While plotting the setting of my 1860’s South Landers series, I took a tour of the house and gardens of the closest South Australian National Trust property. Walking distance from my home, Beaumont House was familiar but not, I thought, impressive. The 1850’s building and three acre garden looked neglected from the outside.

However, hidden from the public view was a lush garden. A group of volunteers had performed miracles here but hadn’t started on the part of the garden that the public saw. “Why doesn’t somebody…” became “Why don’t I…” when I offered to tidy up the area around the cottage at the back of the main house. This fronts the street. The answer was a qualified ‘yes’ once I had explained what I had in mind. My almost half acre renovation began about two years ago.

Below is my blank canvas, which was not only choked with periwinkle and various other weeds, but had tumble-down rock walls, and soil pits that needed filling.

I rebuilt the terraces, weeded, dug, sweated, cursed, and finally made a shape that I planted with everything the horticulturalist assumed would have been in a cottage garden 150 years ago.

Below is the area in autumn, four months ago. The Jacaranda (circa 1970) in the centre has since been removed and replaced with a heritage apple tree. In this area, we combine the fruit, nuts, and flowers we expect to see in a cottage garden.

I went farther, of course, making a path down into the tangle of feral trees, and I continued planting and shaping.

I collected the scattered rocks to use as borders, which gave me shaped paths curving around into the other areas. You can see the old olive grove in the background.

In the foreground, the two almond trees below (circ 1850) are my pride and joy, producing a small crop of almonds in the first year and doubling it in the second. Since I finished there, I have been working around the pear tree (circ 1850) which boasts its autumn splendour in the second photo and is now in Spring blossom.

One of the two rock terraces built to hold the soil is hidden beneath the new growth in the photo below.

My half acre area has been planted and grown in the past two years partly from cuttings or seeds, but we bought a few plants too. The lemon tree is only two years old but is already bearing fruit and massed with blossom. The clay soil is full of nutrients, which we at The House and my early settler South Landers characters use to grow almost everything including grape vines, olives, fruits, and nuts.

Researching my state’s heritage grew into an addictive hobby but, as a writer, my life is sedentary and largely spent indoors gazing at a computer. The chance to be outside for a day every week communing with nature and socialising with people who share my goal to improve this beautiful garden is not only stimulating but very good exercise. But, of course, I’m in love with this garden. Judging by all the new growth now, at the end of winter, I think the garden loves me too.

You can see more of the house and garden at Virginia-Taylor.com – filed under Blog.

 

9781616509255Ella Beaufort knew better than to rely on a sexy stranger. But with two sisters to support on the modest earnings of the family sheep station, she accepts shearer Cal Lynton’s help—along with his intoxicating kiss. The most Ella can hope for is an affair. Something a woman in her situation wouldn’t dare—or would she?

Heir to his family fortune, Charlton Alfred Landon Lynton abandoned his privileged life to prove his independence. He doesn’t have time for a woman, but once he woos the lovely Ella into his bed, he is ready to make her his wife…until she shocks him with her refusal, claiming she can only marry a rich man! Angry and brokenhearted, the heir in disguise leaves the beautiful golddigger behind…

But amid the breathtaking landscape of South Australian, Ella and Cal are destined to meet again. Will their heated reunion lead to cruel confrontation—or the kind of passion that lasts a lifetime?

 

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