Drawing and Art Library: Part Two: Art Books For Children

Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed  about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.

She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :

Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.

Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and  a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.

By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!

By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and  because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!

Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/   and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!BlogArtBooks70%IMG_8320Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.

You Can Draw Anything by Kim Gamble 1994

We were lucky enough to attend a talk given by the creator of Tashi at my children’s primary school in Armidale. For information about Kim, see: http://tashibooks.com/Kimgamble.html about Kim, for information about the Tashi books, see: http://tashibooks.com/books.html and for Kim’s illustration process, it is especially worth watching: http://tashibooks.com/illustrating.html. Another excellent video clip can be found on http://tashibooks.com/Creators.html, as well as on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVxuefbKqoI.

I was so sad to discover during my research for this post that Kim had died in February 2016 at the far too early age of 63 years old! See his tribute by Anna Fienberg, his co-creator of the Tashi books at: http://readingtime.com.au/vale-kim-gamble-13-july-1952-19-february-2016/.

BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.01.31

I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy.  Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.

He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!

Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!

Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999

Quentin Blake is very well-known for his illustrations for many of Roald Dahl’s books, favourites among children, so the illustrations in this delightful sketching guide are very familiar and appealing to  children, their parents and  Roald Dahl readers. See: https://www.quentinblake.com/; https://www.quentinblake.com/tags/roald-dahl; and http://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2016/march/quentin-blake-collaborating-with-roald-dahl.

BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.37.35This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.31.56 and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.08The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.26BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.36 I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60);BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.35.47 Birds (Page 63); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.36.20 and Pigs (Page 65). BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.36.10The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008.BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 15.58.37 Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.34.46Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.35.34It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.

You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service

A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.08.52 Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.37.15How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters  by Moira Butterfield 1995

A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.01.50

There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - CopyPlease note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.

Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!  

Drawing and Art Library: Part One: Sketching and Painting Books

All design, art and crafts require a basic grasp of drawing skills, even if only to portray the desired idea, so it is useful to own a few sketching and drawing books. For example, my recent design for a Christmas table runner, based on Eastern European Folk Art and the accompanying Russian wooden spoons. While my sketch is appalling artistically, it only needed to be a rough line drawing to portray the basic design! See the sequence of photos below! My first draft: BlogArtBooks3017-12-02 09.51.34While there are many brilliant books on this subject, here are a few titles, which have helped my journey, even though I will never be totally confident about my skills! While covering similar subject matter, they vary in presentation and approach, so I am sure there will be one that appeals to you! BlogArtBooks3017-12-02 09.51.53Please note that I have divided this topic into three posts, due to its length. Today, I am discussing six Sketching and Painting Books; Part Two is on Wednesday and includes four of my favourite Art Books, specifically written for Children, while in Part Three on Thursday, I am featuring nine books on Watercolour Painting and Artists’ Journals.BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 17.35.51

A. Sketching Books

Sketching for Beginners: A Pocket How To Do It  by Geoffrey Elliot 1970

My first proper sketching guide and my starter for a lifetime pursuit of improving my drawing ability, though I think that I have now accepted my limited talent in this area!

This small volume discusses:

Chapter One: Sketching Defined: This chapter looks at the different kinds of sketches and the purposes behind them: the reference sketch for supplying material for your own personal dictionary; the study sketch used for a  definite purpose, whether it be a working drawing for a finished art work or sculpture or a work in itself; the practice sketch to train your observation powers and hand-eye coordination; and the statement sketch, complete as it stands, without the notes and visual shorthand aids of the reference or study sketches.

Chapter Two: Equipment and Media: I LOVE visiting art shops with all their wonderful selection of artistic mediums and tools. So inspiring and make you want to dash straight back home with your new purchases and start using them! This chapter covers the basic equipment required from pencils and erasers; watercolours and brushes; paper and sketch-books to drawing boards and easels; gummed tape; fixatives and sponges; and viewfinders and plumb lines. It discusses a wide variety of media: Pen and Ink; Charcoal; Conté; Pastels; Wax Crayons; Felt Pens; Gouache; and Acrylics.

Chapter Three: Choosing Your Subject: A few notes for beginners on keeping it simple; being kind to yourself and not too ambitious; artistic licence; being interested in your subject matter; and the rigours of prolonged concentration, thereby emphasing the importance of comfort and a fresh eye with plenty of breaks. Subjects include family and home life; still life arrangements; the garden and outdoor scenes (eg parks and beaches); and landscape scenes.

Chapter Four: Observation and Technique: Observation, from all angles and in great detail, and composition; line and tone (I think that I am quite good with line, it’s portraying the areas of light and shade, which I find difficult!); colour (colour range, blending, building up,and glazing); stretching paper for watercolour; mass and detail; texture; and observation and judgement.

Chapter Five: Using Your Sketches: Squaring up and transposing a composition; reference sketches; and framing; with suggestions for further reading and art lessons.

All in all, a good little book for beginners, though it has been superseded by some far more detailed and lavish publications.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.55.24

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards 1979/ 1989

With a sub title like that, how could I resist! Or any would-be artist for that matter! Apparently, it is the best-selling drawing book in the world, having sold over 1 250 000 copies and been translated into ten languages (now seventeen!) by its second publication.  I actually bought the later publication (Revised and Expanded with a New Colour Selection) after a course on ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ and found both the course and the book to be very illuminating!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.55.48The basic theory is that drawing is primarily an activity of the right brain, the hemisphere responsible for creativity and artistic ability; intuition, perception and spatial ability; and chess, music and mathematics, while the left brain specialises language (both verbal and written), symbols and abstraction; timing and sequencing; and  reasoning, logic and critical analysis. I have a very well-developed critical left brain!! See the photo of her table from page 40 below: BlogArtBooks4018-01-06 11.06.50After further discussion on brain hemispheres and the crossover connections between them, as well as the development of artistic ability in children, the author provides a series of exercises to stimulate the right brain and confuse the left brain, or rather suppress its critical analysis and self-doubt talk!

A prime example is my line drawing of the lady below in glasses. We had to draw a continuous line, constantly focusing on the subject and without looking down at the paper. The minute I did so at the end of the session, my critical left brain kicked in with noticing the different shape of the lenses in the glasses, but on closer observation of the angle at which I had drawn the subject, my rendition was totally accurate!BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 08.19.31Other exercises included: Drawing upside-down; drawing the negative space; contour drawing; and using view finders and sighting techniques.

Other topics include: Perspective (always a tricky problem!); proportion; angles and composition; light and shadow; and colour.

This is a very valuable book for every would-be artist and certainly furthered my artistic ability and confidence! If you cannot find an old copy, you can read the entire book from 1999 online at: https://aimeeknight.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/edwards-the-new-drawing-on-the-right-side-of-the-brain-viny.pdf.

