I feel like I've barely sat still the past couple of months. We've had three weeks of school holidays (always a winner during Winter- it has rained to the point of needing to build an ark), and a couple of extra side trips have seen the AV house empty more often than full.

But I thought I'd not bore everyone with blow by blow descriptions of our family ski holiday (surely this is the modern day equivalent of the slide show?) and some of the other trips here and there we've done, but instead highlight a couple.

 Ginger Jars at Decor + Design

Last week was the Decor and Design trade show in Melbourne. Romy and I had decided earlier this year we were going to attend - I haven't been to a trade show since leaving Melbourne in 2010... so I felt it was overdue. We flew in from our respective cities and met at the airport, where we laughed at the drivers holding up iPads that said "Uber available" (why yes, random man, I will get into your car because you say you're an Uber driver...) and joined the taxi queue whereupon after a bizarre ride into the city with a - literally- deranged driver with appalling body odour (it'll be Uber only after this - suddenly those guys at the airport didn't look so creepy), we did a quick whip around the D+D show at the Convention centre with Romy's friend Jane who was already in attendance. Frankly, the best part of the show was the champagne bar and people watching (it's always fun watching the other designers all dressed up and guessing where they're from - there are strong regional 'looks' in design). While I got to visit a few of my suppliers stands, and also found a couple of new sources... overall it was pretty dreadful.

Nothing better than a convention centre full of Chinese made pleather recliner lounge suites with built in cup holders and pouches for your remote. Apparently you can replace entire sections of the lounge when the pleather is scratched up. 

But all was not lost! Thursday night we met up at the new Garden State Hotel in Flinders Lane in the city. Single ladies of Melbourne - If you're looking for a place where the ratio of men aged over 30 in dark suits is about 10 to every 1 female, this is the place for you at 7pm on a Thursday. It was absolutely pumping (seats 850, but doesn't feel overly cavernous due to the design) and was wall to wall city males. We left to eat at Supernormal, a little further down Flinders Lane (the Lobster rolls are excellent) and then to bed.

Friday morning before departing, thanks to Jane who is a nippy driver and had hired a car while in Melbourne, we whipped around the trade showrooms in High Street, Prahran East looking at all the fabrics we don't have easy access to here and stopped off at the Mossgreen tearooms in High Street Armadale for sustenance.

Their high tea looks very nice indeed (I just had scones), and the proper Wedgwood china the tea was served in was lovely. Highly recommended if you're looking for a nice place for tea or lunch that is not in the city.

sausages in bread... watching their brother.

Then it was home to man the BBQ and dole out sausages on bread at the Under 11s Football match in the freezing cold, mud and pouring rain on Friday night. A life of contrasts...

Earlier in the school holidays Mr AV and I had a child free weekend escape to the Barossa Valley. This is probably Australia's most famous food and wine region - it was settled by German Lutherans, escaping religious persecution in the 1840's, and they brought many of their food traditions with them with many of the same families still in operation today. It's only 45 minutes from Adelaide, which made it the perfect easy driving destination that feels a world away from the city.

We stayed at Kingsford Homestead in the tiny little stonemasons cottage, rather than the main house. It was perfect - incredibly quiet, very private, and had a little sitting room with open fire place that I spent a lot of time reading books in front of. Breakfast in the main house was delicious - it's a really great spot to stay and explore the Barossa from. We ate our meals out - Fino at Seppeltsfield for lunch on Friday, Ferment Asian in Tanunda on the Friday night (the wine list has to be seen to be believed - it's like the Bible!), Hentley Farm on the Saturday night for the 8 course degustation and then, as a complete contrast, we ate at The Clubhouse back in Tanunda on Sunday night, which does a pretty good pub style meal (we were all gourmet'ed out by then).

Hentley Farm - oysters with passionfruit vinaigrette and rosemary scented smoke. It covered the table at one point.

Seppeltsfield, which looks strangely South of France with the palms and French cafe furniture even when freezing cold

We visited Maggie Beer's farmhouse shop, which was jam packed with tourists (and as we can pretty much buy her entire range at the supermarket in Adelaide it wasn't really a huge draw for us), and dropped in and out of the many, many wineries in the region. My advice if you're going for the first time is to skip the really big names (the Jacob's Creeks etc) as they have very large visitor centres, many of which are a little dated and cater for the large bus tourist segment of the market. The smaller, more authentic experiences are in the little places where the staff are passionate about wine, and will happily chat with you about technique, blends and other little gems of information. We did enjoy visiting Seppeltsfield though - it is one of the bigger wineries, but has an outpost of the Jam Factory (the famous Adelaide craft collective), and an excellent restaurant in Fino. Mr AV made the observation that the large Alcohol conglomerates that went on purchasing sprees a decade or so ago buying up the 'big name' wineries didn't take into account that as soon as they bought them they devalued the brands as they lost the x-factor of the family heritage that gave them worth. It's all about heritage and authenticity in the Barossa, and the family run wineries are the ones still making waves.

We loved visiting the Barossa - very beautiful scenery and enjoyable driving through the hills and valleys along little winding roads. The tiny old stone settlers cottages, rustic split gum fencing and paddocks full of vines. It was a great escape and we drove home to collect the children on the Monday with a car boot full of wine to add to our cellar.

