Plans for the new shop are moving at a cracking pace. Stock has either been delivered or is on its way – particularly for the international products. Some of the new arrivals are so stunning, I’m finding it hard to imagine how I can part with them. Probably not the best retail approach.
So far we have a good stock of Noro, Zauberball, Moseley Park and Kaalund. Books have arrived as have a selection of Knitpro needles. A few other lovelies such as some Golding spindles have also found their way here. This week a trip to Sydney helped with shelving as well as some surprises from the last David Barsby auction.
The shop is coming together well and is perfect for our needs – great location, lots of character, good size with two rooms to add interest, of course Yum Cha next door as well as outdoor seating for knitters in good weather. There’s still lots to do – phone/wireless connection, Merchant connections, signage, stationery … but it’s so exciting.
The needles are clicking madly in preparation for our Rylstone StreetFeast stall on 1 November, then it should be full steam ahead to open the shop sometime in November.
It’s that magical time of year for gardeners where everything is growing and flowers burst forth. It’s particularly exciting in such a new garden where many of the plants haven’t flowered before and any growth seems so dramatic. You also start to see how the plants blend in with each other and their individual growth patterns.
I’m thrilled to see so many plants responding, not just in terms of growth and flowering, but also the abundance of self sewn plants from letting the plants go to seed.
It’s a treat now to go outside and pick bunches of flowers and enjoy them inside as well. One of changes I need to adjust to is that when I let the dogs out in the morning, it’s often over an hour before I make my way back inside for breakfast as I wander through the garden inspecting changes and doing some never-ending weeding!
The privet has been an ongoing saga since I first arrived here. It was towering, leggy, unattractive and hardly an environmental asset – bound for a Council edict. The initial plan, after inspiration from locals who pointed out that it was once a well-ordered and regularly trimmed hedge, was to see if I could cut it back dramatically and get it to regrow neatly after maybe 40 years of neglect.
After tackling a number of bushes with a branch saw over a year ago and getting great results, the rest of the hedge came down in July with the help of chainsaws. The old fence – high galvanised iron with hardwood posts – has a rustic charm of its own which I have now come to love, after originally plotting its downfall. I am now adding rambling roses behind the privets to add another layer of interest and take advantage of a sound structure.
Whilst the privet bases will be slightly “leggy” and the ground before it is a bit rough, I’ve edged it with timbers and backfilled with pine bark mulch, planted out with Kurume Azaleas, Helebores and Japanese Windflowers (Anenome x Hybrida). The privets are now all beginning to show signs of new growth and should thicken into a hedge over the next year. Planting of the edge border has begun in earnest, so this side of the garden is now taking on a far more formal appearance, which I was hoping for.
So far this is very raw, but I’m hoping over the next few years this will become a more structured part of the garden and add substantially more interest. I should be a major improvement given it was the biggest eyesore and so environmentally unfriendly.
A year on, I expect the photos to look vastly different.
Last year I posted pictures of my Aquilegias – also called Columbines and rather charmingly, Grannies Bonnets. They are probably my favourite flower and are just coming into season.
The colours are so variable but always stunning. They also self seed, so multiplying plants can be a treat. I both allow seeds to scatter as well as collect them each year to spread early Spring. This year I’ve also taken the step of trying to sew some in trays to see if I get any results.
Anyway, here’s a selection of the earliest starters.
One of the pleasures of owning the Convent has been making the building more accessible to the public. After all, the local community put so much into building and maintaining the property for many years, however whilst being a home for the nuns and priests it was always so private.
Last weekend, as part of the Kandos Centenary Celebrations, the Convent was open for visitors for two days. This time not just the garden but also the whole Convent, and it was such a highly rewarding experience. It’s beautifully built and deserves to be seen and seems to be highly enjoying a more public profile. Sunday in particular was a little overwhelming with the crowds but I’d estimate we had between 400 and 600 people through the doors, this time more to see the interior than the gardens.
It was a sentimental time as ex-students of the nuns returned with such vibrant memories given the piano lessons and confirmations held at the Convent, which served as a backdrop for photos of generations of townsfolk. Visitors included a nun who was first taught at the school by the nuns and then joined the order and lived at the Convent, a local who had been the resident gardener for so many years, one of the resident priests and a wonderful gentleman who had learnt piano at the hands of the nuns to later become an international pianist.
The stories were fascinating and added so much more to our understanding of the nuns and their relationship with the community. One woman’s great grandmother had learnt that the nun’s were in dire straights during the depression and organised locals to provide a food roster for the nuns, we heard that the nuns ran a lolly shop and sold treats to the children, Melbourne Cup Day was popular with the children as they ran sweeps and sat out the front of the Convent on the grass with the nuns to listen to the race on the radio. Oh, and the priest with the poker machine who gave children coins so they could play it.
Two days of memories, with a few tears and hugs along the way. Many thanks to my friends G and R who manned so many tours through the Convent and also to everyone who turned up. It was a great few days and I hope the visitors enjoyed the opportunity to explore – I know how much I loved having everyone here and hearing stories first hand and I tend to think the Convent was also a little pleased to be able to show another side to the community.
I’m sure Kandos will be having a quiet day today after four days of celebrations to mark the town’s hundredth anniversary.
It’s been a huge long weekend for the town and the Convent. Friday was a busy day preparing the Kandos Bicentennial Industrial Museum for its official reopening by the new Governor, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley. The Museum reopening has been a mammoth task for the community, with volunteers pitching in to help with building works, painting, gardening and management of the collection. Now the building works are coming to a close, all the wonderful old exhibits are re-emerging and being homed back in the museum. I had no idea of how much would be involved and it’s been amazing to see the community support.