Start to Draw by Robert Capitolo and Ken Schwab 2006

Another small paperback guide for beginners, with similar content, but a far more up-to-date and contemporary presentation, as well as more modern materials, to my original sketching book.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.56.42

Chapter One covers Materials and Tools: Pencils; charcoal; coloured pencils and chalks; pen and ink; paper and other surfaces; erasers; fixatives and scratchboards.

Chapter Two explains the Basic Concepts:

Elements of Art (Line; colour; texture; shape and form; value; size and space);

Qualities of Shading (light and dark sides; highlights; cast shadow; reflected light; and back shading); and

Principles of Composition (Centre of Interest; balance; harmony; contrast; directional movement; and rhythm).

Chapter Three covers :

The Sketching Process: Drawing from photos and observation; and shape and form; and

Ways of Suggesting Depth: Interposition; size and spacing; foreshortening and the use of perspective: atmospheric perspective ; diminishing clarity; and linear perspective: one-point; two-point and three-point.

Various perspective terms are defined: Horizon line; eye level; station point; picture plane; line of sight; vanishing point; parallel lines; converging lines and foreshortening. There is also a simple Still-Life Activity to practice these concepts.

Chapter Four: Working with Images: Cropping and Grids, which has further activities: Making and using a viewfinder to aid composition; enlarging images using the diagonal method or by using a grid; and using the latter to also distort an image.

The next section of the book presents seven projects to develop shading abilities, an area where I require much more practice! They include:

Project One: Smudge Shading on a Contour Drawing: Includes more information about Composition;

Project Two: Ink Drawing With Hatch and Cross-Hatch Shading;

Project Three: Montage Composition with Cross-Hatch and Smudge Shading: Involves the composition of several images and practicing the gradation of values with lines;

Project Four: Random Line Shading with Gesso: Including preparation of the gesso board; transferring the preliminary drawing to the gesso board; shading the drawing; and the use of photos as a source of subject matter;

Project Five: Charcoal Portrait on Toned Paper: Including a guide to facial proportions;

Project Six: Cross-Hatching on Scratchboard; and

Project Seven: Nonobjective Design with Coloured Pencil :  Including using a viewfinder; enlarging the composition; mixing colours with coloured pencils; and colour theory.

An excellent beginner’s guide to sketching!

The Complete Book of Drawing: Essential Skills for Every Artist by Barrington Barber 2006

A terrific book, which must be the ultimate guide to sketching, being a larger size and very comprehensive!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.56.09

The first chapter, First Stages, is quite a lengthy chapter and covers all the Basics: Implements and materials; holding the pencil, using the paper, working at an easel and using rule of thumb to determine size and proportions; lines and circles; 3-D shapes; ellipses; groups of objects; corrections; identifying the source of light; modelling and shading; composition; simple perspective; technical aids; proportions in detail; foreshortening; aerial perspective; drawing plants and choosing landscapes, using hands or a card frame to isolate views; the effect of different eye levels; proportions of the human figure; and animals simplified.

The next chapter, Chapter Two, examines Object Drawing and Still-Life Composition, a good place to start as the subject matter doesn’t move!!! It discusses objects of different materiality; simple still-lifes and shading; exercises in looking and drawing; still-life themes; composition, angles and viewpoints; still-life in a setting; and large objects.

Chapter Three discusses the Experience of Drawing: Perspective views; irregular perspective; constructing a view along a street; areas of light and dark; angles; triangles and rectangles; human architecture; ellipses in perspective; using a common unit of measurement; perspective terminology; relationships in the picture plane; Alberti’s system; field of vision; chequerboard to create an illusion of depth; and dealing with movement.

Chapter Four concentrates on Form and Shape: Architectural forms; shape recognition; creating form; approaches to form; and exercises in simplifying and realizing form; while Chapter Five is all about Forms of Nature:

Plants: Flowers and trees; trees in the landscape and tree growth patterns and shapes; landscapes from different perspectives; experimenting with different media; depiction of earth, water and sky;

Animals: Movement; large animals; and drawing on the hoof; and

Introduction to the Human Figure: Heads; facial features and hair; perspective views; hands; musculature; composition of figures; close ups of joints; and clothing and movement.

Chapter Six enlarges on the latter subject area with Figure Drawing and Portraiture: Drawing from life; different poses; nudes; the torso; movement; proportions; closeups on legs and feet; arms and hands; mouths and eyes; and noses and ears; the head at different angles; facial expressions; juvenile features; form and clothing; expressing movement and attitudes; and spontaneous portraiture, backed up by a series of revision exercises. There is also a section on caricature: its use in satire and art; stereotyping; and modern trends in caricature.

Chapter Seven focuses on Styles and Techniques: Pencil drawing; simple outlines and precision; pen and ink and line and wash; chalk on toned paper; the use of scraperboards; different techniques, including blotting; card-edge and silver-point techniques; line versus tone and experimenting with light; action for drama; and the genius of simplicity.

Composition is the main topic of Chapter Eight: Analysis and geometry of composition; movement and abstract and naturalistic design in composition; interiors; creating and balancing a composition; emotional content; and variations on a theme.

The final chapter looks at the Drawings of the Great Masters: Ancient Greeks; Leonardo da Vinci; Raphael; Michelangelo; Rubens; Holbein the Younger; Rembrandt; Tiepolo; Watteau; Ingres; Delacroix; Turner; Degas; Renoir; Seurat; Cézanne; Matisse; Picasso; and Henry Carr. By acute observation of their works, techniques and methods and economy of effort and by practicing their style, the sketching student can learn so much and can further develop their own abilities.

2. General Guides to Drawing and Painting

Sketching and Painting: A Step by Step Introduction by FC Johnston 1976

Probably more an introductory book about painting, this publication was my husband’s first sketching book. Like me, he too yearned to become a better sketcher, but unlike me, he continues to practice, and is hence better at it!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.55.37 There are six parts to this book:

Part One: Preparation for Painting: The artist’s eye; basic equipment; working outdoors; the selection and arrangement of subjects; and composition and perspective.

Part Two: Painting in Watercolour: Paints, brushes and paper; paper preparation and laying down a wash; monochrome and colour paintings; mixing colours; and trees, foliage and grass.

Part Three: Painting in Oils: Equipment and basic techniques; monochrome and colour painting; colour mixing; trees; and further techniques and painting surfaces.

Part Four: Painting with Acrylic Colours: Acrylic paints; opaque qualities and texture; transparent washes; and knife painting.

Part Five: The Art of Sketching: Using a pencil; studies in pen and ink; pens without nibs; and  sketching with charcoal and conté crayon.

