Welcome! Not only is this the first blog entry for my new venture, it is also my first blog EVER!!! Yay me! Just ask my teenage children about my questionable technical prowess in all things computer-ish...you might then understand the true significance of this moment.
This new venture, the genesis of my garden design business, is the culmination of a decade of procrastination. This wasn’t due to laziness per se, more due to vacillating feelings about surrendering twenty years of veterinarian-ing. For want of any other subject matter at this early stage, indulge me while I tell you the story of its evolution.
My forebears were people inextricably linked to the land - farmers, labourers and gardeners of necessity who grew their own food and lovingly nurtured a small corner of beauty as well. I learned much at my grandparents' various knees, though I probably didn't realise it at the time. I just enjoyed getting dirty and not having to wear shoes. Being of an era when money was tight (but love and wisdom were not) and a productive garden was not only a priority but a necessity, they taught me to plan carefully, waste little and truly appreciate the results. While probably not striving for aesthetics at the time, their gardens had a functional beauty that seems inherent in all things that are borne of genuine need and wise use of resources.
Ever since leaving home at 17 to attend university in the city, I have always had a small garden, or a patch of dirt or, at the very least, a few pots in which to grow herbs. It scratched the itch that I had to get my hands dirty. It was also a soothing tonic after the frenetic days of veterinary practice, my first career. My very first house was basic, but it was on a quarter acre block. So much room to play! With most of my salary going towards the mortgage I learned to garden on a budget and repurpose materials.
I have been exceedingly fortunate to marry a man who has encouraged/tolerated/endured my love of gardening. He is my most honest critic but also my favourite labourer, patiently engineering my creations, often while I get another rush of creative blood to the head and disappear to start something new. We complement each other, like yin and yang, Abbott and Costello, tomatoes and basil. I like nothing more than collapsing onto the front steps with a glass of wine at the end of a day spent in the garden with him. Our three children have grown up resigned to the knowledge that the housework, and even dinner preparations, have to wait until I am done in the garden. They will help out if I ask, but tend to suddenly develop an unnatural interest in doing their homework and duly disappear.
Moving to Melbourne eight years ago has enabled me to study at Burnley (it needs no other epithet). Returning to tertiary study reminded me that I just don't have the stamina I had at twenty (sigh....), but it is exhilarating, empowering and just plain good fun to be back in the classroom, surrounded by like-minded people. I have finally surrendered my veterinary career, having decided that life is too short not to do what I love doing, and to share the joy. Thank you Kirsty, for providing that impetus.
My gardening experience covers a wide range of conditions as well as the country itself. I have created gardens in Perth, on sand, with minimal water. I have improved gardens on heavy Melbourne soils with unlimited water. I have designed gardens for novices and also for those who know plants but lack the confidence to create a beautiful, functional garden with them. My greatest thrill comes from their decision to take up the secateurs and shovel themselves, and make their garden their own. I embrace their initiative when they tweak my designs with their own inputs - this means that I have inspired them sufficiently, giving them the confidence to simply try. For them, it is often the beginning of a love of plants and gardening, and an ongoing relationship with their garden. I’m happy with that.
I have several different places in my garden where I stop and look at the vista. It is often the first thing I do in a client's garden, just to absorb the 'feel' of it, and get an overall sense of how it sits in the landscape. I am, however, fascinated by the minutiae of a garden, as evidenced by much of my photography. It helps me keep the Big Picture stuff in perspective.
For all my impatience with things that don’t go according to plan (ask my family for details…), I fully embrace the fact that gardening teaches you patience, humility and a pleasurable resignation that “it takes as long as it takes”. In spite of modern life, with its deadlines and gadgets, the seasons have their own rhythm and I find a reassuring security in that sort of predictability.
Like me, my own garden is not perfect (better to admit that now). While it usually elicits smiles and praise from visitors, knowing it as well as I do I know it's flaws and limitations (mostly of my own doing). I'm constantly working out how to live with them and to improve the design within those parameters. If it were perfect I would have nothing to do, and no valid reason to avoid the housework!