Blog

Yarra Valley Sunday drives- Maroondah Dam Reservoir Park,

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

 

md3

This Sunday Drive sees us packing up the Esky, picnic rug and walking shoes…

The leaves are turning in the Yarra Valley, as autumn settles in.  A perfect destination sits just above the town of Healesville,  the beautiful Maroondah Dam . While the now defunct Board of Works may have had its critics over the years, one thing they did do, with wonderful foresight, was to set aside huge tracts of land across Melbourne, that we can all enjoy now. Places like Yarra Valley Parkland, Jells Park, Wattle Park, and then of course the much older series of reservoir parks, such as Yan Yean  and Silvan Dam, and many others that all play host to a multitude of people enjoying the great outdoor experience.

IMG_5441 dam view bright

Planning for Melbournes’ permanent water supply began early, with the  Maroondah Aqueduct  built in the 1880s to move water to the Preston Reservoir , via the Watts River. Maroondah Dam was third in the construction chain of water supply systems for Melbourne. Construction commenced in 1920 for the current  Maroondah Dam and continued until 1927. Some of the amazing statistics include a surface area 486 acres,  a depth of 125 feet, while the wall itself is  16 foot wide at the top and broadens to 104 feet at the base, to hold back such the huge volume of water behind it.  The Dam sits in a pristine forest, of mountain ash and tree ferns, which cover approximately 10,400 hectares. All the forested areas are closed to public to ensure the quality of the water supply.

Lucky for us, there was also an area designated for public use which sits below the 41 metre high concrete wall. Its mind blowing to think all this was built without the benefits of modern machinery, or computer programs! No wonder the fellows in the historical photos look proud !

IMG_5425 md historical photo 1

IMG_5430md historical phot 2

Once the dam was completed the gardens were designed and planted and have been slowly maturing as the trees and shrubs have grown. As a child, I can remember looking out the window of the car as you drove down a amazingtunnel of rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom during spring. Sadly, the gardens lack that wow factor now, but the remnants of the gardens that were once there when labour was cheap, still exist; in the stonework, pavilions and mature European tree plantings that are scattered across the Park.

IMG_5382 rose stairs 1

IMG_5414rose stairs2

Climb up the eighty four steps along the Rose Stair walk and you are rewarded  with an absolutely stunning view across the dam itself. Just near the top of the dam wall walk is an information area with historical photos and general info.

IMG_5444md dam wall top 2

IMG_5420md plaque1

 IMG_5418md plaque2

IMG_5435md top of dam

Stroll across the wall and in the distance you will see the original pumping station jutting out into dam, and eventually you will find yourself crossing over the spillway, a more recent edition. In times of high rainfall (obviously not now!) the spillway is a spectacular sight with tonnes of water thundering over it.

IMG_5432md old aquaduct

IMG_5449md current day pumping station

Every day, the view changes, influenced by the weather …but always so beautiful.

IMG_5445md top of wall 3

IMG_5458md view of dam

IMG_5480md long view

From here there are a choice of other walks. For more information log on to www.parksvic.gov.au

Old fashioned wood bbqs and concrete tables, a child friendly playground and a multitude of friendly birds make Maroondah Dam a great place to visit on a Sunday drive! or, seeing that it’s the school holidays, it’s a great place to have a wander around and run off a bit of excess energy!

IMG_5494mdwalkingroutes

If you would rather a picnic lunch, than a BBQ, the Main Street of Healesville offers a multitude of choices for all palates and budgets, including Beechworth Bakery, K&B Butcher, The Healesville Hotel, Innocent Bystander, and a great choice of cafes to grab a coffee or cake.  Of course, we are also located in the main street, right next to the Commonwealth Bank, so call in to morris brown and have a potter around!

 

 

Weekend delights- Botanica Editons, Yarra Valley…

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Do you dream of weekend escapes, where you indulge in some of the finer things life has to offer?  One of my New Year Resolutions is to run away a little more, quick dashes to the places seen in magazines and on the Internet, bookmarked for that free weekend.  (Between the cricket and football seasons of a small boy!)  We shall see how that eventuates!

Of course, my first stop would have to be in the Yarra Valley itself, and there are so many places to choose from… I have been totally seduced by a newcomer on the block, so to speak!  Appealing to the gardener in me is the new, ever so beautiful Botanica Editions, located close to the Healesville Sanctuary, in Badger Creek.  Actually, to say Id like to stay here is an understatement; I think I would just like to move right in…  Karen has been a regular at morris brown for the past few years, and I have been hearing about their adventures renovating an old house with a creek for a while ( love a good renovation conversation!!).  When she arrived one day, offering her divine postcards for us to distribute, I couldn’t wait to get home and check it out on the Internet.  Complete swoon…It is so beautiful and the amazing photography capture the atmosphere so perfectly.

Owners Greg and Karen have created a truly beautiful oasis, primarily designed with relaxation and de stressing in mind.  All mod cons, beautifully fitted, there are so many touches to the place that add so many extra layers and set it apart.  How many B & B places do you visit that actually have their own abundantly planted veggie garden that is yours for the duration? Feel like salad to go with your purchases from the wide range of choices in Healesvilles’ Main Street- go right ahead a pick your self a bunch!