Part Six: Mounting, Framing and General Advice: Mounting and framing oils and acrylics, watercolours and sketches; and final random thoughts and advice.

How To Paint and Draw: A Complete Course on Practical and Creative Techniques by Hazel Harrison 1994

Another excellent guide to painting and drawing, which is the equivalent of Barrington Barber’s book in its comprehensive and thorough coverage of drawing, watercolour, oil, acrylics and pastels. It is hard to believe that there would be any neglected facet of this vast subject area!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 17.57.06The book begins appropriately with Part One: Drawing, as basic drawing ability is an essential foundation to painting.

It begins with Monochromatic Materials (pencils, conté crayon, charcoal, pen, inks and brushes ; and papers) and techniques for use with each different medium, including:

Pencil: Line and tone; and frottage;

Charcoal: Erasing techniques;

Conté crayon: Paper texture; and working with three colours;

Pen and ink: Scribble drawing; hatching and cross-hatching; line and wash; and brush drawing.

The book progresses to Colour Drawing Materials: Coloured pencils; pastels; inks and markers; and papers, and again, various techniques are discussed for each different medium:

Coloured pencil: Colour mixing; burnishing; and impressing;

Pastels: Mark making; oil pastels; and papers;

Inks and markers: Drawing with coloured inks and markers; textured papers; and wax resist.

The Mechanics of Drawing is then discussed, including the concepts of accuracy; proportions and size; drawing shapes and forms; negative shapes; line, lost and found edges and contours; sketching; subject material; figure drawing; animals; buildings; and perspective, scale and proportion.

Part Two: Watercolor:

Includes: Paints, brushes and papers; advice on mixing colours; colour theory; laying washes (flat, gradated and variegated) and dealing with edges; underdrawings; squaring up; working wet-on-dry or wet-into-wet; brushwork; lifting out; masking; using opaque paint; texturing methods (dry brush; toothbrush or paintbrush spatter and salt spatter); wax resist; line and wash; backruns; paint additives (gum arabic; ox gall; soap; and turpentine); and two special sections, focusing on landscapes and flowers.

I found this section to be particularly useful, as I love the effect of watercolours, but it is quite a difficult medium technically.

Part Three: Oils and Acrylics:

Discusses: Paints, brushes and mediums; palettes and painting surfaces; primary and secondary colours; using a restricted palette; colour relationships; painting white; working alla prima (wet-into-wet) and underpainting; working on a tinted ground; brushwork; impasto; knife painting; glazing; broken colour; removing paint (scraping back; sgraffito and tonking); and special sections, which focus on still-lifes; landscapes; and figures and portraits.

Part Four: Pastel Painting:

Focuses on: Types of pastels (hard, soft, oil),  pastel pencils and papers; line strokes; mixing pastels and building up pastels; experimenting with different papers; tinting papers; wet brushing; underpainting; charcoal and pastel; laying a textured ground; and sgraffito– such a great word (!), it refers to the scratching or scraping of the top layer of colour to reveal another colour below; with special sections on using pastels to portray landscapes, flowers, and faces and figures.

I would love to be better with pastels, but I find it a very messy medium with which to work and often end up smudging unwanted colour with the bottom edge of my hand in the wrong spots!

Each part gives examples of work done in each medium at the start of each section; practical demonstrations of techniques in each medium; and comparative demonstrations to show the different approaches and effects. In the back, there is a list of stockists and suppliers for Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Next week, I shall be discussing some of my favourite Art Books for Children.

 

Beautiful Bithry

Bithry Inlet, at the mouth of Wapengo Lake, on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, is another favourite beauty spot in Summer.BlogBithry20%IMG_8810 BlogBithry20%IMG_8837Its shallow waters are perfect for families with young children, as well as fishermen (who catch bream, salmon, mulloway and flathead) and birdwatchers.BlogBithry20%IMG_8815BlogBithry20%IMG_8851BlogBithry20%IMG_8881 In the photo above is a lone puffer fish, while the photos below shows a congress of Pied Oystercatchers, discussing the latest weather!BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.10.22BlogBithry2015-03-08 12.09.16 Here is a photo of our map to give you an idea of its location!BlogBithry20%IMG_8898

This area also has an interesting historical component, of which we were unaware on our first two visits. We always knew that the land adjoining Bithry Inlet, the property called Penders, had been donated by Ken Myers and Sir Roy Grounds to the New South Wales Government for incorporation into Mimosa Rocks National Park, but did not realize that it contained a number of significant structures and areas that the general public could explore, as indicated by the map on the interpretive signs at the site:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.04.57 They include: the Myer House and precinct (though this is off-limits when booked out in holiday times); the Barn and Geodesic Dome; the Bum Seat, The Point, the picnic table and various sculptures and structures like the old Wind Tower; the Forest Plantation; the Orchard and Lake; and the various coastal walks, including a 2 Km walk to Middle Beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.44BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.14.49 Each area is well-signposted with interpretive signs seen above (which were produced by The Interpretive Design Company, based on NPWS brand templates, and can also be accessed on http://interpretivedesign.com.au/portfolio/wayfinding/wayfinding-signs/. They give maps and information about the history and all the personalities involved. Here is a brief summary!

Kenneth Baillieu Myers (1921-1992) was the Director and Chairman of the famous Myer Emporium, which had been established by his father Sidney, a Russian immigrant, in Melbourne in 1911. His background and the development of this iconic business is an amazing story in itself. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/myer-simcha-sidney-7721.

Like his father, Kenneth was a successful businessman, a patron of the arts, humanities and sciences and a great philanthropist, being heavily involved with and donating to a wide number of institutions, including:

The Howard Florey Institute for medical science research;

Canberra’s National Library, of which he was chairman from 1974 to 1982;

The National Capital Planning Committee;

The Australian Universities Commission;

The Australian Broadcasting Commission, of which he was chairman from 1983 to 1986; and

The National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian Arts Centre, which he chaired from 1965 to 1989.

For more information about Kenneth, it is worth reading his biography, The Many Lives of Kenneth Myer by Sue Ebury 2008. See: https://www.mup.com.au/books/9780522855463-the-many-lives-of-kenneth-myer , as well as : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/lifestyle/life-in-the-business-of-giving/news-story/89849fe8aa80c5bcc133ba4bc4e5e074.

During his time at the National Gallery of Victoria, he developed a close friendship with Sir Roy Grounds, the architect of the Victorian Arts Centre, built in 1968. They shared each other’s visions and design philosophies, as well as a love of nature, conservation and creativity.

Sir Roy Burman Grounds (1905-1981) was a pivotal figure in the development of Modernism in Australian house design. See: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/grounds-sir-roy-burman-12571. Famous for the design of the Victorian Arts Centre, which won the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture Gold Medal in 1968, he received a knighthood in 1969. He was fascinated by idealistic geometric forms and strongly believed in nature as a central influence in his creative process, both tenets which he was able to fully explore in the building of his structures at Penders.

