Inspirational and Dreamy Garden Books: Part One: Inspiring Books and Garden Travel Books

As the growing season slows down and we head towards the cooler weather, it is lovely to know that we have some beautiful, dreamy and inspirational books to browse by the fire in Winter! As editor, Ferris Cook, writes on page 12 in the foreword to his book, ‘Invitation to the Garden’, the first book featured below : ‘ Like so many other gardeners separated from their gardens by darkness, miles or inclement weather, I love to read about other gardens when I can’t be in mine’. I have divided these books into four sections :

  • Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general
  • General garden travel books
  • Books about specific gardens
  • Books about specific plants

And once again, this post is too long – too many wonderful books and too much to say about them! – so I have divided it into three posts : Part One on beautiful garden publications and general garden travel books (today); Part Two on specific overseas gardens (May); and Part Three on books about Australian gardens and specific plants (June).

Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general

Invitation to the Garden: A Celebration in Literature and Photography, edited by Ferris Cook 1992

The perfect title to start a post on garden books and it certainly lives up to the claim of its subtitle, as well as its reputation! Indeed, it was the winner of the 1992 Award for Excellence in Garden Communication from the Garden Writers’ Association of America. Divided into seasons, it is a wonderful read, which can be dipped into at random, always finding an interesting snippet or pertinent quote, poem or prose and always accompanied by the most beautiful sumptuous photos by specialist garden photographers: Ping Amranand; Ken Druse; Richard Felber; Mick Hales; Harry Haralambou; Peter C. Jones; Peter Margonelli; Hugh Palmer; and Curtice Taylor.

A good example is the very first entry in Spring, ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols, in which she describes that familiar daily habit of all gardeners, ‘Making the Tour’, involving a detailed examination of every square inch of the garden and noting all new discoveries and happenings! In reality, I probably do this at least three or four times a day!!!

There are poems by Homer and Shakespeare; John Donne and Robert Herrick; the three Williams (excluding Shakespeare, as he was so much earlier!) : William Cowper, William Blake and William Wordsworth; Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson; two Roberts :  Robert Bridges and Robert Frost; A A Milne and Virginia Woolf; Rainer Maria Rilke and William Carlos Williams (that’s two more Williams in one!!); Pablo Neruda; W H Auden; Sylvia Plath; and e e cummings; and that’s only a fraction of them!

There are also excerpts by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Old Manse); Ivan Turgenev (The Rose); Lewis Carroll (The Garden of Live Flowers); William Morris (Collected Letters: Kelmscott); Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden); Edith Wharton (Italian Garden Magic); E A Bowles (The Passing of Summer); H G Wells (The Flowering of the Strange Orchid); Colette (The Ways of Wisteria; and Hellebores); John Steinbeck (The Chrysanthemums); and Laurie Lee (Segovia-Madrid), again only a small selection of the entries! Hopefully, the titles are enough to entice you to search out this book!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (430)

The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Gardeners, edited by Deborah Kellaway 1997

An equally delightful coffee-table book to be enjoyed at leisure! Illustrated with beautiful artwork and superb photographs throughout, this anthology of musings by women garden writers is divided (for easy reference) into chapters, titled : Weeders and Diggers; Advisers and Designers; Plantswomen; Colourists; Countrywomen; Townswomen; Visitors and Travellers; Kitchen Gardeners; Flower Arrangers and Visionaries. Its writers represent a ‘Who’s Who’ of the gardening world with names like Gertrude Jekyll;  Alicia Amherst, Elizabeth von Arnim, Norah Lindsay, Beatrix Farrand, Constance Spry, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, Edna Walling, Beth Chatto, Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Nancy Steen, Mary Keen, Valerie Finnis, Ursula Buchan, Joy Larkcom, Jane Taylor and Mirabel Osler, but there are so many other authors!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (432)Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse and Ellen Hoverkamp  2012

