Friday, October 28, 2011

Common or Garden?

Today I found this book, 'Common or Garden', but nothing about its author, Tyler Whittle, or Michael Tyler-Whittle, as he is more properly known..
Recommended on its fly-leaf for his "Proustian recollections", "he is informative and prodigal with sound advice on gardening as an art, as a passion, as a source of pleasure...", but who was he? If there's anyone out there who knows any more about this author, I'd be grateful if you'd pass it on.

Published by Willaim Heinemann Ltd. in 1969, the photograph on its dust jacket and across from its title page is by Michael Dempsey, and "was taken in the grounds of Rousham", which, I understand, is one of England's most beautiful gardens.
With chapters such as 'Green Belts and Garters', 'The Chase', 'Conceits and Follies' and 'Wild Gardens', this is a beguiling book by a talented writer with a perceptive mind. I was doubting that I'd find anything good, but suddenly this turned up. Does anyone have any more clues?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oi, Fitzroy!

In my early twenties my refuge was here, in Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens.
First set aside as a public space in 1848, and named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy - Governor General of the Australian Colonies 1851-1855 - work began in the 1850s. On a spring day such as this, they are especially gorgeous.
I was on my way to my brother-in-law's birthday at the very fine Flower Drum restaurant. Above is a shot of St Andrews Square, with Parliamentary offices behind it. What a wonderful place to work!
Much of the Gardens are open space, with specimen trees and avenues of trees. There are, however, more private spaces, such as above here, where Wigandia and yellow Iris fringe a pool.
This is the 'Temple of the Winds' rotunda, built in 1873.
A pollarded tree that caught my eye.
A broad view, above, with one of many glorious Hoop Pines ( Araucaria cunninghamii ) on the right. 
While much of Melbourne has changed beyond recognition since my younger days, 'Bishopscourt', the home of the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, across the road from the Gardens, remains the same as it has for decades: a mercy.
Above, a pair of striking, native Gymea Lilies ( Doryanthes excelsa ).
Fountains humanise a landscape and let us stop, and find peace beside them.
A view of the nearby, splendid St Patrick's Cathedral.
A wonderful gate tower at the entrance to this most august of Melbourne's Catholic churches, in Lansdowne Street, built of our characteristic bluestone.
A lovely white Azalea, sprawling at a side entrance to the Cathedral.
I couldn't resist this, as I wandered to lunch, a vehicle fit for The Thunderbirds' Lady Penelope.*Thankyou, Dave, possibly for a geriatric Lady Penelope.
Nearby, in Burston Reserve, behind the Old Treasury building, is this limpid sculpture, 'Great Petition', by Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, representing an 1891 petition presented to parliament "as evidence of support for equal voting rights for women".
 I've only got this here because I liked it, a view opposite the sculpture, and looking into the grounds belonging to Parliament House.
And here it is, Victoria's Parliament House, looking like a bastion of propriety, however much its attendees might well do with some re-orientation in nearby gardens...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oddly Alluring Books # Eleventy Quillion

Perhaps it's best I took these shots indoors, at night, with my trusty Canon PowerShot G2 - you'd never guess, would you? -  for how else would anyone believe this book wasn't the stuff of dreams?
Published by Peter Garnett, of London, in 1949, Donald McCormick's 'Islands for Sale' advises potential buyers how they may be able to sail to their dreams. I can only assume that after the war, a newfound zeal for freedom encouraged a spirit of exploration. Who, in their right mind, hasn't wanted, at times, to escape to an island? I confess it's been a dream of mine, but one I'm acutely aware cannot happen, and shouldn't...the world hasn't been made for me to have whatever I want; it's here for me to be part of. Islands represent an isolationism, apparently timeless, but possibly stuck in time. 
And my excuse for posting 'Islands for Sale' here, apart from its beguiling oddness, is that gardens too are sorts of islands, but their redemption or redeeming virtue lies in the fact they're alive. However much they might appear to be islands, or isolated, or conceptual, gardens are implanted in a wider landscape. What occurs in them has ramifications outside their fences. And from outside their fences, there comes to the garden-maker a dialogue elucidating values of aspiration.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kauri Abundant

Queensland Kauri (Agathis robusta) is a gorgeous, coniferous, evergreen tree, and can grow hugely. A member of the ancient Araucariaceae family, it is one of only 21 in its genus. Fashionable in Victorian times, it was often planted as far south as Melbourne in large and institutional gardens.
Living as I did not long ago in Hawthorn close to the Yarra River, I'd often walk with my then dog, 'Ulysses', past Glenferrie Primary School in Manningtree Road. At its entrance stands a slender Kauri, probably planted when the school was built in the 1870s. ( The above photograph is gratefully purloined from the school's website.)
Any number of times I planted seeds from this and other Kauris in the hope of getting one up and going. The specimen above was planted as a seed on the 15th of March, 2002, and sat for a number of years, until it got to be tough enough, on the ledge of my bathroom window.
As soon as it starts to get warm in spring, the tree unfurls its delicate, new, coppery growth, like sea-weed. You can also see the older, leathery leaves, with their hint of a prehistoric past.
Climbing a tilted ladder this morning, dew still on the leaves of the tree, I was hoping to get high enough to take some shots looking down from its apex, but common sense intervened.
I'm proud of this beautiful, 3 metre tree, and hope that it will one day be vast, a reminder of the ancient lineage of our green world, and a pointer towards a more verdant future.