Roy Grounds initially purchased the 544 acre (224 hectares) property in May 1964, but he and Ken Myers became tenants in common with equal shares in 1966. The land, which stretched from Bithry Inlet south to Middle Beach, was predominantly covered in spotted gum and mahogany forest with an understorey of macrozamias, though much of it had been cleared to graze dairy cattle. For historical information about the property, see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/cmpFinalPenders02Historical.pdf. By January 1965, the Myers and Grounds families were camping at Penders.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.27.15The first structure built at Penders was a simple slab seat at The Point, affording panoramic views over the sea and entrance to Bithry Inlet (first photo) and back over the inlet to Wapengo Lake (second photo).BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.00.52BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.31 The seat was built from 1964-1965 from slabs, salvaged from an enormous tree felled before their arrival at Penders, with small log rounds acting as low stools and tables.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.32.26In 1965, Roy Grounds submitted plans for a barn,which was built with the help of locals, Bob Hunter and Nev Whittle, and which Roy and his wife, Betty, then proceeded to use as a holiday house. It’s a delightful structure and is also known locally as The Tepee!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.34.56BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.20 Based on a nonagon (nine sides), The Barn was built from spotted gum logs, cut on site and treated with an early version of the Tanalith process, while the floor is made of small timber rounds from off-cuts, thus reducing waste (second photo below).BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.00BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.38The walls and ceiling are formed by bright yellow blinds, which were raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys, to control light, weather and cross-ventilation and allow a harmonious union between nature and the built environment. They billow like sails in the wind and at night were a canvas for red and gold reflections from the flickering fire!BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.50Originally, the barn had a sod roof of yellow daisies in amongst Kikuya grass, but unfortunately, it became a home to bush rats and the weight of the roof in wet weather caused sagging of the roof and splaying of the barn supports, threatening imminent collapse! This is a photo of the original sod roof from the interpretive board.BlogBithry2517-07-25 13.05.05 It was replaced by a corrugated yellow fibreglass roof, which acted as a permanent beacon of golden light, which could be seen from Wapengo Lake, until it too was replaced with the current roof in 1993. Below is a photo of the inside of the roof:BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.22.40Inside, there was a wood stove and hot water service; a septic system; a sunken bathroom; a battery room, housing a dozen 12 volt car batteries, storing power from an 11 metre tall wind tower beyond the Point; and even a kitchen sink!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.27.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.51 The Wind Tower was built by Nev Whittle in 1964 from untreated stringybark poles in a tripod construction, braced at intervals, with a ladder attached and 3 wind blades on the top. A 32 volt DC generator was housed in a shed at the base of the windmill, with wires leading underground to the battery room of the Barn. Water was pumped in from tanks and dams.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.01Outside the Barn is a outdoor table and bench, the Marr Bench and Table, so called because they were designed and built by Marr Grounds, Roy’s son, also an architect, sculptor and educator, being the Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design and Art in the Department of Architecture at the University of Sydney until 1985. See: http://www.marrgrounds.com.au.

BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.21.07BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.12 We ate our picnic there, accompanied by a rather quiet swamp wallaby.BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.37BlogBithry2017-07-25 16.30.47Nearby  is the Bum Seat, also designed by Marr, another wonderful spot to dream and contemplate and admire the stunning Bithry Inlet! The Bum Seat is a simple timber slab, inscribed with the imprints of two large and two smaller female and male bottoms. Marr also erected a number of statues around the grounds, as well as a few utility buildings.BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.22.41BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.12.11BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.18.48The nearby Geodesic Dome was constructed by Roy after the Barn to house his carpentry tools and then, Betty’s vegetable and herb garden.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.17.45 Its form is based on the repetitive use of a single geometric shape, the triangle, with the three ends of tanalith-treated saplings, each meeting another 5 triangles, the hub giving the dome its structural stability and protected by galvanised Tomlin garbage tin lids. Eighty percent of the dome was enclosed using panels of yellow sail cloth, the north facing aspect glazed with clear acrylic and was heated by the battery system, allowing the cultivation of pawpaws!BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.42.12Being passionate about conservation and environment, the Myers and Grounds planted many trees to revegetate the previously logged site and  in 1966, started a small scale commercial timber production, using a Tanalith treatment process (using Copper azole). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_preservation. By the mid-1970s, eucalypt plantations were established on one third of the property, being cared for and maintained by John and Mary Cremerius, who were originally employed to clean up the degraded site, with a team of seven foresters under the supervision of Lindsay Pryor, a botanist and expert in eucalyptus taxonomy, who founded the Australian National Botanic Garden. By 1982, there were 1050 trees planted to each hectare and today, there are over 60 000 trees in various stages of growth.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.30.23BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.00.59The Myer House was designed by Sir Roy Grounds for Ken and his first wife, Prue, and their five children, and built between 1969 and 1970 by Kingsley Koellner, with the help of George Hoylands, of Bega. Below are some photos of the Myer House and Precinct, including the tennis court, outdoor table and path down to the beach.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.06BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.07.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.09.42BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.19.29 Ken and Prue divorced in 1977, Ken remarrying a Japanese artist, Yasuko Hiraoka (1945-1992), later that year. Ken and Yasuko modified the house by adding a series of infilled spaces to the perimeter verandah. They also moved the kitchen from the entrance hall, which was refitted to allow the Japanese practice of removing one’s shoes before entering the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.08.53BlogBithry2017-07-25 17.18.39Yasuko shared Ken’s passion for the natural world, working on the vegetables and herbs, while Ken pruned the fruit trees and roses.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.42.17 I love the netted Orchard with its huge old camellias and old gnarled fruit trees,

