Category Archive: Travel

Visiting a Chinese classical garden

By Kerry Lander

June 2013:  After getting hopelessly lost on the streets of Shanghai for several days, we moved to the smaller city of Suzhou (approx. 30 minutes away if you are travelling by bullet train at 261 km/h).  Across the centuries, Suzhou has held the reputation for being the “Earthly Paradise” and “the City of Gardens”.  One of the four most famous classical gardens in China is located there, and when we discovered this, we made a beeline for it.

The Humble Administrator’s Garden was built as early as 1509 AD during the Ming Dynasty, and covers 5.2 hectares. All centred around a broad expanse of lake, it was quite wonderful to walk through. If you could somehow overlook the other tourists and China’s ever-present white/grey sky,  the classical style was indeed picturesque, and must be really pretty during the blossom season when pepped up by a bit more colour.

Garden landscapes mingled with poetic waterscapes, oddly shaped rocks, exotic and immaculately-kept vegetation, ornate woodwork, exquisite pavilions with those distinct roofs and zigzag bridges to deter demons, who can only travel in a straight line.

My inner child wanted to run along the many little paths, climb to the summit of small tranquil hillocks, clamber through the small twisty tunnels in the strange rock formations, and chase the garden’s resident cat. But, being all grown up and it being 37 degrees C with high humidity, we opted for sedate meandering (with much fanning) and posing at bridges and moon gates.

The garden culminated in a large bonsai garden courtyard. I don’t know much about bonsai but these looked to be fairly impressive and well-aged specimens.  We admired them thoroughly before starting the long but delightful walk back.

I hope the Humble Administrator was given to entertaining  and impressing visiting dignitaries, and didn’t humbly keep the place all to himself.

Gardening World Cup goes to Australia.

By James Wall with reference to a Jim Fogarty written article in The Age on Saturday October 22nd.

Well, the kiwis may have won the rugby world cup, but while all that was happening, there was a much more exciting World Cup of Gardening event going on in Japan. Who said gardening wasn’t a sport ? The competition was first held last year in Japan to commemorate 65 years since the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The Brits won that one with a garden designed by 2010 Chelsea Flower Show Best in Show winner Andy Sturgeon.

The challenge with this show is that each designer has to work with a 100sq metre site and the same budget. Each designer is appointed a Japanese building contractor. So you can see that money alone can’t buy a victory in this event. You have 10 days to build the project, and all plants must be sourced during this time. Not like the exhaustive months of preparation allowed for Chelsea.

Sixteen of the world’s best garden designers, representing 12 countries were there this year, including Sarah Eberle, winner of nine gold medals and a best in show at Chelsea. Every conversation with the contractor had to be conducted through appointed translators and the theme this year was ‘peace and plants’, using horticulture as a way of unifying countries.

Jim Fogarty was invited as the Australian entrant and he designed a garden telling the story of  bushfires and there impact on the community. Jim witnessed the ‘Black Saturday’ fires of February 7th 2009, which were only an hour north east of his home. His message was that out of devastation comes new life. Every plant used was native to Australia. It obviously resonated  with the Japanese after their recent earthquake and tsunami, and it was awarded best in show. That’s right, this was a world cup that Australia won.

As stated, much of this info was the words of Jim in his article in The Age on Saturday. It was a very well told story, but Jim Fogarty was much too humble with regard to his achievement and we congratulate him on his brilliance which has once again shone through. This shows the world that Australia is up there with the best when it comes to gardening and our industry should be proud that we can create such beauty to enrich ones’ lives.

More pics can be seen at Jim Fogarty Design

Or go to the World Cup website: gardeningworldcup.com

Rob and Jane cross the Nulla.

You’ve seen the movie – no you haven’t. But this story does somehow remind me of ‘Thelma and Louise’ which sees our cast comprising of two of 3AW’s finest gardeners and experienced travellers. I bet they do have a few travellers stashed away somehwere in that caravan.

That’s right, you probably heard Vasili filling in for Jane Edmanson on the 3AW gardening show. Jane is caravanning across the Nullarbor with Robyn Holloway – a legend herself in the art of selling radio advertising. So as the 2 ride off into the distance looking for their Brad Pitt, lets hear a few thoughts from this dynamic travelling duo:

August 3rd

Hi All,  it’s Wed 2pm and we are at Ceduna just about to go for a walk/explore.  27 degrees, sunny, eating at the sailing club tonight with the sailors!!

Car and caravan just magnificent.  Sleeping like logs and drinking and eating like royalty.Scenery just perfect, birds lots of galahs, dingoes, elephants, emus (true)  Staying in Wayside stops with other caravanneeeers and also at parks.

Both well and laughing all the time.

