Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's Blooming This Week?

Suzanne Creighton bought a small NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) from one of the local Mudgee nurseries while she was visiting from London.

Christmas Bush grows in open forest and rainforest of New South Wales, generally east of the Great Dividing Range and is common in Sydney sandstone areas.

Suzanne's bush has been planted in a sheltered spot in the The Gully Garden and if it does well in this location then more will be added as time goes by, making this area a highlight of the festive season.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

This is the Christmas Tree that Ben planted here  on Christmas Day 2005.  It was very, very small then.

The tree is at the head of the Main Axis that runs through the very centre of the Big House at The Drip, Mudgee.

One day Ben will be able to sit under the shade of this Christmas Tree here at The Drip and survey the valley below.  And he will remember the times he spent here as a boy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ben Explores the Gully Further

Ben Creighton has been checking out the Gully Garden.

One day he will build his Tiny House on the bank of the Gully.

And this will be Ben's front garden

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ben Creighton Builds his Garden

Ben Creighton has been staying here with grandparents Mike and Suzanne.

He planted Callistemon in the Gully Garden.

One day Ben will build himself a Tiny House next to the Gully Garden. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ben Braves the Flood

Ben Creighton has spent time with his grandmother Suzanne Creighton at The Drip during the floods. He planted a number of bottlebrushes in The Gully Garden and decided that this area is where he would like to build Ben's Hut one day.

He helped clean out piles of sand and debris that had washed from the gully into the watercourse near the house during the big flood.


And he got very wet.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


This picture of the drive in front of the house is the latest from Peter Marshall showing the state of The Drip during the ongoing floods.

It is great to see that the massive earthworks we did over a period of  many years have succeeded in diverting the flow of water around the main housing compound and that we are relalativly unaffected by what would otherwise have been a catastrophic inundation.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disaster Zone

Peter Marshall, Head Gardener at The Drip,  took this picture of the damage done to The Drip Lane by the  floods besetting the entire Mudgee region.  We are located at the highest point of western watershed with the Great Divide forming our back boundary and even up here the amount of runoff is vast.  The Drip has become a torrent.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Benign Neglect

With record rainfall this season it is proving impossible to keep up with weeding. And it doesn't matter one bit.  The exuberant wildness of the cottage garden right now, where self seeded herbs and annuals are jostling for space amongst the more permanent perennials and bulbs, is a daily source of delight and surprise.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aran and Julia create a Sanctuary

Aran Creighton and his wife Julia have spent time here in Mudgee planting baby Ironbark trees along  The Drip Lane Walk in area that had been badly degraded and damaged by the clearing of native vegetation since Eurpoean settlement.

This area is now being revegetated with specific varieties of trees and shrubs that will provide a food source for the endangered Regent Honey Eater, a species threatened by habitat destruction.

The area planted  by Aran and Julia is directly opposite The Nuttery and The Caretakers Cottage. One day we hope to see Aran and Julia spending significant amounts of time in an improved house that could be built in that part of the property. With Council approval for two dwellings already in place this valley property is ideally set up to accommodate our  two families .... the Poolmans and the Creightons together accepting custodial responsibility for The Drip into the future.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aran and Julia at The Drip

Aran Creighton and his wife Julia arrived from London and spent time exploring the pleasures  of the inner city in Sydney and country life at The Drip in Mudgee.  This was Julia's first visit to Australia.  She was delighted by all that she saw and it  is now  looking as if the London/Mudgee shuttle service will be getting increasingly busy in the future.

Aran and Julia planted a new collection of cycads in The Hill Garden above the house.  Additional cycads, Macrozamia perowkskiana and Macrozamia communis,  too small to be planted out  just yet,  were also purchased from the Friends of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

Aran cut a set of steps into the hillside leading from the Top Terrace down  along "Aran's Path" making the walk around this section of the garden more easily accessible.  Very useful as some of us seem  to be getting on in years and easy is good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why design?

