Just as the interiors of Meroogal were assembled over a century, so too its living collection – the garden - reflects the four generations of women who called the Nowra house home.
On a crisp winter’s morning, in the gravel driveway between The Mint and the North Range of the Hyde Park Barracks, SLM Horticulturists Steve Halliday, Helder Esteves and Craig Field appear and disappear behind a shape shifting white cloud. A black and yellow sign warns me there is “Spraying in Progress”, and I wonder for a moment why no one is wearing a mask, or even gloves. But the dangerous looking mist enveloping these men is not what it seems.
At Sydney Living Museums our gardens are living links with the past. This is especially true of the venerable Chinese Elm Tree at Elizabeth Farm.
This is my third winter working on the gardens of Vaucluse House. Each year this amazing tree catches me by surprise. Of course I notice the velvety buds developing on its bare angular stems, but I expect the flowers to come a bit later like they do with other magnolias. Instead the flowers start to appear not long after the winter solstice, when we humans barely perceive the days lengthening.
Look at any classical building today, anywhere in the world and chances are you will find an acanthus leaf lurking somewhere: either on the capital of a Corinthian column, on friezes and borders of a Greek ruin, in countless William Morris designs, on the famous Warwick vase (which is a model for many sporting trophies notably the Australian Open), or indeed as a beautiful plant in many gardens. It’s everywhere!
What do you think links Sir Joseph Paxton, the Crystal Palace and Captain Moonlite together? The answer is an intriguing one - the giant leaves of the Victoria Amazonica waterlily!
One of the most interesting plants growing at Vaucluse House today is the Prickly Pear. This curious succulent had a variety of uses for the early colonists in Sydney.
Much has been written about our ﬁrst Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip. A lot less is known about the other members of his household, which included his own personal French chef and his personal servant, Henry Dodd (1748-1791).
- 1 of 6
- Next ›
In this Plant your history blog, Sydney Living Museums’ gardening staff and curators share their knowledge and observations about the gardens at SLM. From basic plant information, gardening techniques and tips, through historic versus contemporary understanding of gardens, to what’s currently in bloom at our sites, they have plenty of insights for you.