Do you remember?

Who remembers seeing one of these in the laundry in the “olden days”? I can certainly remember when the copper was heated up with gas (in our house) and the sheets were boiled with Reckitts blue to make them white (makes sense -right?!).

Who would have expected to see one reincarnated as a water feature in an Open Garden?

the old laundry copper finds a new life in the garden.

Seeing red in the garden

These photos were taken at one of the last Open Gardens this year. In some ways it’s odd that the colours are so bright and “hot” for the tropical climate.

This heliconia was just gorgeous.

A beautiful bromeliad flower.

Okay, more pink, than red but still. I couldn’t believe it when Charlie from one of the house/garden shows said he hadn’t seen these.


The Snake Beaners Community Garden

A few weeks ago the Open Garden scheme showcased the Snake Beaners community garden…sort of like a British allotment. Adjacent to the Botanic Gardens, it was interesting to see the variety of vegetables and fruit being grown and the innnovative way materials had been recycled.

I love the vivid colour contrast of the rainbow kale.

A clothes drying rack as a growing frame.

Artist’s Retreat Open Garden

The home block with Bali flags.

This past weekend we visited the Artist’s Retreat Open Garden and what a treat it was. Some gardens are all about the gardens, others the gardens+ambience and this one was the garden+ art.

This Grevillea pteridifolia was in full flower even though it had been blown over in a storm, and there were parrots in it and the surrounding trees.

We really focused on the house block (the whole property is 105 acres!) partly because we didn’t have a lot of time but mainly because we got so sidetracked by the beautiful art in the artist’s workshop and placed around the garden. All of the art was made by local Northern Territory artists including the garden owner, Jasmine Jan.

Don’t you love the punchy colours in these fish?!

It would be such a delightful place to live with the sound of bird calls everywhere.

Among the beautiful artworks I loved the simplicity of the cooking pots in the open-air fire pit near the billabong.

There is a huge billabong which would be quite spectacular in the Wet Season, or later in the Dry when there are yet more birds around.

Just imagine how your creativity would soar working in this artist’s gallery overlooking the billabong.

What a pleasure our Top End Open Gardens are, and this one’s artworks added another dimension as well. I’m mindful of privacy and artistic copyright so I’ve limited the images I’m uploading but I’m sure you’ll see what I mean. It makes you want to rush out and add art to your own garden.

Isn’t the colour contrast spectacular.

Isn’t this a beautiful bird-bath? The artist was Andrea McKey.

And so you could do just that there were paintings and various artworks available for sale, plus the opportunity to watch the artists working on glass beads. I’ve been flirting with doing a course for a while and I think this may have tipped the scales.

Glass bead making display.

Here is a web link for another of the artists, Andrea McKey and Michelle Burgoine.

. Do go and have a look at the artists’ work on their websites.

Open Garden: Tropics anyone?

Today we visited this weekend’s open garden, and what a treat it was. Immediately on entering we were transported to a wonderfully tropical Balinese-influenced home and garden which defines indoor-outdoor living.

Welcome to the garden.

At every turn there were vivid splashes of colour from the orchids or bromeliads or just the cordelines (not quite my favourite plants).

A dramatic bromeliad with its punchy pink colours.

Don’t you love the delicacy of this hibiscus?

Then there were the statues, Balinese check fabric on the palm trees, little water ponds and the modular house design with its open-air bathroom (minimum walls) and the huge outdoor entertainment area, not to mention that delicious Bali hut with its day bed.

Good book or snooze anyone?

Strangely almost all the visitors had this strange green colouring to match the tropical green of the garden….Lotto dreams dancing in their eyes. The owners have done an absolutely fantastic job of their garden. Another indoor-outdoor style but a completely different aesthetic from last weekend’s though both were equally engaging. Add in fantastic home-made cupcakes and cakes, and fresh coffee from Coffee Angels, and what more could you want! For $6 a head+coffee+cake, this has got to be the best value entertainment in Darwin this weekend 🙂

I love the drama of this cycad.

If you’re in Darwin this weekend make this a “must see” outing!

