Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Visiting Jackie French

I have been a fan of Jackie French for sometime now so when I got the opportunity to visit her garden I snaffled up the opportunity. She has been displaying her garden annually for the open garden scheme for a while now and  she put on quite a show. She took us on a wonderful tour of the property giving us a briefing of the history of how she came to live in the idyllic Araluen valley. Jackie French is an incredibly private person and so I felt especially privileged that she felt comfortable enough to let us into her garden.
Driving through the country on our way to Braidwood. Ahh  so very beautiful .

Jackie has some great ideas and says that her property is a lot about experimentation with different plants. It gives her an opportunity to propagate different species of fruit trees, as well as creating harmony between growing her own food without alienating native fauna. It is their home first and so Jackie adopts some safe and peaceful practices to ensure that she may live in amity with the local birds, kangaroos, wombats and everything and anything else!

The front of the house is covered with many hanging baskets of herbs and flowers. It is visually pleasing, welcoming and fresh herbs so close to the house is a wonderful thing. 

The property is filled with hundreds of fruit trees just dripping with fruit all year round.

Jackie uses tyres as a retaining wall on a sloping embankment. I asked Jackie about the chemicals that can leech from tyres. She told me this was a concern, however, these particular tyres were over 50 years old and she believed any chemicals should have leeched out by now. She had pumpkin and other seedlings growing. If one is going to use tyres and concerned about the leeched chemicals, I recommend only planting non-edibles and using them for flowers and annuals to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. 

Jackie gets many gorgeous visits from local fauna. She protects young fruit trees by wrapping wire around them. This prevents any pesky animals from scratching and digging up the trees. 

Jackie has many well planned fruit orchards. This apple circle is filled with many different varieties and by  planting them in this way, they are able to protect one another. Once the trees become established, she removes the wire and replaces it by planting agapanthus and lavender. 

Jackie was a brilliant host. We enjoyed a delicious morning tea of homemade cakes baked by Jackie herself. Her garden was so beautiful and peaceful and was truly an inspiration. I really admire her strength, resilience and creativity. I came away from the workshop filled with many great ideas for my own garden and how best to incorporate the native fauna of my area into my own garden. 
We found this cute echidna on our way out along the Araluen road. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

My favourite season...Autumn.

Autumn to me is the most beautiful time of the year in Sydney. For the first time in months, I finally saw the light change and the crispness in the air was so refreshing. Finally I may be able to start spending whole days in the garden again. Unlike in Summer when one must spend evenings gardening by sunset (the coolest part of the day). Or like loony me you could stay out past sunset and garden with a head torch on. 

Autumn is a time for harvesting the end of the summer crop. I must say, I was pretty disappointed with some of my summer crop this season. All this rain and humidity cause my zucchini's to perish from powdery mildew, lack of heat prevented my waltham butternuts from flowering and my tomatoes were all a bit too sad as well. However, my capsicum, eggplant and basil have done really well and I am so pleased. If one is still managing to get zucchini's, cucs, pumpkins, eggplants etc don't forget an application of potash helps the fruit to come along well and ripen nicely.

I have a beautiful forest of basil. The smell is intoxicating. I love having a HUGE crop of basil...a staple in our kitchen to make pesto and add to tomato sauces amongst other things. The bees love the flowers and the garden is a buzz with bees. 

Eggplants beginning to ripen. I have been adding applications of potash to help them fruit and ripen. 
The beautiful zinnia strikes a pose. Zinnia is a summer annual. I sow seed anytime from September when the weather starts to warm up and is a staple for any summer garden. 
Red cabbage can be easily grown from seed or seedling and for most of the year round.