Fabulous Felting Books

I adore felt, not just for its tactile and visual appeal, but also its versatility, its organic nature and its history and romance. In fact, when I was studying a Diploma of Textile Art at Box Hill TAFE, I based my main exhibition piece (postcard format) on the reverse appliqué technique of the Kyrgyz shyrdaks of Central Asia, learning so much about felt and its history in the process!  Here are two photos of my work from that exhibition: BlogFeltBooks50%nov 2010 295BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-24 07.41.25I first saw these beautiful appliquéd felt rugs, which are traditionally used to furnish nomadic yurts, at Ada’s Place in Millthorpe, New South Wales, and fell in love with their bright bold colours and symbolism. Here is a photo of Ada (taller) and her sister Kathleen in front of one of their shyrdaks.BlogFeltBooks50%midmay 299Unfortunately, the gallery closed in 2013: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1804338/ada-closes-iconic-millthorpe-gallery/.

You can see more examples of this beautiful craft at:

http://www.feltrugs.co.uk/

and   http://kyrgyzfelt.blogspot.com.au/.

Felt can also be used to make clothing, hats, bags, cushions, flowers and toys and you will see some of my felt creations throughout this post. I have also attended a number of workshops, which I will also describe along the way, but first the books!

 

History

Nomadic Felts by Stephanie Bunn 2010

https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/dept-seminar-power-felted-cloth-through-time-and-space

I came across anthropologist Stephanie Bunn’s name a number of times during my internet research for my exhibition piece, so this book was a must! In it, she describes the ancient history of felt, its traditional production and use throughout the world and the cultural beliefs and symbolism behind the patterns.

Felt has existed for thousands of years and felt fragments have been found in grave chambers in Çatal Höyük, dated 6500 BC; felted hoods and socks on the Urumchi mummies of the Tarim Basin, China, dated 2000 BC; and appliquéd felt wall hangings, coffin linings, clothing, saddle cloths, blankets and bridles and swan pillows stuffed with deer hair, found in the grave chambers of the Pazyryk Kurgans of the Altai Highlands, Siberia, and dated from 600 to 200 BC.

It has played a central role in the lives of nomads from Central Asia, Mongolia and parts of the Middle East, the lightweight, portable and highly insulating wool being used for tent walls (yurts), floor coverings, decorations, bags and clothing.

After the Medieval period, felt became a well-established tradition in Europe with felt boat caulking and other felt objects from the 9th to 13th Century found at Haithabu on the German-Danish border; British felt hats from the 15th Century; and Scandinavian gloves and socks and Russian valenki (felt boots) from the early 20th Century.

Traditional feltmaking is still practiced by Central Asian and Mongolian nomads, as well as practitioners in Turkey and Iran, while experimentation by contemporary artists is producing some wonderful garments and toys.

This fascinating book looks at its extensive history, the science behind felt and the wide variety of feltmaking techniques and traditions. She particularly focuses on the Turkic and Mongolian feltmakers of Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekitan, Turkmenistan and Xinjiang, as well as Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and South-East Asia, and the closely related styles from Afghanistan and the Caucasus: their influences and their belief systems and symbolism. With fabulous photos and illustrations supporting the text, it is such an interesting book, not only for feltmakers and textile enthusiasts, but anyone interested in archaeology and history, anthropology, different cultures and the Silk Road!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-57

Production

If you only have room for one felting book in your library, the following book is an excellent reference guide.

Uniquely Felt: Dozens of Techniques From Fulling and Shaping to Nuno and Cobweb. Includes 46 Creative Projects by Christine White 2007

This highly comprehensive book covers all aspects of felt making.

The introduction defines the different kinds of felt (fulled knitting, wet felting, needle felting, nuno felting, cobweb felting, carved felt and yarn felt); history; suitable fibres; the chemistry behind felting; and the whole process from fleece to felt. It also includes instructions for a simple needle felted ball and a Featured Artist page, an inspiring inclusion, which is found at the end of successive chapters.

