Sunday, 11 January 2009

My Gardening Inspiration: Foxglove Spires, Tilba Tilba

Each year, the Machinist takes us down the coast and usually, we end up at Tilba Tilba, but more importantly, I get my annual fix at Foxglove Spires open garden.

Last year, (sounds long ago) we were too busy with renovating the shop to go to the coast and the little time we had off over Christmas and New Year was spent idling on the couch and getting the Young Adults to bring us food and drinks....

I've been working in the garden, and when I do, I always think of the magical Foxglove Spires. I wrote about the garden experience some time ago, and thought I would enclose it again in this post, as follows:

Snuggled between green hills, and almost as if one has been 'telepod-ed' to the English countryside, 'Tilba Tilba' oozes her beauty and charm to all those who happen upon this quaint Australian coastal village. Each year she calls; a calling to which we gratefully submit. Each year there are changes. New businesses spring up; their owners excited and challenged at the prospect of operating in this rural locality. Old world lolly shops, a cobbler, a cheese factory, gift shops, a tanner, a bakery, a toy shop, coffee shops, a woodturner and gallery, a general store and a couple of hotels and bed and breakfast establishments line the main street. A street that could splutter out much gossip, if ever asked.


There is one business, however, that has been there for some years now. An open garden. A garden that began life as a bare paddock, with horses and a few trees. A garden that became a young mother's obsession. A garden that has now, in more ways than one, bared fruit. Fruit on the trees and the fruit of success from labours borne. The garden, Foxglove Spires, consists of three and a half acres of feasting for the eyes. From the moment one 'floats' beneath the 100 metre stretch of Espalier pear arbour, ~ the entrance to the garden ~ there is much striving to absorb the abundance of beauty. Striving and wrestling in the anticipated frustration of knowing that not all will be seen in one visit.

Two gigantic Norfolk Island pines guard the homestead, like wise men of old. Wise and wary and forever watching. Soldiers perhaps. Guards. They tower over the rest of the garden. They watch as one roams through the many garden rooms and walks......

Lining 'Crabapple Walk' are the purple and pink shades of foxgloves, the garden's namesake, which seem to stand so strong and upright for their height. Proud almost. Forget-me-nots and lambsears sit faithfully at the base of their stalks. Suddenly, a pond - lined with water irises and Lombardy poplars. A Redwood stands nearby. Wild ducks on the pond, their necks turned and tucked, floating dreamily - in their own perfect haven. This is surely a place to sit and ponder - even reminisce, soaking in the tranquillity. A mock church ruin, grown between the weeping willows adds to the setting. A 'live' set. A set which any and all visitors play a part, should they perchance to dream.....

Further along is the camelia and azalea walk, which seems to 'serve' the line of liquidamber and prunus trees, growing behind. An explosion of colour, and so perfectly matched. Purple-burgundy/ lemon-lime. Gently sloping now to Cedar Hill. Canopies touching, creating tunnels. Shade. Muddy and sometimes slippery paths underneath. It is here that the smell of the earth provokes a sense of wonderment. Earth; the substance. Earth; the base for the growth which spreads in all directions. Breath-catching. Emotionally choking. Delightful!

From Cedar Hill, and walking into the sun, there is a quandry of which path to take; the one to Bluebell and Oak wood? Pear Circle and Daffodil ring? Citrus Walk? Wild Rose Garden? The Shadehouse? A bench, perched in the centre of the garden, surrounded by Iceberg roses, provides a place to decide. To wrestle further. From here, Mount Dromederry can be seen peeking above the tree tops. Wherever one finds oneself in this bounty, there is continual fragrance, as well as plant life grown in wild abandonment. Every room with it's own atmosphere, calling on each visitor to use their senses.

Which path again?

Pear and Daffodil Circle, ~ pear trees, encircling a patch of a variety of daffodils. Bluebell and Oak Wood, ~ a path running between the trees, with an old gate at the top end of the wood, standing alone with no fence. Citrus Grove, ~ a grove of lemon and orange trees, planted in an arc, with a bench in the 'belly' of the arc. Wild Rose Garden ~ old world roses grown in a formal diamond design, with pebble paths dividing each patch. The Shadehouse ~ a cool, dark place. A room covered in rambling honeysuckle.....

Nut Walk, which flows into Apple Tree Lane often claims the victory of previous indecision. 'Latticed' apple trees grow on one side of the lane, while on the other side, berry bushes mixed with honeysuckle spill over. Structured disorder.

The vegetable patch indicates that the old homestead is nearby. The house and then the garden exit through Foxglove Spires' Nursery. Medicinal and culinary herbs are mixed with a variety of vegetables in the pottager. They are planted using the companion plant method. A few pansies, violets, marigolds and nasturtiums are grown for colour as well as protection to other plants. Doctor plants. Moments are spent noting what thrives. Alas, time has slipped away yet again......

But......before leaving, a peek at the coop! Greenery planted around the coop, bales of hay within. Feathered friends of multicultural backgrounds peck, hop, run, cackle, perch and doze. They live in a 'Rolls-Royce' hen-house. Happy chickens. Complacent ducks and geese. Peace. Harmony. Not only here, but throughout.....

Walking through the nursery exit, there is always a sense of exhale. Unsurpassed beauty has been experienced, lived. Could Foxglove Spires be remotely akin to the beauty of Eden? If not, then what is to come is uncomprehensible ....

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