 

although it’s all a bit the worse for wear these days, allowing previously prohibited access by kangaroos like this huge fellow!BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.08.14 While they lived there, they were virtually self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit, with supplies topped up by the produce of the Cremerius garden and the odd spot of fishing.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.45BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.46.26 The orchard was watered from the nearby dam, a very peaceful spot covered in water lilies. In 1983 and 1985, Yasuko’s father, Masa Suke Hiraoka, laid out a small nine-hole golf course nearby, the first tee marked by a timber block with his initials, MH. The area is slowly regenerating since revegetation work was carried out in 1993.BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.03.50BlogBithry2517-12-27 12.06.27 Unfortunately, Ken and Yasuko died in a light airplane crash, when on a fishing expedition, in Alaska at the end of July 1992. There is a lovely memorial site to their memory up on the ridge in the forest. Joanna Baevski, Ken’s daughter, became the lessee of the Myers precinct on their death and from 1993 to 1994, added a bedroom for her daughter on the north-east corner of the house.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.35BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.24BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.35.40Sir Roy Grounds and Kenneth Myer had offered Penders to the New South Wales State Government back in 1973, on the basis that it would be reserved as National Park. It was officially gifted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in 1976, being incorporated into the 5802 hectare Mimosa Rocks National Park. Marr Grounds and his daughter became the lessees of the Ground’s precinct after Roy’s death in 1981, with Marr being the primary occupant and caretaker till 2011. The blinds of the Barn were replaced in 1984 after 20 years of gales and Marr dismantled the windmill in 1996, leaving three inclined posts as a sculptural relic and installed a series of commemorative lead plaques across the site after Ken’s death.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.39.16BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.33.09In 1981, the Barn was placed on the Register of the National Estate. In 1991, it  was classified by the National Trust and included on its register and in 1998, the Barn, Geodesic Dome and the site of the former timber preservation works were added to the NSW State Heritage Inventory as an example of coastal forest regeneration, a plantation timber production and experimental architecture.BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.36.39The final parcel of land of 20 hectares was handed over to NPWS in 2011 on the expiry of the Myer and Grounds’ leases. In 2012, the Myer House underwent extensive renovation work, restoring the interiors to their original style, and is now available to the general public for short-term stays for up to 12 people. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/myer-house. In 2013, Penders was added to the State Heritage Register.

We loved exploring the history of the area, as well as doing the 2 Km walk south to Middle Beach. See: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/middle-lagoon-walking-track. The track follows the coast through grassland (first two photos) and into the forest with its beautiful misshapen tree trunks (3rd and 4th photos), across cliff tops, ridges and gullies, past the Middle Beach Trig (5th photo) and Stinking Bay, so called named for the dead fish which accumulate in the bay, to the lovely ocean beach (6th photo), lagoon (7th photo) and rock platforms (8th photo). Here are some photos from our walk in July 2017.BlogBithry2017-07-25 13.40.07BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.50.06BlogBithry2517-12-27 11.53.21BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.12.08BlogBithry2017-07-25 15.00.50BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.44.25BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.55.32BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.52.57 En route, we were lucky enough to see, not just one, but three echidnas! According to the National Park Ranger, who we also met along the way, echidnas mate in Winter, often forming trains of up to 10 male echidnas following a female, and their sighting often foretells rain and yes, we did indeed get rain two days later!BlogBithry2017-07-25 14.20.12 For more on Penders , see: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5053623.

There is also an audiotape on : http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/05/21/3507120.htm.

Next week, we return to my craft library with a post on my favourite Drawing and Art books!

 

Lovely Lavender: Feature Plant for February

I have always loved lavender and given its future potential use in our garden, I thought it would be useful to research this lovely plant for my feature plant post for February. Every Winter, the steep agapanthus bank between our top terrace and the main part of the garden gets badly frost-damaged, to the extent that photography of the Spring garden with the house in the background is severely compromised due to the dead brown patches, prompting thoughts about other suitable plants, which could withstand the frost and better utilise the terraced beds. In the photo below, the frost-prone area is on the bank, directly in front of the verandah with smaller recovering bulbs, couch grass and weeds.BlogLavender2517-12-09 08.59.04 A friend suggested lavenders as they have mild frost-tolerance, a long flowering period (mid-Spring through to Autumn), a beautiful scent and multiple uses, as well as their colour being very complementary to the soft mauve exterior colour of our house.BlogLavender2016-10-11 12.40.06History and General Notes

Lavenders belong to the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, which also includes mints (Mentha) and sages (Salvia), as seen in the photo of the bouquet below. The genus Lavandula has 28 species and many subspecies, hybrids and cultivars, divided into five main groups: Stoechas; Spica; Pterostoechas; Chaetostoechas; and Subnuda. For the purposes of this post, I will be concentrating on the lavenders belonging to the first three groups, as they represent the majority of plants in cultivation and the home garden.BlogLavender2517-12-09 17.52.17Lavenders have a widespread distribution from the Mediterranean region (France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal) to the Middle East; Western Asia; India; tropical Northern Africa and the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 174They also have a long history of use since Ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was used for its cleansing and medicinal properties. In fact, the name Lavender is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means ‘to wash’.  The Ancient Romans perfumed their baths with the oil of Lavandula spica (photo above), while the Ancient Greeks used lavender more for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Greek physician, Dioscorides described Lavandula stoechas (photo below) as a laxative and stimulant in his Materia Medica 60 AD, stating that it grew near Gaul on the islands of Stoechas, now known as Îles de Hyères.2017-10-25 06.44.06The expectorant and antispasmodic properties of the flowers were also used in the 6th century Byzantine Empire, as well as by later Arabs, who also used them in a skin toner, a cheek rouge and a perfumed hair powder. It was introduced into France by Charlemagne in 800 AD and was grown extensively in medieval monastery gardens for its medicinal properties, scent and use in the kitchen. Sticadore (Lavandula stoechas) was one of the ingredients, along with rosemary, wormwood, rue, sage and mint, in the Four Thieves Vinegar, used to combat the plague. BlogLavender2517-11-13 07.07.13Lavendar was also very popular in Tudor and Elizabethan times from 1485 to 1603. English Knot Gardens were defined by lavender hedges and Elizabeth I is said to have always had a bowl of lavender conserve on the table. During the 18th Century, Oil of Spic (or Aspic, made from Lavandula latifolia, a member of the Spica group) was used in quick drying varnishes and to dilute paint colours used in porcelain painting. The oil was distilled in Southern France, especially Provence, and Spain. See: http://www.sca3p.com/en/cooperative-essential-oils-provence/production-history-perfume-plants. Lavender sellers were a common sight in the streets of 18th Century London.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was imported into Australia during the 19th Century. In Britain, its cultivation was markedly increased, along with other herbs, during the First World War for its medicinal properties. Today, it is still widely grown for its oil, its scent and its use as a valuable hedging and border plant in the garden.BlogLavender20%IMG_1863General Description

Lavender is an aromatic shrubby perennial with erect or spreading branches and variable size,  leaves and flowering spikes, according to the particular type, as well as its location, soil type, weather conditions and climate.BlogLavender3016-06-24 12.23.18 Generally, the width of the plant is 1 to 1.5 times the height of the plant. For ease of description, it is worth consulting the photo below from page 17 of The Essential Lavender: Growing Lavender in Australia by Virginia McNaughton 1996.BlogLavender4017-12-08 13.34.32Leaves: Have revolute (curled back) margins and are arranged in opposite pairs along the branches. They vary in shape from linear-oblong or spatulate to oblong lanceolate and their margins are simple and entire or dentate, pinnate or bipinnate. The leaves below have dentate, revolute margins.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.02.41Inflorescences: Flower spikes are terminal, at the end of short or long peduncles (flowering stems) and are composed of individual flowers, arranged in a whorled fashion along the stem. The terminal flowers open last.  They have bracts (modified leaf at the base of the flowers) and/ or bracteoles (small bract borne above the bract and below the calyx (outer petals), according to the type. The scent also varies from the sweet true lavender fragrance of Lavandula angustifolia to the more camphoraceous scent of the Stoechas group (especially L. viridis) and Lavandula latifolia.

