garden memories

'Photography is inescapably a memorial art. It selects, out of the flow of time, a moment to be preserved, with the moments before and after falling away like sheer cliffs.' (Teju Cole)

At times it's interesting to reflect on how we got to where we are now. Looking backwards there were times of garden angst and times of garden glory.

Like the time Stephen Ryan, host of the ABC TV program Gardening Australia for a couple of years, came round with two photographers to film the garden and interview me.

Then there was the time when the garden was opened to the public for a spring weekend in 2011 as part of the program of the Australian Open Garden Scheme.

My dog Potter is old and grey now, almost 17, so I love this photo of her as a sprite young pup posing among the forget me nots.

It's easy to work out when this shot was taken.  We moved in in 1979 and this is what the garden looked like a year or two later.  The child in the picture was 3 or 4 at the time. Now she's 40.

We had a wonderful cubby house, but it started to fall down and became dangerous so we got rid of it. I used to grow kiwifruit on the screen in the photo above, but that plant needed more water than I was prepared to give, so eventually we parted ways -  another way of saying it went to compost heaven. 

Then the garden needed more structure, so I pulled nearly everything out, put in the paths and started again.

It took ages to fill the gap alongside the fence where the cubby had been. As the Acacia grew it became all trunk and started pushing the fence over.

The Acacia went. The Pittosporum are still too small to provide a decent screen. I don't mind. You can buy instant gratification for the garden by buying expensive, large trees and shrubs. But I've never done that. I like watching them grow.

The passion for garden making took over gradually, but I remember stumbling, not sure what I was doing or what the result would look like. Now the passion's still there, but I'm much more sure of myself, and it's more garden maintaining than creating. I'm more aware now of the wildlife that I share the garden with, and often stop and watch teeny tiny spiders or insects in fascinated wonder. An important task is to keep the bird baths scrubbed clean and filled with clean water.


  1. I hadn't realised till seeing these pictures how large your garden is. Now that it's established - are you happy gardening or is it the growing you like most and would like to start again with something fresh?

  2. Oh my. I, too, have stumbled in my gardening endeavors. I loved seeing the early garden paths as we can no longer see the garden as a whole in your photographs. I had to look up "Australian cubby" to see if it was a kid's play house or fort and it is. Funny how we speak the same language but not all the time.

  3. Ah - that buy a big tree for instant gratification, and plant small so it can establish - is a battle that rages here. The Ungardener wants instant, like you I rather enjoy watching the tree slowly grow to fill its space.
    I have a virtual garden seen thru my camera on the blog, and tomorrow a reality check as I prune and chip the green exuberance along the path.

  4. Loving (and awed) at your garden. I am still mostly at the stumbling stage. I do find solace and healing (along with the blood, sweat and tears) in the garden and agree wholeheartedly about watching the tiny residents in fascination...

  5. As the garden evolves so does the gardener - and hopefully that never stops until both go to their respective compost piles. Moving to a new location - and a vastly larger garden - after nearly 2 decades working a postage stamp sized plot re-energized me and new projects (2 now in the queue awaiting the return of cooler temperatures) continue to pique my interest but I can envision a day when I'll need to simplify my garden in the interest of streamlining the demands it makes of me.

  6. I enjoyed the tour around your garden developing over time and wished I had taken more photos of our garden, or rather the plants themselves. We had some big trees that shaded the whole garden and eventually had to go!

  7. Your garden has evolved with you, as your concern for the planet has grown, your garden wildlife becomes more important. I have now got to the stage where I need to simplify and reduce the work involved.

  8. Very true about the bird baths. And on hot, dry days the water can evaporate quickly. Plus, some of those birds are messy bathers!

  9. i used to watch Gardening Australia and then suddenly it vanished from our media box. When were you on the programme?


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