Margaret's Garden

Earlier this year my mum and dad moved themselves across Bass Strait to come and live near me in Tasmania. They settled in the sleepy historical town of Longford, joined a local church, and proceeded to make dozens of friends, all of whom appear to be extraordinary gardeners. Last weekend Mum took me around the Longford open garden day. First stop, and my favourite of all the gardens was Margaret and John's place. Margaret and John are some of Mum and Dad's new friends, who run Aggie's Bed and Breakfast, with the rooms built and fitted out by John, and the garden lovingly planted by Margaret. It is one of the nicest, friendliest and most attractive gardens I have ever visited. All made out of bits and bobs and cast-offs that John picks up in his travels. It is not large, but is divided into private courtyards for privacy for the guests, which makes the garden seem much bigger. It makes me want to throw up some walls in my own garden and make a series of secret gardens, just like Margaret's..

Above is one of the courtyards, built around a big old eucalypt tree, hung about with fishing floats and bird houses, with a stone bench to perch on in the sun, planted about with ivy, and white false valerian.

This is a tiny corner of another small courtyard. Margaret has a particularly green thumb with the echevaria..

Of course, I was drawn straight to the vegie gardens. This one is raised behind a wee stone wall, built by John.

And this one, across the driveway, is backed by a hawthorn hedge, with a window cut into it to reveal the view of paddocks beyond.

Here is another hawthorn window, carefully placed in yet another tiny courtyard, so that the view can be appreciated while eating breakfast outdoors..

And after the vegie gardens, the chickens, are of course, the most important feature. John built their charming home, which they share with some elegant white doves.

I love this charming lady. I think brown chickens are absolutely perfect examples chicken-ness.

They are rather chuffed to find a cabbage in their string-bag snack buffet.

This is the other end of the chicken shed, and another part of the vegie garden. The faux paling fence is wonderfully ingenious - wire netting with slender palings woven through it. Even I could build a fence like that.. This is what I like about this garden - it is so simple, attractive and accessible.

Here is the outside wall of the next courtyard. Again, so simple, so beautiful. Paling-type fences, this time covered in roses.

Underneath the roses are hollyhock plants which will tower up in the summer, all around this gate which is straight out of The Secret Garden..

Climbing roses and foxglove spires. I love the little pots that pop up everywhere in the flower beds.

Here is Mum under the rose archway, entering the courtyard you can see in the first photo of the post.

Chickens, doves and bees. This is one happy garden.

There are treasures everywhere. Here, a wheelbarrow-full of spare pots - but one of them has a plant growing in it. Perfect:)

I asked Margaret about how she keeps all the echeveria looking splendid. She waters them every day. I know, even thought they are succulents. That is clearly why I keep killing mine. These are near the kitchen, so Margaret runs out with a tea-pot full of water for each of these beauties every morning.

 Dovecotes. Add a certain something to a backyard. I love the contrast of the severely clipped box cube with the fruit tree and the blowsy catmint lolling all over the lawn.

Again with the succulents. On a step-ladder! Can you see how much I am loving this garden??

More! More! I hear you say. Oh, but sadly I ran out of space on the camera. I hope you had just as much fun in Margaret's garden as I did. One day I will pop back and take photos of all the spaces I missed this time. I am so impressed at how much Margaret and John have managed to fit into what is really not a very large garden. By dividing it up into small, intimate spaces though, they have made their garden into a journey that reveals something new around every corner.. and shows how much can be done very simply, with imagination.


Linda said…
What a fabulous garden. No wonder you would like to emulate it at home. Please to hear how well your parents have settled into their new home and community. Good on them!
Anonymous said…
Oh, how I wish you'd posted before I booked my accommodation in Tassie I could have stayed here! But then I hear that Tassie is full of beautiful places and BnBs with lovely gardens.

Part of me wants to cut my work hours so I can get my home and gardens looking gorgeous and alive.
Evi said…
Oh, I do so love the midlands! Stone cottages, dry soil and lavender…..a delightful combination! My favourite village is Oatlands followed by Longford, Evandale and Campbeltown - they all have a certain old world charm and many lovely gardens peeping out from behind stone walls.
Thanks for showing me another one!
Jo said…
Linda, my parents have spent their lives moving all over the place, so they are good at settling in to a new place, but I am still amazed at how brave they have been, starting new all over again!

Lucinda, it is difficult to go wrong here for a B&B. I know you will have lots of fun! Looking forward to meeting you 'for reals':)

Evi, oh yes, all that wonderful stone and lavender. What's not to love?

narf7 said…
OH what I wouldn't do for a small suburban back yard! Somewhere where the deer and the antelope (well, possums and wallabies) DON'T play and where blackberries would be an asset rather than a huge black mark in the wrong side of the ledger book. Margaret and John are maestro gardeners. Terracotta is cheap as chips at Bunnings right now and absolutely perfect to strew casually around the garden. I am about to milk the moth eaten sock under the bed to purchase some terracotta myself and make olas for our veggie garden. This was a beautiful and inspiring post Jo. Cheers to the MAX for sharing it. So glad your folks have found their niche here in Tassie. :)
Unknown said…
Well done Mum and Dad.

Now that you have shown me the garden, i went online to check out the accommodation. So homey and comfortable. I like the idea of having my own little garden room to read in which is my favorite holiday pastime. I noted that they are solidly booked over summer which is great news. They must be wonderful hosts. If i don't rent a house, i do B&B's. Having someone cook me a beautiful breakfast where i can take my time is a luxury.
OH LOOK AT THE ROSES!!! rose heaven.
Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

That is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen! I am so in awe. Thank you so much for posting all of these photos and for your wonderfully descriptive comments.

gretchenjoanna said…
So inspiring!! I am loving it with you, even if my experience is one-dimensional. Thank you so much for sharing all the pictures, and yes, I'll be glad to see more, with your good explanations.

I'm happy for your parents that they can live near you and their grandchildren. I hope it is satisfying all around.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Thanks for sharing the photos of the beautiful garden. The garden is an absolute credit to the gardeners. Isn't it great being able to wander through other peoples gardens and just take it all in too?

Cheers. Chris
Skippyherron said…
How wonderful to have your parents close. What a gorgeous amazing garden. I love those windows in the hedge and that chicken snack bag is a fabulous idea. Thanks for sharing those great photos! Xx kel
Jo said…
Fran, I LOVE my suburban garden! I, too, have struggled with a bush acreage, and I know how much hard work it is. Kudos to you! And ollas - yes, I have cobbled them together in the past from terracotta plant pots, with the hole filled with silastic, and the saucer on top to stop evaporation. They were quite effective, and I must revisit them..

Lynda, they are such lovely friendly people, just the sort of couple who were destined to be B&B hosts.

e, I KNOW! I have never seen such healthy, happy roses. Maybe next time I will go back with notebook in hand to find out all Margaret's gardening secrets..

Pam, and there's more! I didn't get nearly enough photos of all the lovely little details. And the fit it all in to the space of a double suburban block.

GJ, it is great to have my parents close by - popping in and out to see each other is such a different dynamic to having them visit once or twice a year.

Chris, I am incredibly nosey re other people's gardens and lifestyles. I think open gardens are an absolute gift:)

Kel, lovely to see you here. And yes, I popped in that photo of the chickens' snack bag to remind me to do the same in my new chicken run. We are nearly ready for chickens!!

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