A Handmade Home

I love the phrase ‘handmade home’ the two words go so well together.

my repotted cacti in their little tins

flowers from the garden

A slew of craft projects on this week, some just little mini ones, like buying a few food tins in the supermarket and using them as pots for my cacti collection, bringing out their colourful Mexican side.

up at the lookout – such a sense of stillness and peace

Up at the lookout found some beautiful pink gum leaves,
slender and curved. I want to translate them into the house somehow.

an early morning mist in the village

the pink leaves from the lookout

Inspired by an article in Inside Out magazine I make some of them into a garland twisted onto a bit of wire. So simple to do, yet it makes my pin board feel festive.

my gumnut garland made from the pink leaves

the stencil so far

My major craft project is working up a stencil for one of the bedrooms. I want it to be in the spirit of Australiana. Copying a gum tree flower from an old shoulder bag, two cut outs made then just spray painted onto a trial board. It has potential, something in the curve of the shape like a paisley, always a good pattern for a wall. To make it feel more fresh and modern it needs to be bigger, oversize. I’d say I’m about half way there…

Starting a Garden Journal

I’ve started a garden journal for a couple of reasons. Mostly because I like the idea of it, it seems like a gentle and mindful practice, one that makes you look closer at things. But also because I don’t like having bits of cheap looking plastic tags flapping around on plants & I can’t remember how to look after all of them!

the ‘before’ picture – plants almost too small to see

the ‘after’ picture – just one year later

The garden has changed in an incredible way since this time last year, when the first real planting was done. I was told when I moved in that plants either grow really well here or not at all- however most seem to have taken. But it’s not just plants – structures have been added, using local materials wherever possible. An entrance way out of logs, that I’ll grow a climbing rose up & beautiful dry stone walls made by local craftsmen.

so beautiful sitting among the roses, salvias, achillaes, pokers… until I was stung by a bee!

So to be sitting among tall well established fragrant plants, with little birds darting in and sipping nectar from the yellow pokers is like a dream. I really have to be grateful to Seasol and Lambley’s nursery where I got most of the plants & every one who has helped work in the garden to make it bloom so beautifully.

my journal customized with flower stickers and pink tape

the giant echium, right, only tiny when planted last year

But of course a garden never ends- and that’s why I’ve started a journal, to plan and map the voyage on from here…

an artichoke from the garden

kangaroos in the early morning mist

To record unexpected surprises like the wild opium poppy found growing out the front, a legacy from the Gold Rush days when there was an opium den in town. The red and black somehow similar to the colouring of a red back spider I once saw – the unreal intensity a warning of danger.

slate markers I have painted to go in next to the plants

wild opium poppy found in the garden

To note down how much I am learning about growing things- for example I never understood that mulch was like a little blanket that kept the moisture in and the weeds away. And to understand that everything is changing around us all the time & how planting a garden is almost an act of hope in the future.

Along the Way

It’s a four-hour drive from the old schoolmasters house to the city – it becomes a journey. I usually try to break the trip- find adventures along the way.

at the Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath –

Early November it’s the Rhododendron Festival in Blackheath – my favourite little town in the Blue Mountains. Even just driving through on the Great Western Highway you see glimpses of the festive trees decorated with what looks like crepe paper flowers; orange, persimmon, pink, red, white and more. I didn’t get to see the festival this year, I’ve imagined floats of Carmen Miranda like splendor- but I could be completely wrong…
I did get to the old world rhododendron gardens, where you follow winding paths of Indian-like colour past ponds and under eucalypts. Mostly older people are there, everything feels very quite and still. It calms you down.

a path through the Rhododendron Gardens

the commanding facade of the Bathurst jail

industrial buildings in Bathurst

the bird egg collection in the local Bathurst Museum

Passing through Bathurst, Keppel Street is the best port of call. With it’s fun op shops, 2nd hand stores & cafes – it’s the arty side of town. The Bathurst Regional Art Gallery is there, and is somehow very easy to pop into, it’s only small but it’s like a bird having a quick sip of nectar from a delicious flowering bush.

at the Bathurst Mineral museum

There’s some wonderful nineteenth century architecture in Bathurst. The jail with a façade that Charles Dickens would have approved of. The domed courthouse that was meant for India but got redirected to here. Close by a tiny little museum, almost a private collection of random artifacts of early Bathurst. My favorite thing a beautiful bird egg collection, all different colours from china white to pale blue, some freckled with spots. Others have intricate sepia handwriting covering them. It’s a work of art.

outside the Mineral and Fossil museum

hills out of Bathurst

The Bathurst Mineral and Fossil museum is one of the amazing museums of the world, dropped into a country town. Standing in the darkened hall surrounded with cases filled with rocks and minerals – you feel energized. The crystallized rocks are displayed like abstract works of art, ones that you could stare into for hours, they become like little worlds, planets that Superman could have come from. I’ve been back again and again.