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.

Comments

  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?

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    1. Thanks for this interesting thought provoking question, Lucy. Part of my evolution as a human and as a gardener, has been to accept more what is, and be less interventionist. Largely this could be a function of the fact I no longer have the strength and energy that I used to.

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  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.

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    1. It is funny - there are a lot of differences as well as similarities, I think. (To one stumbler from another.)

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  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.

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    1. Enjoy all the kinds of realities - the real one gives us better exercise though!

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  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...

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    1. It's wonderful finding like minded gardeners in the blogosphere. It's a cliche, but it really is about the journey ...

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  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.

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  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!

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    1. It is interesting, and satisfying, to document changes over time. Your description is evocative, even without photos.

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  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.

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    1. We're at similar stages then. I love doing stuff in the garden (it's not 'work') but definitely don't have nearly as much energy as I used to have.

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  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!

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    1. Hi Jason, your comment reminds me of a potential blog post on how birds have very different styles of bathing. Some are timid and just take a very quick dip. Others like magpies get right in and have a big splash.

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  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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    1. 18/9/2010 (7 years ago?!) The program isn't online, but there 's a description at http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s3012323.htm

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  10. This is a comment I got by email from an old friend:

    "I love your latest blog! It reminds me of times past with the kids. I also enjoyed the comments - you’ve gathered a lovely group of like-mindeds.
    This is what I would have written in the comments if I knew how to do it: Wonderful to see the whole evolution of your garden in snapshots. I recall fondly the days of the cubby with our kids crawling all over it. I wonder if our gardens are an exact symbolic reflection of us as time passes in some way..."

    Thanks for the comment, Paula. I find it endlessly fascinating to think about how our gardens influence and reflect us.

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  11. Love looking back and you have many years in your garden to reminisce about....the picture of the child at 4 and now learning she is 40 was really amazing....wow that certainly gives one an idea of the timeline of your garden.

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    1. It is amazing. This house and garden have served us really well over the years. I had an aunt who used to say she never wanted to leave her house, she hoped she'd be carried out. I think I would leave if I couldn't manage the garden.

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