Friday, 30 May 2014

Gorgeous gardens - part 2

During my trip to Melbourne I was fortunate to be able to visit two Diggers gardens - Cloudehill in the Dandenongs, and Heronswood at Dromana.  As a Diggers member, entry to both gardens was free!  

Cloudehill

Cloudehill is literally 'around the corner' from the National Rhododendron Gardens (the subject of my last post).  I was not sure what to expect from Cloudehill, but suffice to say I was completely bowled over.  What a gorgeous place - there was something quirky and interesting around every corner!

Works of art, garden structures, and beautiful stonework enhanced the garden's design.





Interesting plant combinations added depth and texture to the rampant autumn colour.





 And I was particularly taken with this wiggly box hedge!


I was unaware until I reached this sign that Cloudehill also flows into another garden, Rangeview, which is a beautiful, ferny, wild garden with mysterious paths.



The slanted light was amazing during the afternoon that I spent wandering these gardens.

Heronswood

The following day's trip to the Mornington Peninsula included a visit to Heronswood at Dromana.

The house itself is a beauty - all that lovely stonework!


I was particularly taken by the fact that Justice Higgins, renowned for his Harvester Judgment, had resided there.


The garden surrounds include a demonstration parterre garden.


The garden design created picturesque views at every turn, and incorporated both formal elements and natural form.






As it was unseasonably warm that day, I enjoyed a refreshing devonshire tea at the tea rooms inside Heronswood.  The house also accommodates a garden nursery and a Diggers shop.

My visit to Heronswood crowned a day trip that also included a trip to the Cape Schank lighthouse - I just cannot resist including a picture of the lighthouse, so here it is!


Nandina



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Gorgeous gardens - part 1

On my Melbourne holiday I spent quite a bit of time exploring some magnificent gardens.
I found the National Rhododendron Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges truly spectacular.  While it is probably prettier in spring, when the rhodos are in full bloom, late Autumn was a good time to see the diversity of plants in the Gardens and obtain a sense of the 'bones' of the garden design.



I came across these huge, stately mountain ash trees shortly after entering the Gardens.  They looked as if they had been there forever, but the information provided states that they are in fact the 'children' of the original trees that burned down in a bushfire in 1962.


Autumn foliage and spot-flowering rhododendrons added amazing colour wherever I turned.






The many rotundas, garden seats and picnic tables provided peaceful views as well as convenient resting places!


This plaque acknowledges the impressive work of the ladies' rhodo society, who established the Gardens.  It also identifies the various Dandenong mountains visible in the distance.   The view was stunning!

I spent about two hours walking around the Gardens, and could easily have spent more time there if I had brought some lunch.  It was such a beautiful day and the Gardens were a joy to behold.

Nandina

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Cosy crochet times in Melbourne

Until last week I had not had a holiday (you know, a proper 'going away' holiday) for about 10 years.

But last week I went to Melbourne for a real holiday, by myself - that's right, no children!

My two sisters living in Melbourne each kindly put me up for a few days, which allowed me to explore their respective locales.  I had an absolutely amazing time and will post up some of my adventures in posts to come.

But first, I want to share one of the highlights of my trip, which happened at a gorgeous cafe in inner Melbourne.

On this particular day I was wandering around the city exploring the sights, and was getting rather footsore and hungry.  I had only had a cup of tea that morning, and it was almost midday.  As I was in Melbourne, home of the cafe, there was no way that I was going to settle for a burger at the usual suspects.  So I googled 'cafe melbourne CBD' to see what nearby cafes looked interestingly different and might be open for brunch or lunch.  That is how I stumbled upon the Hardware Societe on Hardware Street, Melbourne.  

After lining up briefly with a few other hopeful diners, I was quickly seated at a communal scrubbed wood dining table to enjoy the friendly service and unpretentious yet delightful ambience of the place.

Being somewhat starved (from all the roaming about) and wanting something brunch-like, I ordered scrambled eggs with salmon, and a pot of tea.  THIS is what appeared:


The scrambled eggs would have to be among the best I have ever tasted.  They were done to perfection and served in a cute little frying pan alongside grainy toast topped with avocado, leafy greens, salmon and a rather delicious chutney.  So yum!

It hardly seemed possible that there could be more but what excited me even more than the yummy deliciousness of the food was the tea!  The teapot came complete with a magnificent crochet tea cosy


and a prettily mismatched china cup and saucer.


It was all so overwhelmingly retro and hip at once - I was in crochet heaven!

On inquiring about the cute little tea cosy, I was pointed to a collection of them for sale and advised that they are made for the Hardware Societe in Bali.

I could not resist - I bought one of my very own.  A green one, in fact.  Here it is, in pride of place in my kitchen.


I am seriously thinking of making my own cosy, using this one as a pattern, given its impressive cuteness and simplicity.  But for now I am really loving looking at it on my teapot.

Sometimes, it is the small things that really make a holiday great.  My brunch experience at the Hardware Societe was one of those things.

Nandina

 





Sunday, 4 May 2014

Dye lot dramas - with a happy ending

I have recently had a bit of a problem trying to finish off my ongoing WIP, the chequerboard blanket.  Nearing the end (strip number 10 of 12), I realised I was going to run out of the parchment (cream-coloured) cotton yarn.  So off I went (online) to Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM) and purchased some more.

The yarn arrived a few days later and I continued to work on my WIP.


Unfortunately when I began to use the new yarn, it became apparent that it was a slightly different colour.  Oh no!  How would I finish my project? I wondered.

I initially approached BWM to see if they had any of the original dye lot left.  They did not.

It then occurred to me that there are loads of BWM users on Ravelry.  So I posted a request on the swap/buy/sell thread of the users group forum.  That's when my situation became a rather wondrous experience.

A lovely lady called Catriona, who goes by the Ravelry moniker of StitchKnitWitch, responded to my post.  She said she had some 8ply parchment  in her stash and was willing to send it to me if it matched my existing yarn.  Sensibly, she suggested sending me a sample first, to check whether it was a good match.


To my delight, the sample was a far better match than my newly purchased yarn.  This meant that, thanks to Catriona, I would be able to finish my project!

Yesterday, the yarn from Catriona arrived by post.  My new yarny friend had saved the day!


Even more amazingly, it was apparent that Catriona was not seeking payment (as she had not provided any banking details or postage costs).  I have to admit that this really blew me away.

So today I sent off a prepaid gift voucher and a yarny magazine to her, with a thank you card.

All in all this has been an incredibly positive experience and made me realise - again! - how incredibly lovely yarny people are!

Nandina