The next chapter covers tools: wool; soap; screens; rolling mats; plastic resists; scales; water; templates; and felting machines, as well as notes on designing a studio and  working posture.

Chapter Three introduces beginner projects like making cords (photo below) and spikes; loops and beads; jellyroll trivets; buttons and balls.

Chapter Four: Learning the Basics covers working with roving; making prefelts; wet felting; calculating shrinkage and a Frequently Asked Questions page, as well as projects like place mats and table runners, blankets and cushions.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-92Chapter Five really examines the raw material, wool: where to find it, how to test its feasibility and materiality; making felting samples and the types of fibres and sheep wool, including a swatch gallery. Projects include math mats, place mats, carved coasters, upholstery yardage and a boot tray.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-85After mastering simple 2-D items, developing felters will be keen to try out making 3-D seamless felt, which is the main topic of Chapter Six. Two flat halves are separated by a resist, the fibres at the side being joined in a seam during the felting process. The different types of resists (open/closed) and materials used, seam considerations and shrinkage rate and template size are discussed in detail.

Pillow covers, book covers, slippers and boots, vessels, sculptural objects (like the photo above and below made using an old butter cooler as a resist) and a myriad of creative bags can be produced in this way, not to mention hats, the subject of Chapter Seven, from berets and head-hugging cloches to hoods, wide-brimmed hats, fedoras and some very artistic and creative examples. Hat sizes; making hat templates; using hat blocks, and stiffeners and embellishments are all discussed. Anita Larkin is a sculptor, who uses felt to create some amazing 3-D vessels and objects. https://timelesstextiles.com.au/artist/anita-larkin-2/.

late sept 047Felt can also be very light and airy with the inclusion of silk (Chapter Eight: Nuno Felting) and holes (Chapter Nine: Cobweb Felting). Both chapters include definitions and detailed notes on techniques, as well as projects like scarves and shawls, vests, hats, cushions  and curtains.

My first experience with felting was helping a friend make a raw sheep wool floor rug, using an old bamboo blind as a roller and Chapter Ten on larger projects would have been very useful, though the emphasis of this chapter is really more on making felt garments: tops and vests, tunics and dresses, and skirts, as well as including  notes on garment patterns and templates. Jorie Johnson (http://www.joirae.com/)  makes some beautiful contemporary clothing and is the featured artist in this chapter. Another wonderful felt garment designer is Norwegian artist, May Jacobsen Hvistendahl, whose work can be seen at:  http://www.filtmaker.no/eng/index.html.

It is really fun making felt with others, as it can be a time-consuming process and it’s a great way to bond not only the fibres, but also community and friendship ties, as discussed in the final Chapter Eleven, along with teaching feltmaking, community projects like rugs, felting weird and wonderful creations for theatre, and framing and finishing felt. There is an extensive glossary and list of artists, resources and relevant websites in the back. An excellent book!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-60

It is also well worth joining a felting group like Victorian Feltmakers http://www.vicfelt.org/ or the Feltmakers of WA: http://www.feltwest.org.au and attending a few workshops to master the practical aspects. I belonged to the Victorian Feltmakers and some of the memorable workshops I attended were:

Phyllis Hoffman: Felting a Scarf July 2010 / Felting a Hat August 2010.

BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 051Great fun, as I did these workshops with some of my fellow students from my textile course at Box Hill TAFE. BlogFeltBooks50%late july 2010 029 I was so impressed with my friend Heather’s hat!BlogFeltBooks50%july also 002 Phyllis is a great teacher too! You can find out more about her at: https://www.stonehousegallery.com/phyllis-hoffman.html.

Elizabeth Armstrong: Felt Art Dolls August 2010

Like me, Elizabeth LOVES colour (see her fabrics below) and I absolutely adored this inspirational workshop!BlogFeltBooks50lt 014BlogFeltBooks50lt 017She is so enthusiastic and fun! Here she is behind our workshop dolls. The grey bird dolls are samples of her work.

