Elysium – Taradale

November 17, 2014 - 7 Responses


 I am not interested in tuning into the horse racing of Melbourne Cup Day so I spent Tuesday, the 4th of November doing something I really like – visiting two open gardens in the nearby township of Taradale. These gardens were open as part of the Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens.

‘Elysium’ was the garden I visited in the morning and is the subject of this post.

The property is situated in the heart of the township and is bordered by the fences of neighbouring properties and a sheep paddock.

The garden has two distinct sections – a new section developed over the past 16 months with a moon gate as the back drop and an older established section which has a large pond.

The owner has created a no dig garden where plants have been planted into raised garden beds which are heavily mulched. Many of the trees have been planted as more mature specimens.


 A view across the new garden to the moon gate and……


 looking back through the moon gate to the new garden.


Colour in the new garden.




 The pond is a dominant feature of the older garden.


 This comical emu is placed in one of the densely planted beds of the older garden. Shady deciduous trees provide dappled light for hellebores which had finished flowering and the peonies which had just begun flowering or were still in bud. Hellebores and peonies are a rare sight in Castlemaine whose climate is not well suited to these plants.




 Lots more colour in the older section of the garden.











A deciduous tree clad in its fresh spring leaves.

Plaistow Homestead – Joyces Creek

November 10, 2014 - 6 Responses




Yippeee! It’s been Festival of Gardens time in Castlemaine and district from the 1st to the 9th of November. So there’ll be a few posts devoted to the gardens I visited over the next few weeks.

The Festival is held every two years. Twenty two gardens were listed in the official program and six gardens in the HEDGE – Horticultural Endeavours Demonstrating Gardening Enthusiasm – program. Yes, even a Garden Festival has a fringe.

I visited Plaistow, one of the HEDGE gardens, on Saturday, the 8th of November on a windy, hot day perfect for wandering around a property which has shady verandahs and trees.

This heritage listed property was settled in the early 1840s before the madness of the gold rushes. There is a rambling garden created for the pleasure of the owners and to supply the kitchen with fruit and vegetables.

I visited the garden about a month too late as the spring flowers had died, shrivelled or gone to seed. So I needed to focus on features other than a spring floral display.



How many of us have one of these parked on our verandahs?



 A sunny courtyard provides a sheltered retreat.





An avenue of old peppercorn trees leads down to the creek and the paddocks.




This is what lies beyond the garden fence.




 I think this is the oldest olive tree I have seen with its spreading branches and gnarled trunk.









Spring Abundance

November 3, 2014 - 10 Responses



Posies of spring flowers were recently used to decorate the tables at Newstead community lunch.

As I made this drawing, I was reminded of the old tradition of making Tussie Mussies. These small bouquets of fragrant herbs and flowers have been used in various forms since Medieval times. Initially, tussie mussies were pinned to a person’s clothing or worn in the hair to mask body odour or unpleasant smells in the street.

In the 1800s, tussie mussies became popular as gifts, especially between lovers. The posy was a coded message where each flower had a special meaning as listed in the directories of flower meanings published during this period. Often the flowers were placed inside a doily or special cone shaped metal vase. As the flowers could have more than one meaning, it was prudent to accompany the tussie mussie with a card listing the intended meaning of the flowers.

This particular posy included:

cornflowers – delicacy or single blessedness

geranium – comfort

lavender – devotion, virtue or distrust

marigold – desire for riches or despair

pink rose – friendship, love, beauty or success.


For me, these flowers symbolised the hope and abundance spring brings.

Mosaic: Scarab

October 27, 2014 - 6 Responses


This is the fourth of a series of transparent mosaics I have made at Heart Art.

I made this one yesterday – Sunday, the 26th of October.

The first item I chose for the mosaic was the big, blue bead. It reminded me of the scarab beetles which the ancient Egyptians depicted in their jewellery.  The design of the mosaic was inspired by the jewelled collars worn by the Egyptians of high status.

I am very pleased with the design and colours of the finished mosaic.


Buda, Castlemaine – Touring the Historic House

October 16, 2014 - 6 Responses


 This is my second post about my visit to the historic house and garden of Buda in Castlemaine on Sunday, the 14th of September.

The first post featured the garden whilst this post features the house.

From 1864 until 1981,  Buda was the home of  the Leviny family; Ernest Leviny, a Hungarian silversmith and jeweller, his wife, Bertha, and their 10 children.

Buda remained home to five unmarried daughters for most of their lives. As adults, they returned to Buda when not pursuing careers, study or travel.

Like their father, the daughters were creative being keen followers of the arts and crafts movement.

Each daughter pursued a particular discipline:

Mary – embroidery and smocking

Gertrude – wood working

Kate – photography

Dorothy – metal work and enamelling

Hilda – embroidery.

All the objects on display, except for a grand piano, once belonged to the Leviny family. Many objects are the work of Ernest Leviny and the Leviny daughters.

The house was extensively renovated from 1890 to 1900. I imagine quite a lot of repairs had to be done after a huge storm when Hilda recalled sheltering under the dining room table whilst the chimneys crashed down through the roof.










 These two photographs, the mounted emu egg and the decorative lead light window, were taken by my friend, Jennie.






 The laundry or wash house, kitchen and maids’ bedroom are somewhat plainer than the main rooms of the house.






