Magical and Majestic

Stunning mature tree at Retford Park

Stunning mature tree at Retford Park

In the past I have always got bored.  One year of a job, one year of study, one year of most things and I am itching to do something new.  Gardening, however, five years on, fills me with more and more pleasure each day.  I have clearly found ‘my thing’.

Peonies at Retford Park

Peonies, one of my favourite flowers, at Retford Park

There are fundamentals that I love about gardens and gardening.  Being outdoors, seeing changes each day, the wholesomeness of the earth and water and organic material.  But I think the thing that keeps me hooked is the infinite amount of variation.

Burgundy-leaved Japanese Maple at Retford Park

Burgundy-leaved Japanese Maple at Retford Park

Every single garden is unique.  A different set of plants, arranged in a different way, surrounded by different flora, different hard landscaping and different views.  Each one is beautiful in its own way, each one teaches you something new and each one generates  different emotions.  I love discovering and exploring what each ones offers to its visitors.

Fountain and topiary balls in front of the house at Retford Park

Fountain and topiary balls in front of the house at Retford Park

Retford Park, the Bowral home of James Fairfax, is particularly special for its trees.  It is a striking house, perhaps not painted as I would choose, but it is anchored in and connected to the garden through the numerous established trees, making it less glaring.

View back to the house from the outskirts of the garden - cooling, dappled shade created by a delightful combination of mature trees

View back to the house from the garden – cooling, dappled shade created by a delightful combination of mature trees

Partly due to bush fire risk, partly due to a fear of root damage, typically Australian houses are cleared close to the property, with trees further out as space allows.  But at Retford Park it is the opposite.  The immediate garden is dominated by large, established trees of diverse range; beyond this is clear agricultural land and wonderful views.

Panoramic view out from the garden at Retford Park. Photo: Matthew Laduzko

Panoramic view of open space, taken looking out from the garden at Retford Park. Photo: Matthew Laduzko

I took over 200 photos on my visit to this garden.  Admittedly not the first time I have taken so many, but still a good indication of something quite special.  And here that special thing was trees.

Large, established trees at Retford Park

Large, established trees at Retford Park

There were evergreen trees for winter colour but the predominant feature was deciduous trees, all with vigorous, fresh, delicious, new growth, marking the seasons in such a bold way.  At this time of year, not a brown edge, bitten corner or otherwise tatty leaf in sight.

The approach to the garden at Retford Park

The approach to the garden at Retford Park

Australian gardens need shade to enable us to enjoy loitering in them.  Dappled shade is perfect – not only does it provide the perfect level of cooling but it also allows a little light through, enough for  reading, chatting or admiring the garden.  The forms and shapes and shadows trees create add to the atmosphere of the garden in a way that no man-made shade structure ever can.

Large trees surround the house at Retford Park

Large trees surround the house at Retford Park

And, often subconsciously, we appreciate the gravitas and presence that large trees provide.  Not only their size, in comparison to other plants and indeed to ourselves, but also the years of life that has enabled them to grow so vast and the history they have experienced on their journey.  They stoically survive through drought and downpours, heat waves and cold snaps, growing a few centimetres each year to become the majestic plants that they are today.  More patient and resilient than the rest of us put together, they can embrace us, make us feel quite insignificant and in so doing, make our problems fade away to something much smaller.

Donkey at Retford Park

Matthew, photographer of the panoramic view above, enticing a donkey amongst the trees at Retford Park

4 thoughts on “Magical and Majestic

  1. lorraine blaney says:

    Visit Grafton if you love big trees. Not only the jacarandas to enjoy this time of year. The Visitors Info Centre has a beaut little book, “Trees of Grafton” and a joy to drive around, locate, admire and learn the history of fabulous beauties over 100 years old.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you Lorraine. I have heard of the Grafton jacarandas but you have inspired me to try to get up there sooner rather than later. I am at a garden festival in New Plymouth, New Zealand, as we speak, so I will probably need to wait until the spring of 2015, but I will put it on my travel plan. It sounds like there is much more than just jacarandas to see there.

  2. Adriana Fraser says:

    I relate entirely with your sentiments Janna – I too had the same problem with boredom, until I discovered the world of gardens and gardening 30 years ago. Science, art and physical work are all part of gardening and whatever we learn in a lifetime about gardening and nature, wouldn’t even fit on a pinhead compared to what there is to learn. No wonder that we can’t become bored – there is so much to wonder at!

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