I loved both the first two books equally well, but I ADORED this book! This would have to be the mosr beautiful book I have ever seen ! Every page is such a visual treat and showcases all the incredible treasures our Earth holds and their infinite diversity of colour, form, texture and function! Absolutely stunning photography, both of beautiful gardens and separate plant combinations, presented dramatically against a black background in the style of a combination of 1920s and 1930s American photographer, Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) (https://www.imogencunningham.com/plants/) and English botanical collage artist, Mrs. Mary Delany, whose beautiful paper collages can be seen at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=Mary+Delany. While I knew the work of Mary Delany, which inspired my floral collage cards (see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/08/ambassadors-of-spring/), I did not know of Imogen Cunningham, but have fallen in love with all her work, from plant studies and still lifes to portraits and romantic family shots; the beauty of the human body (nudes; dancers) and her street scenes and landscapes. I particularly loved her photographs of the stunning architectural blooms of the Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Blossom 1925 and Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels, 1925), as can be seen in the above link.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (455)

Ellen creates her floral photographs, using a flatbed scanner and produces images of unparalleled depth, colour and beauty. I found it impossible to select a favourite plate to show you, but here are some examples:

There are over 100 species botanical images of plants, which bloom simultaneously and compliment each other perfectly. They are organized by theme: seasons; plant families; form and function; colour; place (eg woods; open spaces; damp areas; rocky sites) and purpose (eg fragrance; butterflies; edible flowers; secret; literary; boxed; health and beauty; art; and nighttime). It is such a beautiful book and a lovely one to dip into whenever you get a chance! I cannot recommend it highly enough! Appendices include a list of edible flowers and flower meanings.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd60%Image (463)The Language of Flowers: a Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  2011

A totally different book, both to the previous three coffee-table books, this one being a first-time novel, but also refreshingly original in concept and style. Based on the Victorian language of flowers, a compendium of which is included in the back of the book, this novel is written in first person, following the life of Victoria, an ex-foster child and florist and exploring complex themes like maternal love, forgiveness and redemption. Being a flower arranger, I was instantly attracted to this book and once started, I could not put it down! It is so easy to read and so hard to put down!  Plus, I have used the flower dictionary constantly, when making my floral collage cards for friends and family.

BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd40%Image (450) - CopyBlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0499BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0501Seasons at Home: Food, Family, Friends and Style by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2011

Another lovely offering from Holly Kerr Forsyth with her trademark style of seasonal projects and delicious recipes and preserves. I have given friends copies of some of her other books: Country Gardens, Country Hospitality and Seasons in My House and Garden: see http://www.hollyforsyth.com.au/shop/books.html  ;  https://www.bookdepository.com/Seasons-My-House-Garden-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522857825 and https://www.bookdepository.com/Country-Gardens-Country-Hospitality-Visit-Australias-Best-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522864793.

Both are beautiful books, which I would love to own one day, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this smaller book: Seasons at Home! While this book would fit equally well into my cookery book post later in the year, I have included it here because of its gardening and flower arranging content. Her photographs, styling and interiors are so beautiful and inspiring, how could I do otherwise!! Also, this book is a perfect lead-in to the next section with the first book also written by this knowledgeable lady!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (433)

 General Garden Travel Books

Gardens of Eden: Among the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2009

A Christmas present in 2012, when I was studying garden design at Burnley, this beautiful book covers fifty of the world’s most beautiful and famous gardens. Lavishly illustrated with over 500 photos, the gardens are divided into chapters titled : Lessons in Garden History; A Sense of Place; The Designer in the Garden; The Gardens of Politicians, Writers, Artists and Collectors; Clipped Perfection; Grand Passions and Private Pleasures; Water Delights; and Places to Pray or Play In. They span different historical periods, garden styles and cultures from the Paradise Gardens of Ancient Persia to the romantic rose-covered ruins of Ninfa and the Italian Renaissance gardens in Italy; the wildflower meadows of William Robinson’s Gravetye Manor to the Arts and Crafts gardening style of Gertrude Jekyll-Edwin Lutyens (Upton Grey and Hestercombe) in England and Beatrix Farrand’s Dumbarton Oaks in the United States of America; the famous gardens of Sissinghurst Castle (UK), Le Canadel (France) and the island gardens of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and La Mortella (Italy); and  the Buddhist-inspired gardens of China and Japan, not to mention Australian country gardens like Bentley (Tasmania), Jack’s Ridge (Victoria) and Nooroo, Bebeah and the Berman Gardens (NSW). A wonderful book for armchair travel and research for your next garden adventure!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (435)A Photographic Garden History by Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy 1995

