Alister Clark was one of Australia’s most famous and prolific rose breeders, producing many very well-known and popular roses, well-suited to Australia’s hot dry climate, so I am devoting three posts to him this week: his life (today), Alister Clark Memorial Garden at Bulla (Wednesday), and a few notes about the specific roses he bred (Thursday). Below is a photograph of one of his most famous and popular roses, Lorraine Lee 1924.Alister Clark was born in 1864 to Walter and Annie Clark of Glenara, Bulla. Walter Clark (1803-1873) was a Scottish immigrant from Argyllshire, who arrived in Australia in 1838, started in the Riverine area of NSW, where he made money out of stock during the gold rush, overlanded stock to Melbourne and then in 1857, he bought 485 acres at Deep Creek, Bulla, where he built a large single storey Italianate house of brick and rendered stone (granite and bluestone), with a hipped slate roof and encircling verandah with open work timber posts and lintels, on an elevated site above Deep Creek Gorge, which he called ‘Glenara’. See the bottom of this post for more about ‘Glenara’.
The Melbourne architects, Albert Purchas and Charles Swyer, also designed the garden around the house, including a terrace with stone steps, urns and a sundial to the west and an extensive network of paths cut into the rocky outcrops to the south. In 1872, Walter built a rustic wooden bridge across the creek to a romantic stone folly, a bluestone lookout tower, on the opposite hill. He also established a vineyard, being one of the first landowners to grow grapes in the Sunbury region and gradually expanded the property to 4079 acres by his death in 1873 . He was President of the Shire of Bulla, now part of the City of Hume, from 1866 to 1871. Below is Nancy Hayward 1937, an equally famous Alister Clark rose, which is never out of flower.Alister’s mother, Annie, died when Alister was 1 year old and his father 8 years later, so Alister and his older siblings, brother Walter and 3 sisters, Annie, Jessie and Aggie, were raised by relatives. Alister was educated in Hobart, at Sydney Grammar School (1877-1878) and at the Loretto School in Scotland. He studied Law at Cambridge University (1883-1885), but never practiced, though he was a Justice of Peace. On the boat home to Australia after his graduation, he met Edith (Edie) Rhodes, daughter of wealthy New Zealander, Robert Heaton Rhodes, and married her in Christchurch, New Zealand, on the 7 July 1888. Alister bought the Glenara homestead block (830 acres) from his father’s estate in 1892 and by his death, the property was 1035 acres.
Alsiter and Edie never had any children and lived most of their life at Glenara, where Alister bred roses, daffodils and nerines and pursued his other passions like playing polo, billiards and golf, being a founding member of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. He frequently visited his good friend, Albert Nash, to play golf on his private golf course in Cranbourne. He added a billiard room to the eastern end of the homestead in 1895. Alister also loved his horses, keeping steeplechasers, draughthorses and ponies at Glenara. He was Master of the local Oaklands Hunt Club and Founding Chairman of the Moonee Pond Racing Club in 1917. The Alister Clark Stakes, named in his honour, are still run at the Autumn race meet at Moonee Ponds every year. Like his father, he was President of the Shire of Bulla in 1896, 1902 and 1908. The rose below is Squatter’s Dream 1923 , named after a racehorse.Alister was involved in the breeding of a number of new species of daffodils, his best known being Mabel Taylor, which is still grown and used in breeding today and which Alister believed was the first pink daffodil in Australia. In 1948, he was awarded the Peter Burr Memorial Cup from the Royal Horticultural Society in England, but it was roses for which he became famous!Alister Clark was one of Australia’s most famous and prolific rose breeders. He bred over 122 (some sources say 138) varieties from 1912 to 1949, using a huge species rose from Burma and the Himalayas, Rosa gigantea (photos above), to create roses specifically suited to Australia’s hot dry climate, one of the first rose breeders to do so on both counts (ie the use of R. gigantea in breeding, as it does not thrive in the cooler climates of Europe, where many of the rose breeders hailed from at that time; and the breeding of roses ideally suited for Australian conditions). They were the most widely planted roses in Australia in the period between the two world wars. See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Alister_Clark_roses for a list of Alister Clark roses. Another useful site with photographs is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alister_Clark_Memorial_Rose_Garden.
He bred his roses with a number of specific aims in mind…
Firstly, he wanted to produce the first rose to flower all year round. His first generation crosses of R. gigantea were Spring blooming only eg Jessie Clark; Courier; Golden Vision and Tonner’s Fancy; However, he achieved his aim with second- generation crosses, Lorraine Lee and Nancy Hayward, both bred from Jessie Clark. A bunch of Lorraine Lee (photo below) was shown at every meeting of the National Rose Society for 20 consecutive months.
He also aimed for roses, which performed well in ordinary gardens, rather than show roses, so his roses were very popular with the general public in Australia. An Argus poll in 1937 of 230 varieties of garden roses and 99 different climbing rose types resulted in Lorraine Lee being voted the most popular garden rose, while another of his roses, BlackBoy, polled as the most popular climbing rose. While Lorraine Lee, Black Boy and NancyHayward (photo below at Werribee Park) are considered to be some of his most successful roses, Alister believed that Sunny South and Gwen Nash were some of his best roses.
He wanted to breed tough roses, which did not require pampering or coddling and he did not believe in using chemical sprays and fertilisers, preferring to encourage birds for aphid control. Our little Eastern Spinebill is an excellent rose guardian!Alister named his roses after horses, people and places. His first rose, Hybrid Tea, Lady Medallist 1912, was named after a successful racehorse, as was Squatter’s Dream 1923, Tonner’s Fancy 1928, Flying Colours 1922 and Courier 1930, while many of his roses bred the name of family friends, especially women, like climbing rose Gwen Nash 1920 and bush roses Peggy Bell 1929; Mary Guthrie 1929; Marjorie Palmer 1929; Countess of Stradbroke 1928 (the wife of the 3rd Earl of Stradbroke, who was the Governor of Victoria from 1920 to 1926) and Cicely Lascelles 1937 (photo below). He named Amy Johnson 1931 after the famous English pilot, who was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, to commemorate her landing and Edith Clark 1928 after his wife, who was also the Patroness of the Victorian Rose Society.
I will be writing about specific Alister Clark Roses on Thursday, but for more on the naming of his roses, read: ‘The Women Behind the Roses: An Introduction to Alister Clark’s Rose-Namesakes 1915 – 1952’ , written in 2010by Andrew and Tilly Govanstone. It is also well worth reading ‘Man of Roses: Alister Clark of Glenara and His Family’ 1990 by Tommy R. Garnett and Susan Irvine’s Rose Gardens: Garden of a Thousand Roses with A Hillside of Roses by Susan Irvine 1992 for more information on this amazing rosarian, as well as an illustrated list of his roses.Being a gentleman of private means with a philanthropic nature, Alister never bred or grew roses commercially, preferring to donate them to rose societies and charities for their fundraising efforts, as well as giving them as gifts to the people, after whom he had named his varieties. For example, Jessie Clark (photo below) was donated to the National Rose Society of Victoria to contribute to prize money at rose shows.Alister Clark was the founding President of the National Rose Society of Victoria in 1889. He was highly regarded in the USA and was awarded a Honorary Life Membership of the American Rose Society in 1931 and elected as Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society of London from 1944 – 1948. In 1936, he was awarded the Dean Hole Medal from the National Rose Society in London, the highest honour in the rose world. Here is a photo of gold rose: Baxter Beauty 1924, not strictly bred by Alister Clark, but a sport of Lorraine Lee :Alister died in 1949 and after his death, interest in his roses waned with the renewed availability and popularity of roses from Europe and America after the end of the Second World War. Also, they are large roses for large gardens and most bloom only in the Spring, so are unsuitable for gardens with limited space. While Black Boy, Nancy Hayward and Lorraine Lee remained constantly in nurserymans’ catalogues, many Alister Clark roses were lost during this period.
