The fruits of others’ labours

wisteria vines at Wanna Wanna

I love gardens. I like immersing myself in their sensory delights in different seasons. I like wandering around and admiring all the hard work that’s gone into creating a magnificent living sculpture. I like the quirky touches and the serendipitous pairings of plants and the way that you can turn a corner and find something new and beautiful.

But, I am a haphazard gardener, at best.

Which is why I adore open gardens. The generosity of people who share their lovely gardens with lazy sods like me (and, of course, other dedicated gardeners) just amazes me. I’ve seen newts in a garden in Edinburgh and ridden a mini train in a garden in south-east Queensland, and always been delighted by some element of each garden I’ve seen.

I joined Open Gardens Canberra not long after I moved here, and it’s currently the spring season for open gardens. Of course, the city has Floriade each year, which is a kind of huge open garden, but last weekend I visited two very different and very beautiful gardens.

Both were inspirational from a writing point of view.

The first was Wanna Wanna, at Carwoola, out near Captain’s Flat. This is an historic homestead with a glorious traditional garden – those are the twisted branches, in the image above, of the wisteria walk to the tennis court. I’m working on a story with a character who has inherited a much-loved, old garden, and Wanna Wanna was exactly what I needed to see… and smell, and touch, and enjoy.

Every garden ‘room’ brought fresh delights, but most intriguing was the literal room of the restored slab hut, which dates from 1859. I was fortunate enough to chat with one of the current owners, who explained some of what they’d done to turn the hut where the Taylor family raised nine children in the middle of the 19th century, into delightful guest accommodation – for two.

Not far away in distance, but a world apart in garden design, was Tour Rouge.

the tower and loggia of Tour RougeHere is the red tower which gives the property its name, attached to the loggia – an al fresco entertainment space which would inspire anyone to throw lavish parties just to show it off. Their online galleries show this amazing garden in all its glory.

the tower room at Tour RougeFor me, I could have spent the whole day – in fact quite a large number of days – tucked away in the gorgeous room at the top of the tower. What an absolutely perfect spot for writing!

So, a thousand thanks to Mike and Lybbie Hillman at Wanna Wanna, and to Danice and Rob Duffield of Tour Rouge, and to all the other gardeners who take part in open gardens.

Your hard work and generosity is very much appreciated.

And in the coming weekends, thanks to Open Gardens Canberra, I have more gardens to look forward to.