For a more in-depth look at garden history, predominantly through photographs! This book is organized into three main sections. The first part covers the European Tradition, starting with Roman peristyle gardens and moving chronologically from Islamic influences to Italian Renaissance gardens; the French Formal movement and the romantic/ potager style in France; the Baroque German and Dutch gardens; and the British medieval gardens to the English Landscape movement; Victorian and Edwardian gardens and natural gardening styles. The second section focuses on Chinese gardens, while the third section explores Japanese gardens. The text is backed up with featured gardens with specific details and notes on their date and features, as well as their place and importance within the particular historical background. Throughout the book are topics of pertinent interest to the time period or garden style, covering a broad range of subjects from garden elements (potagers; parterres and carpet bedding; topiary and mazes; rockeries; water features (lakes; ponds and pools; waterfalls and fountains); the concept of garden rooms and borrowed landscapes; and specific gardens for roses, natives and Autumn foliage colour) to garden structures (garden buildings and furniture; arbours and arches; follies and grottoes; steps and staircases; gates and fences; and even ha-ha walls) and decorative techniques (trompe l’oeil; shellwork; mosaics; sculptures; and pots and urns). I initially borrowed this book from the library, but found it to be so comprehensive and interesting that I just had to order it for my horticultural library!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (436)

The Gardens of Europe, edited by Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor 1990

Edited by garden writing doyens, Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor, this book focuses on 700 European gardens, open to the public, from the Mediterranean gardens of Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal); the cooler, more temperate gardens of Northern Europe (Great Britain and Ireland; Belgium; Holland and Scandinavia); and the gardens of Central Europe (Austria, Switzerland and West Germany) and the Balkans, East Europe and Russia (Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Greece; Hungary; Poland; Romania; European Russia; Turkey and the then, Yugoslavia). Even though this is quite an old book now and the details of opening hours and admission charges might be out-of-date, the basic information about its history, general design and prominent features is still relevant and is a starting point for further up-to-date research. There is a biographical list or principal architects, garden designers and gardeners in the back, as well as a glossary and bibliography of further books (guide books and history) to read.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (437)

Gardens of Persia by Penelope Hobhouse 2006

I have always loved the underlying concepts of the Islamic garden : an enclosed protected paradise with a quadripartite layout (a four-fold pattern called chahar bagh) and watercourses forming the principal and secondary axes, all meeting at a central pool or pavilion and representing the four rivers of life. They are full of colourful flowers and bulbs, shady fruit trees and birdsong; a place for contemplation and spiritual nourishment; and a little oasis in a challenging hot and dry climate, the latter, which I suspect will be increasingly valued in our Western world with the increasing temperatures and prevalence of drought with climate change. In this book, Penelope explores these notions, as well as the elements and history of Islamic garden design; the climate and environment; flowers and trees planted and of course, the spiritual dimension. Throughout the book, she provides many examples of Islamic gardens from Cyrus the Great’s garden at Pasargadae 2,500 years ago, Timur’s gardens at Samarkand (late 1300s); his son Shah Rokh’s gardens at Herat (1400s); and Bagh-e-Fin (1504) and other Safavid gardens to the 18th century gardens of Shiraz, ‘city of roses and nightingagles, cypresses and wine, and poetry and painted miniatures’: Bagh-e-Eram (Garden of Heaven); Bagh-e Golshan (1760s); and Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Prince’s Garden 1880s); the Mostoufi Garden, Tehran, 1930s; the geometric Moorish gardens of Southern Spain like the Generalife and the Mughal gardens of Northern India and Kashmir. All, of course, accompanied by beautiful Islamic architecture! In the back, notes on each garden for travellers, lists of the royal houses of Persia and Persian plants and a glossary of Persian terms. A very interesting and informative book, as well as a feast for the eyes! Readers, who want more information on Islamic Gardens may be interested in these links : http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/24/take-the-ancient-silk-road-to-a-2500-year-old-garden/ and http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/23/berber-home-and-garden-morocco/.

