this plant at all stages –  from the beautiful, elegant buds dripping with dew to the full blouseyness of the mature flowers.  I love them massed in goblet shaped bowls and singly in groupings of bud vases.  You must pick them as mature flowers or they will wilt in the vase. They also look gorgeous in a float bowl where they will last for weeks slowly fading and changing colour. We have them everywhere in our garden. Masses of them are underplanted beneath birches and elms and my favourite combination is with ajuga and euphorbia.  By September they are all in full flight with the soft green of the euphorbia  flowers perfectly complementing the creamy green of the white hellebores – while the ajuga adds a stunning blue accent.  They’re so pretty in drifts under deciduous trees and also do well in pots.

There are lots of varieties to choose from and we will soon be receiving the Winter Elegance singles ‘Burgundy’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Primrose and Cherry’, ‘Shell Pink’, Winter White’ and Yellow Picotee’.  Along with the Winter Elegance doubles:  ‘Double Burgundy’, ‘Double Pink’, ‘Double White’ and ‘Double White Spotted’.  There are also the Winter Elegance species:  Helleborous lividus; Helleborus niger, H. x sternii ‘Ashbourne silver’ and we hope also to have tube stock of H. x hybridus in singles and double varieties.

Hellebores prefer a shady, moist situation in alkaline soil but are very adaptable.  Ours do well even in the more acidic areas of the garden where they self seed everywhere providing baby plants to gift to friends.  At planting time incorporate plenty of compost into the soil and keep them well mulched to discourage weeds and encourage worms.  Keep well watered during summer and remove dead foliage and flowers to keep the plant tidy, but otherwise there’s no need to prune.   IMG_3744 IMG_6130 IMG_9413 IMG_9416 IMG_9621 IMG_9622 IMG_9627 IMG_9637

 

The secret garden.

Our little shop, The Potting Shed, is located in a driveway between two large old buildings.  One houses Dirty Janes Emporium, which displays a large collection of vintage furniture and antiques – wonderful pieces from Europe, UK and America – sofas, sideboards, lamps, dining tables, hall tables, vintage clothing and so on.  You walk off the main street into this lovely shop and through to the back section which leads you down a set of steps and onto a landing which looks across to the other building, the Dirty Janes Antique Market, where over 70 stall holders sell more vintage and antique treasures. As you leave the shop on the main street you see from the staircase The Potting Shed spread out below.  Yesterday, as I was arranging some new plants that had arrived, I heard from above two little girls who had followed their mothers onto the landing.  “Oh, it’s a beautiful garden!” gasped one. “And with flowers!” said the other.  “It’s so lovely”, said the first, “let’s go and look”.  And they skippety skipped their way down the stairs and around my little shop oohing and aahing at this pretty flower and that.  The delight that filled my heart in this moment could not have been greater had I won a grand prize at the Chelsea Flower Show.  To hear these sweet remarks, so spontaneous and joyful was, for me, pure bliss. That in this modern world children still love a garden and enjoy its beauty is indeed comforting, and I am driven to bring even more of nature’s bounty to this previously industrial alleyway.  And to share that love of gardening around.

 

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”

Gertrude Jekyll

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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

Thought for the day.

Peony urn“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

I feel this was written for me.  I have long been pulled by a love of nature. Since I was a little girl I have loved the beauty of flowers and gardens and birds and animals and all things natural. What do you really love?  Go into a bookshop and see where you land.  That will usually tell you where your passion lies.

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