Types of Lavenders

Rather than get bogged down in all the botanical anatomical differences, I will be giving a very basic account of the obvious visual differences, used in identification. It is also well worth consulting: http://www.lyndochlavenderfarm.com.au/plants.html or www.bendigobotanicgardens.com.au/files/…/Lavender_species_descriptions.pdf.

Stoechas Group (Rabbit’s Ears)

Large petal-like sterile bracts (see photo below) on the top of the spike (rabbit’s ears); no bracteoles; and fertle bracts on the rest of the spike. They flower most of the year with short intermittent breaks (eg Christmas) and prefer warmer areas. They are more frost-tender than the Spica group (though can still survive mild frosts), but more tolerant of humidity, though no lavender grows well in areas of high humidity or heavy rain. They are also very tolerant of soil type and have actually been declared a noxious weed in Tasmania and rural Victoria.BlogLavender20%IMG_1912Species: L. stoechas (Italian and Spanish); L. dentata (French); and L. viridis (Green).

Lavandula stoechas

Has a number of subspecies:

Lavandula stoechas ssp stoechas: Italian; Mediterranean and North Africa; Dark violet, though there is a white form. 70cm bush to 1m tall in flower. Short peduncles (1-3 cm) and grey green leaves. Hardy and withstands mild frosts.

Lavandula stoechas ssp pedunculata: Spanish/ Butterfly; Portugal and Spain, North Africa, South Balkans and Asia Minor; Longer greener leaves, sterile bracts and peduncles (10-20 cm); 60 cm sprawling bush to 90 cm in flower; Rounder reddish-violet spikes; Less hardy and needs frost protection.

Other less common subspecies include: L. stoechas ssp cariensis; L. stoechas ssp sampaiana; and L. stoechas ssp luisieri.BlogLavender20%IMG_0425There are also a large number of Stoechas cultivars, resulting from crosses between the subspecies, especially L. stoechas ssp pedunculata (Sugarberry Ruffles; Princess and Sensation). I am only describing the varieties in my garden, with a nod to future desires or more famous varieties.

They include, in order of height:

Sugarberry Ruffles 50-70 cm; Soft pink sterile bracts.BlogLavender20%IMG_0055Princess: 70 cm; Pink sterile bracts; Flowers late Winter to early Summer.BlogLavender2517-12-13 08.40.07 BlogLavender2517-12-07 16.28.49Avonview: 80 cm tall and long peduncles with large purple sterile bracts; Floral arrangements. BlogLavender20%IMG_0438Sensation (Senblu): 1 m; Blue sterile bracts;BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.11.22Other cultivars that I would love to get in the future include: Pastel Dreams (60-80 cm; Lilac pink); Helmsdale (80 cm; Burgundy purple); Marshwood (80cm-1m; Reddish-violet); and Pippa (1m; Electric dark blue).

Lavandula dentata (French Lavender)

Also known as Toothed Lavender, due to the dentate margins of the grey-green leaves. This large shrub, 1 to 1.5 metres tall, hails from France, Spain, Italy and Greece; the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands; Arabia, Algeria and Abyssinia.

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It has long peduncles and 2.5 to 5 cm lavender-purple flowering spikes for most of the year. L. dentata ssp candicans has greyer soft hairy leaves and darker flower spikes. Cultivars include: Ploughman Blue; Allwood; and Monet.

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It prefers warmer climates and is not frost hardy, requiring protection in cooler areas. The plant makes a good hedge or topiary specimen and the flowers are used in floral arrangements (tussie-mussies), wreaths and pot pourri.

Lavandula viridis (Green Lavender)

Hailing from South-West Spain, Southern Portugal and Madeira, this 1 metre tall bush has green sticky foliage and stems, covered in dense short green hairs; greenish-cream sterile bracts and has the strongest camphoraceous fragrance of the Stoechas group. While it survives mild frosts, I probably won’t be racing out to buy this one!!!BlogLavender20%IMG_0215 (2)Spica Group  (English Lavenders and Lavandins)

Have no sterile bracts at the top of the flowering spike, entire hairy grey lanceolate/ oblong or linear leaves and a sweet lavender fragrance. They prefer limestone areas; light well-drained soil and warm rocky slopes and dislike areas of high humidity, so are difficult to grow in Queensland. However, they grow well here! See the photo above!

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Species: L. angustifolia; L. latifolia; and L. lanata

Lavandula angustifolia ( syn. L. vera; L. spica and L. officinalis) True Lavender

Subspecies:

Lavandula angustifolia ssp angustifolia: Western Mediterranean; 60 cm to 80cm in flower; fragrant flower spikes 3 to 7 cm long; One of earliest lavenders to flower (late November in Australia); Makes a small to medium hedge. Good for lavender bags; toiletries; pot pourri; culinary recipes and floral decorations; and lavender oil, though the lavandins yield more flowers.

Lavandula angustifolia ssp pyrenaica: Pyrenees and Northern Spain; Rare in Australia; Bracts very wide and as long as calyces (outer petals): 6-7 mm long; and hair confined to veins.

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Cultivars :

Have small to medium single unbranched peduncles and flowering spikes from lavender and violet to pink and white simultaneously or 2 to 3 weeks later than L. angustifolia. They include:

Lavender/ Violet: Munstead (45-60 cm dwarf, so good for knot gardens); Twickel Purple (60-90 cm);

Dark Violet: Hidcote (70 cm); Nana Atropurpurea (40-60 cm); Blue Mountain (60 cm, greyer foliage);

Pink: Rosea (40 -60 cm; very green foliage; early flowering; mauve pink);

White: Alba (40-60 cm; grey green linear leaves; sweet scent.