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The Secret Gardens of France by Mirabel Osler 1992

I have already briefly mentioned this book in my post on Favourite Rose Books (see: https://candeloblooms.com/category/rose-books/), as it described one of my favourite bucket-list French rose gardens, La Bonne Maison, as well as the roses of André Eve. However, it discusses 18 other gardens in France from productive potagers to medieval herb gardens; Nicole de Vesian’s architectural topiaried balls of lavender and rosemary in the Luberon to a coastal garden in Brittany; and another bucket-list garden, Le Jardin des Cinq Sens at Chateau d’Yvoire on the shores of Lac Leman. Mirabel has a lovely writing style- very chatty, enthusiastic and inclusive- and all the gardeners featured are very inspiring! While many of the gardens are private and not open to the public, this book is a lovely read with a wealth of ideas and information.

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Kitchen Gardens of France by Louisa Jones 1997

I would love to do a garden tour with Louisa Jones (see: http://www.louisajones.fr/) !!! While she has written many books on the gardens of Provence and the French Riviera, this particular book is about French kitchen gardens. She examines Heritage Gardens (medieval plots; renaissance gardens; potagers and heirloom vegetables ); Grassroots Gardening (from country potagers in the Ardeche to village greens and community gardens; city allotments in Paris and hortillinages (floating islands) in Amiens; and Hmong gardens at Alençon in Normandy); Dream and Utopian Paradises (the jardin de curé style; Rousseau’s orchard-garden; Pigeard’s mystic metalwork; photographer, Denis Brihat’s alchemist workshop in Provence and another bucket-list garden, the organic  garden of Terre Vivante in the Domaine de Raud in the Alps); and Vegetable Graces (gastronomic  creations and designer visions; Gilles Clement’s moving potager; and future fashions). This last chapter has an in-depth look at the Gardens For the Five Senses, mentioned in Mirabel Osler’s book. The text is supported by many showcase gardens and beautiful seductive photographs. It is such a dreamy inspirational book! Details about each garden featured can be found in the back. For more ideas about gardens to visit, it is worth consulting Louisa’s blog (http://www.louisajones.fr/blog/index) and Links pages (http://www.louisajones.fr/links).

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The French Country Garden by Louisa Jones 2000/ 2005

A very recent addition to my library and a wonderful find! Thank you, Denise! I was delighted to add this book to my library, as it discusses many French gardeners and their gardens, whose names I knew, but were not necessarily covered by my other books like Nicole Arboireau on the French Riviera; Doudou Bayol in Provence (what an amazing sense of colour!); Martine and Francois Lemonnier, who have the National Collection Label (CCVS) for Meconopsis and Hellebores, in Normandy; Mme Marie-Joseph Teillard in the foothills of the Pyrenees; Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières at Cordes-sur-Ciel; Eléonore Cruse at La Roseraie de Berty in the Ardèche; as well as old favourites like Alain Richert of the Garden of the Five Senses, Yvoire; Nicole de Vésian in Provence; Gilles Clément of the Centre Terre Vivante at the Domaine de Raud and the different biomes of Le Domaine du Rayol. These gardens and more are discussed in depth in her chapters, each featuring three gardens, and titled : Intimate Country Gardens; A Passion for Plants; Celebration of the Senses; Formal Play; Nature’s Ways; and Planetary Perspectives. The photos again are superb and complement the text perfectly. Another beautiful book to browse…!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (543)Great Gardens of Britain by Helena Attlee 2011