Interest in Alister Clark roses was revived in the 1980s, especially through the efforts of nurseryman, John Nieuwesteeg, and roselover, Susan Irvine, who grew many of them at her various gardens at Bleak House and Erinvale, Victoria and Forest Hall, Tasmania, about which she has written, the former two gardens faeatured in her book photographed below. It is also worth reading the interview with John Nieuwesteeg: http://gpcaa.typepad.com/settings/2011/02/alister-clark-roses.html for more information about the search for Alister Clark roses and the establishment of the GPCAA’s Alister Clark Collection.
Alister Clark roses are now grown in the Rex Hazlewood Rose Garden at the Old Government House in Canberra (26 Alister Clark roses); at the Alister Clark Memorial Rose Garden in the St. Kilda Botanic Gardens on Blessington St, St. Kilda (5 unlabelled Clark roses including Black Boy and Lorraine Lee. See: http://www.melbourneplaces.com/melbourne/alister-clark-rose-garden-%E2%80%93-botanical-gardens-st-kilda/) ; the Alister Clark Memorial Garden at Moonee Valley Racecourse; the John Nieuwesteeg Heritage Rose Garden at Maddingley Park, Bacchus Marsh; and the Alister Clark Memorial Rose Garden at Bulla. Ruston’s National Rose Collection contains nearly all Alister Clark’s climbers, while State Rose Garden of Victoria at Werribee Park has a large collection of Alister Clark roses, especially the Gigantea climbers. The Geelong Botanic Garden grows Borderer; Lady Huntingfield; Mrs Fred Danks; Squatter’s Dream and Mrs Maud Alston, and the rose maze at Kodja Place, Kojonup, Western Australia has a hedge of Australian bred roses, including 32 Alister Clark roses.
Private gardens featuring Alister Clark roses include Richmond Hill and Forest Hall, Tasmania; and Carrick Hill, South Australia. They are also grown in some of the world’s greatest rose gardens like Bagatelle in Paris and Sangerhausen in Germany. Here is another photo of Nancy Hayward 1937 at Werribee Park.
And finally, a few notes about Alister’s family home, ‘Glenara’.
10 Glenara Drive, Bulla, Hume City
Once the mecca of rose lovers all over Australia and home to famous rose breeder, Alister Clark, the 25 acre garden was started by his father Walter and ran right down to Deep Creek. The garden was designed by Charles Swyer and included fruit trees and a specialised collection of conifers and unusual Australian natives. The property was painted by Eugene von Guerhard in 1867, the painting now held in the National Gallery of Victoria.
When Alister owned Glenara, the garden was an informal garden, with drifts of daffodils carpeting the hillside opposite the house and roses planted informally through the garden. He employed up to 8 gardeners. After Alister’s death, it fell into disrepair with blackberry, smilax, kangaroos, possums and rabbits overtaking the garden.
The verandah is festooned with blue wisteria and the yellow Banksia rose R. banksiae lutea, with China rose, Cramoisi Superieur, in the front bed. At the start of her quest, Susan Irvine visited owner Ruth Rendle at Glenara, where she was entranced with the wild and woolly garden, overgrown with periwinkle, smilax, agapanthus, long grass, wild daffodils and sweet peas and huge mounds of surviving roses including Jessie Clark; Milkmaid; Traverser; and Tonner’s Fancy. She took cuttings from 64 different bushes, but unfortunately, there were no labels, garden plans or records. A good proportion of them struck, though many of the climbers did not, those bred from R. gigantea stock being notoriously difficult propagate. Tonner’s Fancy 1928, photographed below, still flourishes at Glenara.
Tomorrow, I will be writing about the Alister Clark Memorial Rose Garden at Bulla, one of my favourite rose gardens in Victoria!
Blue Sky Tag is a fun event for June, the height of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, with plenty of blue sky days! Mind you, here in our milder Candelo Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, we are still being graced with beautiful blue skies, albeit a little cooler! So I guess I still fit the bill!I was nominated by Sophie, who writes a lovely blog: https://oldhouseintheshires.com/ , and shares many of my interests in gardening, vegetable patches and wildlife; children and education; interior decoration and antiques; upcycling; reading and writing; and travelling! I have been particularly enjoying her series: #MyGloriousGardens, where she describes some wonderful gardens with great photos as well! For a sample, see: https://oldhouseintheshires.com/2017/06/07/my-glorious-gardens-series-lacock-abbey-gardens-in-june/. So, thank you very much for your nomination, Sophie, and now, I will try to answer all your questions!! The photo below is of Blue Skies at Potato Point, 1.5 hours north of us, taken at the beginning of Winter, while the following one is of a pair of Wedge-Tailed Eagles, soaring in the blue blue skies above Bunga Head, 45 minutes away!Rules:
1.Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Answer their 11 questions.
3. Formulate 11 questions for your nominees.
4. Tag 11 bloggers and let them know.My Answers to Sophie’s Questions
Why did you start blogging?
I started my blog to document the development of our new garden, as well as share some of the magical gardens we have visited over the years and the incredible beauty of our new area. Since then, it has extended to include my twin passions of Old Roses and books!
What is your least favourite part about blogging?
Keeping up with the technical computer aspects, like when WordPress occasionally makes changes and I have to figure out a new way of doing the things I want to do!!!
How long do you spend blogging each day?
It varies, according to the day of the week and particular post! I like to keep well ahead with my drafts, so there is no last minute panic, which requires a fair degree of organisation and planning ahead! Usually, on a Tuesday, I will recheck the drafts for editing errors before I post, so probably about half an hour maximum. Also commenting on other blogger’s posts and replying to comments might take another half hour. While the writing may take an hour or two and choosing, reducing the size and inserting the photos may take another hour, it is the initial research that takes the longest and this can take a whole day! I love the researching aspect and easily lose track of time when discovering a new subject area! I try to reserve Thursday for producing new posts, but occasionally may use part of Wednesday as well.
Do you have another job? What is it?
I volunteer at a charity organization, which recycles clothing, bric-a-brac, books, media and furniture, then resells them, so lots of variety in the job. Tasks vary from sorting, pricing, displaying, retail selling, and general cleaning.
How many pets do you have?
Our beautiful old dog, Scamp, died 2 years ago and while we will probably get another one at some stage, we are thoroughly enjoying the freedom of being able to visit our beautiful National Parks and take holidays without having to worry about kennels! We also love all the birds and insects, which visit our garden!
Do you speak any other languages and what are they?
I learnt French back at school and while there are limited opportunities to practise it here, it has been very useful on our two visits to France, as well as for translating French texts! It is a beautiful, romantic and lyrical language!
Which book are you reading right now?
I am really enjoying a library book: The Museum of Extraordinary Thingsby Alice Hoffman, a love story between two characters from very different backgrounds during the first decades of the 20th Century and set in New York. It is so good at conveying the magic and sense of wonder and curiosity of the time, as well as keeping you reading to the very end to discover the mystery of the main character’s upbringings.