 

On the first day, we made our material using prefelts, roving, yarn and even chiffon ribbon, then the next day, we had to take a deep breath and cut into our beautiful precious homemade fabric, then assemble and embellish the dolls with embroidery, appliquéd felt pieces and hand-painted faces. Below are photos of my fabric pre- and post-felting.BlogFeltBooks50lt 015BlogFeltBooks50lt 016 I loved my earth goddess Gaia, even though I forgot to sew in a base!BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.40.37BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-98 Elizabeth’s website is: http://elizabeth-armstrong.blogspot.com.au/.

Sue Pearl: Crazy Felt Critters  February 2012

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Sue Pearl gave a workshop at the Victorian Felters and  we were very lucky to be able to attend. My strange alien creature left a bit to be desired, but gave me a feel for creating 3-D toys.BlogFeltBooks50%IMG_9937

Sue’s website is at: http://www.feltbetter.com/. But now,  back to the books…!!!

Felt To Stitch: Creative Felting for Textile Artists by Sheila Smith 2006

Another excellent guide covering similar topics to the previous book: Hand-rolled felting; making prefelts; nuno felting, 3-D hollow forms; cobweb felting and needle-punched felting, but also has a big section on design with detailed discussions on colour, texture, line, shape and pattern.

There are instructions on colour mixing; using acid dyes; rainbow dyeing; making fibre paper; shibori; low-relief designs; using Markal Paintstiks; stencilling and printing. Projects include book covers; bags; cords, toggles and balls.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-58

Felted Bags, Boots and Other Things by Cendrine Armani 2007

Making bags and boots are so well explained in this book with step-by-step notes, supported by excellent colour photographs of all the tools and each stage of each process: Flat felting; felting with a template; mixing colours; cutout motifs and insets; lining bags; inserting magnetised clasps and eyelets, embroidery; and making balls and pendants, and that’s just the first section!

The rest of the book is devoted to 56 bright and colourful projects from pencil cases, pouches and purses to jewellery, felt flowers, slippers and bags. It is certainly a very inspiring and practical book and makes you want to leap out there and start felting!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-69

Felted objects can also be needlefelted using a dry felting process or stitched from flat felt pieces and/ or embroidered, as showcased in the next four books. The first book describes dry felting, which uses felting needles to work wool roving into shapes, while the other three books create flowers and toys from patterns cut out of sheets of wool felt, stitched together and embroidered.BlogFeltBooks2017-08-28 18.04.28Sweet Needle Felts: 25 Projects to Wear, Give and Hug by Jenn Docherty 2008

While I haven’t done much needle felting (it’s a bit too time consuming for me!), it is good to have a book, which describes all the tools and techniques, as well as a number of small projects from flower pins and gumdrop rings to belts, coasters, book covers, purses and toys like the cute ones on the cover. A good book for crafters, who love felt, but don’t want to work with water!!!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-64

Felt Fresh Flowers: 17 Stunning Flowers to Sew and Display by Lynne Farris 2007

A very useful book for the middle of severe Winter, when the garden is fast asleep and nothing much is happening in the way of blooms! We are very lucky here in Australia in that many of our native plants flower in the Winter and our milder warmer climate still allows for the blooming of camellias, violets and Winter honeysuckle. We still get heavy frosts in our garden though, so I am still attracted to the bright colours of the felted flowers in this book, though I am more likely to use them to embellish bags and hats!

Basic tools, materials and techniques are covered before detailed instructions for a range of blooms from African violets, gerberas, geraniums and daffodils to lilies, roses, iris and sunflowers. I particularly liked the tulips, nasturtiums, magnolias and tropical anthuriums!

BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-62

Felties: How To Make 18 Cute and Fuzzy Friends by Nelly Pailloux 2009

A sweet little book on making felt toys. Starting with brief notes on tools, templates, stuffing, sewing and embroidery, it contains patterns for some very cute and obscure creations from the sweet little Babushka Doll, the Mushroom Girl, Sleepy Fox and Pensive Rabbit to the Pirate Mouse, Hoodie Wolf, Retro Alien and Sun-Loving Rat!BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-63

Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects by Salley Mavor 2003

Salley Mavor (https://weefolkstudio.com/) is well-known for her imaginative fairy worlds and creative appliquéd and embroidered felt purses, bags and brooches.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-61

I made my daughter a felt bird purse using one of her patterns.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-04 09.49.18 I also love the appliquéd felt work of artist Renee Harris. See:   http://www.reneeharris.net/Pages/GalleriesMenu.html.

Here are some photos of my felt appliqué work, which you will no doubt recognise from previous posts: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFeltBooks2517-12-06 08.18.25Steiner education is big on felt for all the same reasons that I love it. It’s a natural organic material, has wonderful colours and texture, is easily worked by children and makes imaginative and creative toys! I recently visited their shop, Winterwood Toys, in Warranwood, Victoria, to check out their beautiful felts.BlogFeltBooks2518-03-19 11.39.05

It is always a wonderful and inspiring experience, as is a digital visit to their website: https://www.winterwoodtoys.com.au/!

BlogFeltBooks2518-03-23 17.16.40They stock wet felting supplies and a huge colour range of hand-dyed and commercially dyed 100 percent pure wool felts (photo above), as well as toys, patterns and kits and books, many of which hail from Germany, the birthplace of Steiner education, as well as the origin of some wonderful felt designers and creations like the toys and Christmas decorations sent to us by our daughter Jen, who has been teaching in Germany for two years.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 19.41.16Here are three felt books, which I have bought from Steiner shops over the years.

Creative Felt: Felting and Making More Toys and Gifts by Angelika Wolk-Gerche 2007/2009

Another good basic guide to felting, but with an emphasis on felting with children and imaginative play, a key tent of Steiner education.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-59 The history of felting, different fibre types, setting up the workplace, preparing the wool, natural dyeing, the basic felting process, creative possibilities (mixing colour, collages and felt pictures, modelling and embroidery) and felting with children are all topics covered in the first section of the book, followed by lots of suggestions for felt projects: Hats and jewellery; slippers and hot water bottle covers; felt envelopes and gift wrap; book covers and treasure pouches; juggling balls; dolls and accessories; toy animals and puppets; and Easter rabbits, seasonal toys and dioramas and Christmas decorations.BlogFeltBooks2016-01-01 01.00.00-112Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994/2001  

More Steiner toys and child-oriented projects are included in this book.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-67 They include wooden and felt gnomes, angels, flower children, fairies and dolls, jesters, finger puppets, ducks, butterfly mobiles, snails, dogs and cats, horses, mice and balls, as well as felt pictures and books, jewellery, bookmarks, boxes, egg cosies, purses and cases. Here are some egg cosies and felt toys, made by my children when they were young, as well as some finger puppets.BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.35.35BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.34.43BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-79I love making felt toys and would not be without the next book, which I have used to make camels and pigs for my daughters!

Sew Soft Toys : Using Natural Fibres by Karin Neuschütz 1996/2007

After a brief discussion of sewing with natural fibres, stuffing materials, and tips for sewing and stuffing toys, it gets straight into instructions for the toys themselves: Dogs and cats; mice and rabbits, farmyard animals, marine animals, African animals, and bears, foxes and weasels.BlogFeltBooks2516-01-01 01.00.00-65 They are lovely patterns with excellent clear instructions and illustrations and the toy animals are just so cute! Below are photos of Jen’s camel and Caro’s piglet, which I embroidered as well!:

BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 012 BlogFeltBooks25rly march 2013 014I could easily make every animal in this book! And perhaps over the years I will, gradually recreating my husband’s old family Christmases!BlogFeltBooks2515-10-13 15.06.45Over the years, I have also made embroidered birds and fruit, Christmas angels and dear little felt mice, as seen in the photos below.BlogFeltBooks2015-04-22 08.55.47BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.34.34BlogFeltBooks2015-10-13 14.31.53BlogFeltBooks50%midjune 046BlogFeltBooks3015-04-22 08.56.18 - CopyAK Traditions (https://aktraditions.com/pages/about-us) in Prahan, Melbourne, Victoria, is another source of wonderful Central Asian felt toys, some of them featured in the photos below:BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.41BlogFeltBooks2518-04-28 15.37.19And finally, some of my favourite books for felting inspiration! These books are wonderful and showcase the imaginative work of two contemporary European feltmakers, as well as showing the enormous creative possibilities afforded by felt!

Filz Spiel: The Felted Play by Annette Quentin-Stoll 2010

Annette is a German artist (born 1978), who was introduced to felt in Finland, and she produces the most amazing sculptured hats, bags, costumes, vessels, games, toys and puppets, based on cones and spheres, concertina folds and pleats, elastic structures and even the incorporation of marbles.BlogFeltBooks3016-01-01 01.00.00-70 I just loved her Rainbow Worm, her Dragon and Elephants, her mouse finger puppets, snail and star rings, animal bags and spiky swim hats and seed pod vessels. She has also written three other felt books: Filz Ornament (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzornament/); Filz Experiment (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzexperiment/) and Filz Geschichten (https://www.galeriebuch.de/en/gallery-books/filzgeschichten/).

Gentle Threads: Felts of Judit Pócs

Judit Pócs (born 1976) is a Hungarian artist, whose work I simply adore!  She dyes the raw wool before felting and like the previous artist has a fabulous sense of colour and fun!BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-73 She too makes weird and wonderful sculptured hats, exotic colourful bags and fabulous toys, all featured in this book, as well as in the gallery on her website: http://pocsjuditstudio.hu/gallery2/.

I also own her inspiring video:

Video: On Gentle Threads About Feltmaking by Judit Pócs and István Rittgasser 2007.

It is a wonderful accompaniment to the book and is spoken in Hungarian and English.BlogFeltBooks4016-01-01 01.00.00-72 In it, Judit generously demonstrates the making of a rug, based on the felt origin myth of Noah’s Ark, as well as a scarf, a bag, two of her amazing sculptural hats and a wonderful stylised crested lizard. She makes the magical process of felting all look so easy, even though her work is incredible skilful! There are also delightfully quirky animations and the catchy music of Krulik Zoltán, the founder and leader of Hungarian ethnomusic band Makám (www.makam.hu).

To view stills from  the film, see: http://www.filmkultura.hu/regi/2008/articles/films/szelidszalakon.en.html.

I  will finish with a gallery of my felt cushions, which you will recognise from previous posts.BlogFeltBooks2016-08-22 14.53.46BlogFeltBooks2017-03-28 14.02.24BlogFeltBooks2518-04-25 12.07.18BlogFeltBooks2016-11-15 12.55.50BlogFeltBooks2016-02-23 13.13.36

 