A lovely book about 20 wonderful gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. A difficult task selecting only twenty garden, but those chosen celebrate their diversity in garden styles, plants, settings and history. This is a wonderful guide with beautiful glossy photos and is essential reading for those planning a garden trip to Great Britain. Inspired and informed by this very book, I would love to visit Charles Jenck’s earthworks and waveforms at his Garden of Cosmic Speculation on the one day of the year it is open !; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s concrete poetry at Little Sparta; the famous topiary at Levens Hall; Scampton’s perennial naturalistic meadow, designed by Piet Oudolf; the rhododendrons and five terraces of Bodnant, North Wales, including its famous Laburnum Arch; the lakes and classical temples of Stourhead; Lawrence Johnston’s garden rooms at Hidcote Manor; Christopher Lloyd’s herbaceous borders of Great Dixter; the restored gardens of the East Ruston Old Vicarage and Beth Chatto’s gravel gardens; the holy grail of old rose gardens, Sissinghurst Castle, made famous by Vita Sackville-West, with its garden rooms and  white garden; the extensive plant collections, trial gardens and scientific research laboratories of Wisley, the home and flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society; the futuristic environmentally-controlled geodesic domes of the Eden Project, the brain child of Tim Smit;  and the unlikely Mediterranean-style gardens of Tresco Abbey in the warmer climes of the remote Scilly Isles in the English Channel. Addresses and websites for all the gardens are listed in the back. We have already visited Kew Gardens twice, but it is such a wonderful garden, that I would always include it whenever I visit England and I would really like to see the Marianne North Gallery, which is devoted solely to the wonderful paintings of this amazing Victorian botanical artist and explorer. See: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/explore/attractions/marianne-north-gallery and http://www.kew.org/mng/marianne-north.html, specifically: http://www.kew.org/mng/gallery/index.html.

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For those of us who may not travel overseas again, this form of armchair travel is a wonderful alternative! This book explored many gardens, not covered in the other books. Another book that I would love to find is Around the World in 80 Gardens by Monty Don, see : https://www.bookdepository.com/Around-World-80-Gardens-Monty-Don/9780297844501, as I really enjoy his films, but fortunately the film version of his book can be seen on YouTube. For Episode 1, see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uityVe6OkCk. For a guide to the episodes, see : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008x9bh/episodes/guide.

A Garden Weekend in the Southern Highlands: Part 3

And now, for our final two gardens, both relatively young and both collectors’ gardens: Perennial Hill and Chinoiserie!

Perennial Hill

1 Nero St. Mittagong  Ph 0409244200 or 0413004740   1 acre

September to March: September Open Daily 10am – 4pm; October to November Open weekends; December Open the first two weekends; then finally, an Autumn Festival in April.

$8 Adults; $7 Seniors; Under 16 years old: Free.

