The brain is an incredibly complex structure. Its functionality amazes me more with each passing year. Not that mine is operating more effectively as time goes on: au contraire, it seems to baffle and bamboozle me to higher and higher levels.
I found myself making the comment, this week, ‘what are gardens for, if not to evoke emotions?’. It was in response to someone defending the fact that amateur gardens with years of history are not necessarily inferior to those designed by the most expert professional. Despite my chosen career, I completely agree with his sentiment. They are often very different, but it doesn’t make them inferior.
When I logged on to Twitter the following day, I noticed a tweet from garden designer, Lisa Ellis; one with such a beautiful photo and sentiment that I had recently retweeted it myself. It started, ‘gardens should evoke emotion….’. As original as I’d thought I’d been, it seems probable that Lisa’s words had stuck in my mind and subconsciously resurfaced as, I thought, my own. I imagine a team of minuscule, if very hard working, elves winding cogs and taking messages from one part of my brain to another; all sorts of activity going on inside my head that I have no control or idea of. I’m not sure whether to be in awe or down right scared but it does amaze me, how the brain works.
It would be true to say that I visit quite a few gardens. Over time, you start to notice connections between those that really move you. You also notice that some quite beautiful gardens fail to move you at all, as you hunt for what it is that ‘evokes emotion’.
One common theme is certainly a dedicated owner. An owner that is truly engaged with their garden; preferably in a physical sense – someone that is willing to get mud under their nails – but at least in an emotional sense. Someone whose eyes light up when you ask about it.
Tieve Tara is one of these gardens. I had the huge pleasure of talking to both its owners, Judith and John, when I visited last weekend. John, sitting by one of the lakes soaking up the glorious view, was clearly delighted to share his garden with other keen souls. He was eager to know how I’d heard about the garden and what I thought of it; so appreciative that I’d stopped to say hello.
Around another corner I met Judith, complete with plastic pots and gardening gloves. A lady who clearly gives so much to the garden, and gains so much in return. Just gorgeous to see how much pleasure a garden can give. I picked her brains for her gardening secrets and she generously shared her ideas, her learnings and her stories.
It’s funny how meeting friendly owners affects how you view a garden. There is no question of this phenomenon. The passion and stories are a significant part of what can make an amateur garden one of the best you have visited, even if it does, on occasion, contravene every design principle known to mankind.
But friendly, engaged owners were only a part of my affection for (the definitely not amateur) Tieve Tara. I would still have had to be dragged away, even if I hadn’t had the chance to meet John and Judith.
I realised that established trees and and interesting topography are also repeating themes of my favourite gardens. Just as with Kiloren, in Crookwell, the play of light beneath the trees, the lush lawns, protected from the sun, and the depth of views, aided by sloping land, were all part of its magic. There is no doubt that beautiful light is on that list of common themes.
Add to that some clever uses of colour, plantings that merge with the surrounding bushland, beautiful water features and a few elements of surprise and you have yourself a pretty special garden.
Thank you, Michael, for recommending I visit. It’s certainly one to add to the list of emotion-evoking gardens; emotion-evoking in the most conscious of conscious ways. No elves involved.
I do hope you enjoy the photos.