On Saturday, the town kicked off with a street parade which included the local volunteer groups, although locals were involved in many different activities and had to make some hard choices about where to be over the weekend. I’ve learnt that in country towns, many people wear many hats!
We spent all afternoon at the Museum preparing for the opening and then enjoying the official ceremony and the reaction of locals and visitors as they stepped back into the Museum after so many months closure.
Saturday night culminated in a wonderful ball, again attended by the Governor and his wife. Kandos Centenary Celebrations was their first official engagement since his appointment. By all accounts the ball was spectacular. Unfortunately I didn’t make it – given the Convent was to be open to the public the next few days, I had thought I may be up til the wee hours stressing with preparations. Instead, I ended up having a relaxing night with visiting friends, chilling before the arrival of hordes over the next few days.
It’s now less than two weeks before the Convent will be open to the public, which I anticipate will mainly be locals, returning Kandos expats and some tourists, for the Kandos Centenary Celebrations over the October long weekend.
All the plants are well and truly planted and beds weeded as well as possible, so now it’s up to Mother Nature and some housekeeping – watering (including fertiliser watering each week), mulching and last minute trimming, sweeping and raking.
Four weeks ago the garden was bare. At least now there’s lots of new growth. Last year the garden was open for the Kandos Garden Fair which was held a month later. At that point I was bemoaning that the roses had all but finished and the grass was barely green given the lack of rain. A little earlier this year and at least the grass is more presentable but there is barely a rose in sight. The Aquilegias and Indigofera Decor, last year’s stars, are not yet up to the flowering stage, although a few Aquilegia’s may just make an appearance. I’m feeling a little vulnerable in the flower department.
The visitors will probably be locals who popped in last year and they will notice a difference with plants being more established and the most dramatic change, with the lopped privet. Expat ex-locals hopefully will remember the last 30 odd years which were “low maintenance Convent gardens”. Anyway, I’ll have the photo albums our showing the old glory days of well tended formal gardens, the low maintenance period and the inherited status to take people through the gardening journey.
If nothing else, there are lots of plants to look at, even if not at their seasonal peak. Also the central bed is in good flower mode with the ranuncs and anenomes flowering and heaps of other things coming through. Blue bells are just starting although the daffodils and snowflakes are at their end. The freesias are still out but the dogs are doing their best to flatten them given that bed has become a favourite “chasey” spot. The veg beds also look productive with lots of crops at various stages from new seedlings to heavy crops of sugar snap and snow peas and towering stalks of broad beans.
No photos this time – I’ll hold off until the October long weekend festivities and hope the garden quickly progresses!
Last year the broad beans were out of control. I wasn’t here enough to pick them in time and look after them properly. The towering plants fell over in the winds and I picked most of them a bit too late in the season – meaning I had lot of floury hard beans.
The best laid plans – I decided this year to plant them against walls and fences rather than in the raised garden bed, so they had support, however the beans had different ideas and self-seeded themselves back in their original bed. At least I have them securely staked and wired this year. A healthy crop is already underway.
This time I’m also picking them before they get too large and tough – such lovely beans, even if a little work is required – depodding, blanching and then removing their skins, but all so worth it. First meal was a simple orecchiette pasta with broad beans, ham and parmesan. Just perfect for a simple dinner using home-grown ingredients.
I also have a healthy crop of sugar snap and snow peas ready at present that will be lining up for salads and stir fries.
A few weeks ago I was terrified that there would be no growth in my garden come the Centenary weekend when the Convent will be open to the public. A little rain, some wonderful sunny weather and maybe a bit of the TLC kicking in has made a huge difference.
Remembering that I only bought the place second quarter of last year and have only been here permanently since November, most of the garden is new and many plants have not flowered or even had leaves on before, so it’s hugely exciting to see plants come up, flower and leaf for the first time. Some of those that have already been in for a season are not disappointing and it’s astounding to see all the new growth.
I already have some emerging stars. The Daphne Genkwa is stunning – just full lilac blooms and no green in sight. It will be finished before the garden is open, but I’m learning to enjoy the plants at their peak rather than wishing they would hold on for a few more weeks. I’m sure there will still be delights in the garden for the October long weekend celebrations.
In the meantime, much will be up to Mother Nature – I can only assist with watering, feeding, weeding and general cleaning up duties at this point.
For much of the last year I’ve mainly been focussing on smaller items for my market stall – beanies, mitts and scarves – which has meant the lace knitting has been neglected.
I get so many comments on the lace shawls I just put out for display that I thought I’d see how a few more elaborate shawls would fare at the markets. To be honest, I also just wanted to knit some lace and use some of the wonderful yarns I have in the stash for a change.
Lace seems challenging to the uninitiated, but other than just remembering a few stitch combinations, it’s not difficult. The main problem is fixing up if you make a major error! Whilst the fine cobweb lace looks so impressive, lace can also be knitted in any other ply for the wary.
Anyway, so far I’ve managed two Adamas shawls (which were my first major attempt at following a lace shawl pattern). One is in an unashamedly bold Zauberball and another in a lovely blend of silk and merino with a fine silver filament from one of our local spinners and dyers. A Multnomah in Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn is also complete and a garter and lace shawl is nearing completion. I might add that not everyone is lucky enough to have a Chapel floor for blocking their knits!
I’ll also put a few shawls together with easily accessible patterns and yarn I have available for anyone who is tempted to turn their hand to something a little more challenging.
I’m hoping the shawls are a hit at the larger Markets later this year. At least they will be a talking point for visitors.