http://perennialhill.com.au/

Established on the sunny side of Mt. Gibraltar in 2001 by Craig and Julie Hulbert, Perennial Hill has been described as ‘a jewel in the making’ and also contains many rare botanical treasures.blogchinois20reszdimg_1478 Craig has had his own landscaping business for many years, while Julie has extensive horticultural experience, having worked in a number of nurseries.blogchinois20reszdimg_1496 Her passion is perennials, while Craig’s love is rockery plants and conifers and together, they have been able to indulge those interests in a series of rooms with different themes and styles.blogchinois20reszdimg_1504blogchinois20reszdimg_1510 Even though it is only 1 acre and still a relatively new garden, it feels much larger and older. It is amazing that when they first built their house, it was a completely bare paddock with a few eucalypts on the lower bottom corner and a small grouping at the top of the block.blogchinois20reszdimg_1473 The garden is situated on a steep exposed slope and has good volcanic soil and good drainage. From the road and entry, only the conifer area and rockery garden is visible, but there is so much more, hidden behind high Leyland Cypress hedges.blogchinois20reszdimg_1492blogchinois20reszdimg_1482blogchinois20reszdimg_1593blogchinois20reszdimg_1488 On one side of the house is a walled garden and rose avenue and on the other side, a potting shed and propagating area.blogchinois20reszdimg_1502blogchinois20reszdimg_1507blogchinois20reszdimg_1509 The area behind the house is more level and is cooler, wetter and shadier than the front, allowing a totally different set of plants to flourish.blogchinois20reszdimg_1547 blogchinois20reszdimg_1508blogchinois20reszdimg_1548There is a French parterre, topiared shapes and poplar hurdles and dry stone walls, blogchinois20reszdimg_1551blogchinois20reszdimg_1565blogchinois20reszdimg_1554blogchinois20reszdimg_1513 as well as a sunken garden with a dwarf Mondo grass floor, and double mixed perennial and shrub borders.blogchinois20reszdimg_1540blogchinois20reszdimg_1558blogchinois20reszdimg_1522blogchinois20reszdimg_1518blogchinois20reszdimg_1550 Perennials include: Pulmonarias; Campanulas; Salvias; Geums; Penstemons; Filipendulas; Monardas; Lysimachias; Francas; Helianthus and Rudbeckias.blogchinois20reszdimg_1476blogchinois20reszdimg_1575blogchinois20reszdimg_1474blogchinois20reszdimg_1592blogchinois20reszdimg_1481 Other plants include: Ranunculus; Leucadendrons; and Echiums with Digitalis.blogchinois20reszdimg_1573blogchinois20reszdimg_1581blogchinois20reszdimg_1536 I loved all the different combinations with a strong emphasis on colour and texture, as well as light and shade.blogchinois20reszdimg_1516blogchinois20reszdimg_1559 I also like all the garden accessories from birdcages to pots and statues.blogchinois20reszdimg_1512blogchinois20reszdimg_1572blogchinois20reszdimg_1529Craig and Julie have a large collection of Sambucus and Cornus, including the rare Cornus alternifolia argentea. They also have some very rare trees including: Dacrydium cupressinum (New Zealand Rimu) , Cunninghamiana lanceolata (China Fir); Cedrus atlantica glauca pendula (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar); Abies lasiocarpa compacta (Dwarf Arizona Fir); Cedrela sinensis (Chinese Cedar); Pseudolarix amabilis (Japanese Larch) and Fagas sylvatica pendula (Weeping Beech).blogchinois20reszdimg_1569blogchinois20reszdimg_1582blogchinois20reszdimg_1586blogchinois20reszdimg_1577Julie runs a number of propagating workshops, as well as workshops with titles like:  Gardening in a Cool Climate; Creating a Summer Border; and An Introduction to Perennials, which covers the main family groups; use of perennials in the garden; soil preparation prior to planting; ongoing maintenance and pests and diseases. They have a market stall, as well as selling plants and gift ware in their garden shop in the house. They are also opened the garden for the inaugural Rare Plants Market Day on the last weekend of November. I look forward to seeing the development of this garden over the next few years. Julie and Craig are a lovely couple and very generous with their knowledge and time. They are constantly looking at new ideas to incorporate in their garden. Their new herbaceous perennial garden was inspired by Alan Bloom’s garden at Bressington, Norfolk, one of the 42 gardens they visited during a recent 5 week trip overseas.blogchinois20reszdimg_1499 If you would like to see more photos, Australian Country Magazine wrote an article on this beautiful garden in their November issue.