Which moment in history do you wish you could witness (and be safe!)?
I have always been fascinated by the time period from 1880 to 1910, when there was so much potential and so many things happening! I adore the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau and also love the beautiful feminine wardrobe of the time, though I probably wouldn’t have liked the corsets!
Cake or Wine?
Definitely cake, which is not so good for my waistline nor weight, so I don’t have either cake or wine much these days! Unfortunately, wine gives me headaches now – I think it’s the preservatives! And I’m an incorrigible sweet tooth, so I always loved the tokays and sweet dessert wines the best, which isn’t good for my health either! So really, I should say neither!!!
If you could find out one secret or unknown from history or now, what would it be?
As an armchair amateur archaeologist, I would love to know the whole picture about the origin of modern humans. Archaeology is like a jigsaw with missing pieces and consequently, knowledge is always changing as each new piece is found!
Which is your favourite plant or flower and why?
Definitely Old Roses, because of their scents, generous blowsy forms, their subtle colours and their romance and history!
My Questions for My Nominees:
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
What other hobbies and pastimes do you enjoy?
Given your time over, without any restrictions, what would be your ideal job? Why?
Which new country would you like to visit?
What is your favourite quotation?
If you were an animal, what would you like to be and why?
What is your favourite time of year and why?
What is your favourite film?
What are the 3 most important character attributes to you?
My lovely daughter, Jenny Stephens, nominated me for this great award back in late January! Because we were away for most of the month, I have only just caught up with all my ‘to-do’ list, so given that Jen nominated me, I have decided to post my reply in the week of her birthday! Jen and I started our blogs at the very same time, only her posts are about travel. It’s a wonderful blog! She writes so well and her photos are superb! Reading her blog makes you feel like you are there! It has been a wonderful way to share her adventures, including all her thrills, which is at times, quite hair-raising for a parent !!! You can follow her travels at : https://exploreadventurediscover.wordpress.com.
Here are the Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award
Thank the person who nominated you
Share the award on your blog
Share seven random facts about yourself
Tag 10 bloggers with less than 1,000 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated!
Mind you, having just consulted the following blog site: https://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/, I discovered a few discrepancies! Sorry Jen ! I know you inherited your set of rules from your nominator! The site suggests tagging 15 bloggers (eek!), with no restriction on the number of followers, so I’m bending the rules for me ever so slightly! Even though awards are a terrific way of galvanizing one into searching out other blog sites, given how difficult and time-consuming it often is to determine the number of followers, I’m hedging my bets each way by nominating 10 bloggers (well, eleven strictly, but there’s a reason!) and disregarding the ‘less than 1000 followers rule’, though I will try to give preference to lesser-known blogs!
Seven Random Facts about Myself
If you haven’t already guessed by my recent blog posts (!), I adore Old Roses. My favourite types are Noisettes and Albas, though really I love them all!!!
I am also a keen birdwatcher and love our unique Australian birds.
We travelled and camped all the way around Australia for 6 months in 2008. We climbed every mountain in the heat and lost so much weight! In the Cooktown Winter, I was having 6 cold showers every day!
I relax before sleep with pixel puzzles and know it is time to go to sleep when I start making mistakes or come to a standstill!
I like to plan ahead, both with my blogs, so I don’t panic (!), and travel, so I don’t miss out on anything and make the most of our time! I could not live without my lists!
I love books and reading and have been a keen library user for all my life. Often, I will borrow 10 books at a time.
I also love film and if I had my time again, could easily pursue a career in film!
http://www.shabbychick.me.uk: A delightful site by Andrea Mynard, who lives in the Cotswolds with her family and writes about growing flowers, herbs and vegetables and then, cooking them! Her site resonates with us, as she shares our love of and belief in Simple Living, nature and creativity. I particularly loved her recent post on Hygge (http://www.shabbychick.me.uk/2017/01/28/hygge-wood-burner-cooking/), a new term for me, having only been recently introduced to it when my daughter bought a Christmas book from us on this Danish form of Simple Living.
Andrea introduced me to Sarah, another keen gardener and cook, who has written two blogs : https://thegardendeli.wordpress.com/ and https://acrowdedtable.wordpress.com , the latter started in October 2015. Both have delicious recipes for cakes and pies, which is great for this fellow baker, but there are not a huge number of posts in the latest blog, so I’m not sure how active the site is! Maybe this nomination will inspire forthcoming recipes!
I leap-frogged from Sarah to : https://aroundthemulberrytree.wordpress.com/, written by a Gippsland cheese-maker and sour-dough baker. Her photographs of her food, kitchen and garden in country Victoria, Australia, are beautiful and very inspiring!
https://circusgardener.com/ has wonderful vegetarian recipes, which will greatly enlarge my limited repertoire and hopefully impress my vegetarian daughter, when she next visits! Its author, Steve Dent, also has some interesting thought-provoking posts on the politics of food.
Emma Bradshaw, of Bradshaw and Sons, writes a delightful little blog, http://emmabradshaw.blogspot.com.au/. It is all about simple family life and adventures, nature and wildlife, crafty ideas and recipes, photography and holidays, things that interest and inspire them and places they want to visit. If ever I visit London again, I will be sure to consult this lovely blog.
https://jekkasherbfarm.wordpress.com/ is a wonderful informative blog for people like me, who love their herbs, and there are obviously a huge number of them! This nomination DEFINITELY breaks the ‘less than 1000 followers’ rule!! Jekka McVicar runs a herbetum and has an online shop, which sells seeds, books and herbal teas. See: https://www.jekkasherbfarm.com/. Her herbetum, which has the largest collection of culinary herbs in the United Kingdom, can be visited at Alveston, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and she also runs masterclasses in herb garden design, propagation, year round herbs and the use of herbs.
Jekka introduced me to another herb-loving blogger, Lemon Verbena Lady, who also enjoys cross-stitch, another old hobby of mine, though I must admit that I don’t do so much, now that my eyes are not as good! She has some lovely lemon verbena recipes! Her blog address is: http://lemonverbenalady.blogspot.com.au/.
I have recently discovered the blog written by Emily Carter Mitchell at : https://bellaremyphotography.com. Her nature and wildlife photographs are absolutely superb and I have already learnt so much!
And finally, because my second nomination may not be active still and Jekka’s blog has well over the restrictions on the number of followers (!), I have included an extra: Lia Leendertz, who has written two delightful blogs: Midnight Brambling (now inactive, but can be accessed at : https://lialeendertz.wordpress.com/) and http://www.lialeendertz.com/blog/ . Both blogs have superb recipes, based on produce grown on her allotment, with enticing names like Gooseberry Knickerbocker Glory and Quince Icecream! I would love to be present at her Supper Club meals!!!
I know Jen would too! Happy Birthday Darling! Have a wonderful time in Greece and a year, full of happiness and many more exciting adventures, which I can’t wait to read about in your 2017 blog posts!!!
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. Craig has had his own landscaping business for many years, while Julie has extensive horticultural experience, having worked in a number of nurseries. 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. 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. 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. On one side of the house is a walled garden and rose avenue and on the other side, a potting shed and propagating area. 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. There is a French parterre, topiared shapes and poplar hurdles and dry stone walls, as well as a sunken garden with a dwarf Mondo grass floor, and double mixed perennial and shrub borders. Perennials include: Pulmonarias; Campanulas; Salvias; Geums; Penstemons; Filipendulas; Monardas; Lysimachias; Francas; Helianthus and Rudbeckias. Other plants include: Ranunculus; Leucadendrons; and Echiums with Digitalis. I loved all the different combinations with a strong emphasis on colour and texture, as well as light and shade. I also like all the garden accessories from birdcages to pots and statues.Craig 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).Julie 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. If you would like to see more photos, Australian Country Magazine wrote an article on this beautiful garden in their November issue.
