Category Archives: step into my garden

beautiful little glimpses of the garden

If Nicole de Vésian were to meet Edna Walling in our front garden …

I stumbled upon pictures of Nicole de Vésian’s Provencal garden La Louve a year or two ago and have been obsessed with her ever since.

When Monty Don featured her garden in his French Gardens series, well that sealed the deal.

Nicole’s garden is extraordinary to me on a number of fronts, first and foremost because she started it in her 70’s.

Having worked as a successful fashion designer in New York and Paris, La Louve was her final creation. It sits on the edge of Bonnieux, not far from Menerbes, made famous by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.

I bought Louisa Jones’ Modern Design in Provence (a tribute to La Louve), read it from cover to cover and have been trying to replicate little corners of the garden in Nicole’s style. I love her restrained colour palette. Green upon green. Greys upon greys. Plants heavily clipped sitting alongside others left to grow wild. The hills of Provence a beautiful backdrop for an afternoon drink. I can only imagine the scent. And that afternoon light.

Sigh …

la louvela louve

I’ve also been revisiting The Vision of Edna Wallinga book I’ve had for many years that showcases the surviving watercolour plans of this legendary Australian landscape designer. Reading it again, it strikes me that if Walling was alive today she would be a popular blogger, just as she was a popular gardening writer throughout her career, often sharing stories about her own garden. Very personal and very accessible to her readers.

Unless anyone can show me something better, I think Walling’s watercolour plans are in a league of their own. “Undeniably beautiful” as authors Trisha Dixon and Jennie Churchill state in the preface to the book. If you’re not familiar with her work and you’re interested in gardening do some investigating.

edna walling watercolour

A few months ago we discovered that a Japanese Sacred Bamboo in our little front garden had wreaked havoc in our verandah foundations. Meanwhile our low brick front fence had developed serious cracks, so much so that we could have felled it with a single push.

One thing has led to another. Monty led me to Nicole. Nicole to Edna. Edna to my Windsor and Newton watercolours.

The front fence has been removed. The verandah is a pile of concrete rubble. The Ginnala maple is stark naked but there are tiny green signs of life. We have raided a friend’s English box hedge plantation and have planted what will, in time, be a curved hedge dropping gently in height. There are a range of Australian natives mixed with French lavender, santolina and Provencal thyme.

It doesn’t look very wonderful at the moment.

It is not Provence.

But I can see it.

In my mind’s eye …

marg's watercolour in the style of Edna Walling

Can you?

You might enjoy these final lines from Edna Walling’s book.

Walling was in the forefront of the modern conservation movement. A quote from The Australian Roadside encapsulates her passion for the flora of her adopted country and its conservation. “Men show their greatness more by circumnavigating flowers and mosses then they do by sailing over them with bulldozers.”

I love that. Especially as I watch Steve mowing paths around the lawn daisies as we speak. x

Do you have your own gardening heroes? Or dreams …

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in which she gives herself to the night …

Sometimes, on hot summer nights, when everyone else is sleeping, she steps out quietly into the cool night air.

into the night

She looks up at the stars.

And breathes in the silence. 

into the night 2

She peels away the day’s layers, stretches up her arms and lets the night drop a soft slip of darkness over her.

The grass dewy beneath her feet …

The air blissful cool on her skin …

into the night

No-one knows she’s there.

It’s one of her favourite moments of summer.

Do you know someone who does that?

I might.

 

I’ve always loved the following little paragraph from Drusilla Modjeska’s book Stravinsky’s Lunch, which tells the stories of two female Australian artists, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. This paragraph comes directly from Stella’s memoir Drawn from Life. She was an Adelaide girl born in 1893 who left Australia on the eve of World War 1 and lived the rest of her life in Europe. Paris, the rich, the poor, the famous, a bohemian. An artist.

“I think that the exhilaration of falling out of love is not sufficiently extolled. The escape from the atmosphere of a stuffy room into the fresh night air, with the sky as the limit. The feeling of freedom, of integrity, of being a blissfully unimportant item, in an impersonal world, whose vicissitudes are not worth a tear. The feeling of being a queen in your own right! It is a true re-birth.”

As Modjeska goes on to say “This marvellous passage is like a clarion call reaching across the years to every woman who has every struggled with her own disappointments in love, her own gaining of independence.”

It’s a wonderful book. Particularly the Stella Bowen section.

One moon.

Two different perspectives.

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Monet’s ghost

About this time each year, he wanders through our garden.

He doesn’t linger long.

purple irises

He just stops by and splashes a bit of purple about.

purple irises and lawn daisies

I once knew a couple who visited Monet’s home at Giverny in their later years. Well nearly visited it. Because right at the front gate.  Literally. Right. At. The. Front. Gate. …the husband had a heart attack.

What would you DOOOOOO?   (I think I said that a bit loud)

Steve’s looking at me horrified out of the corner of his eye… hmmmm?

…. and welllll … ummm, I’m returning his wide-eyed incredulous stare with a mischievous, wide eyed silent response.

It’s a bit awk.ward.

Let’s just pop some music on hey.

And who better to destroy the ambience break the ice than The Clash nya haa! Click here. Should I Stay or Should I Go? Crank it up!!  Create a bit of anarchy!! And have a rockin’ weekend!!

:)

xx

 

P.S. (he was ok)

P.S.S. (but his wife never spoke to him again because she was… So. Pissed. Off.)

P.S.S.S. (so. pissed. off…)

P.S.S.S.S. (Oh of course I’d go in the front gate ambulance with you … grrrrr)

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