Thursday, May 6, 2021

AN AUTUMN GARDEN TOUR

 


Hello there,
I have been away on holiday...
and am very grateful that we have been able to do so.
We flew to Sydney, and then went on to a tour:
'Autumn Gardens of the Blue Mountains'.

We see very little Autumn colour here in the sub-tropics, and this was a rare treat.


Situated to the West of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range, and enjoy a much cooler climate.  The area was settled in the early 1800s by English people keen to have cool country retreats, and yes, sadly displacing the local aboriginal people in the process.


We saw ten gardens over four days, travelling by coach.
They ranged from very large to very small, and were all remarkably different.
The beautiful Japanese Maple was the one constant, gorgeous in its red Autumn colour.


Our Tour leader was horticulturist Elizabeth Swane,  member of a famous Australian plant nursery and rose-growing family.  She guests on ABC Radio and writes for several national magazines.
Elizabeth led our little group of 12 garden enthusiasts with great cheer and a sense of fun.  She shared her knowledge and took care of tour matters very competently...
She even shared a bag of mandarins from her own citrus tree!



Of course, I took hundreds of photos.
I think the whole group agreed the Best Garden was this one, 'Windyridge Garden' at Mount Wilson.
It features lots of cool climate plants, water features, sculptures, and the prettiest lake of the many lakes encountered:





The Most Fascinating Garden Host, was surely Peter Piggot, current owner of Yengo Sculpture Garden.  It was our fourth garden that day, and Peter greeted us with a glass of champagne, seated us in his living room, and told us all about his Colonial Garden, which he has tended for fifty years.  It was established in 1877.

Yengo means the place of many trees in the Gundungurra language.


Peter Piggot has commissioned and installed many cast bronze sculptures and water features in his garden, the work of two international sculptors, Lloyd Le Blanc and Judith Holmes Drewry.





A Giant North American cedar, much larger than it appears here.
We could creep inside:


Under the canopy it looks like this.  The tree sends out these 'saplings' from the main trunk (right in the picture) which go out then up.  The whole tree is covered in a thick canopy of green.  I imagine in ancient times these trees would have provided man with shelter.

Brolgas, by Lloyd le Blanc




My Largest Garden award goes to Mayfield Garden, a vast privately-owned cool climate garden at Oberon, to the West of the Blue Mountains. 

Mayfield is relatively new, begun in the 1980s, and continues to expand.  38 acres are now open with growing collections of Maples, Oaks, Birch and Beech, and many more.


We began our tour on a hilltop, where the owner has built a stone chapel for his daughter's wedding:



We wound our way down to the lower level ponds and streams...
Everything at Mayfield is Big!


The Grotto...

The house of the owner is up on the hill.

The Red Japanese Bridge...



The lily ponds inspired by Monet...



Vast plantings of trees...


Bridges and rills, ponds and lakes...
It was astonishing.
It would be good to be able to see into the future, and what it will be like in fifty years time...



Best Tough Climate Garden would have to be the beautiful Highfields Country Garden, at Little Hartley.

This eight acre property was established just recently, in 2014, and was an education in a prairie garden on a cold, wind-swept, bare hill.  Lots of grasses and flowers hug the hillside with a path winding down to a small pond at the bottom.  Seed heads are left to dry on the plants as a part of the life cycle, enabling reseeding and rejuvenation of the plants the following season. 
The many stone work paths, bridges and water runs done by one of the owners were quite amazing.  Does he ever sleep?

 




Olives! We think we might try to grow one of these..








Our charming hosts provided us with a cup of tea at the end of a beautiful afternoon.



There has to be a smallest, and it was last on the programme, a tiny garden in the town of Leura, about the size of six car parking spots.


The home of an artist, this converted former commercial space with studio and living area, it is just big enough for an enchanting little mountain garden on a steep slope.













This was an excellent choice to end our tour.  A small, compact garden is all most of us have, and there were lots of inspirational ideas to be found.

We ended our tour with a delicious dinner at Le Petite Chateau, a regional restaurant in a farmhouse.





The owners' pet goats bleat Goodnight under last week's super moon.