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
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.We 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.Peonies 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.Dominic 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:I 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. Perennials include: Penstemons, Salvias, Centauras, Euphorbias, Alstroemerias, Phlomis, Oriental Iris, Verbascums, Cannas, Verbenas, Stachys, Scented Geraniums, Abutilon and Tree Lupins. There are also larger perennials like Melianthus, Romneya, Tree Dahlias, Stipagigantea and Foxtail Lilies. 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; 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; 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. I love the little extra garden furnishings:There 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.
Other Places to Visit in the Southern Highlands:
Lydie du Bray Antiques
117 Old Hume Highway Braemar, near Mittagong. Ph: (02) 4872 2844
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. 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.Dirty Jane’s
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!Country Accents
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.
370 Bong Bong St Bowral Ph 0439 025853
Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm; Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
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.
Mt Murray Nursery
Lot 1 Old Dairy Close (off Berrima Road)Moss Vale NSW 2577Ph ( 02) 48694111
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.Manning 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.We 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, MiltonPark and Camden House! For more on the wonderful open gardens in this area in Spring, as well as opening dates, please see:
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
This month, I am featuring my tiny treasures : violets; forget-me-nots; snow drops and snowflakes; hellebores; and the tiny flowers of Winter daphne and Winter honeysuckle, all cherished for their fragile beauty and scent in a cold Winter world, when the rest of the garden has gone to sleep.Violets (Viola odorata) are a mainstay in our garden from late Autumn to early Spring, lining the main staircase up to the house and the back path (photo 3), blanketing the ground under the deciduous trees along the fence and our front door camellia and filling their own bed, where their bright blue flowers contrast dramatically with the fallen red maple leaves. We have 3 different colours : blue, a deeper purple and pink. In our old Armidale garden, we only had white violets and I used to dream of our current violet banks.
Viola odorata, or Sweet Violet, belongs to the family Violaceae and genus Viola, which contains an unbelievably large number of species : 400-500 species, though some sources suggest it could be as high as 600 species. Some of the more common ones are :
Viola arvensis – Field Pansy
Viola biflora – Yellow Wood Violet or Twoflower Violet
Viola canina – Heath Dog Violet
Viola hirta – Hairy Violet
Viola odorata – Sweet Violet
Viola pedunculata – Yellow Pansy
Viola riviniana – Common Dog Violet – similar in looks to V.odorata, but scentless
Viola tricolor – Wild Pansy or Heart’s-Ease – purple, yellow and white
Viola adunca – Early Blue Violet
Viola nephrophylla – Northern Bog Violet
Viola pedatifida – Crowfoot Violet
Viola pubescens – Downy Yellow Violet
Viola rugulosa – Western Canada Violet
Viola lutea – Mountain Pansy – yellow flowers
There are also 3 Australian native species :
Viola hederaceae- common Native Violet – bright green, kidney-shaped leaves and purple and white flowers. Useful ground cover in moist shady areas.
Viola odorata is a small perennial plant with heart-shaped leaves and highly fragrant, assymmetrical flowers (purple, blue, yellow, white, cream or blue and yellow), which bloom in Winter and early Spring. It is native to temperate areas in the Northern Hemisphere and loves moist shady conditions, though it does equally well in full sun. It thrives on moist, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and only requires moderate watering. It is a tough little plant and transplants easily with minimal after-care. In truth, they are almost a weed at our place, as they throw out underground rhizomes with abandon, quickly invading large areas with their long runners. They can be propagated by seed and root cuttings, division best done in Autumn or just after flowering, though really they can be planted at any time from Spring (after frost) through to Autumn with a spade of compost and mulch to keep the roots cool. Occasionally, they get red spider mite in dry weather, but otherwise they have few pests. They are the food plant for some Lepidoptera larvae, including Giant Leopard Moth, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, High Brown Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Setaceous Hebrew Character. Sweet violets are grown as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in garden beds and along water edges, as accent plants around trees and even as container plants.
Violets were cultivated in Greece before 500 BC and were used by both the Ancient Greeks and Romans in herbal remedies, love potions, wine (Vinum violatum), festivals and even to sweeten food. While our society sees the violet as a symbol of modesty, sweetness and faithfulness, to the Ancient Greeks, it was a symbol of love and fertility. For more about the mythology surrounding the violet, see: http://comenius-legends.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/legend-of-violet.htmlAncient Roman physician, Pliny the Elder, advocated the wearing of a garland of violets on the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. Perhaps the intoxicating scent of the violet blooms banished the headache! Certainly, both the leaves and flowers are edible and rich in vitamins and can be used in medicines and as a laxative, though they should not be taken internally in large doses! Clinical trials have shown that a syrup of V.odorata can improve cough suppression in asthmatic children. Intranasal administration of V.odorata extract has also been shown to be effective in treating insomnia. What a blissful sleep! For more information on the use of violets as a herbal remedy, see : http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/v/vioswe12.html .Fresh flowers add a lovely flash of colour in salads, fruit punches and ice bowls. The flowers can also be candied, using egg white and crystallized sugar, to decorate cakes and are still produced commercially in France, where they are known as ‘Violettes de Toulouse’. I tried making crystallized violets and rose petals for my son’s birthday cake (1st 3 photos), and while I wouldn’t say it was a roaring success (especially because I confused salt for the castor sugar initially!), it still did provide some colour! Making candied violets is obviously an art form! The French also make a Violet Syrup from Extract of Violets. The syrup can be used to make violet scones and marshmallows. I decorated the banana cake in the photo below with fresh pink and blue violets. But the most obvious use of the flowers is as a source of scent in the perfume industry, as well as in nosegays and Spring bouquets. There is even a Violet Day in Australia and New Zealand, on 2 July , when fresh violets and badges depicting violets were sold for fund-raising efforts to commemorate the lost soldiers of the First World War. Before the Flanders poppy, the violet was considered to be a ‘symbol of perpetual remembrance.’ See : http://www.familyhistorysa.info/sahistory/ww1violetday.html and http://adelaidia.sa.gov.au/events/violet-day.
An ideal lead-in for my next tiny treasure, the humble Forget-me-not, Myosotis! In Newfoundland, the forget-me-not is a symbol of remembrance of the nation’s war-dead. It was used as a symbol in the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in remembrance of the 1.5 Million killed by the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1923 . In medieval times, the forget-me-not was a symbol of faithfulness and enduring love. Its name is purported to have originated from the German legend of a lover who, while gathering the flowers, fell into a river and cried ‘forget-me-not’ as he drowned.
