Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

This land is MY land, all mine!

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what it means, as a gardener, to actually own my own piece of property. Sometimes when I am taking my vegetable scraps out to the compost heap, following a route that spans the full expanse of my backyard, I marvel at the fact that the entire vast swath is mine to do with as I wish. Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading

Review: garden at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

In real estate the mantra is location, location, location! I actually believe this can be a factor in the success of a garden, too. I have visited gardens on busy roads where the noise and pollution has dulled the experience. On the other hand, I have visited gardens in an idyllic setting, and this has enhanced the enjoyment, indeed thrill of the visit. Continue reading

How do I say ‘goodbye’ to my garden?

We’re moving. It’s something I want to do but I’ve gardened here for nearly 18 years and I’d be lying if I said it was going to be easy to walk away from so much thought, love and toil. Over the past five years of reading GardenDrum many of you have seen my garden develop – its painstakingly-built gabion walls; its reused concrete retaining walls; its grey, weathered deck; its Link Edge garden edging: and many of its best plants, particularly my beloved pentas. How can I tear myself away? Continue reading

Jardin Antique Méditerranéen – a colonial Roman garden

Recently your Branch Head was honoured to lead a small party of keen gardeners and garden-lovers to Montpellier in the south of France, almost but not quite on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. A highlight of the tour was a visit to the Jardin Antique Méditerranéen at Balaruc-le-Bains on the bay Etang de Thau. The garden is intended to replicate the mood and reality of a colonial Roman garden of some 2000 years ago. Continue reading

The exotic gardens and culture of Spain

On my first visit to Spain, I ran around madly photographing Mediterranean herbs and flowers I’d seen in gardens but not in nature, stunning garden landscapes, and everything washed in that sunlight that has besotted so many artists over the years. What a place! I can’t wait to return to Spain in May next year to lead Australians Studying Abroad’s Gardens in Spanish Culture tour. Continue reading

Eden Unearthed: Sydney’s first ‘garden as gallery’ festival

I was delighted to be invited to launch Unearthed, the first ever garden festival at Eden Gardens in Sydney. It’s amazing to think that it was only 4 months ago that Simon Ainsworth first contacted me with an idea for a festival of sculpture at Eden Gardens along the lines of the International Garden Festival at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. An ambitious goal, as the Chaumont-sur-Loire festival has been running for almost 25 years and attracts over 400,000 visitors! Continue reading

Celebrating the kangaroo paw at Cranbourne Gardens

After 35 years breeding and growing kangaroo paws I was delighted to be invited by Rodger Elliot on behalf of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne to help plan and be involved with a unique event titled the Kangaroo Paw Celebration. The event is a month-long exploration of the Kangaroo Paw family, Haemodoraceae that also includes the cottonheads (Conostylis species) and blood roots (Haemodorum species) amongst others. Continue reading

A road trip with a botanical garden difference

Like so many other baby boomers, my husband Peter and I love to travel. We enjoy experiencing other cultures and are particularly attracted to remote places with wide open spaces where people are few and the countryside reveals its natural beauty. Peter, a geophysicist, is seriously into rocks and I am seriously into plants. We both like animals, but unlike plants and rocks, they rarely stand still so getting a good look at them on a road trip is often more frustrating than satisfying! Continue reading