A thought from Dan Kiley, arguably the greatest landscape architect of the twentieth century, "The greatest contribution a designer can make is to link the human and the natural in such a way as to recall our fundamental place in the scheme of things".  Kiley's magnificent and influential book, covering his complete works,  has been ordered for the Library and will add another source of inspiration to the goings on at The Drip.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Welcome Aboard

Suddenly we seem to have more and more people taking an interest in what we are are doing here at The Drip, Mudgee.  It amazes me that people are now beginning to track us down through the blog.  Kirsty, an Australian living in the Mddle East, is the most recent follower.  It would be wonderful to see all these people come here to spend some time,  explore the gardens and the library, swap ideas and make The Drip a dynamic focal point for the development of an emerging Australian style of landscape and garden design. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Notes from the :Library #9

2010 has seen the publication of a number of books of significance to those who are interested in the development of garden design in Australia.  All are being added to the library at The Drip.

Of special importance is "The Garden of Ideas, Four Centuries of Australian Style" by Richard Aitkens, the nation's pre-eminent garden historian and editor of the "The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens".  Meticulously researched, copiously illustrated and thoughtfully presented this book is modestly seen by Aitkins as "the commencement of a conversation"  So,  let's talk

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grand Designs

We have made a big and life-changing decision in recent weeks. For the next several years we will shift our focus away from the construction of the house and back to where we started... the creation of a unique Australian garden.   No more frantic activity, endless construction hassles, building rubble and dust, but back to the gentler satisfactions of helping the gardens grow.

Check out the page entitled "Garden Design @ The Drip Mudgee" to see a list of the garden areas we embarked on when we first purchased the property and check back regularly to see progress in achieving our goals.

Today's photograph shows the gardens of Marquessac in the French wine and food region of  Dordogne, one source of  inspiration for future development in The Hill Garden at The Drip, Mudgee.  Will we ever create something as gobsmackingly wonderful as in  this photograph of Marquessac?  Time will tell. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spring Lamb

We have had eleven new lambs born this Spring, and yet again, thanks to the vigilance of Ricky the alpaca, there has not been one loss to predators.  Others who use alpacas as guardian also report 100% success.  Given the impressive track record of alpacas in protecting stock it amazes me that so many  local farmers still persist in using poisons and guns in an inefficient, ineffective  and costly attempt to solve the problem.  The old habits of the past die hard so it seems.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Extra Hands on Deck

Creating the gardens at The Drip is an insanely ambitious project.  With twenty distinctly themed garden areas to be developed and maintained, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times.  So it is with great delight that we welcome Peter Marshall to the team.

Peter has recently returned to Mudgee after a long stint  in Sydney, where he worked with the well-known Surry Hills garden design company Garden Life.  He will be developing his own landscape business here in Mudgee and we are thrilled that he will now be working with us to assist in bringing the plans for gardens at The Drip to fruition. 

Right now he will be working in the orchards, helping ensure that we get good healthy crops of cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, quinces, pears , figs, olives, oranges, lemons and cumquats this season plus doing new tree plantings in the Horse Paddock and elsewhere.  First off ... twenty five new Silver Birch will be added to the European and North American sections of the Horse Paddock. Then there's the new Hazelnut hedges in the Nuttery, new Pink Flowering Ironbarks, Yellow Box and Spotted Gum to go into the Regent HoneyEater Eucalypt Forest, plus planting more Box Hedges, and propagating hundreds of French and Italian lavender for the Terraces. Then of course there is work to done on the Water Gardens,  the Main Courtyard,  the Arid Garden and ..... hmmmm,   thats enough for this month.  Damn! 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Party time at The Drip, Mudgee

Happy 21st birthday, Frances Dargaville!   It was freezing cold.  It was wet.  It was windy.  But none of that dampened the spirits of partygoers celebrating with Frances over the weekend.  Guests from Sydney and as far afield as Belgium enjoyed several days of partying here at The Drip and exploring the wineries in the Mudgee valley. 

It was such a delight after so many years of hard work to see the house and grounds coming alive and being used as we intended by friends and family. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Planting River Red Gums

Rosemary Poolman and two year old son, Jade, were here last weekend and marked their visit by planting a small grove of Eucalyptus camueldensis, the iconic River Red Gum.