The scientific name Myosotis comes from the Greek word: μυοσωτίς or “mouse’s ear” after the leaf. It belongs to the family Boraginaceae and the genus contains 74 species, 60 from Western Eurasia and 14 from New Zealand. The most common species are the biennial Woodland Forget-me-not, M. sylvatica, and the perennial Water Forget-me-not, M. scorpioides. They are now common throughout temperate latitudes, especially in moist areas.Forget-me-nots are small tufted plants with simple, blunt, lance-shaped, greyish, finely -haired leaves and tiny 5-petalled blue, mauve, pink, white or cream flowers, usually borne in sprays on short branching stems in Spring and early Summer, though my plants are currently flowering! They grow well in both sun and shade, but prefer cool weather and moist soil. They are propagated by seed or careful division in Winter. One sure fact is that once you have them, you will always have them! Some people may even go so far as to describe them as invasive, but I could never begrudge forget-me-nots nor violets for their profligacy, as I love them and despite their prevalence, they are not always that easy to locate when you are searching for them for a new garden! We found our plants growing wild on the banks of the extinct volcano, Mt Noorat (photos below). I love watching them multiply and appear in odd spots throughout the garden. Traditionally, they are used as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in rockeries and beside ponds. I love using their fragile feathery blooms to soften floral arrangements. Like violets, they are also a food plant for various Lepidoptera species, including the Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Other woodland ground covers include the delicate white snowdrops and snowflakes, often confused with each other because of their green-tipped white drooping bells. They are however quite different plants. Snowdrops (1st photo) only have one flower per stem and each flower has 3 large exterior petals and 3 smaller central petals, tipped with green.
Snowflakes are a larger plant with each stem bearing several flowers, each of which has 6 petals all the same size and each tipped with green. We grew up with snowflakes, which are members of the Leucojum genus, but the true snowdrop belongs to the Galanthus genus.
Leucojum is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family and hails from Central and Southern Europe. The scientific name comes from the Greek words: ‘leucojum’ meaning ‘white violet.’ There are only 2 species: the Spring Snowflake L.vernum (‘vernum’ is the Greek for Spring) and L. aestivum (‘aestivum’ meaning Summer, though really it flowers in late Spring after L. vernum). It looks great in clumps under deciduous trees and shrubs and can be propagated by division immediately after flowering or when the leaves have died down. Our Leucojum are pushing their way through a border of Mondo grass on the path edge. Snowdrops however are seen far less commonly in Australia, as they only like cold to moderately cold Winters. Their scientific name comes from the Greek words : ‘gala’ meaning ‘milk’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’. These hardy, bulbous, perennial herbaceous plants have grey-green leaves and flower in Winter before the vernal equinox, pushing their stalks through the snow. Like snowflakes, they are also from the family Amaryllidaceae and are found in the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Central Europe from the Pyrenees to Ukraine. They were introduced to Britain in the early 16th century and readily naturalized, so much so that they are often called the English Snowdrop. In England, they are also known as ‘the flower of hope’, while in France, they have a much more prosaic name ‘Perce-neige’ (‘perforating snow’). In the Language of Flowers, they are a symbol of purity and hope. There are 20 species in the genus, the most widespread and well-known being the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis (‘nivalis’ is Greek for ‘of the snow’). There are a huge number of single and double-flowered cultivars (over 500 in 2002, but now a further 1500 new cultivars), all differing in size, shape and markings, and developed from G.nivalis, as well as the Crimean Snowdrop, G. plicatus, and the Giant Snowdrop, G. elwesii. In fact, snowdrop collectors are known as ‘galanthophiles’ and it is quite a competitive and exclusive hobby. See : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16789834. There are a large number of snowdrop gardens in the United Kingdom, which are open to the public during the season. See: http://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/home-garden/gardening/ideas/days-out/snow drop-gardens-to-visit-in-the-uk. Scotland celebrated its first Snowdrop Festival from the 1st February to 11th March, 2007. I bought my snowdrop bulbs from a specialist plant nursery. They were quite expensive, but fortunately, they multiply easily from offset bulbs and we were able to divide the clumps and plant them as a curved border to the fence shrubbery in front of the lilac and flowering quinces and around the bird bath. It is the perfect spot for them, as they like moist well-drained soil and shady areas. I look forward to seeing them naturalize and multiply in the grass. They have such exquisite flowers! I certainly won’t be eating them though! Galanthus are poisonous to humans, causing nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting if consumed in large quantities. Its active ingredient is galatamine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which is used in the management of Alzheiners and traumatic injuries to the nervous system. It is also an effective insecticide in the management of beetles, Lepidoptera and Hemiptera. In fact, these plants are pest-free, avoided by rabbits, deer, chipmunks and mice! Current research is focused on its use in genetic engineering for pest resistance and the treatment of HIV. See : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255618182_Analysis_of_Pusztai_Study_on_GM_Potatoes_and_their_effect_on_Rats
I have planted them under separate deciduous trees, as they are highly promiscuous, interbreeding with abandon, and I really want their offspring to retain their original forms true to type. For example, the white double hellebore complements the white statue Phoebe and white anemones under the maple tree on the terrace (1st and 2nd photo above); my deep red hellebore is under the Protea (3rd photo above) and my species hellebore, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’, occupies a special place under the camellia beside the front door (below).
Hellebores are also known as Winter Rose, Snow Rose, Lenten Rose and Christmas Rose, due the fact that they flower round this time in their native environment, the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Western Europe and Western Asia. Their scientific name, Helleborus, comes from the Greek words : ἑλλέβορος helléboros, from elein “to injure” and βορά borá “food”, referring to their toxicity. They are low growing, clump forming, evergreen, Winter-flowering perennials from the family Ranunculaceae, the same family which includes delphiniums, anemones, aquilegias, buttercups and clematis. Hellebores have attractive, leathery, evergreen, toothed, palmate leaves and open, cup-shaped flowers in Winter. Most varieties are single with 5 petals. There are 17 different species, divided into 2 different categories.
The Caulescent types have leaves on the flowering stems and include :
Stinking hellebore, H. foetidus: Pungent smell when foliage is crushed; tall plant; large number of small lime-green bell-shaped flowers; See 2nd photo below.
Corsican Hellebore, H. argutifolius: heavily toothed leathery evergreen leaves; up to 1 m tall, so best at the back of the border; heads of lime-green flowers. One of the toughest hellebores and tolerates more sun than other species; See 1st photo below.
Majorcan Hellebore, H. lividus: Silvery leaves and smoky-pink flowers.
and the rare H. versicarius: From SW Turkey; red-tipped lime bells; thrives in the sun.
In acaulescent varieties , the leaves are basal and stemless and include :
Oriental Rose, H. orientalis, the most common species in Australia. Pink, maroon and cream single flowers, ageing to green.
Green Hellebore, H. viridus: Green flowers.
Black Hellebore, H. niger: The roots are black and the flowers white, flushed with pink or purple as they mature.
Ferny Hellebore, H. multifidus: Green flowers and finely-divided leaves.
H. cyclophyllus : Yellow-green flowers and slight perfume.
H. odorus: Light green flowers.
Helleborus atrorubens : Dark green and purple flowers (photo below).
There are also a large number of hybrid cultivars, including:
sternii : H. argutifolius x H. lividus
nigercors: H. argutifolius x H. niger
x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’: H. lividus x H. niger (1st photo below) and
orientalis x H. purpurascens : Red-purple hybrid.
