After yesterday’s gardening debacle (and I now think that I stupidly mistook immature fennel for parsnips which explains the feathery leaves and un-carroty smell), I decided it was time I visited a gardening expert.
Open to the public this weekend as part of the Open Gardens Scheme, Sophie’s ‘Hamlyn Cottage’ garden is three acres bursting at the seams with colourful, drought-hardy ornamentals, abundant vegetable beds, happy chooks and geese wandering around over 90 fruit trees, and fabulous sculptures made from recycled and salvaged materials.
It would be easy for a small-scale, hit-and-miss, gardener like me to feel daunted when visiting such an impressive garden, yet Sophie is the first to admit that hers, too, is a work in progress. She left her previous garden in Ashton, in a higher rainfall zone of the Adelaide hills, to start from scratch three years ago with less than half the rainfall and extremes of wind, heat and frost.
While much has already been done, like all keen gardeners Sophie has plans for the future of her garden, including covering the orchard and poultry run with netting, planting 20 citrus trees, and building a shed and polytunnel.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to create a garden with the imagination, energy and flair of Hamlyn Cottage. Generous to a fault in volunteering own her time to gardening activities all over Adelaide, Sophie acknowledges the assistance of family, friends and volunteers from gardening groups like Duck Flat Community Garden in helping bring her gardening vision to life.
In 2012, Luscious, the house dragon was built by a working-bee of family and friends under the guidance of Mt Barker community artist Irene Stone-Pearce of Tickle Tank.
“At home”, Sophie told me, “I am very fortunate to have lots of friends who helped me with major projects in my garden, as I helped them in theirs. Getting friends together for working bees is a great way of getting things done. Friends were filmed helping me to plant my driveway and it was lots of fun.”
If you are looking for a little (or a lot of) gardening inspiration, you can visit tomorrow (19 October) between 10.00 and 4.30. Details can be found on the Open Gardens Australia website.