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Our Tuscan Themed Garden

Our Tuscan Themed Garden

Here's a little inspiration for you. 

This is our Tuscan themed garden that was inspired from photos of gardens in Europe and is made of rustic materials to give the feel that it has always been there. 

When we first bought our property in Dural NSW, it was just overgrown grass and remnants of the previous tenants who had a thing for horses. 


There was buried star pickets, bits of wire in the grass making it hard to mow and big Scotch thistles everywhere. No doubt lots of snakes but we were probably too excited and naive to worry about them. Thankfully we didn't meet. 

Along one of the boundary fences was an old corrugated iron shed that was the makeshift horse stables. It was rough as guts like so many old stables on acreage properties. 

 

This was to become our Tuscan themed garden with a heavy timber arbour and feature gates above the veggie patch. The chook pen would be an important part of the design and had to be built strong to protect the girls as we had had heartbreaking experiences with neighbours dogs and foxes breaking in at our previous property. Not something you want to go through twice. 

 


I'm not going to post all the photos showing the crazy hard work it was to put all those posts in, the amount of digging, jackhammering slate, working in the heat and being covered in dirt and sweat. 
For now let's just enjoy the finished result because that is what inspires each of us to have a go and dream of something crazy and make it happen. 

(Maybe on another post I will share those behind the scenes photos) 

This is a part of the garden I am very proud of. It started out as some sketches and weekends spent finding all the materials to make it happen. 
Those posts you see are like railway sleepers but longer. A railway sleeper is limited to 2.4m long which makes it too short for a post when concreted in so we had to buy old bridge timbers from the same people who sell the sleepers. 
They are hardwood and very heavy but look fantastic and age very slowly but gracefully. 


Galvanised fencing wire was attached to the top of the beams and an ornamental grape vine is growing along them. This vine sometimes gets a bad wrap because it is vigorous... but I reckon it's just because people are a bit lazy. They want the lush look but dont want a plant that grows lushly!
Just like a vineyard, you cut the vine all the way back to the main stem line during winter when it is dormant and then let it reshoot again each year.
In the photo below you can see how hard it has been cut back and the new shoots appearing at the start of spring. 

It's easy to say that's too much hard work whilst sitting on the couch scrolling through instagram and wishing our life looked like those we follow and admire. Creativity, hardwork, courage and a little crazyness is what makes those beautiful things happen. As gardeners we have the ability and drive to do that and make the world a prettier place. 



I tend to forget the hard work it took which is a good thing otherwise I would never start the next project. It's a bit like how women go through childbirth in extreme pain.. and then sign up for it again a year or two later! We are all a bit nuts. 

Those windows I bought off a bloke out towards Richmond for about $500. They were originally in one long frame. I loved them, Kaylene wasn't so keen as she couldn't envisage them being used on our house. We stored them for a couple of years until I finally had the brainwave to install them into this building we had built a few years before. She likes them now. :-)
Our chooks have their perch just inside that window so each morning they wake up to a lovely view over the veggie patch. 

The window boxes were a recent addition I built out of merbau (a hardwood that copes with being outdoors without being treated) We both dislike the look of treated pine that is used by default in outdoor construction these days. The fact we can treat a type of cheap wood that would normally rot within a year and be eater by termites, to be preserved for 20 years is both amazing and scary. 


In our minds, treated pine doesn't age gracefully. It holds no character, no backstory and often lacks the proportions that timber should carry. 
When travelling overseas in Europe you won't see much treated pine being used. 


This rustic gate was made out of discarded hardwood fence palings and rails. A local fencer was dumping them at the tip every week so we got a pile or two and used them to create some feature gates you can't buy at the big green shed. 


The trick to make them look like they ARENT made from fence palings was to cut the paling lengthways down the middle, creating this skinny picket style. The tops were left roughly rounded and a little sanding and grinding was done to remove any sharper cut lines so that the whole thing looked like it was a hundred years old. 



We avoided using any nail plates or ugly pieces so often used in contemporary building. The hinges where old ones we bought from the junk yard at Londonderry. 



The carpenter who helped us build this gate had a smile on their face at the completed result. They took pride in their work as they understood how important it was to create something rustic, strong and beautiful. 



That amazing looking door in the centre is an original 100+ years old. I think we bought it at an auction at some point. The idea that a door created by craftsmen 100+ years ago can make it's way to Australia and have a new life where it is adored is amazing to me. 


We are always on the lookout for interesting doors and windows to add to our collection. Although I'm not allowed to buy anything unless I have a direct purpose for it which takes a bit of the fun out of it these days. 

The concrete pots we collected from roadside cleanups in our area. There is always treasures to find in other peoples piles of junk. As a society we waste and dump so much these days.. often because the item was built so poorly in the first place and didn't last.. but then there are those quality made items that for one reason or another needs a new home and that's where we can strike gold. 


Here you can see the tiered raised beds of our main veggie patch which sits immediately infront of the Tuscan arbour. 

I couldn't find a photo of the site before we did all this work,  but if you use your imagination, the same view above was a falling down tin shed, and lots of knee deep kikuyu and rubbish. 

To others, this property was an overgrown mess, but to Kaylene and I, it was just what we wanted. Beautiful advanced deciduous trees, some nice gulleys and some flat areas to work with. It had potential. 

15 years later we still love living here and whilst it has been a lot of work to turn it into something we had imagined, on a friday afternoon when we sit down for beer out the back and look over the property, it's pretty nice feeling. 

Brian :-)

p.s. Buy some gear at Aussie Gardener so I can afford to buy more windows. ha!

If you liked this story, share it with your gardening friends. We would love to grow the Aussie Gardener family with your help. 

 

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Comments

Wendy Kirby - September 24, 2023

Gorgeous, hard work but all worth it as you enjoy the fruits of your labours.
We have sold our property and downsizing to a smaller residence and very small garden but we hope to do business when settled.
Regards,‘Wendy Kirby.

Denise Goodwin - September 24, 2023

Brian and Kaylene: what a triumph. You’re garden reminds me of the wonderful days my husband and I sailed the canals of Europe in our boat. Your garden is beautiful and I can visualise that arbor covered in grapes. Well done to the two of you. You have every right to feel proud of what you have achieved.

Vicki Hoskins - September 24, 2023

I love your ideas and how you have reused materials to make such a beautiful garden. Inspiring. Thanks for sharing such a great story.

Gerda Foster - September 24, 2023
Start from scratch gardeners can appreciate the work you put into this.. beautiful!
Leanne - September 24, 2023

Beautiful ❤️
And thank you so much for sharing !

Ros Hayter - September 23, 2023

What a wonderful story & inspiring photos. We have been there & done something similar in the past, but I don’t think it was ever quite this good. We are both a bit beyond the heavy work now, which is so frustrating. Just love what you have done

J.K - September 23, 2023

Well done
Inspirational!

Lorraine Chen - September 23, 2023

Well done – a lot of work but it has paid off – enjoy !!

Joanne - September 23, 2023

Loved reading your article and seeing the beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!.

Patricia - September 23, 2023

That is a home with a heart. The long hard slog to get to that point shows how much care and thought you have taken to create something really beautiful. I am jealous of your chooks amazing abode. I bet they lay some pretty big eggs as a thankyou. May you be blessed with many more happy years there. Well done to you both.

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