Other crosses using oriental hellebores have created a wide colour range from slate grey and metallic black to red, purple, dusky pink, lime green, yellow and cream and white, often with speckles and flashes. There are also double and semi-double forms. To fully appreciate the huge variety in hellebores, consult the following websites: https://www.postofficefarmnursery.com.au/galleries and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/10648349/A-hellebore-for-almost-any-situation.html.Hellebores grow throughout cold and temperate areas in Australia from Tasmania, Victoria and the coastal stretch up to Sydney; inland as far north as the Queensland border and in temperate areas in South Australia. They like Winter sun and Summer shade and can handle dry periods, so are ideal under deciduous trees. Dappled shade is best, as full shade results in less leaf growth. They also like a humus-rich, slightly acidic soil and hate waterlogged soil or sand. They are used in mass plantings and as ground cover, especially in dry shade and under established trees. They combine well with galanthus (very similar growing conditions), hostas, anemones, aquilegias, epimediums, solomon’s seal, ferns, vinca, scilla, cyclamen, leucojum and crocus. They look lovely at the feet of camellias, magnolias, dogwoods, flowering quinces, daphne and hydrangeas (photo below). They can even be grown in pots. Hellebores propagate from seed, which spreads readily. Seedlings should be transplanted when very young (only a few centimetres high), as they do not like having their roots disturbed. They can also be lifted and divided in Autumn and early Spring. They should be planted with organic compost, then mulched in Summer to keep their roots cool. Old leaves and flowers should be removed in Autumn, as the new leaves appear, to allow them to flourish and display the flowers to their best advantage. The only exception is the caulescent hellebores, in which the old flower stems should be removed in mid to late Spring after flowering. The plants benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer in Autumn, as well as a handful of dolomite lime. Generally though, hellebores are tough and individual plants have been known to reach 40 years of age. The flowers last a long time on the plant, but only up to 7 days in the vase. Their heads tend to droop and should be propped up with other flowers or the vase placed on a high shelf, where their flowers can be appreciated. Floral treatments in the past vary from splitting stems to scalding them by plunging the stem ends into boiling water (often still done by commercial growers), but most experts agree that a good long soak prior to arranging is essential, even to the extent of totally submerging the flower heads in water for up to 3 hours. Recut the stems 2-3 cm from their ends, especially if they have been seared by the grower and use preservative in the water. Misting the flowers is also beneficial. Their flowers also look good floating in a shallow bowl of water. Flowers can be wired for support, but should not be used for corporate designs, as their flowers will droop and dry out in air conditioning or heating. They also hate foam, so only use a vase. The flower centres are also suitable for drying.
Do be aware though when collecting seed and handling hellebores that they are extremely toxic. They contain protoanemonin and are strongly emetic and laxative. In fact, they were used in the past to induce vomiting. They can cause diarrhoea, cardiac problems and skin irritation. They are also very poisonous for livestock. But don’t let it put you off these otherwise delightful plants!
And now for some slightly larger plants, whose tiny scented Winter flowers still allow for their inclusion in a post on tiny treasures:
Winter Daphne Daphne odora
Native to China and Japan, Winter Daphne belongs to the Thymelaeceae family and the Daphne genus, which includes 50 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs throughout Asia, Europe and North Africa.
Winter Daphne is an evergreen, densely-branched, ornamental shrub, up to 1m tall, with simple, alternate, glossy-green leathery leaves. There is a variety ‘aureomarginata’, whose leaves are edged in a creamy-yellow colour. It has highly fragrant pale-pink fleshy tubular flowers, each with 4 lobes, from mid Winter to late Spring. There is a variety, ‘Alba’ with pure white flowers. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by bees, flies and Lepidoptera.Daphne has a reputation for being difficult, but if they are planted in the right spot, they can be quite long-lived , tough, low maintenance and drought-tolerant shrubs. My research into their ideal planting site revealed their preferences:
Morning sun or easterly-facing aspect with shade from the hot afternoon sun.
Fertile, slightly acidic peaty soil.
Perfect drainage- a raised bed or drier spot under the eaves is ideal, as they are prone to root rot.
They should not be over-watered or over-fed and pruning should be minimal. After flowering, a slow-release fertilizer with iron chelates can be applied. Mulch will keep the root run cool, but should be kept away from the stem. Daphne hates any root disturbance or cultivation around its roots and transplants badly. It can be propagated by softwood cuttings in early to mid Summer and semi-ripe or evergreen cuttings in mid to late Summer. They are susceptible to a virus infection, which causes mottling of the leaves, and attack by scale insects, which can be squashed or smothered in white oil.All parts are poisonous to humans and livestock. The sap can cause dermatitis, so be careful when cutting. Despite their toxicity and their finicky nature, I would not be without a Winter Daphne. Their scent is divine, both indoors and outside, so make sure it is in a prominent position. Our plant is right beside the back steps as we leave the house, very close in fact to the Winter Honeysuckle, my last feature plant for this post, so the air smells quite heavenly in Winter!Winter Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissimaAlso known as ‘Chinese Honeysuckle’, ‘Sweet breath of Spring’ and the quaint name ‘Kiss-me-at-the-gate’, Winter Honeysuckle belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and the Lonicera genus, which contains 200 species of Honeysuckle shrubs and climbers, including the well-known white-and-yellow Japanese Honeysuckle, L. japonica and pink-and-gold Woodbine, L. periclymen (photo below).Winter Honeysuckle is native to China and was introduced to England by Robert Fortune in 1845, making its way to America by 1852. It is a semi-evergreen shrub 1-3 m tall and wide, though it can reach 4.6m tall and it takes 5-10 years to reach full height. Its slender spreading branches form a bushy tangle over time. It is deciduous in areas with harsh Winters. White to creamy white, two-lipped flowers with protruding yellow anthers are borne in pairs in Winter and early Spring. They are highly fragrant. Branches cut for the house will perfume a room for days, so long as the vase is kept away from heat. The flowers are also a great nectar and pollen provider for insects and birds in Winter. Winter Honeysuckle loves full sun, though will tolerate partial shade. Propagation is by hardwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in late Summer. There are very few pests and diseases.These old-fashioned ornamental plants can be grown as a specimen plant, a clipped or informal hedge or screen or at the back of a shrub border. My Winter Honeysuckle is in an ideal location right outside the back door and on the bend of the back path, as it becomes the entrance path. I adore that waft of fresh lemony scent every time I go out the back door at this time of year. It is so uplifting! It also flowers for a long time- at least 3 months! I feel so lucky to have inherited such a beautiful old shrub- in fact, it was one of the reasons we bought the place, as it was in full bloom we first discovered the house in August 2014.I also like to use their flowers to decorate cakes. Here is a photo of a rustic apple cake, topped with the sweet blooms of erlicheer jonquils, Paperwhite jonquils and Winter honeysuckle.To finish my post, here is another delightful watercolour painting by my daughter Caroline, illustrating some of my tiny treasures. It reminds me of a wonderful description I once read in ‘Tulipomania’ by Mike Dash about the festivals of the Ottoman Empire during the Tulip Era (1718 -1730), the latter half coinciding with the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (ruled 1703 -1730), during which tortoises, with candles fixed to their backs, moved slowly through tulip beds under the April full moon on the first night of the Tulip Festival. I just love it! Thanks Caro! x
Tathra is a small coastal township (population 1622) on the Sapphire Coast and is one of our favourite spots! It has the closest beach to Bega and is situated between Merimbula, 25 km to the south and Bermagui, 44 km to the north. It is 446 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway and sits high on a bluff, overlooking its famous wharf. The 3rd and 4th photos show the view north to Wajurda Point and Moon Bay.
The area has a rich aboriginal history, which I will cover in next week’s post (A Slice of History), due to its abundant land and sea food resources. The name ‘Tathra’ means ‘beautiful country’ in the local Yuin dialect, though other sources suggest it has a slightly different meaning : ‘place of wild cats’!!!
