Country gardens. Once those words conjured up for me images of England in spring. Soft green lawns. Old fashioned chocolate boxes. Sweet peas and daffodils. Young girls dancing, skirts and ribbons fluttering around Maypoles. Punts on misty rivers. Percy Grainger.
This year’s Festival of Country Gardens has changed my view. probably forever, after generous gardeners opened thirty-one gardens in seven towns along the Blackwood River. The towns included Balingup, Greenbushes, Bridgetown, Boyup Brook, Nannup, Manjimup and Pemberton. Even those names hold magic for a Western Australian like me.
I’ve experienced the beauty possible when hard-working people create gardens against the backdrop of the Australian bush.
John and I thought we’d worked out which gardens we wanted to see before we drove south, but in the end, our decisions were pragmatic rather than informed, based on how close they were to one another. We’ve only seen nine gardens in the last five days because there has been so much to enjoy.
Gardens ranged from a quarter-acre town block to four acres surrounding a heritage listed farm-house. Two gardens grew and developed over a hundred years and one was just three years old. Quirkiness, formality, manicured and natural gardens caught our eyes. They delighted our senses and sent us away full of ideas for when we go home
Messages from different country gardens
- Country gardens are as varied as their owners
- Loved gardens evolve constantly and the signs of development add charm
- A few weeds and piles of dirt are a natural part of even the most special gardens and add to the intrigue and mystique.
- Owners fall in love with what they’ve created, although sometimes they passion they once felt fades because of age or ill-health or other limitations
- Some gardens are ‘cultivated’ for special occasions and others are loved for how they grow year round
I wish I could do justice to the beauty and the perfume of the gardens.
Congratulations to the Festival of Country Gardens Committee for organising this display and to all of the gardeners who opened their private gardens and hearts to the community and tourists.
Thank you also, to my sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Peter Worts, who invited us to stay in their lovely Bridgetown house for a holiday.
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