Open garden / Art of a cottage garden

OPEN GARDEN / Words and photos by Rod Henshaw

Christine Fernon… “I do continuious weeding by hand. It’s a good way to keep an eye on everything.”

Christine Fernon… “I do continuious weeding by hand. It’s a good way to keep an eye on everything.”

WHEN I drove into Ebden Street in Ainslie to photograph Christine Fernon’s garden, I didn’t need to look too closely to find number 18; it stood out from a distance. It was seven in the morning and Christine was putting in an hour or so before heading off to work.

“I’ve got aphids,” she bemoaned, even before the obligatory “good morning”.

I figured if aphids were the biggest problem in this vast expanse of suburban beauty, she should be a pretty happy lady! The entire block is a work of art – and art itself blends in discretely, in the form of mosaic works of various designs.

Christine Fernon bought the 752sqm property about 10 years ago and the garden was a mess, showing the unremarkable hallmarks of being vacant for many months, with little effort expended by the previous rental occupants.

It’s impossible to calculate the hours that must have gone into this creation that, apart from the heavy artillery machinery brought in to get started, is almost exclusively the result of Christine’s labour of love.

“I had a broad plan of what I wanted, but nothing definitive. It developed as I went along,” she says.

“I just kept on moving things around. As they say, a garden is never complete.”

Flowers, shrubs and vegetables co-exist happily at the front and the rear of the property. The notable absence is lawn area, opting instead for neat paving; a decision Christine admits she now regrets.

“If I did it all over again, I’d probably have some lawn around the clothes hoist with a table and a few chairs.”

Like most gardeners, Christine is ever conscious of the need for water conservation having installed three tanks, providing 7000 litres to supplement the mains water.

“Cottage gardens have the reputation of being water excessive, but this is not necessarily so. I water once a week and a little more often for the veggies and the ferns.”

The whole garden gets an “energy drink” towards the end of winter comprising a cocktail of cow manure, mushroom compost and the mandatory blood and bone. You won’t find any pesticides around this property – except to keep the snails at bay – and even that’s organic.

“I do continuous weeding by hand. It’s a good way to keep an eye on everything,” she explains.

The mosaics, strategically placed around the property – even the front entrance to the house – don’t compete with the numerous herbaceous features; they complement them. Christine learnt the art from her sister, Catherine, about five years ago.

“She’s the arty one. She has about five acres and she got me over there and got me working.

“They (the mosaics) add more colour, especially in winter when colour is scarce. It’s a lot of fun, too.”

Christine’s garden at 18 Ebden Street, Ainslie, will be open as part of the Open Gardens program, 10am-4.30pm, Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22. Admission $8 (under 18 free).

 

 

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