The first Europeans in the area settled to the west of Tathra, illegally squatting on Crown Land in the 1820s and 1830s. At that stage, the area was outside the limits of legal settlement, known as ‘the 19 Counties’. See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Counties for more information. This rich dairying country is regularly flooded and teams with birdlife, especially water birds. Apparently, in the 1971 Bega Valley flood, water covered the 45 foot telegraph poles all the way along the mile long flat!
An enquiry into transport facilities in the Bega area in 1851 led to the formation of the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company in 1858. It was an amalgamation of smaller steamer services along the South coast : the Kiama Steam Navigation Company and vessels of the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association and Edye Manning’s fleet. The name was changed in 1904 to the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. The first cargo vessel, a 50 ton sailboat called ‘Vision’, arrived in Tathra that same year and moored offshore, its cargo being transported on a small boat to Kangarutha, where a store shed was erected at a small anchorage, ‘Stockyards’, later that year.
Tathra started out as a small jetty, known as the ‘Farmers’ Sea Wharf’. It was a shipping outlet for a group of local farmers, led by Daniel Gowing, who were fed up with having to transport their produce to Merimbula 25 km away, especially as the wagons often had to wait for the tide to go out when they crossed the beach at Bournda. Daniel Gowing was a farmer from Jellat Jellat, who opened the first store in Tathra for produce to be shipped soon after from Kangarutha.
In 1860, it was decided that Kianinny Bay was more sheltered for loading than Kangarutha, so a store was built at Kianinny. Cargo was still shipped from the beach by small boats to vessels, like ‘Gipsy’, ‘Ellen’, ‘You Yangs’ and ‘John Penn’, moored in the bay. Bad weather often held up the produce wagons on their way to the boats, so loading was uncertain and the freight costs high.
Tathra township was surveyed in 1861 and that same year, the jetty was replaced by a wharf, funded by donations from local farmers and The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. Regular shipping commenced in 1862 with PS Mimosa being the first ship to moor. The wharf was designed by prominent colonial engineer, Ernest Orpen Moriarty, and built by R. Mowatt with the help of Daniel Gowing and John Kirkwood. Turpentine logs, from the North Coast, driven into solid rock. It was sited in its current location, due to the protection from southerly winds, though the northerly waves still caused enough damage to necessitate continual repairs, including re-piling and changing the location of the piles, as piling techniques improved. The steep road down to the wharf also caused problems, requiring extra teams of animals to haul the fully-laden carts back up the hill.
With the opening up of Crown Lands to free selection in 1861, the population rapidly expanded and the increased trade was reflected in major additions to the original wharf. A cargo shed was built in 1866. In 1868, the Bega-Tathra road was cleared to a width of one chain and in 1879, Tathra opened its first post office in Gowing’s Store, a general store and guesthouse, on the corner of the main road and the road down to the wharf.
Due to the expansion of shipping needs and the increase in the size of visiting ships and depth of moorings, major extensions to the wharf were made in 1873; 1878; 1886; 1889; 1903 and 1912, under the guiding hand of another well-known colonial engineer, Ernest Macartney de Burgh. In 1901, cattle and pig yards were built. The route between Tathra and Sydney became known as ‘the Pig and Whistle Line’, due to the transport of pigs, produce and passengers between the two locations. Apparently, as the boats rounded the corner, they would always blow a whistle and the pigs would start squealing!
In 1862, the Illawarra Steamship Company fleet consisted of 3 schooners : ‘Ellen’, ‘Gipsy’ and ‘Rosebud’; a clipper : ‘White Cloud’; and 3 steamers: a paddle steamer : ‘Hunter’ and 2 screw steamers : ‘John Penn’ and ‘Kameruka’, but the sailing ships were superseded by steamers after 1881.
The steamer service was crucial to the Far South Coast, as the roads were very poor and there was no railway service. The Princes Highway from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border was gravel up until the 1940s. Consequently, there was a chain of 15 reliable all-weather wharves up and down the coast, where the steamers would berth and deliver and pick up goods and passengers. Rixon’s wagon left Bega Post Office for Merimbula every Wednesday and Tathra on Mondays and Thursdays to take mail and passengers to and from the steamer. Produce from Tathra included : bacon, cheese, butter, timber, tallow, wattle bark, corn and wool. The boats would also carry prime beef and sheep, horses, pigs, poultry and turkeys, both for the Sydney markets and the Royal Easter Sydney Show. Mobs of up to 700 pigs would be walked to the wharf from local farms. One Bemboka farmer even walked her flock of turkeys over 50km to the wharf by coating her turkey’s feet in tar with a light dusting of sand! Ships arriving from Sydney brought tea, bags of flour and sugar, biscuits, farm machinery and parts, grains and seeds and household furniture.In 1907, the buildings were reconstructed and the present two-storey structure was built. Spring-loaded wrought iron buffers were introduced to assist the berthing of larger vessels in the difficult north-eastern seas. A mooring buoy was positioned north-east of the wharf, to which ships would attach a spring line. Between 1907 and 1912, there were more major extensions, including a subdeck; a jib crane to facilitate loading; a cattle race; a loading ramp and a passenger shelter. In 1914, soldiers and horses were farewelled from the wharf on their way to fight in the Great War. Here is an old photo of the volunteers leaving for the war, as seen on the noticeboard on Tathra Headland.The increase in transport by road had a major effect on the amount of shipping trade everywhere, but because the Far South Coast had no adjacent railway line to carry bulk freight to Sydney, shipping trade lingered on till 1954. By 1919, the number of passengers travelling by sea had greatly decreased, so the passenger shelter was replaced by a single storey shed, next to the two-storey building. Freight and cargo became the predominant trade from Tathra. During World War II, enemy activity off the Far South Coast of NSW, including German mines and Japanese submarines, had a further impact on the amount of trading. The last ship to work cargo was the 1929 SS Cobargo in 1954 and the even older SS Bergalia was the last steamer to visit the wharf later that year to remove valuable items of wharf equipment. The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company suspended trading in 1958.Gradually, the wharf structure fell into disrepair and became unsafe, so a demolition order was issued in 1973. Fortunately, an active local group and National Trust banded together to oppose the demolition. The Tathra Wharf Trust was formed in 1977 and launched an appeal for the conservation and preservation of the old wharf. By 1982, only minor parts of the wharf, the mezzanine deck and a few of the more recent buildings had been demolished. The decking was replaced and the two-storey building was restored, the top storey becoming the Tathra Maritime Museum, dedicated to steamer history, and the bottom storey being used for a cafe and tourist outlet.
Between 1982 and 2010, road access was difficult, as one leg of the access loop road was closed by boulders after heavy seas smashed over the headland.These photos show the old road.It is now the only coastal steamer wharf left on the NSW coast and 1 of only 6 timber wharves still listed for preservation on the Register of the National Estate, as well as the NSW State Heritage Register. It is such a beautiful old building with chunky solid wooden beams and spectacular views and it is a wonderful reminder of our shipping past. The cafe is so impressive and provides top-quality meals, which are beautifully presented. It is also a great venue for selling local arts and crafts – we have some highly creative artists and artisans in the area.
The wharf is also very popular with anglers, as well as seabirds!Tathra Beach has been a tourist destination from very early days. It is 3 km long and stretches from the wharf and Tathra Headland in the south to Moogareeka Inlet and the mouth of the Bega River to the north. It is protected from the Southerlies by the steep headland. Beach fishing yields :
Salmon, tailor and gummy shark – caught with pilchards, fresh fish fillets and stripy tuna;
Bream, whiting and mullet – using beach worms, pippies, prawns and fresh nippers as bait; and
Sand whiting – caught using sand worms and nippers.