The Big Tree, Guildford

October 8, 2014 - 6 Responses


We slowly circle the giant,

This locally revered landmark.

A cockatoo and corella are facing off

Screeching louder and LOUDER,

Adding weight to its claim for dominance,

The corella snips off small leafy twigs

Which flutter to the ground.

There is the quiet sound of buzzing,

A hive of bees is resident in a hollow.

Unseen, a pardalote ripples its call.

We gaze up into the vast canopy

In awe.

5th of October 2014, Guildford









 This photograph shows two branches which have fused together.







The Big Tree is a River Red Gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis.

For those of  you interested in statistics, the tree is 30 metres high and its trunk has a circumference of 9.35 metres. The canopy has a spread of 34 metres.

The tree is more than 500 years old.

In the 1990s, two roads were realigned and power lines relocated to help preserve the tree.

The cockatoo is the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, the corella, the Little Corella and the pardalote, the Striated Pardalote.

Birthday Villa Winery

September 25, 2014 - Leave a Response



Birthday Villa Winery was one of the open gardens I visited on Sunday, the 7th of September during the Kyneton Daffodil and Arts Festival.

The garden circles the 1870s verandahed, brick house.


 It is a daffodil festival so daffodils you will have -




- and blossom flowering in the orchard.








The vineyard at the front of the property overlooks the old Calder Highway leading into the township of Malmsbury.



 The vineyards at the rear of the property give impressive views of the Malmsbury viaduct and old blue stone buildings at the Malmsbury station.

The viaduct was built in the early 1860s as part of  the construction of the first railway from Melbourne to the Murray River.





The produce of the vines.

Volcano Chasing

September 20, 2014 - 6 Responses


 This collage was inspired by the excursion to view some of the local extinct volcanoes. It is a work of the imagination and was fun to make.

As  part of the Newstead ‘Words in Winter Celebration’ held during August, I joined an eager band of explorers to learn more about the volcanic history of our region.

With the guidance of seismologist, Gary Gibson, we learnt about the Muckleford Fault which accounts for the earthquakes in the region, the interplate volcanoes which dot the area between Campbell Town and Smeaton and the local deep lead mines.

The volcanoes which were the objects of our attention were active millions of years before the existence of modern human beings. Mt. Franklin, near Daylesford, is a mere pup at around 10,000 years old. It erupted within the memory of modern human beings with local indigenous people having an oral history of sisters hurling rocks at each other.





The open air learning centre

DSCN2980Gary Gibson – tutor, guide and enthusiastic volcano chaser



Gazing across the paddocks


There ‘s one -


And there’s another. These green, cloud patterned hills are the volcanoes of ages past.



This being central Victoria, there had to be gold mines somewhere. Those pesky volcanoes spewed out lava which flowed across the gold bearing valleys which meant deep shafts had to be dug through the layer of basalt to reach the riches below. Great hills of spoil dot the landscape marking the sites of the now abandoned mines.

Buda – Historic House and Garden in Castlemaine

September 14, 2014 - 6 Responses



Today, Sunday the 14th of September, my friend, Jennie and I visited Buda, Castlemaine’s  grand property featuring a large house and extensive garden.

Buda was purchased by Ernest Leviny, a Hungarian silversmith and jeweller in 1863. He moved into the house with his second wife, Bertha, in 1864. The couple had 10 children and Buda remained the family’s home until 1981 when Hilda, the last surviving daughter, died at 98 years of age. The house was extensively renovated between 1890 and 1900 during which time it was given the name of  Buda. The property is now in community ownership being part of the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum.

I am going to feature Buda in two posts, this first post features the garden.

The garden of 1.2 hectares was developed to reflect the tastes and interests of the family. Earnest Leviny was a member of the Mount Alexander (Castlemaine) Horticulture and Agricultural Society and was eager to acquire the plants of interest to collectors in the Victorian era. Whilst the family employed a team of gardeners, they were also hands on gardeners themselves. Hilda was still working in the garden in her 90s.





As adults, the Leviny daughters were keen followers of the arts and crafts movement. This sun dial and fountain were made by Dorothy who specialised in metal and enamel work.


The garden was altered to meet the changing needs of the family. The fountain and pond are part of a garden built to replace the tennis court. The old tennis pavilion now sits in a garden setting.




Yes, that’s me.

Bringalbit – Sidonia

September 7, 2014 - 2 Responses



It is early spring and the festival season is now upon us. Kyneton is hosting its annual Daffodil and Arts Festival from the 4th to the 14th of September. The big attraction for me is the open gardens.

Taking advantage of the fine weather, I visited two gardens today – Sunday, the 7th.

This post features Bringalbit, a farming property in the rural area of Sidonia.

The 1870s granite house sits in an extensive park with a lake and garden. The conifers and deciduous trees which were planted in the late 1800s are of stately proportions but the park and gardens are in need of renovation and rejuvenation. The fallen timber, the overgrown gully beneath the wall of the lake, the feral blackberries and the unpruned roses give the property a melancholy appearance. However, there are still things to delight the eye especially the surrounding country of rolling granite hills.













Around the house. In addition to two peacocks, there were pea hens and other poultry free ranging about the place.



Looking across the lake and across the paddocks.






Sheep doing what sheep normally do – eating.



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