Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dark into Light

These are shots taken from around Ballarat and from within my home, also in Ballarat. They're pertinent here, I feel, because they point to an aesthetic that guides my gardening and  is embodied in my gardening, as well as it guides everything I do, or like to do, and is embodied within these, I hope to say.
I say this while near at hand and at ear someone or some more than one is or are using a whipper snipper and a lawn mower.
I refrain from using machinery wherever possible, believing that machinery somehow injures the world.
Many will disagree, saying that such is the way of the world. But I will dig my heels in. I like it quiet. I like that a garden opens itself to whoever wants to be there, that it's not to be approached as if it were in need of militant control.
Well, yeah, militancy may be required when dealing with prickly customers. But does militancy need to be employed as a final solution? A garden is about breathing, about space, about feeling unrestrained, yet safe. The whipper-snipperers and mowers are continuing. I sit at my desk dazed and Zara is concerned, to say the least.
What's it all about, that we have to employ machinery, of the loud and ruthless variety, in those spaces we regard, or as I regard, as refuges? I'd prefer it if they hadn't been invented. Oh, yes, I'm being unrealistic. But is something more real just because it's more insistent? I will never believe so.
It's getting semi-quiet, in the aftermath. Some of the unheard birds are starting to be heard again. Zara's waiting to be taken outside for walkies.
In my home, here, as much as in my garden, I like to let nature take its course. There's something about machinery I find unnatural. The piece of bark, above, I found recently, took its tree a hundred or two years to make, without machinery. It happened without loud noise, without intrusion, unquickly. So what's got into everybody that only machinery will make things happen? And why does everything have to happen quickly? We've been around long enough to know that time takes forever.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ambling to Lambley

I hope I do justice here to the finest and most beautifully laid-out plantsman's nursery I've ever been to.
Hidden in a quiet, elegant, olde world stretch of farmland near to Ballarat, at Ascot, Lambley's Nursery speaks of history, longevity and ingenuity. 
I can't believe what David Glenn has achieved. With a view to providing plants that cope with dry conditions, he avoids commonly seen succulents. Everything here blooms abundantly. There are bees everywhere. 
Here you can see a part of Lambley's Nursery's Dry Climate Garden. It could be anywhere on the Mediterranean. What we noticed made it most effective, what helped it all work, was its confinement within walls of green hedging.
 As usual, I kind of liked the edges of the garden, as seen here, this water tank. It was such a beautiful day, the end of summer, the start of autumn.
David Glenn has a superb sense of colour. There are purples, reds and yellows everywhere. His gardens, the spaces he contrives within his gardens, are flamboyant. But they're disciplined. There are vegetables beside perennials, fruit beside groundcovers. I didn't know how much it's all functional and how much it's all decorative - a good sign of an original maker. 
This isn't a chain-store. It couldn't be repeated regardless of territory. Everything here belongs and shows how we can belong to the land we have by caring for it appropriately. And making more of it than may be expected.
This is a detailed garden, or a cluster of detailed gardens. Everything has a purpose. You feel that everything is well-chosen.
As it is in Clunes, one of the most beautiful towns in Victoria, where we found our way to, after getting somewhat lost down single-lane roads.
Does 'intact' mean anything any more? I hope so. As Australia's most famous 'book town', Clunes demonstrates how meaningful the past is, and how necessary it is to keep and cultivate the past, not just any fashionable notions of the future.
I can't help taking you back to Lambley's for a moment, where the past and the future commingle with great elegance. 'Is gardening dead?', some people ask. Not here. Not if we don't want it to be dead. Gardening will be alive as long as we have hands. It will continue to define us as human.
I don't always believe in the newest trends. More to the point, I find most of the newest trends unreal. From Lambley's bursting gorgeousness to the streetscape of Clunes, I prefer a certain durability, a certain confidence in what's been and what can be, to what should be according to unreliable notions of marketability. But what is most peculiar, is that the most interesting newness comes out of the past.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I see boys whizzing by on their bikes, fed with the fresh country air. There's insufficient traffic to impede them.
Here, whatever may be thought, it's quiet. I feel that no-one wants any trouble.
Perhaps I'm among people who've had enough trouble and are simply mending.
The bus stops outside and a door bangs. Someone decides to do some gardening.
The voices might be gruff. There are undertones and overtones.
I belong here, here in a life where a warren of gold mines once made this the most prosperous of corners in the known world, but where the human beings beside me are grappling with the everyday.
Or handling, it's better said, as I am handling the everyday. We are handling whatever it is, our place, in a cycle. For me, it's a whole new one.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I'm seeing my transition to Wendouree in Ballarat in the light of Derek Jarman's to Dungeness, less distinctive as the experience and outcome might be...
Unable now to afford anything liveable in Melbourne's inflated rental market -
unable, at 56, to find employment - as a bookseller, or as anything else; and with an effecting health condition:
I last year applied for Public Housing and was recently informed that I'd got it.
Where I am might seem to be neglected or down at heel but I don't feel threatened whatsoever. I'm not only happy: I feel blessed.
Whatever my past has been, this is an altogether new life I've been given, at a new site and with a new sense of what life is capable of being. I've begun humbly but safely, with considerable freedom and considerate neighbours...
...the world began after nothing, and then there was a spark.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

There's No Gardening Today...

In an attempt to retain whatever readers may still be visiting, and to say hello to are some shots of my Christmas, a non-gardening day. May your own days, in the garden or out of it, be just as happy, my friends...

XXX, Faisal.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Big Bad Bunyip

As far as I perceive, entities such as the Bunyip that were said to inhabit the Aboriginal landscape of Australia do so still, though we've dismissed them as imaginary. The town of Bunyip, 80 km east of Melbourne is not imaginary. It's only my fascination with an old property for sale there that might be classified as such. 
With this as its driveway though, you can see how easy it was for me to be enchanted. The St Thomas' Anglican Church Bunyip Annual Flower Show and Market notwithstanding, I had no otherwise strong reason to go there, to Bunyip. 
It's not exactly prime real estate, what with its various sheds a bit more than knocked about...
...and one or two details requiring attention.
But with this as a back garden, I was dreaming of all that could be done, of the forest I'd make, with a Japanese air.
 This, above, is the view of surrounding countryside from the township's hillside position. Some people would call it a view to die for.
Near to the train station are some spectacular trees, such as this scarified Eucalypt.
Just because something's showing signs of wear and tear doesn't mean it should be bulldozed, I told myself. For me, in truth, it's just these signs I find most appealing.
So, it doesn't look like I'll be buying an acre in Bunyip and building a dream garden there. I consoled myself with a glass of wine in The Top Pub instead...
...finding beauty, not beasts, everywhere.