Our trip was possible because the border between Queensland and New South Wales has been open for some time.  We travelled very carefully, wore masks in our Sydney hotel, and were mindful of distancing at all times.  The choice of a garden tour was certainly influenced by the desire for outside venues, and fresh country air.  We were socially distanced on our big tour coach.

Happily, we managed several visits to our twin grandsons before and after the garden tour, which was an absolute delight.

And now, safely home, we realise just how fortunate we were, as The Virus has emerged again in the Sydney community.  If we had been in the relevant areas, we would now have to quarantine but luckily that was not the case.

What a game of roulette our lives have become, but there is no other country in the world I would prefer to have spent the past year than here in Australia.

Be safe, take care.

XXXXX


The twins are crawling and exploring the world in their little boots for cold days.











28 comments:

  1. Just the sort of tour I like! I enjoyed all your photos, and how nice that they made a swan treat to match!
    Amalia
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was such a delightful tour! Glad you enjoyed the photos, I wish I could share all of them. Maybe I can squeeze out another post. Well spotted re the swan, they are very big on the local gardens scene. xo

      Delete
  2. Dear Patricia - I am so pleased that you managed to have such a special holiday, it looks to have been a really lovely trip. All of the gardens looked spectacular wearing their lovely autumn colours. It was fortunate that you managed to fit it in before the virus decided to hit Sydney. Having to isolate away from home could be very costly and difficult too. To combine such a beautiful trip and see the twins must have been an added special bonus.
    Everything is opening up here for us too in a couple of weeks time so we are also taking a holiday. I am really looking forward to having my meals prepared and not having to think about buying or cooking food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you dear Rosemary. We were only sure we could go at the last moment, because we never know what will happen next. When I saw information about the tour I knew immediately it was a great opportunity to see family and have a little holiday with one trip by air, and everything worked out well. I am so pleased for you that things are opening up again in the UK, and look forward to hearing about your holiday too. And yes, having someone else do the meals is always a major part of the enjoyment :)

      Delete
  3. Beautiful tour. It does a heart good to read and see photos of blogger's travels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, that is very kind. I am so grateful we could travel for a short while, it was so refreshing. My heart goes out to those who are in lockdowns around the world.

      Delete
  4. Patricia, it's so pretty at Autumn there. We have two seasons to go before Fall hits, and I'm anxious to see what it's like since I've moved to the mountains. The gardens you visited are lovely as ever. I love the photo of the Fall leaves draping over the stone wall. That little bridge with the pond is so charming, and the red tree is beautiful. Wishing my dear friend blog a Happy Mother's Day, and I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Sunday. I got some presents in the mail from the girls, and it's always fun and special to get goodies. : )

    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sheri, I thought that wall looked great too. We saw many little ponds and bridges, and all were absolutely charming. I wish you a lovely Mothers Day too. We are going out to lunch with family, which will be a sweet way to spend the day. And I too received presents in the mail, so special for us both :)

      Delete
  5. Oh I agree Patricia with family in Central America and the UK Australia is definitely the place to be. Glad you got to Sydney to see your twins and to take that fabulous tour. We have decided that we need to move. My husband has Parkinson’s and stairs are getting a bit tricky so we are surrounded by cartons tape and bubble wrap.... it’s a move of truly epic proportions. I think I have timed things so that we are in our rental ( the between homes rental) just in time to relax at the art gallery viewing the exhibition. I like the succulents in pots under the bench by the way .... filed away for our new garden. Cheers. Lindsey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, what a big challenge, packing to move. I hope you find an appealing new home. We are quite fearful of downsizing in case we hate it! I do hope you come to the gallery one day. I too liked the line of succulents and am on a mission to do it here. Cheers P.

      Delete
    2. We are definitely not downsizing but need a low set home as Phil has Parkinson’s and is finding the stairs and our driveway somewhat tricky. Definitely 4 bedrooms and good sized garden on the list!

