Rosalie Drew created her little piece of garden paradise over the years. Contentment is found as she spends her days in the garden, tidying up, pottering and observing. Thanks Rosalie for sharing your garden story with us.
First of all how would you describe your garden?
My garden is my pride and joy my little bit of heaven and somewhere I can let the world go by. It is a cottage un-manicured garden really, colour co-ordinated to a point but really just a joy and a home for little birds and the bees who visit for their daily bread. My climate is hot, hot summers mid 30’s to early 40’s and then down to minus 6 in the winter with quite severe frosts.
What do I grow? Well things that are drought hardy and frost tolerant, with some things that Rosalie just must have and get cut back with the frost and then carry on again.
Roses, Native Frangipani, Bulbs; Junipers; the wonderful May bushes, a dear little Clematis “Freckles” that winds it way up through the May and into the grape vine. A couple of Gardenia’s and my beautiful Bauhinia which hates the frosts, but at this point in time is amazing with its purple flowers. My Chinese star Jasmine covering the fence – Oh that perfume, Do you feel like you are walking with me, well I hope so. My lavenders wow, how happy the bees are and then my miniature citrus orchard, 3 tress with 3 different grafts on each, what fun that is. My little violets purchased at the Toowoomba Garden festival nestled under the row of Skyrockets camouflaging the Back shed.
Then we reach the boundary fence with a row of Native Frangipani and then 3 Silver princess some tiger lilies popping up and the Clivia’s finishing the row. The Silver Princess under planted with my darling Aquilegia’s Pretty little Granny bonnets they are. We have reached the fernery with my baby orchards and begonias, some ferns, Daddy’s Elkhorn, such memories, a couple of bird nest ferns and a carpet of native violets , busy little plants that test my resolve to keep them half under control.
Out to the vegie garden with my fig, passionfruit, and nice crop of Snow peas, and Rhubarb. Shallots, beetroot and a new little 3 grafted apple, now I am waiting to see how long it will be to get some apples. That will be exciting. Past the mulberries, which are yummy, I grew that from a tree at my son’s farm so that has been fun….under the arch supporting a grape vine covered in bunches up to the blue garden. Salvia, aggies, love-in-the-mist, forget-me-knots and beside some just amazing hippies.
Past the lavender around to the white garden, under the arch of Climbing Iceberg, under planted with 2 “Glamis Castle” David Austin, so delicate and precious, this is their third home, they were told, ‘This better suit you I am not moving you again”. And they are so happy. Lots of white freesia’s and Nemesia and white Dianthus. The perfume along with the Native Frangipani and then my 5 Little Gem Magnolia’s Oh I love wandering here. In the arch of the White Iceberg I have 2 birds nests. Just a joy.
I have forgotten to take you around the other side, there you walk under an arch that has the love of my life in the rose world – Pier de Ronsard. Then a line of natives and a couple of Gardenia’s slotted in to keep the hot summer western sun away and then my Bauhinia and the Chinese star Jasmine.
Lets go out the front, and you have on one side the “Sheep Paddock.” Rusted tin sculptures with succulents and bordered by Skyrockets and Buddleia’s and Moruya’s. Buddleia’s I grew from cuttings given to me by gardeners in the district. A brick garden along the front with roses, blue statice; aggies, hippies Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. My Crepe Myrtles under planted with bulbs a couple of Salvia and Lavender , a Native Corner with some Diosma and I have just planted Hebe “Turkish Delight” and a few “Blue Heeler” Not sure of their botanical name.
So there we are, a stroll in the garden with Rosalie.
How did you get started in gardening?
Oh easy! A little girl in the garden with her mummy and daddy. Veggies for our food and mummy telling me that the fairies painted the Phlox’s. My Granny growing Roses so she could arrange flowers in her local church. And so there was always cuttings from my darling parents to put in my garden. Such a good memorable way to get going.
What motivates you to get up and garden?
Oh just to let the world go by, or the thought of doing the dusting is enough to just get out there. Or time to take the scraps to the worms is always a chance to check what is happening and do some snipping of simple sit on a garden seat and take in the ambience. Little cuttings needing some attention or put the sprinklers on the veggie patch. Your thoughts always turns to what the little plants need. Some extra food to keep them going, all just a way of life really. My secateurs are always in my walker so it is easy to do some trimming here and there as one wanders around.
What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your garden? How did you deal with them?
Well the extreme weather is hard.
Water supply – so even though there was 2 big tanks I have put in another to capture as much run off as one can. I have different water zones with timers, so I have a way of bringing moisture to the ones who want, constant watering or the ones who need less. Lots and lots of mulch – anything, Lucerne hay I love, however I use whatever I can weeds I pull up just turn upside down, lavender trimmings, Rhubarb leaves and so on. The stone/clay soil takes lots of Cow/chook/manure, compost, worm castings, worm tea, and seasol.
I guess these are not unexpected the only unexpected was last season when fruit fly was horrid and it was in my grapes and even the lemons. So very disappointing.
What were some of the unexpected benefits from gardening?
There is always the unexpected, new friends and keeping on when you are on a walker…just the need of the garden can camouflage the pain, when you know the garden is calling out for care. I guess also is finding those little birds, wrens, Pardalotes, and those little sparrows all loving the garden and then the bird nests in the climbing roses. And the bees that visit each day. Just watching nature weave its magic is a pure joy.
Is there a gardening moment that stands out for you?
It happens each season, each waking moment spent in the garden, finding that special bloom, getting that first prize at the local show. Winning a battle with a certain, plant that shouldn’t grow in this area…Making your fig jam from a bumper crop of figs. It is just a daily journey the joy one finds in the garden.
What has your garden taught you?
That I am just a custodian of this little plot and hopefully the 3 different gardens that I have grown all from a bare block will bring joy to the people that follow me. We are only here for a short time and the garden takes us on this journey with joy, serenity, peace and fulfillment that nothing else can compare apart I guess from the birth of ones children and grand-children which in fact is all the same. Loving, nurturing, and watching these little ones grow and mature to beautiful beings, bringing joy to all around.
The modern version of finding peace “Mindfulness” can be found as you immerse yourself in the daily rounds and common tasks in the garden. One loses oneself and time disappears.
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
Oh this is easy I would be a Lemon.. how versatile am I.
Marmalade, juice and zest for that passionfruit slice or Lemon curd Yum!!!! Zest for Christmas cakes and the how would that Salmon steak be without baked lemon along side.
I am a pretty yellow, and I come from the most amazingly pretty perfumed blossom. My leaves are green and glossy and I stand so prettily in the garden.
If I couldn’t be a lemon I would be a delectable fig, or maybe those fat purple mulberries, or that juicy orange mandarin plucked and peeled while you are sitting on the garden seat and looking at the full array of the garden around you..
What tips would you offer first time gardeners?
Just go for a walk around your neighbourhood, drive around the area, see what is a repeating planting, talk to the folk at street stalls, I guess I am speaking of a country lifestyle as that is all I know. Cuttings from folk you meet are such fun..and then look at your plot, draw a picture of your dream garden and tweak it to suit your plot and your budget. Go to open gardens there is always this wow !! moment and “Oh I can do that” . Then have a good look at your soil, lots of compost, and mulch, mulch, mulch. Buy a worm farm for your kitchen scraps and then the output of worm tea and worm castings is invaluable.
And the most important, never be disappointed. It is a journey of joy, experiences, challenges and a perfect place in a busy imperfect world.
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