Shaping Australian Gardens

An exhibition about gardens in a library? Is that the equivalent of winning the cultural lottery, or what?


I owe you so much news. Weeks have passed it seems since the last post. And right now you still don’t have my full attention. I’m sitting here at my parents’ house looking out to see and waiting to catch a glimpse of my brother’s boat.  It’s Caitlin’s birthday today and they are celebrating out in Sydney style on board the boat and swimming.

And they have promised me a last bit of chocolate birthday cake if I can get down to the mooring below the house in time.


Now I am definitely the sort of person who will sprint out the house if chocolate cake is on offer.  So this may be truncated news.


Shaping Australian Gardens was an exhibition at the Mitchell library in Sydney. It ends next week so I was thrilled to manage to get over to town to visit and educate myself about Australian gardens.

Long pause there:


I haven’t even had time to sample the piece that Caitlin so kindly left for me.

And I wrote up a long story about the exhibition which managed to disappear from my computer half an hour ago. Grrrr.

img_4485It was hardly epic, but I hate repeating myself. But here goes. And the only pauses until I publish will be to save this darn document.

The exhibition was one of those events where you walk around and not only marvel at the images before you; but also at the work that went into curating it.

img_4478In this instance it was the garden historian Richard Aitken. What a labour – to spend months and months (or was it years?) in the archives of the library finding books and documents to illustrate a very detailed subject.  And I suspect to also lay out the history of European gardening styles and philosophies that shaped the landscape in the past two hundred years here. (The Royal Botanic Garden next door was celebrating its 200th.)

img_4521There was no way I was going to take it all in. I’m one of those magpies at these exhibitions who will flit and drift.

And cling on to the catalogue for dear life; knowing it will be a read at home event rather than peer into every glass case and absorb.


And of course there was that frivolous part of me who thought: ‘Great, images for my notebook and my envelope collection.’ I was shoving donations into the catalogue box like mad. Twenty pages of happiness.


Sadly I didn’t buy the accompanying book – too heavy to haul around town.  Will I go back for it? I must. I ought. I need to be educated. And when you are a self taught gardener, this is how your knowledge accrues.

Perhaps I can sneak back Monday…

And on that note of musing, it’s on with the cake.