My Perth garden is the inaugural garden opening with Open Gardens West Coast and I’ve been spending all my spare time making sure it lives up to the honour. The new, not-for-profit scheme will open three Perth gardens this year and a statewide program in 2017. Garden lovers are rejoicing as openings have been scarce in WA since Open Gardens Australia folded 16 months ago.
I work in the garden media but have only opened my garden to the public once before – about 11 years ago. I enjoy nothing more than spending my free time in the garden and often show it off to my garden friends and colleagues. However, it’s still nerve-racking putting ones reputation as a garden ‘expert’ out on show.
The decision to open evolved on a lazy Sunday afternoon, while my husband Bill and I were enjoying a glass of wine on the back veranda. In our mellow state we decided that an open was a perfect event to celebrate our house’s 100th birthday, the impetus to finish a myriad of ‘small’ outdoor jobs and the opportunity to get a new open garden scheme up and running again in Perth.
We procrastinated for a while but as the date approached we sprung into action – repaving the ‘undulating’ side path and added decking, fretwork and posts to the front veranda. Bill installed a new sculpture in the front garden and I boosted the cottage garden beds with new plants and shovel pruned a few struggling specimens.
My love affair with annual flowers culminated in the purchase of a myriad of seed which were scattered through the garden, starting in autumn with successive sowings every couple of weeks. The aim was to create a vibrant, informal display beneath the roses in October. Of course things never go quite to plan as Perth has had the coldest winter in 28 years and an exceptionally cold and wet spring so everything is flowering later than normal.
To hasten their progress they are being indulged with a fortnightly feed of seaweed and liquid fertiliser (and a prayer or two) to coax them into growth.
We’ve had a few disasters – mostly associated with cleaning the equipment that sprays the herbicide used in Bill’s revegetation business (Plantation and Landcare Services). If you visit the garden I’ll tell you the tale of dead ‘footprints’ in the lawn and show you the tree that was leafless for a whole year before finally deciding it had the strength to outgrow the poison. It’s all good now but it did cause some family discord!
I’m a passionate gardener and am hoping that my garden will inspire others to create beautiful spaces around their own homes. Gardening in Perth’s sands and heat is a challenge but my garden is proof that you can have a wonderful and productive space, as long as you spend the time improving the soil.
Visitors will see beds filled with roses, including many heritage forms and extravagant displays of perennials and annuals which are mixed in with edibles. There will be lots of flowers!
I’ll share the story of my garden each day at 11am and 2pm when I lead a tour around my front and back yard. I’ll tell you about soil preparation, choosing the right plants for each space and interesting tales about the people some of the roses are named for.
The garden at 13 First Avenue, Mt Lawley, is open from 10am to 4.30pm on October 8 and 9 for $10 entry.
Enjoy home-made refreshments in the garden setting, and help raise funds to keep Open Gardens West Coast as an active part of our State’s gardening scene.
The verandas will host plant stalls and on the lower level of the garden will feature displays of restored classic cars.
[Deryn Thorpe is a fanatical gardener, who is passionate about communicating her love of gardening. She is an award winning print and radio garden journalist and also works as a tour guide and Perth garden consultant, visiting home gardens to provide advice on design and planting. Visit www.derynthorpe.com.au]
More information about Western Australia’s Open Gardens West Coast