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Lavandula latifolia (L. spica) Spike Lavender

Western Mediterranean and Portugal; Rare in nurseries; 50 cm high bush, whose broad oblong to lanceolate leaves are a more greyish-green and have a denser coverage of hairs than L. angustifolia. Flower spikes have long slender peduncles, up to 45 cm long or more, which frequently branch into three and have a camphoraceous smell . It was used to produce Oil of Aspic. They flower up to 3 months later than L. angustifolia (February in Australia) and can be difficult to grow and have a shorter lifespan here, so it is wise to keep some young stock in reserve. They are not frost hardy and hate cold poorly-drained soil.  They can get woody at the base and along the stems.BlogLavender20%IMG_0104Lavandula x intermedia cultivars (Lavandins)

A cross between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia, these 1 metre tall shrubs flower 3 to 4 weeks later than L. angustifolia and have broader leaves and  large flower spikes with a paler colour and a more camphoraceous smell. They are sterile, so must be propagated from cuttings and are used for cut flowers and the commercial production of lavender oil. They include:

Lavender/ Violet/ Purple:

Grosso (Masses of violet blooms late December to Autumn; Leading world producer of Lavender oil);

Seal (80 cm-1m ; Over 1000 spikes in one season and retain scent well when dried; Lavender bags);

Super (Over 1m and similar to Seal, but different shape and size; One of first lavandins to flower, continuously blooming over long period and one of the sweetest scents of all lavandins)

White:

Alba (60-70 cm tall with 30 cm long peduncles; white corollas with grey-green calyces; sweet scent. This is the white lavender most commonly sold in nurseries.)

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Grey-Leaved:

Grey Hedge (1m silver hedge);

Old English (over 1m and similar spikes to Seal)BlogLavender2017-04-03 13.49.46Intersectional Crosses:

Lavandula x allardii Mitcham Lavender : A cross between L. dentata and L. latifolia, this hybrid is over 1 metre tall and wide, has grey semi-toothed leaves and long flower spikes like Spica lavenders on long peduncles with a scent, the blend of lavender and camphoraceous.

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The flowers stems can be dried for floral arrangements, but tend to droop. I suspect the lavender in the two photos above and the three photos below, grown from a cutting, could be Mitcham Lavender as it has leaves with dentate margins like L. dentata, but a flower spike on a very long branched peduncle like L. latifolia. The plant is also similar to the latter with its tendency to woody stems as the plants age.

Lavandula x heterophylla: Another cross between L. latifolia and L. dentata, this plant is similar to Spica group lavenders, being up to 1 metre tall with branched stems. It also has a sweet camphoraceous scent .BlogLavender2517-12-09 15.58.36BlogLavender2517-12-12 08.57.53BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.02.41Lavandula lanata Woolly Lavender

Native to the mountains of Southern Spain, this shrub, 1 metre high and wide, has 1.2 cm wide and 3-5 cm long, grey tomentose (woolly hairs) leaves with a soft flannel feel and 10 cm long narrow flowering spikes on long peduncles in late December. The individual flowers open gradually, providing a splash of purple along the spike and have a slight camphoraceous scent. These lavenders like dry chalky soils and sheltered positions and have a deep root system, so hate being moved. They are frost-tolerant as might be expected!

Pterostoechas Group

This group hails from North Africa and Mediterranean regions and has the largest number of species, three of which are available in Australia. Slightly woody at the base, they have multi-branched stems and fine feathery pinnate or bipinnate leaves and wing-like (ptero-) corollas when viewed from the side. All the bracts are fertile and there are no sterile bracts at the top of the spike. There are also no bracteoles and the flowers do not have the classic lavender fragrance. They are not very hardy and best grown against the house or a warm brick wall, protected from frost, as in our old garden in Geelong (photo below), where they thrived with the French Lavender.

Species available in Australia include: L. multifida; L. canariensis; and L. pinnata.BlogLavender50%IMG_9463Cultivation and Harvesting

So easy to grow, lavender really only has two requirements:

: Well-drained Soil

While they prefer lighter soils and thrive in a loamy gritty mix, they can grow in most soil types. English lavenders like alkaline soil with a pH of 6-8, while Stoechas lavenders are very tolerant and can even grow in slightly acidic soil. Lavenders hate poorly-drained heavy clay soils, so add compost or humus to the soil; dig in underwater drainage pipes or grow in rock gardens or on hillsides, where the water can run off. So, the steep bank should be perfect for them! They do not need fertilising, though a foliar spray of nitrogen in the Spring will increase the growth, the number of flowers and the stem length. Well-rotted compost will enrich the soil and act as a mulch to suppress weeds.BlogLavender20%IMG_0204: Full Sun for three quarters of the day at least. Stoechas and Pterostoechas lavenders prefer warmer climates and shelter from frosts, though the former can survive mild frosts and the occasional severe one. English lavenders like cool winters and warm sunny Summers. They are reasonably hardy and can withstand frost, though a late frost can damage the flower buds.BlogLavender20%IMG_0093Lavenders don’t like : Severe frosts; over-watering; drought; wind or humidity, which can cause root rot. There are few pests, except for spittle bug (hose, spray or pick off) and the odd assault by caterpillars or rabbits. Diseases include the Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (AMV), spread by aphids and causing yellowing of the leaves and twisting of young Spring growth; Lavender Leafspot; Bacterial Blast; and Shab, an overseas fungal disease, fortunately not found in Australia. Here is our garden in the depths of Winter (photo 1) Unfortunately, the frost killed off our French Lavenders (photo 2)!BlogLavender2017-07-07 09.25.18BlogLavender2017-08-06 14.44.33Spacing: Lavandins should be planted 1 metre apart (unless used for a hedge, in which case plants can be 50-70 cm apart), while L. angustifolia cultivars can be planted 30-70 cm apart. Make sure that enough room is available for the mature plant. While these lavenders marked the vertical axis of the Soho Bed, they really were much too large and I think the Soho Bed looks better in the second photo without these lavender plants.BlogLavender2016-11-01 09.43.04OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPruning:  Depends on the type of lavender and should be done to remove dead wood and encourage young growth from the base. These plants were very undisciplined (photo 1) and the Soho Bed looked so much better after a haircut (photo 2)!BlogLavender2017-04-10 12.50.31BlogLavender20%IMG_0105 English lavenders should be trimmed hard after flowering and well before Winter to allow the new growth to harden. Once the stems become too woody and bare, the plant should be replaced. Unfortunately, none of the Mitcham Lavenders below survived the Winter. Normally, Mitcham lavender can be pruned to 15 cm from the ground, so I don’t think I pruned them too hard. Maybe, their new growth did not have time to harden before the cool weather set in or the plants had just become too old and woody! Fortunately, I had taken cuttings on pruning and was able to replace the dead plants, but I will keep them well-trimmed this time to a more appropriate size!BlogLavender2017-08-06 14.12.20 Stoechas lavenders, which produce flowers more frequently, can be pruned during the Summer as well and can be pruned quite hard, due to their fast growth in Summer. I definitely have to deadhead this Lavender bush!BlogLavender2517-12-07 16.32.33Propagation: Usually done from cuttings to produce a plant, which is true to type, except for Pterostoechas, which is difficult to propagate from cuttings and is true from seed; and L. latifolia and L. lanata, which also reproduce true from seed, so long as the plants are kept separate from other lavenders. Below is a photo of one of my Mitcham lavender cuttings, which has developed into a new plant.BlogLavender2517-12-09 15.57.13

Cuttings, 5 to 10 cm long, can be made in Spring (tip cuttings) and Autumn (tip cuttings or heel cuttings of semi-hardwood growth), dipped in hormone rooting powder or honey, and inserted into a pot with a mixture of soil and sand; soil and perlite; pure perlite; or coarse river sand; and kept damp, but not wet, until established. They can be kept in cold frames or with bottom heat and misting, then transplanted into a larger pot or the garden, once the roots have reached the bottom of the pot.