August 7th

Still on the Nulla and having the best time ever.  Yesterday we spent 5 hours at the head of the Bight watching the magnificent whales with their amazing babies,  So close to the shore and around 40 Mums and calves!!!  Today as we crossed from Ceduna to Eucla we stopped off at every point possible, drove down to the Bight and sat watching more whales, giant limestone cliffs, sand dunes, turquoise sea, very restful and quite overwhelming again.

The wayside stops are fantastic and lot’s of travellers use them instead of staying in caravan parks.  They are set in the scrub, no electricity of course but we have the battery pack for all power and the Baby Q Weber for cooking on.

August 12th

Hi all,

We are off the Nulla, we made it, we received our diploma from the Information centre Norseman, we also bought one of those lovely we crossed the nulla tea towel for you all!!!

We didn’t contribute to any road kill . We managed to eat and drink our way across in great humour, laughing all the way to the next gum tree.

So here we are in sunny downtown Esperance in the Foreshore Caravan Park, after camping off road across the nulla, the hot shower was fantastic.

Today we spent touring the Archipelago, sea lions, fur seals, dolphins, sea eagles just to mention a few of the highlights, and the great tourist road around the most magnificent beaches I have ever seen.

We met this bloke who lives in Mornington, travels here each year to take visitors into Cape le Grand and he is taking Jane and I out for the day tomorrow….. not my type but Jane?   He’s a true blue aussie rough diamond.  Lovely bloke who helped us unhitch the caravan, please note the corrects terminology we are picking up!!, and talked for the hour and a half on the intricacies of caravanning….tyre pressure, parking, backing…etc.

From us both we are good, enjoying the fun of travelling this wonderful country, listening to the sea, watching the bright stars.

August 15th

Beautiful morning to wake up to this morning . we are sending this today as we are heading back across the Nulla calling into Fowlers Cove (3 days away) to go whale watching in a boat. Then to  Streaky Bay to pick some supplies for the way home and that will be a hessian bag of oysters. Bike riding into the Clare Valley and topping up the cellar at Barossa.

We have had 3 days in Esperance  lovely to have a sabbatical.  Cape Le Grand is a wonder.  The wildflowers were beautiful and the beaches superb.  We left at 8am and got home around 5pm. Long day but worth it.  Yesterday we went to Lake Moonabell gardens to see the grevilleas, Banksias, Hakeas etc.  All natives endemic in W.A. amazing!!

We then saw a sign ‘Yabbies’ and bought 1,1/2 Kilos– 9 inches long.  Before we could prepare them for eating they escaped from there carry box and scuttled all across the floor in the bathroom,   into the sink .into the veggie box etc. Tricky little devils to pick up. We are hoping we don’t meet any on Nulla waiting for us in the bathroom!!!  They were big enough to even eat the claw meat.

This will be the Rob and Jane Show saying Hooroo for now, and we hope you tune to have a listen in Monday morning next week….We think we’ll go home now!!!

 

Did Flemings have the best garden at Chelsea in 2011 ?

By James Wall

Ok,….so I may be biased, but Flemings show garden at Chelsea looked to be best in show, or at least a gold medal, but it was awarded a Silver Gilt. Well ummm, I only actually saw the gardens on Better Homes and Gardens last night, but I did just check out the 360 degree virtual tour on the Royal Horticultural Society website and still reckon it was close to the best.

Flemings garden

Of course best in show went to the Daily Telegraph for the third year in a row, who sponsored the garden designed by Cleve West – referred to by some as the Heston Blumenfeld of landscape design – how very British ! Ok, so it was a few poles with some nice flowers…….now now.

Cleve West – Best In Show

Of course the Australian Garden by The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne took out a Gold and was another feather in the cap for designer Jim Fogarty. It included bright orange sand which looked like it had come from the Simpson Desert. There was also a boomerang shaped water feature to really aussie-fy it.

Jim Fogarty designed Australian Garden
Why did Flemings not win a gold. I am thinking that maybe it was the white canopy – very stylish, but maybe too modern for the RHS crowd. If anyone went to the show, let us know what your thoughts were about seeing it in the flesh.

maybe the structure was too modern

Still, it looked like Wes Fleming was having a pretty good time. He laughed with the queen, talked to the Prince of Monaco and was honoured to meet Fergie’s daughter Princess Beatrice.

Wes entertains the Queen

Wes looks honoured to meet Princess Beatrice – both hatless.

Ok, so one of our staff in Justine actually did go to Chelsea, and when she gets back, we will post her review and see what she thinks. And even though Flemings didn’t take out a gold, Wes will be back down to earth as we speak, and in a couple of weeks, Flemings Nurseries will once again deliver thousands of bare root fruit and ornamental trees to nurseries all over Australia, including right here, at Gardenworld.

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