There's been a little progress with the garden this week. Finally, part of the garden has transformed from a mud pit into something looking a little bit neater. The side garden had the gravel put down, and the steel edged garden beds laid out. Next is planting, there'll be some Japanese box, a row of standardised Olive trees, and along the wall outside the back extension (the bit that looks like a pathway) will be a row of pleached Pear trees. Eventually there'll be a water feature too.
I've chosen this one from Parterre in Melbourne/ Sydney. It's zinc and I think the modern shape will look good with the extension and contrast well with the formality of this part of the garden (it doesn't come with the birds).
The back garden looks like a World War 1 battle site - we've had torrential rain and it's been freezing cold, so I'm not sure how much this will progress over the next week or so as the ground is too sodden to work.
It's been interesting to look over my Pinterest Gardens board to see that there are some similar themes that crop up. I had sent a lot of these images to my Landscape Designer, and after laughing and telling me I had a lot of ideas, she's incorporated some of the common themes that have run through them, and it's nice to see the design of the garden coming together and incorporating a few of them.
I like some degree of formality
topiary and hedging
In other garden news, we were up the Hill at my Dad's house in Stirling today. It was freezing cold. Don't let the photo below fool you - it was 6 C and about 10 minutes after I took this photo it started to hail on us. Unfortunately we had gone down the hill to admire the Camellia's at the bottom of the garden, so a rather hasty run up the hill proved how unfit we all are…
Dad has recently had this Camellia identified. The bush is part of the original plantings in the garden, so would be around 120 years old, and the bush stands around 3 metres high. Dad spends a lot of time in Winter when he can't garden looking up his reference books identifying the trees, camellia's and rhododendrons in the garden. They used to have tags attached to them, but they were separated from the plants. So he sits with a large pile of the old tags, and identifying leaves/ pinecones/ flowers and tries to work out what they are.
Camellia Japonica - "Camden Pink"
This is a Camellia called "Camden Pink", and it's extremely rare. It's named after MacArthur's Camden Park Estate, and it's an Australian Camellia, a sport of one that the MacArthur's grew in their garden. Dad thought it might be a Camden Pink, and had emailed a photo of it to the head of the Camellia Society, who confirmed it. He's now thinking that the other extremely large and old Camellia bushes in the near vicinity are similarly Australian Camellia's, so is waiting for them to begin flowering so that he can see if he can work them out too. I think he enjoys the sleuthing aspect of working out the Garden's history.
A book I read this week runs on a similar theme - "Chasing the Rose" is the story of a mysterious rose that is found growing in an abandoned villa's garden in Italy. The author's Great-Great-Great Grandmother had designed and laid out the garden, and his search for the rose's identity takes him to Paris, to Malmaison and the Empress Josephine (the most famous rose collector of that period, and a friend of his ancestor). It is an Old World rose, thought to be extinct - the book follows the history of the Rose - the plant collecting from China and other parts of the world, and the era of Botanical discovery that was running parallel to this at that time. Old World roses nearly became extinct after World War 1, when fashions changed and Hybrid Tea's became popular. With no demand at the nurseries, they stopped breeding them, and many species were lost at this time. A lovely read, and a very pretty book - beautiful illustrations (although frustratingly none of the actual rose in question, however I have found an image of it on this blog). It would make a great gift for a rose lover.
Onto other topics, Mr AV and I celebrated a milestone this week with the anniversary of when we met - 20 years ago. We've now been together for over half our lives, so to celebrate we went out to dinner at Magill Estate on Friday night. I frocked up in this black drapey chiffon Chloe silk dress (old photo below - I didn't wear the Chanel belt with it), my black knee high suede boots and my pearl necklace and earrings.
Dinner was delicious - they've changed the format slightly from the last time we were there, and it's now 7 course degustation only, with matched wines available if you like. We chose the matched wines, but far from being the smaller glasses I thought they'd be, they were full sized wine glasses. I had to largely abstain from the last 3 as I was in danger of being carried out of the restaurant at the end of the meal, having already enjoyed a pre dinner glass of Champagne in the bar area. The food was delicious as usual, and the wine was very good - I had a rather jolly time…
this was the "snacks" course with Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne - there were 4 different little tasters to enjoy, and excellent bread and butter.
Lastly, we had friends for afternoon tea yesterday, and I made this delicious Apple and Honey cake, the recipe from this weekend's "The Weekend Australian" magazine. I highly recommend it - I used some Kangaroo Island honey, and it was so moist and yummy. My styling does not give the magazine's a run for her money, but you get the idea…!
Apple and Honey cake
225g unsalted butter
250g honey, plus extra to glaze
100g brown sugar
3 large eggs
300g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 apple, peeled cored and grated
Put butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan and melt, once melted bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Allow to cool. Butter and line a 20cm square cake tin and preheat the oven to 160C. Once honey mixture has cooled, beat in eggs and add SR flour, cinnamon and apple and beat to combine. Pour into cake tin and bake for 65minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, turn out and glaze with 2 tbsp of warm honey with flaked almonds in it.
Our dog, Scruffy, living up to his name in his first blog appearance after foraging in the garden at Dad's (where he currently lives) and looking a little bit rat like and muddy.
Hope you had a good week...
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