Happily the planting coincided with this week's historic announcement that 100,000 hectares of Red Gum forest in NSW has been protected within the National Parks system. So good to see such positive steps are being made and that Jade's generation will now be able experience these magnificent forests in the future.
Rosemary, Jade and dad Josh will be here again for Mudgee Small Farm Field Days in July

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In the Kitchen Garden

Frances Dargaville spent time here earlier in the week. Here she holds a bowl of late season tomatoes, sweet from ripening in the gentle autumn sun.   These will be some of the last tomatoes we get from the kitchen garden this season, now the temperatures are dropping now and the winter crops are going in ... Cavolo Nero or Tuscan Kale, cabbages, onions, broad beans and dozens of self-sown Mustard Greens. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Autumn Colour

Thanks to Rick Martin for this photograph of autumn colour in the Horse Paddock.  This is a Silver Maple.  It was the first tree to colour up this year.  Like all maples it thrives in the moist microclimate of the Horse Paddock; everything is still dripping with dew in there until around 10am.  This year we have planted another dozen maples in the Horse Paddock. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Blooming this Week?

The wonderful Huntington Gardens in California, one of our inspirations, has a regular section on its website called a "What's Blooming this Week."   Well, so so do we now!  This week it's the Setsugekka Sasanqua camellias, which , like everything here,  have responded to this wonderful season with a huge flush of growth. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Pics from Rick

Rick Martin is in residence again this week.  We will be uploading more of the photographs he is taking here at The Drip onto the page "Rick Martin Photographs" on this blog.  

Click on the image above to see Rick's panorama of the Old Cottage Garden, taken on his last visit here.  This is the first in a series that Rick is planning, showing the progression of the garden through the seasons. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Comings and Goings

Sydney-based friends friends, Kim and Jenny, spent some time here over the Easter period.  Although the  new guest room is still not finished, we did have lunch on the balcony up there so already the space is proving to be a pleasant addition to The Drip experience. Next time Kim and Jenny are here, hopefully they won't need to sleep in the Wine Cellar.

Kim's many years of experience in his work with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service provided some great environmental management ideas, such  as how we might slow the flow of water down the watercourses, retaining more water in the higher parts of the valley.  Kim also left a copy of  "Back from the Brink.  How Australia's landscape can be saved" by Peter Andrews for the Library here. Inspiring and useful stuff! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Galah Boom

Increasingly large flocks of galahs are now happily grazing on the huge amounts of grass seed setting  after the rains earlier in the year.

One flock regularly comes into orchard each afternoon.  When this photo was taken a week ago there were only six of them.  By yesterday the flock had grown to thirty.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Butterflies are Tricky

Photographing a butterfly is more difficult than herding the proverbial cats.  There are more butterflies here this season than I can ever recall, but this photo is the best I have managed so far.  And I dont even know what it is.  It is much bigger thaln the usual little brownish Wanderers and much brightly coloured. 

An old school friend Alan McRae, who is a keen photographer,  turned up here this week after going AWOL for the last forty years or so!    Alan recommended putting butterflies in the fridge to slow them down first.  Hmmm.  It was wonderful to see Alan, but for now I will perservere with less drastic measures. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rick Martin is Here this Week.

Sydney photographer Rick Martin is taking a break from inner-city life and is "in residence" this week, staying in The Shed, working in the gardens, exploring the new photography books in the library and,  of course, taking photographs. This photograph of Eucalyptus grandis, taken by Rick on a previous visit,  shows how some of our first tree plantings are coming along after fifteen years. 

The page, "Rick Martin Photographs"  will be updated regularly (kind of) with new work done by Rick here at The Drip.  Whilst staying here this time Rick has also been busy recycling old timber into frames for some of his work.  More on this soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big Bird

We had a large visitor during the week.  Up on the ridges behind the house there are usually plenty of emus but it is not so often we see them strolling around down here on the valley floor.

The  Mudgee Tourist Office has added a link to this blog onto their website so the pressure is on now to ensure that the birdwatching stuff is as good and as useful as we can make it. More photographers are needed.  There are over 150 species of birds in Munghorn Gap and so far we have photos of only 3.   Get in touch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The High Pergola is So Cool.

The shade-giving grape vines on the High Pergola are flourishing, and by this time next year should be providing dense coverage.   A canopy of  actively growing, moisture rich leaves like this can reduce the daytime summer temperature by a massive 30%.  This is the result not just of the shade, but also of the cooling effect of moisture evaporating from the leaves, in effect operating just the same way that an evaporative air-con system does.  The cooled air is then drawn into the house through the ground level doors whilst warmer rising air from inside the house is expelled through the windows set high up in the walls.