Victorian Foraging

In late March, we had a short minibreak for a few days to celebrate my friend’s birthday and revisit Victoria, our first trip back in three years! We crossed the Snowy Mountains through Dead Horse Gap, stopping for a picnic lunch on the upper reaches of the Murray River at Tom Groggin (first photo) and a spectacular view of the western fall of the Main Range at Scammell’s Lookout (second photo).BlogVicForaging2518-03-17 12.04.48-1BlogVicForaging2518-03-17 13.35.42By late afternoon, we reached our first destination, The Witches Garden, deep in the Mitta Mitta Valley (http://thewitchesgarden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/TheWitchesGarden-Brochure.pdf and http://thewitchesgarden.com/). I had wanted to visit this garden for years, as the owners, Felicity and Lew, grow many herbs and medicinal plants. It’s a delightfully informal spot with many interesting corners and features, including a Lake and Monet Bridge, a Gallery, full of Felicity’s beautiful oils and pastels, a huge covered Vegetable Garden and a Witches’ Cottage, of course, complete with an extensive collection of broomsticks, lots of dust and cobwebs and a weird and wonderful assortment of magical accoutrements!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0363BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0370 We particularly loved the Parterre Garden with its Islamic design, its bright colours and all its arches covered with huge old climbing roses and the blowsy, romantic and informal Flower Garden, overflowing with bright colours and Autumn abundance.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0373BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0387BlogVicForaging2518-03-17 17.02.07 I was able to identify my Clerodendron bungei, which I grew from a cutting from my sister’s garden (first photo below) and was happy to see that the Abutilon (second photo below) could still be grown in a frosty climate.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0396BlogVicForaging2518-03-17 16.54.10 The chooks and dogs accompanied us on our rounds, then we had a long chat to Felicity and Lew at the end. They very kindly gave us some seeds for orange cosmos (second photo) and the delightfully named Polygonum, Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate (third photo).BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0410BlogVicForaging2518-03-17 17.02.18-1BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0395The next day, we visited the Bendigo Art Gallery to view the Marimekko Exhibition, which proved to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable gallery experiences we have ever had. See: http://www.bendigoartgallery.com.au/Exhibitions/Now_showing/Marimekko_Design_Icon_1951_to_2018. The bright colours and bold designs of the huge fabric panels, clothing and homeware were wonderful!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0505BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0487 Being three weeks in for a three month exhibition, there was only a small audience and having booked a one-hour time slot, we were able to take our time and really appreciate it all, revisiting each section at least three times.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0501BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0428 We were also allowed to take as many photographs as we liked, so long as we didn’t use a flash, an added bonus! I adored these two panels!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0472BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0514After lunch, we visited Frogmore Gardens (https://www.frogmoregardens.com.au/), an amazing boutique mail order nursery at Lerderberg in the Central Highlands of Victoria. Their perennial display gardens are only open in Autumn from the 9th March to the 30th April each year and are well worth exploring!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0539BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0525 The Sunset Borders were jam-packed with dahlias and zinnias, calendulas and yarrow, coreopsis and rudbeckias, and celosias and lobelias, with tall red hot pokers, cannas and verbascums at the back.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0540BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0543 The garden beds were bursting with colour: hot oranges, rich golds and bright reds, which contrasted well with the purple self-sown verbena, the formal green hedges and paths, and the serene backdrop of the Wombat State Forest behind.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0531BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0530 The Bishop’s Border was a study in deep purples and velvety reds, soft pinks, blues and mauves with berberis, amaranth, dahlias, zinnias and asters.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0565BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0551 I was quite taken with the Succisella inflexa ‘Frosted Pearls’. BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0563The ethereal Pale Garden was dedicated to white and lemon blooms: Gaura and white Cosmos and Centaurea americana ‘Aloha Blanca’, Beach Sunflowers Helianthus debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’ and a variety of asters and gysophila.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0570BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0568 The informal Prairie Garden was just wonderful and full of beautiful wavy grasses and structural teasel!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0578BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0585 The owners, Jack Marshall and Zena Bethell were so generous with their time and chatted with us long after closing time! For more about this beautiful garden, please read: http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-cornucopia-of-colour/9435514.

The following day, after a quick visit to the inspiring and highly imaginative and creative Winterwood (https://www.winterwoodtoys.com.au/), where I investigated the different types of Steiner wool felt and drooled over the toys, books and other craft supplies, we celebrated my friend’s birthday with an equally inspiring visit to Alowyn Gardens (http://www.alowyngardens.com.au/).

BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0609BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0613BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0643I adored this place from its long shady Japanese Wisteria arbours (first photo above), formal Parterre (second photo above) and French Provincial Gardens (third photo above) to its Prairie Display Gardens, Birch Forest with its underplantings of bulbs, cyclamen and hellebores and succulent dry creek bed, and beautiful perennial borders, as can be seen in the photos below! There’s Birthday Girl, blending in with the amaranth!BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0630BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0647BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0709BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0721 However, the highlight for us was the bountiful Edible Garden with avenues of olive trees, underplanted with rosemary; quinces (first photo below) and persimmons; apples and pears; and crab apples, including the gorgeous Golden Hornet (second photo below),BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0680BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0663BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0704 sunflowers (third photo above) and fantastical gourds; and vegetables of every kind, including some rather  stunning Royal Purple and Danish Jester chillies.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0666BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0674BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0676BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0653BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0654 Here are some more photos of the entrance area.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0734BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0601BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0599The next day was a planthunter’s heaven with a driving tour of the nurseries beyond the Dandenong Ranges. First up, a visit to the wholesale tube stock nursery,  Larkman’s Nursery (http://www.larkmannurseries.com.au/www/home/), which fortunately sells to the public through the mail order nursery, Di’s Delightful Plants (http://www.disdelightfulplants.com.au/), from which we purchased a range of tiny lavender tubestocks, future parents of lavender plants for our future Lavender Bank: English Lavender L. angustifolia ssp angustifolia; and Dwarf English Lavender L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’; French Lavender L. dentata ‘Monet’; Mitchum Lavender L. x allardi and a range of lavandins: L. x intermedia ‘Grosso’, ‘Seal’ and ‘Super’.BlogVicForaging2518-04-07 08.43.52It was wonderful to acquaint ourselves with all the nurseries in this area, as we had missed out on them during our time in Victoria as we were renting at that stage, so gardening was not on the agenda! We called into my favourite source of bulbs,  Tesselaars (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/);  the Wishing Well Nursery (https://wishingwellmonbulk.wordpress.com/) and Yamina Rare Plants in  (http://www.yaminarareplants.com.au/) before finishing the day with an interesting visit to the Salvia Study Group Display Gardens at Nobelius Heritage Park, Emerald.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0753BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0739And then,  it was homeward bound, calling into the wonderful rambly Jindivick Country Gardener Rare Plant Nursery, at Jindivick, south-west of Neerim South, en route (http://www.jindivickcountrygardener.com.au/)! Specialising in rare plants, David Musker and Philip Hunter will be moving the nursery to their home at the beautiful Broughton Hall nearby. See: http://www.jindivickcountrygardener.com.au/broughton-hall/ and their Instagram photos at: https://www.instagram.com/thegardenatbroughtonhall/.

As they share my love of Old Roses, I will definitely try to visit their garden on the Melbourne Cup weekend one year, when the Old Roses will be in full bloom! David suggested we pop in to say hello to Stan Nieuwesteeg of Kurinda Rose Nursery (http://www.warragulgardenclub.com/339592389),  just to the south at Warragul (photo above), but unfortunately he was not there, though we did enjoy looking at his selection of potted roses. BlogVicForaging2518-03-22 11.46.35My birthday friend had recommended a sidetrip to Mossvale Park, between Leongatha and Mirboo North in South Gippsland  (https://www.visitpromcountry.com.au/attractions/mossvale-park),  so we stopped there for a picnic lunch.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0796 This beautiful park contains some of the oldest and tallest elm trees in the Southern Hemisphere (photo above) and its sound shell (photo below) makes it a popular music venue.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0783 There is a list of all the park trees at: https://www.visitpromcountry.com.au/uploads_files/mossvale-park-2.pdf and the photo of the park board below lists the significant trees.BlogVicForaging20%DSCN0770 Fortunately, we only had one overnight stop at Marlo on the mouth of the Snowy River, a wonderful spot for birdwatching and a definite return visit one day! The photos below show the mouth of the Snowy River, where it enters the sea, and the East Cape of Cape Conran, just to the east of Marlo. BlogVicForaging2518-03-23 09.00.40BlogVicForaging2518-03-23 10.05.05 It certainly was a lovely mini-break away to recharge our batteries and discover some beautiful Autumn gardens! Next week, we are back to my craft book library with a post on some of my favourite paper-craft books!