I am an urban orchardist, a volunteer teacher and a poet. I love food and I travel as often as I can.
In the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2008 I accepted an offer of a six weeks residency at Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island, Washington USA. The figs were ripe when I was there – on two giant trees hung with hundreds of fruit. There were pear and apple trees too and berries galore. The vegetable garden, though frequented by cotton tail rabbits, provided our chefs with plenty of produce. The six writers in their individual cottages were spoiled with gourmet organic food everyday without paying a penny for the food and accommodation.When I left Whidbey Island the memory of Hedgebrook and its largesse remained. I had to start growing food.
I have a space outside my front door that slopes gently into a laneway. It suggests a good place to park a car; I have no garage. Next to it is a similar space occupied by my neighbour’s Fiat. The lane used to be a tunnel of green, formed by century old trees that stood in the back yards of houses fronting two parallel streets. In the days of horse and cart this lane served as the service entrance for tradesmen, delivery men and night soil collectors. Over the years the trees fell to new developments and now it’s lined with garages and on certain nights, garbage bins. Except for my place.
My cottage was built at the back of a long yard, at the end of the lane. The owner of a semi detached cottage had divided the property into two and built my cottage at the back, facing the lane. The lane sees little traffic other than the comings and goings of the garage owners and twice a week, the garbage collectors. I do not own a car so I turned the 20 square meters outside my front door into an urban orchard of citrus, figs, guavas, and quince trees.
Six years after I left Hedgebrook, Costa Georgiadis, the host of Gardening Australia from ABCTV called in with his crew and recorded a segment for the programme. It can be viewed on their website under the title A Miniature Orchard.
I hope to share some of the moments from my garden, my poetry and my life on this new blog. Thank you for visiting.
8 March 2015
Thank you to Ian Morris OAM a.k.a. Uncle Long Nose, for this picture taken at Keep River National Park, Northern Territory, Australia