Next was a visit to Mount Wilson, a hamlet about half an hour away from Blackheath. It’s known for its gardens, and the tour buses were out in force on the main street and the bigger gardens. I chose to visit Windy Ridge Garden, which was away from the main drag.
The garden was superbly landscaped though, with a pond and formal gardens.
There were places to sit.
And of course some autumn foliage to view.
I liked how it was quiet and private and beautiful. Worth a visit.
Last stop of the day was the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens. I found out about them from the brochures at my accommodation, and the signs around town led me to the garden that was tucked away in a sleepy corner of Blackheath.
It was the wrong time of year for rhododendrons, but I was quite enchanted by this place. Set in a dell, the garden was a very peaceful place to be on a weekday.
There were some autumn leaves to view.
And a few flowers were in bloom to add to the colour.
All in all, a lovely day out.
One last turn around the Chinoiserie garden – we come upon a dovecote.
A Chinese pavilion by a pond with golden carp.
Beside the pond was a cherry tree that was just beginning to blossom.
And a sure sign that Spring was on its way – daffodils.
It was an end-of-winter garden that we saw at Chinoiserie.
The peonies don’t reach their peak until November, but there was one flower out for us to see.
The rosellas were busy feeding in the early morning.
And these yellow flowers provided a much needed lift of colour.
The end of winter (and our wedding anniversary) saw us heading once again to the Southern Highlands. I revisited Chinoiserie, the property with the beautiful peony gardens that I saw the previous spring. This time, we came to stay.
We stayed in the separate guest wing, and it was a lovely, cosy place to be.
Lots of whimsical touches inside, like this stained glass window.
Dominic, the co-owner and ‘head gardener’ loves his peonies, so there had to be some indoors too.
Over the winter we had a crop of beetroot on the go. It wasn’t quite ready to eat until spring, and then we had a glut! We could have done what we always did, roasted them and then tossed them into a salad with some sharp fetta and rocket, but one needs to be creative when faced with a glut.
First, I tried making these beetroot burgers, and they were fantastic. I varied the other root veg (used sweet potato) and spicing (replaced the spices listed with a teaspoon of curry powder), and cooked them until they were charred on the outside. We ate them ‘Asian style’ – with rice, steamed greens, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top. Spicy, sweet, and very savoury, it was a great alternative to meat.
But I still had more beetroot to contend with. This time I decided to experiment with sweet. I had seen many TV chefs mix beetroot and chocolate, and when I saw this recipe for beetroot and chocolate muffins, I knew I had to try them. Instead of a single square of chocolate in each muffin, I mixed through the same amount of dark choc chips through the batter. The beetroot gave the muffin a savoury-ness against the bitter sweetness of chocolate, and I felt less guilty eating a chocolate muffin knowing that half of it was beetroot.
I would try both recipes again next year when faced with another glut of beetroot.
Last summer we grew our first pumpkins. Having never grown them before, we weren’t quite prepared for how the plant literally took over the garden. The runners seemed to grow inches overnight! For all that, we were gifted with three pumpkins – two of a grey variety, and one of a patchy green variety. We picked them back in May, but didn’t eat them until two months later. The grey pumpkins have been rather starchy with not much sweetness, but the green one was absolutely wonderful, full of sweetness that we couldn’t quite believe. We certainly enjoyed our pumpkin soup that week.
We stayed at the dog-friendly Granite Gardens, about 15km out of Stanthorpe. It was beautifully landscaped, and at night was floodlit. I enjoyed exploring it in the early morning.
The pond was still and the reflections were wonderful. Of course, local granite was a big feature of the garden.
The house was surprisingly light for an old place – it certainly wasn’t lacking in big windows.
Even though we didn’t venture out into the formal gardens (it was much too cold for that) we did get a sneak peak at them.
It was a frosty morning at the garden, as you can see. A real change from the comparatively mild Sydney autumn.
And one more shot of the wonderful Japanese maple before we leave the garden.