I hope you've had time to digest last week's introduction to the Stallholders no. 1! This time, I'll focus on the Stallholders who will be situated on the Croquet Lawn, at our SPRING GARDEN FAIR on 23 & 24 NOVEMBER.
Let's begin with plants....afterall, it is a garden fair!
THE SECRET GARDEN stall will be simply overflowing with romantic garden plants! I first came across this delightful nursery at The Collectors' Plant Fair, (where we've been stall-neighbours for some years) and it's become almost de rigeur for them to win 'best display in show'. I'd be disappointed if they didn't, because their team are a steadfast group of willing helpers who unfailingly create a vision to behold each year. Falling under the banner of Northwest Disability Services, their community and therapy garden is a focal point and hive of activity in the lives of people of all levels of ability and their extended families. And boy can they grow plants! You'll be filling your car with beauties to pretty up your own garden, or perhaps to give as a gift. From cottage plants to herbs; annuals, perennials...their plant list is quite extensive (and a visit to their garden at Richmond a treat).
Also on the lawn, you'll find NEIL & CARMEN (or their now adult children) of PATIO PLANTS (which is a name that may lead you slightly off-piste because their speciality is supplying the very best veg seedlings you're ever likely to come across!). You can find their eye-popping seedlings at various markets throughout the year. I always share the list of places to find them with kitchen gardening workshop participants, because whether you're an old hand at growing veg or new to the fun of it all, the Patio Plants system gives you complete flexibility to buy what you like. For instance, you may only want one broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, but three lettuces, and with their system you can pick and choose, filling your punnets as you please. It's great fun and also a terrific way to ensure you plant successionally...especially in a small space. While I do grow mostly from seed here, there are some things I just can't better, like the PP Butter and Mignonette lettuces. I always buy my brassicas from them too, because I don't need all the seeds in a packet (and I find propagating in mid-summer to be a chore). I'm inclined to pop into the markets to pick up a punnet or two from Patio Plants each month. At open garden, you will be able to pick up all the plants you need to complete your summer kitchen garden...and so will I!
Next, we have PICCOLO FARM. How I admire Lizzie and Giangi! They began growing veg in a plot in Randwick, got addicted and moved (with their young family) to Thirlmere, where they vastly expanded their growing capacity, and now supply veg boxes to regular customers as well as produce to restaurants; rear quail and grow a multitude of edible flowers. While I've been tossing rose, nasturtium, calendula, chive and borage petals around for years (err...I think I've covered fennel flowers don't you??!!), Lizzie's expanded her varieties and she'll be selling them here so you can take them home to experiment. (Maybe bring a cold bag along, to keep them cool). Some add quite a punch of flavour, others are mild, but they all look pretty. Those who listened to the podcast series know it was Lizzie who introduced me to purple carrot flowers last year (I scattered them all over summer beans at our lovely twilight supper for Aaron Bertelsen!). And on occasion we might swap, say....a bounty of parsnip seed for a dozen quail eggs...if only all the world were that simple! Lizzie has become a fabulous organic growing educator too, and is always up for a chat!
While we're on food, the Hayshed adjoins the croquet lawn, and I'm sure you all know of MARTY'S passion for the produce of the Hawkesbury? It's not so far from here, and I'm delighted that it will be Sydney basin produce you're enjoying at lunch. Prior to setting up COOK'S CO-OP (after Longrain) Marty devoted time to learning about and implementing organic farming practices; so we have some good soil loving, organic growing representatives here that weekend.
To throw some fun into the mix, there will be two more stalls on the croquet lawn. Although neither plant nor food, they're not exactly unrelated.
Those who have attended previous fairs will know how charming JOE VINKS' TWIG FURNITURE looks dotted about, higgeldy-piggeldy under the Port Jackson Fig. Numerous are the commissions I've had Joe make over the years (with my interior design hat on) but I never quite know what he'll turn up with here at our open weekend! Joe's a forager....collecting windfall twigs and sticks, cones and pods and recycled timbers, turning them into irresistible pieces, from elegant consoles to rustic tables, stools and all manner of quirky pieces. I can't wait to see what he turns up with this time!
Then last, but certainly not least, you'll find The RACONTEUR, aka Craig Andrade, who is becoming a well-renowned 'nose'. With studies at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in France and Mandy Affel in San Francisco (I can only dream!) he tells the unique story of Australia's native botanicals through a range of handmade, luxury products. A fledgling business when I met Craig, he's taking our botanicals to the world! With his studies, he determined to underpin his products with solid knowledge, enabling him to interpret the essence of our land from the outset. I was first drawn in by three completely different botanical fusions to represent the essence of Bondi...who could resit Port Jackson Fig, Giant Fern, Rock Lilly Orchid and Hickory Wattle Tree? Or the Red Centre's native botanicals of Uluru and its surrounding desert plains, with fragrance notes including Desert Oak and Mint Bush? They're just the tip of the iceberg! Craig also has a passion for historic houses, gardens and is an inveterate traveller. So I'm sure you will tick off numerous gifts on your Christmas list at his stall, as well as enjoying some captivating conversation!
Well...they're the stallholders you'll find on the Croquet Lawn! I hope you feel you're getting to know them. Next time, it will be those in the Dairy and Loggia...and I mustn't forget the Barn...I've just received news the next batch of dresses is ready to collect!
How I hope you're planning your visit! All details are on the OPEN GARDEN WEBPAGE, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Now off to the garden I go....there'll be news of it the week before!
Very best wishes as always,
ps Remember ENTRY will be $10 CASH ONLY. If you're new to this newsletter, the reason is lack of reception / coverage at our front gates and we can't risk confusion at lack of printed tickets or phones not displaying correctly. Coverage here is erratic (despite being just on the outskirts of Sydney), so if you pop a $10 note or two away now, it will help our volunteers at the gate enormously. I'm also thinking change for tea and cakes and some stall holders will be helpful, so please think along old-fashioned lines...afterall, it is a country garden fair!
pps For those who missed out on a place at Marty's Lunch in the Hayshed, fret not...he will also be making 'tartines', for you to enjoy on the hoof, as it were. In keeping with my fennel theme...pickled fennel, chicken and mayonnaise or fennel seed salami, rocket, tomato and eggplant relish, both on white sourdough. Yum!