Catherine Condell from Light and Shade

29 May 2024
Catherine Condell from Light and Shade

Garden owner from our Light and Shade opening in Malvern

The garden owner from our Light and Shade opening in Malvern talks about her experience opening her garden with us in conjunction with her friend’s garden – Sculpture and Shade. Catherine Condell shared her experience of the day and speaks of the joy she felt talking to visitors to her garden. We are so grateful to all the garden owners who place their trust in us to open their private gardens to the public. We love hearing about their positive experience. Catherine writes:

It was firstly an honour to have my garden considered to be of a standard worthy to be “on show.”

It was a fabulous weekend and probably a "life highlight"!

The visitors who came were just lovely. They were so effusive in their praise and grateful for being allowed to share in it. They all kept commenting on how calm and tranquil the garden is and left saying how relaxed and recharged they felt. That is exactly what my aim was with the garden so it was music to my ears. They said there was not a leaf out of place. 


fish were popular

Foxtail Fern


Images above from Light and Shade garden

All the visitors were so respectful of being on private property and all had a delight in nature and love for plants. Any children that visited were delightful and seemed to stay for a long time!
In no particular order these were the things that generated the most discussion:

- My possum spikes and the wired-in possum deterrent. Many were curious if this worked and I received so many possum stories. 

- The pond, waterfall and fish. The most common question I received was about the maintenance involved. Many were deterred when I shared my regime!

- The tool board in the garage. Many visitors were willing to pay my husband to sort out their garage! And many took lots of photos of this!

- The Feng Shui. One person came to just witness the Feng Shui principles I have applied to my garden. And they knew more than me! Luckily I passed the test!

- The lack of grass, the lushness of the underplanting and the low maintenance. Many asked how often I sit in this space with a cup of tea!

- The Crepe Myrtles' cinnamon trunk and bark were a big conversation point.

- The Nandina domestica used as an informal secondary evergreen woodland-like hedge was of interest to many.

- The mass planting of Foxtail Ferns - maybe the number one asked-about feature of my garden.

- The add-on artist’s work was a hit. Lots were purchased. All items purchased were between $49 - $350. None of the paintings sold but were appreciated by those who saw them.  

- The children especially loved finding all four of the inscribed stones hidden in the garden!

People seemed to stay for a long time for such a small garden.

I would also like to add that it was actually a great thing to tie in with another garden – Sculpture and Shade. Tony has been a dear friend of mine for over 35 years and his garden is very close to mine. His is a much larger garden and had a different edge to mine with the arty connection. I think our gardens were a good combination for visitors to get something different from each. 

We spurred each other on, as we did have to work hard to get our gardens ready for opening. Thank goodness there was the 15 month lead up time as all jobs were programmed in! Tony said this forced him to make some tough decisions about sprucing up and consolidating. He’s now got an even more fabulous garden than what he showed 30 years ago in the previous Open Garden Scheme.


Image above from Sculpture and Shade garden

We’re both very grateful to our selector, Jane Barrett. Her assistance and encouragement were very much appreciated and really the whole organisation did run very smoothly. It is a marvellous organisation.

I can’t emphasise it enough. It was a great thrill to be a part of your program. If we could measure the goodwill and enjoyment given (and received) there wouldn't be a scale large enough.

Garden people are the bee’s knees!

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