Inside Rockford's
Outside Rockford's

Back home, we're in the depths of Winter - pouring rain, cold and a fairly bare looking garden. Hope you're warm whatever part of the world you're reading from.

Of all the design disciplines, Landscape design is perhaps the one most easily able to be swept into the mists of time.  Aside from the planting of large, long lived trees, a garden can, in just a matter of a few years, be overtaken by neglect with the death of plants and overgrowth of others rendering a design invisible and not as the Landscape designer originally intended.

This year is a celebration of the 300 years since English landscaper Capability Brown's birth. He is often decried as a wrecker of gardens by some purists, as he was known for obliterating the elaborate knot gardens and parterres favoured in the period immediately before him and replacing them with cleverly constructed naturalistic landscapes of parkland, trees, lakes and vistas. He was also quite prolific, designing over 250 gardens in his lifetime. The fact that many of his designs survive completely intact is perhaps due to two things: large areas are left to do their own thing in the parkland style (no tedious pruning and fussy flower planting to maintain), and that his planting schemes relied on long lived trees for their Architectural structure - there is no loss of small plants gradually over a few decades to obliterate the entirety of the design.

But perhaps the best way of to take a snapshot of a moment in time in a garden is by recording it with a garden map. Anyone having a plan done for their garden today is familiar with receiving a full planting scheme on plan laid out appropriately scaled from their landscape designer. While these are purely utilitarian, they are a beginning record of a gardens planting, and the subsequent evolution thereafter. However, not all gardens were started this way, and many have no plan to refer back to.

Mid last year, I was reading Australian "Country Style" magazine, and came across an article about a Garden Map maker, Catherine O'Neill. Catherine now lives in rural Victoria, but is originally from England and studied Landscape Design at The Inchbald School of Design in London (my Alma Mater for my Interiors education).  She has now stopped the landscape side of her work and instead developed a business recording other people's gardens - completely accurately, but coloured with watercolours giving a decorative style more reminiscent of the Garden maps produced in the 18th Century than those produced by designers nowadays.

Map by Catherine O'Neill

I contacted Catherine to see if she might be available to make a map of my Father's Garden for his 70th Birthday gift. Little did I realise the Pandora's Box I was opening! I have published photographs of my Dad's garden in the past on the blog, and they make up the bulk of this post, but for those unfamiliar, it is an approximately 20 acre garden created around 1890, largely still completely intact. Most of the garden is treed (there is a large Pinetum, which has specimen trees in it, and is not a heavily cultivated style of garden), and there is a large collection of unusual Cypress, Pine, Rhododendron and Camellias.

The original Garden owners travelled extensively around the world hunting down exotic plants, bringing seeds and cuttings back from Asia, Europe, and America, as well as swapping plant seed and cuttings with other keen Garden owners at that time across Australia. Of course, if you're DIYing your garden, you don't necessarily make a map of where you're planting things - rather you most likely walk around and just set things out where you'd like them to be. For this reason there has never been a completely accurate map of the garden, and certainly no proper inventory of the trees (there are in excess of 1000 of them). The question of where to stop in terms of detail was something we had lengthy discussions about as Catherine commenced the project.

The starting point was, fortunately, an accurately surveyed map (above) with the Victorian- era circuitous paths and drives laid out on it that my Father already had. From there, satellite maps that provided further detail of canopy spread were helpful, but much of the work Catherine has done has involved mapping each garden bed, laboriously numbering each tree and larger scale understory plant, and setting them all out on her larger garden plan. My Father has spent a lot of time over the past 10 years identifying each un-labelled tree (with some help from the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, visiting Botanists and Garden History experts, and Catherine herself), and has in the process discovered plants that originate in Nepal, Mongolia, China, and very unusual Cypress not thought to be grown elsewhere in Australia. It's been quite a fascinating process.

Unfortunately, the map is not yet finished (likely early next year), so you can see it's really been quite a process.  I'm not able to post the end result in this blog post... however I thought I'd post the video Catherine has on her website showing the process of the making of one of her beautiful watercolour maps.

Late last year, Country Style magazine wrote an article about this particular garden, Glenmore (image below), so you can see how she not only accurately captures the plant locations and types, but also the overall feel of the garden, something that is not so easily conveyed in a modern, purely functional style of plan.

 Glenmore, via Country Style magazine

The feel of a garden is something we have discussed quite a bit about my Dad's and how to capture it on the map. The week that she spent here earlier this year mapping the garden not only gave her accurate plant locations, but also an understanding of the atmosphere of the garden, and it was interesting hearing her describe it in much the same way that everyone else does. It really gets under your skin and is a very special place, with an undertone of history, tranquility and a sort of quiet grandeur created by the towering trees. The tonal colours to be used for the map were also evident to her from her week spent in the garden - deep, lush green in all its verdant shades.

Three Copper Beech, planted to celebrate the birth of the three grand-children of the original garden owner

A garden can disappear in just a few years - something I was reflecting on when reading a book about The Lost Gardens of Helligan earlier this year. It's a special thing when a garden can last beyond the vision of the first creator. Perhaps trees are largely the key to this. They certainly outlive us, and the ones in my Father's garden provide a memorial of sorts to the people who laid out, tended and loved the garden 120 years before us. Recording a snapshot of the garden at this point for posterity seems like the perfect way to honour the special place they created and the legacy they left behind.
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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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