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Harvesting and Drying:

Harvest mid-morning on a dry sunny day after the dew has evaporated and watch out for bees!

Cut the heads when only the first two flowers on the spike have opened and strip off the leaves.

Hang flower spikes upside-down in bunches or dry on muslin trays in a dark room with good air circulation. They are dry when the stem breaks cleanly. A dehydrator/ microwave can be used too.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 153Store in opaque containers in cupboards in a dry environment and avoid light or moisture. Use within the year before the colour fades and scent goes.

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English Lavenders and French Lavender (L. dentata and subspecies) dry well, but the other Stoechas lavenders are more difficult to dry, because of the rabbit’s ears, though they do press well.

Uses of Lavender:

Garden Plant : Hedging, Knot Gardens and Topiary

: Paths, enclosures, knot gardens, outlining ornaments; statues; sundials and birdbaths.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 172: Space plants half the width of the mature plant apart and keep regularly pruned, so the new growth is produced from the base. Trim at least twice a year and well before the Winter cold sets in. Both photos above and below were taken at Lavandula, Hepburn Springs, in Victoria.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 173: French lavender makes a good topiary specimen, while good varieties for hedging include:

Lavandula angustifolia: Munstead or Blue Mountain (small to medium hedge or knot gardens); Twickel Purple (medium to large hedge); or a combination of Nana Atropurpurea; Rosea; and/or Alba;

Lavandins: Impress Purple or Grosso for a medium hedge; Grey Hedge for a hedge higher than 1 m.

Stoechas group: Italian lavender (low hedge); French Lavender (1.5 m hedge warm areas); and  L. viridis.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.01.28

Medicinal Properties of Lavender Essential Oil

Useful for the treatment of a wide range of conditions:

Skin conditions: Burns, bruises, wounds and leg ulcers; eczema, dermatitis and nappy rash; boils and herpes; stretchmarks; bee and wasp stings; fungal infections; acne; dry skin;  and sunburn. It can be used as an insect repellent (a few drops added to olive or safflower oil) and a skin toner.

Muscle, joint and back pain : 1 part lavender oil to 6 parts massage oil for a relaxation massage.

Migraines and Headaches.

Hair: When added to shampoo, it can reduce dandruff, and in the past has been used to eliminate head lice. It has also been used to treat ear ache.

Sore throats, stubborn coughs and mouth infections: Gargle with lavender oil /honey in boiled water.BlogLavender2517-12-09 17.21.01

Lavender Oil is produced by steam distillation (photo below was taken at Balingup Lavender Farm, Western Australia).

BlogLavender25%IMG_3698Cleansing

Lavender Water: 4 tbsp lavender oil to 2 litres warm water: Good antiseptic cleanser;

Lavender can also be used in furniture oil and polish; in lavender bags (photo below) to protect clothes and linen from insects and moths; and can be burnt or simmered in water to induce relaxation.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.24.48Culinary

Lavender vinegar can be used in salad dressings, for cleaning, to reduce bruising and as a hair rinse.

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Lavender sugar can be used to flavour desserts, biscuits and cake icing;

Lavender tisane (L. angustifolia ssp angustifolia) to relieve extreme fatigue and physical exhaustion. It obviously had an uplifting effect on my husband at the Bella Lavender Estate, South Australia.BlogLavender2014-10-26 12.14.53Fragrance: Lavender bags, fans and bottles; scented writing paper and ink; pressed flowers; pot-pourri mixes; sleep pillows; soap and toiletries; incense and candles; tussie-mussies, wreaths and floral arrangements.BlogLavender20%IMG_0133Lavender has also been used in healing and purifying rituals; deterring evil spirits (Tuscany); in love potions and spells. Lavender is a symbol of love, affection and acknowledgement; cleanliness, purity and chastity; longevity and perseverance; protection; and peace. My mum embroidered this beautiful bag below for a birthday gift.

BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.24.55Lavender Places to visit in Australia:

Bridestowe, Tasmania: https://bridestowelavender.com.au ;

Lavandula, Hepburn Springs, Vic: https://www.lavandula.com.au/  (three photos below);

Yuulong Lavender Estate, Vic: http://www.yuulonglavender.com.au/ . Currently closed, but reopening soon in a new location;

Warratina Lavender Farm, Vic: http://warratinalavender.com.au/ ;BlogLavender25%grampians 1 095BlogLavender25%grampians 1 116BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 162Lyndoch Lavender, Barossa Valley, South Australia: http://www.lyndochlavenderfarm.com.au/ ;

Bella Lavender Estate, Glossop, SA: https://bellalavender.com.au/ . Photo below;BlogLavender2014-10-26 12.07.11Merribee, Numbaa, NSW: http://www.merribee.com.au/;

Lavender Farm, ‘Pottique’, Kingaroy, Qld: https://lavenderfarm.net.au/;

Nannup Lavender Farm, WA: https://nannuplavenderfarm.com/;

Lavender Valley Farm, Yetna, WA: http://lavendervalleyfarm.com.au,

and in the three photos below: Balingup Lavender Farm, WA: http://www.lavenderbalingup.com.au/;

BlogLavender25%IMG_3700BlogLavender25%IMG_3705BlogLavender25%IMG_3697And obviously, our garden here in Candelo, once I have decided on which varieties to grow and we have established our new plantings on the bank!BlogLavender2517-12-09 08.59.12 There are three terraces, so I will probably grow Bearded Iris at the top and bottom, with  taller lavenders in the middle terrace; shorter pinks, whites and purple lavenders on the top terrace; and medium lavenders in the bottom terrace. Ross has started to clear two paths between the terraces.BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.22.59 Placement is dictated by the frosty areas on the right looking up at the house from the garden, so English lavenders and Lavandins will be in these areas, while the Stoechas group will be further to the left, where there is more shelter and protection from the frost. Here is a view from the top lawn, showing the area damaged by frost.BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.23.17 I will finish with a sea of lavender from our visit to Lavandula, Hepburn Springs.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 151Next week, I will be introducing you to Bithry Inlet, one of our favourite spots to visit in Summer!