Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thermal and Not so Thermal

Here I am wrapped up in my cloaks, cold itself.
Well, no. I'd got out on my bicycle today to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in a sudden and unexpected blaze of winter sunshine. Here you're looking out from the Gardens across Lake Wendouree.
Winter's an honest time. There's no dodging the fact significant signs of life have vanished. And yet, significant signs of life are surfacing.
Bravo, Hercules, I say.
Confession: I'd got out on my bike to sweep clear the remnants of a late night spent in front of an open fire, risotto and red in hand. Did I deserve such beauty?
There are Sequoias and Redwoods and Firs here, here in this Victorian, ordered space, one of my very favourite places in the world, where not so long ago others promenaded without a bicycle, but perhaps too with a little hangover and with a sense of occasion.
What joy it was to see these Hellebores up. Did I say that Ballarat is the coldest place in the world? Forget Scotland, forget Antarctica...remember Ballarat.
Here's my favourite ever flower, one of the Banksias, blooming in the cold as so many of us natives do.
And another. This is winter? You could have fooled me and my heating bill.
I AM THE LION, warm and warming, he says...
...however cool the prospect...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bunny and the Quinces

This little rabbit was out on a trip to Buninyong ( "Bunny" ), south-east of Ballarat. Above, he was captivated by the Anglican church.
And shortly after, by this former brewery, now a dwelling, on the banks of the spring-fed lake at the centre of Buninyong's Botanic Gardens.
This is as old as it gets in this part of the world, what with gold being found in a new land, and substantial headway being made.
This came later, this 'Queen Victoria's Rotunda'. It's still here, for anyone to enter.
If this were only an historical re-enactment I'd have scampered, but the stones are local and warm and they belong here.
 Some of the trees are somewhat magnificent. There are poplars and redwoods but I confess to a fondness for the local Eucalypts, loose and strong as they are.
We're not talking about Endless Tourism here, but about a little gracious space, off the beaten track.
She doesn't look fabulous this time of year, what with all of her leaves fallen. But she is stately and benevolent, this backwoods grande dame.
The neighbours believe so, and take care appropriately.
I just got off a bus and I was there. Nobody bothered me. I'd like a bit of space like this myself when I stepped out back... can see it's quince weather. When Buninyong was built, there was huge money got from the local gold. Above is any one of a number of fine examples of placement or state or statement of place.
More trees, and a bit of a windmill behind them. The trees get to be gargantuan in certain places here, here with rich volcanic soils, if a now unpredictable climate, including that climate's droughts.
This little bunny got his quinces from the Buninyong Information Office for the ridiculous sum of $2.40, so he will have to remember just why it is he loved it so. He loved it for being so natural, so of itself, so accepting of a stranger.

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.