Tuesday, 10 November 2015

South Australian Connections

South Australian Connections

Visiting South Australia

I have a history with this state. South Australia is where I first flew to as a young ’10 pound Pom’ (this is what we young, assisted, immigrants were once called). As I was a teacher and Australia needed teachers. I arrived on a Friday and was immediately put to work as I was in the classroom teaching on the Monday. What a great beginning compared to the vast number of immigrants today.

South Australia is a ‘free’ state not a convict territory. Folk chose to come and settle, and set up farms here. It is the state that my Grandfather sailed to in clipper ships as a young midshipman. Every time I hear that song, ‘I’m bound for South Australia’, I’m reminded of him.

Not long after arriving I married and set up a house in the Adelaide Hills, a house with 3 hectares of land. This is where my 3 children grew up. It is where I first learnt about gardening in a ‘Mediterranean Climate’.

Bound for South Australia

In South Australia I was born
Heave away, haul away
South Australia round Cape Horn
We're bound for South Australia

Heave away, you rolling king
Heave away, haul away 
Heave away, oh hear me sing
We're bound for South Australia


I still fly to SA at least once a year to visit my children who live there. The distance is about the same as from Athens to Lemnos. (There you have the choice of flying, 1 hour, or ferry, 12 hours.)From Melbourne in the state of Victoria to SA it takes 8 hours by road, or I hour by plane. This particular visit was conveniently time so that I was there to celebrate three birthdays.


Because I spent my first 20 years in Australia in SA I have a lot of friends in this state. I managed to spend a lot of time with an old neigbour who lived in a property behind ours in the hills. And I had coffee with a couple of academic colleagues from the days when I worked at the University of South Australia.

The Mediterranean Garden Society
At present the MGS has members in 38 different countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA.

SA Branch of the Mediterranean Garden Society

I was in South Australia not only to meet friends and family but because I had been invited to give a talk to the SA, MGS Branch at their November meeting. This is the largest of the Australian branches as Adelaide is probably the state capital with the most typical Mediterranean climate. In my garden there, because I lived in the Hills I was able to grow some temperate plants, but on the plains where the city is located gardeners need to use more dry-tolerant plants. They were interested in Lemnos and my garden there and so I gave a talk illustrated with slides.
A May Walk in Lemnos
A June Walk in Lemnos

They meet in an old building that it a part of the Adelaide Botanic Garden Administrative Centre. There were about 50 at the meeting, and such a helpful and interesting group. Many of them lived in the Adelaide Hills, as I had all those years ago. My good neighbour-friend accompanied me, and we arrived in good time to set up the slides – well with too good timing it turned out. I had been under the impression that the meeting began at 7 in the evening, and knowing the problems of setting up a slide show we were there quarter past six. But at 7 the door was still locked and not a person in sight! I panicked, was it the wrong day? Was I at the wrong place? But no, my heartbeat settled as folk began to arrive just after 7. Plus the group was super organized and had a excellent facilities and a very proficient technician to set them up. It went like a dream.

 Books and Magazines

The Branch has four excellent newsletters a year, with stories of member’s gardens, garden trips, open gardens, and gardening tips. I came away with copies to browse on my way home to Victoria.

I like the emphasis this group put on Climate Compatible Gardening. It was something I had emphasized in my talk about Gardening in Greece, and something I’ve mentioned in my last two blogs – the fact that Greece does not just have a Mediterranean Climate it has many microclimates.

The Branch president, and well-known garden author, Trevor Nottle quotes Noel Lothian (former Director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden) for the Branch’s newsletter, ‘All gardeners in Australia must realize that their local conditions are quite different from those a few miles away, or in the next state.’ Trevor then goes on to add, ‘It is our happy circumstance as members of the Mediterranean Garden Society to carry forward a strong agenda based on much the same considerations.

This book has just been published by Wakefield Press, South Australia, 2015.
It is a lush celebration of the gardening life in all its forms. It concentrates on collectible objects, but covers much more. It was produced to accompany the opening of a museum of gardening objects at Carrick Hill House and Garden, South Australia.

Endless Pleasure: Exploring and collecting among the byways of gardens and gardening.

By Trevor Nottle

(with contributions from garden experts, garden writers, plant and garden lovers, collectors, food writers, chefs, artists, gallery curators and antiquarians.}

‘Lush’ is right the word to describe this book. The illustrations from the past are absorbing in their detail and oddness. And the pictures of useful objects bring back many gardening memories.
Our Practical and Very Useful Lemnian Garden

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