I’ll be a Batchelor girl…Open Garden

As I mentioned, last week got away from me so now I’m sharing with you photos of the Open Garden held at Batchelor a week ago. Batchelor is about 1.5 hrs drive down the Stuart Highway from Darwin but as Mr Cassmob used to work there, he knows the route well.

This was another fascinating garden with an equally interesting award-winning house. It was a bit strange I must admit, strolling through someone’s house like you owned it. As with the past weekend’s house, this is a type of house you would find in very few places. Simple, open plan with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living right down to the cooking.

The garden was landscaped to provide lots of wonderful nooks in which to chill out, read a book or have a quiet drink, or a nap in the shade. Interspersed through the garden were statues or little features. It would be interesting to see this garden in the wet with its mini-creek under the front pathway.

We tarried a while in this shady nook and had our delicious little lemon meringue tarts and a lemon-grass jelly. Delicious!

One of the owners has his own blog which you might like to look at as it shows images of the house and garden.What an amazing garden they’ve achieved in a few short years.

I am a sucker for a Hoya and this one was a magnificently-rich colour. They also one of the really tiny-flowered ones that I have in my garden.

This Ixora was fairly bursting out of its skin with colour.

I looked at these rosellas and thought longingly of rosella jam.

A zig-zag heliconia. (Don’t know its correct name)

Open Garden in the bush

Darwin weekends in the Dry can be busy with the variety of things to see and do: compensates for the quiet months in the Build Up and the Wet.

The billabong or lagoon with a sea of waterlillies off to the left.

One of our weekend treats is to visit the NT Open Gardens. It gets so that we don’t want to leave town for fear of missing out on any. This weekend’s garden was an environmentally friendly one with the emphasis of indigenous local plants and wildlife. Anyone expecting a landscaped garden with structure and symmetry may have been disappointed but we found its bush atmosphere delightful. Judging on the crowds of people who didn’t seem to want to leave, we weren’t the only ones.

This daybed had my name on it….but I did manage to stay off it and to drag myself away.

One of the pleasures of the OG is that some have morning or afternoon tea available and on Saturday we were treated to home baked cakes and slices. The small entry fee and the  sales go towards the owners’ nominated charity/charities in this case Top End Native Plant society and Wildcare, who also provide the volunteers.

The house was designed by famed Territory architests, Troppo Designs, and was intriguing in its own right -very much a house of and for the tropics with a very big nod to Asia both in its style and decor. Where else would you find a kitchen with three non-existent walls replaced by fly screens. A massive deck overlooking the billabong with waterlillies was obviously a big attraction. I doubt we were the only one who could have napped happily for hours on the Balinese day bed. Thoughts of “I could have napped all day…” ran through my head.

Eventually we moved on from the deck to the garden, wandering along the bush tracks with the thoughtfully labelled trees and plants. We admired the waterlily display in the billabong, tentatively ventured on to the pontoon and were only deterred from tarrying in many of the other sitting areas, by other visitors. Wisely the wildlife were keeping a low profile but it must be wonderful to sit anywhere near the billabong and watch the birds.

I loved this quirky little spot to rest along the bush track.

Throughout there were quirky touches which you’d never see in a normal suburban garden, all of which added to the ambience.We eventually dragged ourselves away after a few hours. Do you get the idea that we thorougly enjoyed our outing?

Imagine lying in the tub, stars above you, wine beside you, and candles flickering.

Flying fox babies

It’s Open Garden season now in the Top End and I’m really looking forward to seeing this year’s displays as there are lots of new gardens opening up, many of them in the rural area. It’s one of the Dry Season’s treats and a nice little weekend outing. Tomorrow’s will be at Batchelor, about 1.5 hours down the Stuart Highway so we’ll combine it with a picnic and excursion.

I took this photo last year at an Open Garden and just saw it again in my folders. It’s not the greatest photo but I thought they were cute so here it is…..two baby flying foxes asleep among the palm fronds. I didn’t want to use the flash and wake them up/hurt their eyes. I take no credit for spotting…some bright-eyed youngster saw them and shared the news. I particularly like this garden too as they have a lovely open entertainment area where you can sit with a cup of coffee and admire the garden, as well as some cool sculptures.

Flying fox babies © P Cass 2011

Part of this wonderful rural garden.