Lovely Lambrigg

I think that I would have to join a queue of people almost as long as that at the National Gallery, who would now like to move to Lambrigg homestead (should the opportunity ever arise) after last weekend’s Open Garden event. I’ve always wanted to visit the property, whose views along the Murrumbidgee can be glimpsed on the left hand side of the road once you have gone over Point Hut Crossing.

Several thousand people took the opportunity last weekend to vicariously enjoy the view from the verandah and the extensive lawns and gardens that were looking resplendent following our recent rain. If that wasn’t enough there were 26 exhibitors with every type of plant, garden ornament, plant related book. You could look at the stock or climb the hill to see William and Nina Farrer’s graves. For those with a more practical bent they have a very large leaf composting enclosure.

Several old friends were there. TB bought a book on Home Smoking and Curing Meat from Dalton’s Books and friend M and I stocked up on seeds from the Italian Gardener. This time we purchased Turnip Greens Cima di Rapa Quarantina – there was a great recipe using them on Italian Food Safari last week – globe carrots Pariser Markt and Black Winter Radish, d’inverno nero tondo.

Strezlecki Heritage Apples from Gippsland had a fantastic array of varieties of both apples and pears to try. There were eating, dessert and cooking apples and apples and pears for cider and perry making. I was very taken by the apple Alan’s Pearmain. If you are looking for heritage apples I’d seriously consider contacting Strezleckis who do mail order of bare rooted stock in winter. They are also willing to discuss specific rootstock choices to meet your requirements (email: ).

There was also a wide range of garden sculpture to suit all tastes on display. Al Phemister, whose work we saw at Jugiong was there, along with John Topfer Sculptures, the Rusty Roof and Brock Metalcraft. I’m seriously smitten by Brock’s Poppy Head plant support, which I envisage my Sweet Peas twining up, should they ever actually germinate that is. Sadly I wasn’t fast enough on the day and all were sold before I could select some for my own. Anyway there is hope on the horizon and I’m planning to place an order in the coming weeks. Perhaps they’ll arrive at Chez Fork in time for my Scarlet Runner Beans.

On the more rustic end of the scale the Rusty Roof (email: was selling great pieces made out of pre-loved corrugated iron. At last we were able to find something for M’s significant birthday present. She’s now the proud owner of her own compact house cow! And yes, the question of whether a metal cow produces tinned milk has come up!

Thanks to the Gullett family for opening their wonderful property to the ravening hoards.

PS if you didn’t make it to Lambrigg last week you can have a look at the story that ACT Stateline produced on the homestead.


The Stirzaker Garden

Richard Stirzaker is a CSIRO scientist with a lifelong history of veggie gardening and an avid interest in understanding the way water is used in gardening, farming and the broader landscape. TB and I joined an already a large group of people at the Stirzaker’s house in O’Connor which was open to the public this weekend. Their house block is fairly standard 887sq metres, but it is pretty much all veggie garden. TB was stirred to dreams of converting our whole back garden to veggies, which I’m resisting at present, as I’m not sure just who we would be growing for. The Stirzakers’ are after all a family with hungry teenagers to feed.

Richard was on hand to answer questions. He said that they had rainwater storage of some 12,000 litres. They also use grey water, bathroom and kitchen only, to water their fruit trees. They also have a large greenhouse which is used to extend the growing season for their garden. Like the rest of Canberra this garden was showing some signs of mildew and other problems as a result of last weekend’s heavy rains. The garden beds all have Fullstop water metering devices which enables Richard to see how deeply the water is penetrating into the garden beds. He commented that he now spends as much time measuring and monitoring in his garden as he does the gardening proper. The trials that Richard is currently carrying out on his corn bed, watering it using only washing machine water apart from rainfall, can be followed on his website.

To give you a quick tour of the house I’ve included some photos that follow the order of my following written description. The front garden is laid out with flowers and fruit. Here the raspberries are cropping at present. Along the side fence the fruit trees have been netted to keep the birds away. At the back end of the side fence the chooks live with an open run linked to an enclosed roosting area. A small paved seating area, under a trellis, is surrounded by veggie beds. I asked Richard about the large number of raised beds in the garden, which are really nicely made to look like adobe. It turns out to have been a purely practical choice. The house had a large area of concrete out the back. The choice was to dig the concrete up or build up the beds, so they choose the latter. There are also several netted enclosures for fruit trees along the back fence which is the driest area of the garden. The good-sized greenhouse is along the remaining side fence and is currently producing banana chillies, tomatoes and a rock melon. I can’t vouch that my recollection of all the plants under cultivation is completely accurate, as there was so much to take in.

I’m looking forward to reading Richard’s book, which is also available through his website, to gain some further insight into the better management of water both in our own back yard as well as the wider landscape.



Open garden events in the ACT

You might be interested in one of these events listed in our local area over the next two months:

* Richard Stirzaker garden
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 February 10am-4.30pm. $6.00, no charge for
children under 18
(No bookings required)
* Farm, Food, Feast at Allsun Farm (highly recommended after our
visit last year )

Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 March,10am-4.30pm. $7.00, no charge for
children under 18
(No bookings required)
* Dry Spell Gardening with Brendan Moar
Hall Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 March, 10am-4.30pm. $6.00, no charge
for children under 18
(No bookings required)
* Sustainable Watson: Growing for the Future
Watson Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 March, 10am-4.30pm. $6.00, no
charge for children under 18
(No bookings required)
* Plant Fair at Lambrigg
Tharwa Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 March, 10am-4.30pm. $6.00, no
charge for children under 18
(No bookings required)

Full details of these and other events can be found at the Open
Garden Website