Chinoiserie

23 Webb St Mittagong   1.25 acres

Ph (02) 4872 3003; 0412 507547; 0411 783883

Late September to the end of November 10 am to 4.30 pm   $7 per adult

http://www.chinoiserie.com.au/

Not far away from Perennial Hill is another plant collector’s garden, established by Chris Styles and Dominic Wong in 1999 and specializing in peonies! They grow over 100 varieties of peonies from Chinese and Japanese Tree Peonies, which flower from mid-September to mid-October; European and American Tree Peonies, which bloom from mid-October to early November and Herbaceous Peonies, which finish the peony season from early to late November. The peony nursery is close to the house, the umbrellas shading the blooms from the intense sun. This pink peony is Hanabi from Japan.blogchinois20reszdimg_0319blogchinois20reszdimg_1453We visited this lovely garden last Autumn, but while we were in the area this weekend, we popped in for a quick sniff of the peonies, which were in full Spring bloom. Not all peonies are scented, so I was keen to smell them before making any decisions on peony selection, as tree peonies are quite expensive. They certainly have an unusual scent and I was really pleased that I made the effort to check and could now open the whole ballpark as far as peony choice was concerned. I loved the white ones and coral ones, but the deep reds were also very attractive! The first photo below is the Japanese Mekoho, while the second photo is Pink Hawaiian Coral.blogchinois20reszdimg_1456blogchinois20reszdimg_1459Peonies are the National flower of China and part of Dominic’s heritage, as his mother was Chinese. Apparently, during the early Chinese Dynasties, only the Emperor could grow peonies, so during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse Tung ordered the destruction of all peonies, because of their association with the royal family. Fortunately, they were also grown in monastery gardens and monks were able to preserve them, because their roots were used as medicine to purify the blood and treat female problems. The first photo below is Kronos from America. I’m not sure of the identity of the second peony.blogchinois20reszdimg_1463blogchinois20reszdimg_1461Dominic honed his horticultural skills on a 500 square metre block (plus the adjoining nature strip!) in Sydney, growing drought-tolerant plants around his Californian bungalow, but was keen for a larger garden and in 1999, bought a vacant block with Chris on sloping land with a creek at the bottom. They built a classic storybook cottage, which they run as a Bed-and-Breakfast with two guestrooms and a choice of an English or Chinese Yum-Cha breakfast. They designed the garden to be seen from the dining room windows, as the Winters are so cold. Here is their map of the overall design:blogsth-highlds30reszdimage-194I loved the long formal herbaceous perennial borders, which provide a constant colour from Spring to late Autumn and display great variation in colour, texture and leaf shape.blogchinois20reszdimg_0354blogchinois20reszdimg_0357blogchinois20reszdimg_0329 Perennials include: Penstemons, Salvias, Centauras, Euphorbias, Alstroemerias, Phlomis, Oriental Iris, Verbascums, Cannas, Verbenas, Stachys, Scented Geraniums, Abutilon and Tree Lupins.blogchinois20reszdimg_0351blogchinois20reszdimg_0356blogchinois20reszdimg_0327blogchinois20reszdimg_0334 There are also larger perennials like Melianthus, Romneya, Tree Dahlias, Stipa gigantea and Foxtail Lilies.blogchinois20reszdimg_0347blogchinois20reszdimg_0332 There is also a potager, hedged with Hidcote lavenders, and full of vegetables and herbs; a chook boudoir; formal lawns, a parterre garden, a Chinese garden; a circular rose garden;blogchinois20reszdimg_0362blogchinois20reszdimg_0358blogchinois20reszdimg_0363blogchinois20reszdimg_0359 an angel garden; an alpine garden with Lewisias, Pasque flowers and small alpine plants; a pond and stream garden, which is actually two ponds with a stream in between, growing Astilbes and Hostas, with a Chinese Peony pavilion beside the pond;blogchinois20reszdimg_0340blogchinois20reszdimg_0337blogchinois20reszdimg_0339 and a developing woodland with trees like Tulip Tree, a Weeping Willow, a Trident Maple, Gingko, Pear, Birch, Beech, Sopora, Cherry, Judas Tree and Chinese Elm, all under-planted with rhododendrons, azaleas and bluebells.blogchinois20reszdimg_0323 I love the little extra garden furnishings:blogchinois20reszdimg_0335blogchinois20reszdimg_0326There are also a number of lovely roses: Mme Grégoire Staechlin over the arbour; Crépuscule with an orange Abutilon neighbour; Lorraine Lea and Duchesse de Brabant on an arch over the path; as well as Abraham Darby , Complicata; Sparrieshoop and Rugspin. Dominic and Chris sell a number of perennials, as well as their main focus: herbaceous and tree peonies.blogchinois20reszdimg_0342blogchinois20reszdimg_0322

Other Places to Visit in the Southern Highlands:

Lydie du Bray Antiques

117 Old Hume Highway Braemar, near Mittagong.  Ph: (02) 4872 2844

http://lydiedubrayantiques.com.au/

A wonderful selection of imported French antiques and decorative items, housed in the house, outbuildings and garden of Kamilaroi, a turn-of-the-century homestead.blogchinois20reszdimg_1287 We particularly loved all the garden furniture and accoutrements including: garden gates, arbours and gazebos; tables, chairs and benches; statues and fountains; bird baths and bird cages; jardinières, urns and a variety of pots of different types and sizes.blogglenmore20reszdimg_1292Dirty Jane’s

13 – 15 Banquette St Bowral   Phone : (02) 4861 3231

http://dirtyjanes.com/

A wonderful vintage mecca with over 75 individual dealers in three warehouse spaces. We finally found our four beautiful full-length lounge room curtains in the far corner of one of the sheds and after slight modification from a triple to a double pleat, they fit the windows perfectly and already being fully lined, saved us a mountain of work and expense! The fabric alone (at least 5 metres per curtain), a vintage Sanderson fabric called Salad Days, would cost a mint and is a perfect backdrop for our old cream and silver American Embassy lounge suites, which we found in our local antique shop. The curtains, which ironically were imported from America three weeks beforehand, look so sumptuous in the room and it feels like they have been there forever, even though we still pinch ourselves that we have been so lucky!blogchinois20reszd2016-12-05-18-40-06Country Accents

http://www.countryaccentfloralboutique.com/pages/about-us

Home of incredibly life-like artificial flowers, as well as products by Crabtree and Evelyn and Occitaine; candles and soaps; earthenware jugs and glassware.blogchinois20reszdimg_1604blogchinois20reszdimg_1606Victoria House Needlecraft

Corner Old Hume Highway and Helena St Mittagong Ph  (02) 4871 1682

Open 7 days a week 9am to 5pm and online

http://www.victoriahouseneedlecraft.com.au/

A veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in textile crafts with separate rooms devoted to cross-stitch and tapestry; embroidery threads (photo below); knitting wool and needles; beads; and books and patterns.

Loom Fabrics

370 Bong Bong St Bowral Ph 0439 025853

Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm; Saturday 10 am to 4 pm

http://www.loomfabrics.com.au/

Beautiful selection of fabrics for dressmaking. I am looking forward to sewing a dress from this beautiful blue and white fabric! The book titled ‘Art and the Gardener‘ is for Christmas, while the book about Glenmore was a birthday present for Ross.blogchinois20reszdimg_1681

Mt Murray Nursery

Lot 1 Old Dairy Close (off Berrima Road) Moss Vale  NSW  2577    Ph ( 02) 48694111

Open 7 days a week 9 am to 5 pm.

http://www.mtmurraynursery.com/

Stocks a wonderful range of cool climate plants including maples, conifers  and native trees; shrubs like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias; roses and clematis; hedging plants; fruiting plants; vegetables and herbs; annuals and perennials and pots and ornaments. These are the garden spoils, collected on our trip from the various gardens and nurseries.blogchinois20reszdimg_1682Manning Lookout

We drove home via Fitzroy Falls and Kangaroo Valley. It is well worth taking a short detour up a rough gravel road (Manning Lookout Rd) to a spectacular cliff line and views over Kangaroo Valley.blogchinois20reszdimg_1634blogchinois20reszdimg_1631blogchinois20reszdimg_1629We had a wonderful weekend away in the Southern Highlands and could easily repeat the experience every Spring, revisiting these and other gardens including Retford Park, Milton Park and Camden House! For more on the wonderful open gardens in this area in Spring, as well as opening dates, please see:

http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/

http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/events/whats-on/2016-spring-open-gardens

and

http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/uploads/624/open-garden-booklet-2016-spring.pdf.

For more information about the history of these gardens, it is also worth reading:

Gardens of the Southern Highlands New South Wales 1828 – 1988: A Fine Extensive Pleasure Ground by Jane Cavanough, Anthea Prell and Tim North.

This is the last of my general garden posts for the year. Next year, I will be focusing more on rose gardens. It is also the second last post for 2016! I will be posting the December Garden on Boxing Day. I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing Christmas and a well-earned break for the year! Much Love and Best Wishes to you all,  Jane and Ross xxx