      Delete
  6. Oh I agree Patricia with family in Central America and the UK Australia is definitely the place to be. Glad you got to Sydney to see your twins and to take that fabulous tour. We have decided that we need to move. My husband has Parkinson’s and stairs are getting a bit tricky so we are surrounded by cartons tape and bubble wrap.... it’s a move of truly epic proportions. I think I have timed things so that we are in our rental ( the between homes rental) just in time to relax at the art gallery viewing the exhibition. I like the succulents in pots under the bench by the way .... filed away for our new garden. Cheers. Lindsey.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a lovely holiday you had and at a lovely time of year. Autumn is such a colourful time in gardens and you have seen some very beautiful and different ones. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rosie, I love Autumn, but we see few coloured leaves here in Brisbane - so of course I love to go South and see some real classical Autumn trees. It was a real treat.

      Delete
  8. Your autumn garden tour looks like a wonderful time away. Such glorious colour there, just as our colours are the bright clear ones of spring flowers! Australia has done so well with the pandemic. I think your family in Canada are in Ontario, and that province is having a wretched time.
    I enjoyed reading about the gardens and your "awards" for each one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lorrie, Yes, sadly Ontario is indeed having a wretched time. Fortunately our little family can go out on weekend hikes in the country for a bit of fresh air. Otherwise they are all housebound these days. The gardens were magical, and we are so inspired. We want sculpture now :)

      Delete
  9. Oh how I wish I could have been on this tour with you. I thank you very much for sharing your beautiful photos of the gardens. And to end your post with those 2 pairs of boots, just precious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What fun it would have been to have my blogging friends along! We all love beauty, and blooms, and a good view :)
      Those little twins are indeed precious, and now they are sitting up.

      Delete
  10. How breathtakingly beautiful, Trish! You are teaching me about Australia, and I always enjoy seeing what your post! I wish I could travel to all the parts of the world where I've not yet been.

    It's amazing how fast babies become toddlers! Those boots are big!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Debra, of course my pictures are only a poor representation of the brilliant jewel colours of Autumn. It is an interesting place, just West of Sydney, but about 10 deg. cooler, so completely different plants. The boots look big, but they are still babies, just learning to sit and crawl.

      Delete
  11. Patricia, that will be so nice if you plant some California Poppies in your garden. They really are pretty with a vibrant orange color. We aren't supposed to pick them here in Calif., cause they are the state flower, but they grow wild on the ridges of the countryside and other areas for us to see and enjoy. I saw them at the creek when I visited, and it was a pleasant surprise. They are one of the most cheerful flowers I've seen. Have a sweet day.

    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am trying to decide where to plant my poppy seeds. They are such a vibrant colour indeed. How lovely that they are your state flower Sheri.

      Delete
  12. I'm so sorry I'm late here, Patricia! But what a stunning display. The trees, plants and shrubs are so beautiful and the colours are amazing. I never imagined it would be quite so varied there. Fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Trish!
    What amazing photos!! I'm so glad you were able to have the freedome to explore again. It's beginning to feel a lot more normal around here now too. I loved all the areas you toured but I love that windyridge too (it reminds me a bit of here 😊 ) and the Monet inspired lilypads. Love his work so much.
    And then to get to top it off with grandkiddo time and yummy treats - well that is perfection in a holiday. Blessings on the rest of your week. ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great pictures, thanks for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I lingered over this post enjoying every picture and soaking up every word. You did a terrific job of sharing your adventure with us. Isn't it wonderful to be able to get out again even if it is still in a restricted way? I had lunch (outdoor seating) with my daughter and granddaughter recently. I was so happy to be able to do so after a year and a half or more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I just came "looking for you" dear Trish when I realized I had not seen a post for a while! Here I discovered you did post in May but somehow I apparently never saw it in my feed! So pleased to know you took this beautiful trip to such amazing and gorgeous gardens......and of course that you were able to visit with the twins. The photos are super - my own garden is small in comparison to many!
    We still haven't traveled anywhere yet but have a trip planned for July up to New Hampshire & Maine - always an annual 'back home visit' for Bob, except for last year when it was canceled like everything else!
    All good here - getting relief for the Polymyalgia via meds and diet! Feeling happier now vaccinated and being able to spend time with family and friends - still cautious though.
    Sending hugs - take care.
    Mary x

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Trish, I wondered if I'd commented on this beautiful post, but I see I have. I do hope all is well with you. It must have been wonderful to have this gorgeous holiday. I do hope we'll see you back again soon!

    ReplyDelete