This design helps make it possible to keep  the house cool during the hottest of summers without the need for those horrible old energy-intensive, costly recyclers of stale air still being used in so many poorly designed Australian houses.  Simple domestic design features such as the High Pergola will become increasingly important as global warming continues.  

Professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton U, said today that "Action to reduce greenhouse emissions is lagging so far behind what the science tells us is necessary that some degree of warming is now inevitable.  We should take pragmatic measures to prepare for an inevitable degree of warming" .   We are following his advice here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Bird is That?

The Swamp Banksias in the Water Garden are proving to be a major hit with the some of the local honeyeater populations.  Dozens of new flower spikes are appearing after the rains over the holiday season and there are large flocks of the bird in the photo down there all day. 

But I realized I am not sure which species they are.  The New Holland Honeyeater and the White Cheeked Honeyeater look identical to my untrained eye.  Is there an easy way to differentiate them? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Notes from the Library

Stacks of new books are being added to The Library,  all funded by having quit smoking.  What a win-win this is!  The new purchases fall into four main categories covering photography, garden/landscape design, food and art.  Recent highlights include

  • "The Wirtz Gardens".  A sumptuous two volume edition featuring all the gardens created by the legendary landscape designer Jacques Wirtz over the last fifty years.   Inspired by these masterpieces we  have commenced the mass production of Box hedging and soon the hill behind the house will begin a transformation influenced by Wirtz. The goal is to plant one thousand new Box plants each year from now on.

  • "The American Wilderness"  Published in 1990 this is the final large format volume of works by the photographer who did more than perhaps any other individual to help the world understand the importance of preserving wilderness areas in National Parks. He was one of the original greenies and a true hero.

  • "The Big Fat Duck Cookbook".  Terry Durack wrote that  "This is not just a cookbook.  It is not just an art book.  It is not just a record of the most innovative and exhilarating self-taught cook ever to have come out of the UK.  The Big Fat Duck Cookbook transcends all others because Heston Blumenthal transcends all others."   Yep!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eating Angela's Edibles.

Our vegie garden is becoming increasingly  productive, but with sixteen cumquat trees planted as part of "the Villandry Potager look" we were facing either a huge glut or more cumquat marmalade than we could eat in this lifetime. Fortunately local Mudgee food producer Angela Leonard came to the rescue and now uses our cumquats in her fabulous range of products. In return for being the official supplier of Cumquats we get jars of Angela's Edibles. So far we have feasted on Spiced Pickled Figs, Rhubarb Jam, Beetroot Relish, Pickled Limes and Pickled Lemons. Oh yes and of course, Angela's Cumquat Marmalade, made with fruit from The Drip.

Check out "Angela's Edibles" on the link to the Mudgee Fine Foods site.  The food scene here is going from strength to strength with an ever-increasing range of  local products.  On Saturday I did all the shopping for the night's dinner at the Mudgee Farmers Market.  Very nice to be able to prepare an entire (and,  if I may so myself, excellent) meal from local produce accompanied by a good Mudgee wine. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monitoring Climate Change

Climate change is happening. We caused it. And we can stop it.

This week we installed a weather station to assist us in understanding what is going on here in our part of the world.  Detailed monitoring of trends in the future will help us ensure that we are taking appropropriate actions in the way we build and adapt to the new realities of a changing climate. 

From the outset our goal here at The Drip has been to get ahead of the game by designing the most energy efficient architecture and using only renewable energy sources whilst maintaining an exceptionlly high level of comfort and pursuing an advanced  state-of-the-art twenty first century lifestyle.  In the photo you can see not only the new weather station but also the solar panels in the background, plus the satellite gear that brings us over a hundred television channels, digital radio and high-speed internet, all powered by solar.  Regular postings will feature the latest news on our efforts in this regard. 

Looking at the Weather Station screen in the Library right now I can see that the outdoor temperature has just hit 31 degrees.  And  ... indoors is a very comfortable 22 degrees with no nasty, unheathy and expensive air conditioning needed.  That tells me the house is doing its job quite nicely.  By taking personal responsibility for our carbon footprint here we not only help fight climate change ... we also live more comfortably and more healthily. Its a win-win!