It is a great spot for swimming with the Tathra Surf Club (formed in 1909) patrolling the beach every weekend from October to April, as well as Christmas Holidays and Public Holidays. Sail boarding, surfing and snorkelling off the wharf are also popular activities. It has been voted one of the cleanest beaches in NSW, which is not surprising, given the progressive and forward-thinking spirit of environmentally aware locals, who are establishing a solar farm in Tathra. See : http://cleanenergyforeternity.net.au/. Another very active local organization is the local volunteer fire brigade, which was established in 1945, with a 2nd new fire station built next-door in 2011. It is one of the most well-equipped fire brigades on the Far South Coast.
Another tourism drawcard for Tathra is its proximity to 2 wonderful National Parks : Bournda National Park in the south with 13 km of unspoilt coastline and Mimosa Rocks National Park in the north, which extends for 16 km. I shall be discussing Moogareeka Inlet, Ford Headland and Moon Bay, all within the southernmost section of Mimosa Rocks National Park and 4 km north of Tathra, in a separate post next week (A Slice of History), but will focus now instead on the spectacular Kianinny Bay, just to the south of Tathra.
Kianinny Bay is a protected bay with immediate access to the ocean. It is sheltered from Northerly winds and is an incredibly beautiful spot in all weathers, as seen in these photos taken from Chamberlain Lookout above.The coastline between Tathra Headland and Kianinny Bay includes steep cliffs and rugged rock masses, providing wonderful opportunities for rock fishing, using cunjevoi, abalone guts and cabbage weed to catch Black Drummer, Silver Drummer, Leatherjacket, Groper, Luderick and Banded Morwong all year round. From December to May, Bunito, Kingfish, Tailor and Salmon can be caught with live baits.Tathra really is a fisherman’s paradise with its beach and rock fishing, reef and bottom fishing and estuary fishing, as well as all the freshwater streams and dams. The closest reef section is 6 km south of Tathra, 800 m out from White Rock and extending several kilometres out. Fish caught here include : Snapper, Morwong, Flathead, Leatherjacket and Gummy Shark. We found this flathead in a rock pool left high and dry on White Rock after the tide receded – a very easy catch (though we didn’t!)Boats leave Kianinny Bay to drift fish the outskirts of Tathra Bay, catching Sand Flathead and Tiger Flathead, using flesh baits and plastic jigs, and Gunnards and Gummy Sharks. Little wonder that Kianinny Bay is home to the Tathra Fishing Club. There are excellent boat launching facilities : a concrete boat ramp for vessels up to 7 m long; plenty of parking; areas to wash down the boats and tables to clean the fish, as well as a BBQ and picnic area and playground. Sting Rays regularly cruise up and down the shallows, competing for fish scraps with the local sea gulls and cormorants, and can be a little disconcerting for swimmers! Snorkelling and spear fishing are also popular. These photos show a very relaxed swimmer, two very large, friendly sting rays and a sea hare.
Kianinny Bay forms the north-eastern tip of Bournda National Park and is the starting off point for the 9 km long Kangarutha Track, south through cliffs, rock debris and small inlets to Turingal Head. See : http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Kangarutha-walking-track. I will be covering this national park and walking track in a later post. It is a beautiful walk with fabulous coastal views and plenty of bird and animal life, as well as interesting vegetation. I will finish with photos of a Golden Whistler on Tathra Headland, some stunning feral vegetation and a very street-wise local resident!
One of the delightful aspects of living in the country is the myriad of small local shows. Unfortunately, we missed the Candelo Show last year, as we had literally only just arrived and were so exhausted after all the unpacking, that we just didn’t have the energy to shower and change to go out and meet all the locals!!! However, because it is our local show and has a great reputation, we were determined to attend this year!
We did however manage to visit the Bega Show (or to give its full title : the Far South Coast National Show!) last February, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The Bega showground is in a lovely situation on the edge of town, with the mountains providing a scenic backdrop to the ring events.We started at the top of the hill with the Poultry section, one of my favourites, and the Animal Nursery, always a crowd pleaser!I loved this Light Sussex hen and Indian Runner duck.
Unfortunately, we missed the cattle, but we did see some beautiful Angora goats.I love country shows. They are a wonderful way to involve the entire community and a great opportunity to showcase the local produce and incredible talent in the area. With its wonderful climate and diversity of agricultural produce, Bega is a pretty special place when it comes to food from potatoes, sunflowers and corn to apples and pumpkins! I’ve never seen a fridge full of local cheeses and oysters before!The pumpkins were enormous! The one on the far right of the 3rd photo weighed 156 kg, netting its owner, an NM Watson, first prize!Then there is all the the home-made produce!And the fleece section…
I always love the flower section!The kids had a lot of fun decorating pumpkins and biscuits!As well as enjoying all the sideshows…!There was lots of input by local groups like the SCPA South East Producers and the Seedsavers’ Network, the Bega Valley Weavers, the Wyndham Basketeers and the Far South Coast Bird Club. It was a great show and the organizers deserved a well-earned break at the end of it.
We looked forward to the start of the 2016 show season. Candelo Show, held last weekend on Sunday, 17th January, was one of the first to kick off, beaten only by Pambula Show on the 9th January. Here is the schedule for the rest of the shows for the Far South Coast of NSW, just in case you are visiting the area :
Eurobodalla Show 23-24 January; Nimmitabel Show 6 February; Cobargo Show 13-14 February; Bega Show 19-21 February; Delegate Show 6 March; Dalgety Show 6 March; Bemboka Show 12 March; Cooma Show 14 March and finally Bombala Show 19 March.
And so to this weekend.. the long-awaited 129th Candelo Show! The first Candelo Show was held in the School of Arts building on 21st December 1883 and in 1884, an area of 13.6 acres (5.53 hectares) was officially gazetted as the Candelo Showground.
It is in a lovely situation on the side of the hill overlooking the arena, with the scenic backdrop of Mt Dromedary in the far distance.I love old show pavilions and all the exhibits. It’s such a great way for showcasing local produce and we were surprised by the size of the display for such a small area.
The weather was perfect and the show was well attended by lots of families. It’s wonderful seeing all the kids participating!
Candelo Show is a lovely little agricultural show in the true sense of the word, as there are no fairground rides, sideshows or show bags, which makes a refreshing change! Instead, there is a Kids Kastle, as well as Hobby Horse races and pony rides and lots of other activities like goat milking, Akubra hat throwing, the dog high jump and a chook washing demonstration.
There were displays of historic machinery and vintage cars, as well as felting, spinning and woodworking demonstrations. There were a few food outlets for lunch; the famous Wheatley Lane sourdough bread, made just round the corner from our house; our favourite home-made icecream lady from Cobargo, who sells at the local markets; a watermelon shed and a few hopeful politician stands!Entertainment was provided by the Queanbeyan Pipe Band, as well as an Irish folk group and local musicians.We loved watching the ring events, especially the show jumping. There are some very talented local equestrians, some of them very young!It was a lovely day out and we finally got to see our cows!All inspired by the wonderful produce we had just seen, we returned to our garden to harvest our huge clump of rhubarb for rhubarb and apple crumble that night. It was delicious!!! Till next week…!