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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The garden of leafy delights: part 1

Have you ever been on a garden tour? Last weekend my aunt Tamara threw open the gate to this lovely big old Australian house she and my uncle George have renovated in Eaglehawk on the outskirts of Bendigo in the goldfields region of Victoria. It's the same house where Terry and I have been lucky to spend our time writing up the two Australian books over recent months (and where we finished writing the Cyprus and Italy books while we planned our Australian road trip last year); the same house with the rustic kitchen where Terry does so much cooking in the evenings to keep us sated and sane (the results of which you can see on his blog Wide angles, wine and wanderlust). So Tamara threw open the doors to a horticultural group - most of them quite elderly, some of them a little frail, many of them horticultural judges, all wearing hand-written name tags - so they could tour this splendid garden. She did the same last month, at the request of the president of the Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival, and she does the same every year. Two tour groups arrived that Saturday, as they did this last weekend - just to stroll the glorious garden here. They admired specific plants, and discussed whether they were 'native' or 'exotic', they appreciated the arrangement of things, pointing at one plant and then another, and they secretly snipped clippings to take home (of course I noticed) where I guess they hoped to achieve similar wondrous results. Tamara had spent a couple of days beforehand giving the garden a general tidy, pulling weeds, watering, and sweeping paths, and that morning we put the sign up the president had provided on display out front. I didn't see the need for a sign as the group were arriving on a bus organized for them. Perhaps it was simply to formalize the event? It was nothing more than an amble about a garden after all. But to the group it was obviously a special day. Tamara didn't do a lot to prepare the garden, as I said. She said they could accept it the way it was. And they did. They absolutely delighted in strolling the garden. And who wouldn't?


Zenaida said...

Hello Lara, as I will be in Australia in August and Darwin and Bendigo are on my list, I really enjoy your comments and tips. Since I am an avid horticulturalist myself - any chance of being able to visit your aunt's garden in that month? Regards from Munich, Zenaida

Lara Dunston said...

Hello Zenaida

But I haven't even finished my story about the garden tour yet... just joking!

And what a tour of Australia you'll be doing! From the top to the bottom?!

I'm sure Tamara won't mind. If you email me (there is a link from my profile) then I'll put you in touch with her. We will be back in the northern hemisphere then, but you can arrange to drop by with her.

And thanks for dropping by Cool Travel Guide!

Ga's furniture said...

Hi Lara.

We are finally in planning stages for our trip to AUS and NZ.In a previous email, you had mentioned a rainforest area not to be missed and also a guide that you felt was excellent for the area.You had mentioned one by name, but I can't find my email with that information. We are interested in the aboriginal culture, as well as natural areas. I was also wondering about hints for restaurants in Darwin.

ANd lastly- I have read about an "NT licence" that ensures a discount on meals,etc.Do you know how to acquire one of these?

I am researching all of the wonderful info in your 2 DAys in Darwin blogs..

thank you. Jean

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Jean

Rainforest area? I'm guessing you might mean Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory although it's not rainforest, but it's a tropical climate with monsoon forest and wetlands and dramatic escarpments.

A piece we did on Kakadu has actually just gone up on the Viator site so I'll link to that.

A guide we used there was Sab Lord, although he took us to Arnhem Land adjoining Kakadu. His company is Lord's Safaris and you'll find them online - just google.

Darwin has a number of good restaurants: EVOO at SkyCity is the best, then Hanuman, and Pee Wee's. I'll do a post for you.

I don't know anything about a license... and they don't have a tourist card either, so not sure what that is about.

Good luck with your planning!