Friday, October 8, 2010

Tiptoe through the tulips

After living in Canberra for three years and intending for every one of those to visit Tulip Top Gardens, this year I finally did!

I've driven past Tulip Top Gardens more times than I care to remember. With both sets of Grandparents living in the greater Sydney area and now also having to make trips to various paediatric specialists for Miss Poppet, we frequently make the trip up and down the Federal and Hume Highways. I love it; we get to see the seasonal changes to the countryside and the Misses Flibbertigibbet are great little travellers - thank goodness!

So last week I took Miss Diva and Little Poppet along for a visit to Tulip Top. Miss Diva was not feeling 100% and as a result was, well, a bit of a diva. She spent most of the time whinging and/or sitting in Little Poppet's stroller. However, Little Poppet was in her element and had to be watched closely or she'd wander off for a bit of tree worshipping. I think she was a dryad in a previous life.

As you know I am a big fan of Floriade, and it is on such a grand scale that I was expecting to be underwhelmed by Tulip Top. I was wrong.

Pretty much the first thing we did was walk up to the viewing area on the hill above the gardens, as I knew Miss Diva was fast running out of energy. My photos failed to capture just how spectacular the view really was, but you can see just how close to the highway this hidden paradise is and also tell how much rain we've had lately - how green are those hills?

Then we made the journey back down the hill to explore the rest of the garden

Here's Miss Diva making a brief inspection before she retired
to the stroller for the duration

Little Poppet taking a closer look

Oops! I'm sorry Tulip Top people, I promise this was the only one!

There's a Little Poppet under the blossoms

The blossom trees are the perfect complement to the bulb plantings

Little tease! No, she didn't pick this one

It was such a lovely day that on the way home, I made a spur of the moment decision to turn right out of the Tulip Top driveway and head north along the Old Federal Highway until it met up with the 'new' Federal Highway. This stretch of road has always intrigued me and I would like to explore it some more one day. We had only gone about a kilometre when I spotted some Australian fauna walking beside the road.

Can you see him (or her!)?

Yes, an echidna. We didn't want to disturb it too much, so I
took this photo on zoom and then we left it in peace and
continued our journey home.

I'm definitely going to go to Tulip Top again next year, but around the end of September instead to see all the displays in their full glory.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A weekend away

The Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

The Flibbertigibbet family spent a relaxing weekend in the Blue Mountains a few weeks ago. Mr Flib and Grandpa bravely volunteered to look after Miss Diva and Little Poppet for the day so that my lovely mother in law (MIL) and I could spend the day at Daffodils at Rydal.

Rydal is a little town not far from Lithgow, and was named for the English village of Rydal where the poet William Wordsworth lived for many years. For two weekends in September Rydal hosts a daffodil festival to raise funds for local charities.

MIL and I, armed with a picnic lunch, a thermos and some warm jackets, set off enthusiastically on our adventure. I must admit I was rather giddy with excitement at the thought of an entire day out without the Misses Flibbertigibbet in attendance that didn't involve manning a market stall.

First stop was the Ribbons and Rainbows store in Blackheath. Ribbons and Rainbows doesn't have a website (the only information I can provide you with is a map here) but I can assure you it is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the Blue Mountains. The shop is in a delightful little weatherboard cottage and has great character. On our arrival we were greeted by an amazing quilt on display on the front verandah. I've really got a thing for Japanese fabrics at the moment so had to take a photo. One of the things I really liked about it was the fact that the background fabrics are actually positive/negative colourways of the same design - beige on navy and navy on beige. Very clever.

Loaded up with textile temptations, we set off for Rydal.

Rydal is a gorgeous little (tiny!) town. The railway station is like something out of a story book, and a bit of 'googling' has revealed that accommodation is available in the Stationmaster's Residence. There's an old pub in town, complete with locals, and some beautiful old churches.
Unfortunately I didn't think to take any photos of Rydal, so you will have to go and look for yourself. Perhaps go to the Rydal Show in February 2011.

After a walking tour of the village (and I feel I should mention we were very glad of the jackets at this point) we headed to the gardens of Chapel House, and found two wicker chairs just waiting for us on the lawn. We enjoyed our picnic lunch while looking down over the town of Rydal and being entertained by the sounds of a small orchestra from elsewhere in the garden. The house and gardens here were stunning, and we also enjoyed viewing the artwork in the gallery. Apparently there is also a self contained cottage available to stay in, it's rather intriguingly called The Owlpen.

You could almost be forgiven for thinking you were in an English garden

until magnificent Eucalypts like this one give the game away.

I've got a soft spot for Blue Wrens. This cheeky fellow led me on a merry chase.

The red branches of the tree in the above photo had MIL and I quite fascinated

So we went for a closer inspection. Stunning!
I must find out what this tree is.

Then we moved on to Karingal, located on a quiet country lane:

A place of 'venerable trees', as my MIL poetically put it

And I think we saved the best for last. We arrived at Bark Ridge late in the day, and enjoyed one of the best cups of tea I have had in a long, long while. By the time we started doing the rounds of the garden, the sun was low in the sky and the daffodils seemed almost incandescent.

I love lichen covered fences ...

and trees.

Bark Ridge's plantings were far more casual than the plantings of the other gardens we visited, with the daffodils allowed to run riot and I loved it. The different varieties were mixed together and the effect was quite breathtaking.

Very 'Anne of Green Gables', don't you think?

I must go again next year.