COLOURFUL mosaics and stained-glass artworks are around every corner in Tina Van Raay’s Campbell garden, but the design of the space is a work of art in itself, with a central Celtic cross path leading off to secret corners in all directions, framed by towering gum trees and the reserve beyond.
“It’s an amazing place; we’re three minutes to the city but backing on to the reserve here it feels like we’re in the bush,” says Tina.
The garden will be open to the public for the first time on the weekend of October 11 and 12 as part of Open Gardens Australia’s final run, and Tina says that while it’s been a lot of work, “it’s also got me outside, putting thought into the garden and ultimately I’m making part of the world beautiful. What can be better than that?”
The sound of running water creates a relaxing backdrop to a space that Tina says could once have been described as “weeds around a trampoline and a washing line”.
She says she couldn’t wait to redesign the space, and while she loves structured gardens, she says for her own she didn’t have a specific plan.
“My husband Rob and I decided to have our wedding in the garden in 2000, so we brought in some rocks and dug out the pond to get things ready for the ceremony,” she says. “That was how it all started, and the artworks crept in from there.”
As a mosaic and stained-glass artist, Tina says that much of her art has been geared towards the garden. Her work is inspired by her travels, including trips to Italy, Ireland, the Middle East, Istanbul and Alaska.
It’s also a practical garden, with Rob taking carriage of the thriving veggie patch, chooks and composting in the top left corner.
Hidden away up the path on the right-hand side, through a stained-glass archway and past several mosaic toadstools and “Victor Borge”, the giant mosaic dog, is Tina’s domain; a secret fairy garden loved by their nine grandchildren, and a spectacular mosaic seating area inspired by the starbursts in the Galla Placidia mausoleum in Ravenna, Italy.
“We love sitting here; in the summer it’s shady and cool and in the winter the sun streams in,” she says.
Tina’s garden, 28 Vasey Crescent, Campbell, open Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, 10am-4.30pm. Adults $8, children under 18 are free. Funds raised will go to the Canberra Refugee Support Group and Open Gardens Australia. More information at opengarden.org.au.
Photos by GARY SCHAFER