But to completely understand what drives this beautiful space, we were lucky enough to have a little chat with one of the owners Karen Dickson, and ask some tough (!!) questions…

WillowHouse_MG_1307

What inspired you to create such a beautiful setting in Healesville?

Healesville is our home and we love to share it with friends who visit.  We both grew up in the Yarra Valley (Greg was born here) and careers took us away for a while.  We returned to assist family and community with the 2009 bushfire recovery process and decided to make the YV our home again.  Reminded of the extraordinary beauty in this Valley and the surrounding mountains, coupled with the great food, wine and art in the region, it was hard to leave.
 With Healesville as our base again, we love to host visiting family and friends.  Bush walks, wine tasting, the occasional art exhibition and lots and lots of fine food were typical weekends with visiting friends, who kept returning and suggesting others also visit.
We came to the understanding that people loved visiting Healesville and the Yarra Valley and wanted to create a place where guests had a beautiful place to stay.  A place where the garden was critical in providing a relaxing and rejuvenating environment.  It was also really important that people felt at home when they came to visit, in the same way we like our family and friends to feel when they visit, so we found it easy to make renovating and interior design decisions.  It was critical for the house to feel like home and if it ever felt like it was becoming a hotel design or furnishing, we knew we were heading off track.
WillowHouse_MG_1289

What is your favourite part of Willow House and why?

 3 places, but all for the same reason – The Garden.
I love the lounge.  No matter the weather, it is easy to lounge about – comforted with cushions and throw rugs – and simply day dream!  Connect with the garden that drifts to the Picanniny Creek, through the harvest garden and up to the ‘green wedge’ vacant land beyond the garden of The Willow House.  It is easy to loose time in this day dreaming, contemplation space.
WillowHouse_MG_1087
The Harvest Garden.  I love to sit in this space, looking back through the willow to the house.  There is something about sitting in a space full of life and to discover the gifts the garden provides.  We have dozens of Roma tomatos, extra ordinarily spreading their ripening dates so our guests have been able to harvest over the last few weeks and this looks like it will continue for another few weeks yet.  The basil and mint seem to grow in front of my eyes and the beans have taken over the Morris Brown ‘bean tipi’ (what I call it, am sure it has a more suitable name).  It’s like playing a game of hide and seek as you look for the fruits of the harvest garden.  And there is nothing like eating green beans straight from the vine. Figs are a couple of weeks off, ready for jam making and I have made up stories about the Kiwi fruiting vines where we have 1 male to 3 girls (apparently he can handle a harem of 7).  It is like I am a couples counsellor, encouraging the girls to connect up with the guy.  Winding them along the support wire, to make their way closer.  I am sure the Bees can handle flying the short distance between each of the plants, but I like to play Mother Nature, helping them out.
The reading room.  We found an old club chair in Greg’s fathers shed (Bruce, Greg’s father was the local upholsterer for many years) and had it covered in a fabric called Willow, by a craftsman Upholsterer equal to Bruce’s skill.  From this chair, you can snuggle and read or journal, while still daydreaming out over the garden towards the Willow Tree.
WillowHouse_MG_1586

You have a lovely mix of “up cycled pieces” and contemporary design.  Is this a reflection of your personal taste?  Why does this type of interiors inspire you?

We have always admired designers who are able to achieve a simple and stylish, eclectic design.  We have also been really lucky to work with some professionals who do this very well.  Their influences seems to be part of The Willow House design coupled with Greg’s good eye for considered placement.
We also dislike waste and how older pieces, with quality craftsmanship are often discarded along with the history, value and love their previous owners shared during celebrations, tribulations, happiness and sadness – Life.  Not to mention the environmental impact each time houses and furniture are discarded and replaced with with an inferior, massed produced plastic version.  The Willow House has into a bit of a ’cause’ for us.  To demonstrate  it is just as easy to restore and renovate as it is to demolish and build ‘poo brown brick’ blocks that seem to be the flavour of the month around town – don’t print that!   Similarly, we were mortified when much of the weathered and dated  furniture in Greg’s grandfathers place was about to leave the family when we were cleaning the house.  Decades of  life stories that would have been shared around the furniture.  The baking stories that would have come from the kitchen dresser if it could speak, the meals shared around the dining table and the relaxation on the 60?s retro lounge, are all to be cherished.  Non of the furniture is of high $ value, but it has amazing ‘value of life experiences and  colourful stories’.  So restoring the furniture and placing it carefully throughout The Willow House was an obvious thing to do if we were going to add to the energy of helping guests feel at home and to be treated like family with all our family pieces shared, – btw, it’s amazing how many people walk in and say my grandmother/father had a dresser/table/lounge/etc like this.  Instantly they feel at home.  We stumbled on that little gem, that guests would connect so well to the furniture.
The ‘upcycled’ booth table tops – from Giant Steps when they refurbished their dinning areas – were turned into bed heads, and a result of Greg’s passion for fine pieces of timber.  I suppose that comes from his love of trees and the garden.
The contemporary components of the Willow House serve the practical needs.  We all love a clean, well functioning kitchen and bathroom.
 WillowHouse_MG_1211
WillowHouse_MG_1117

While the house is beautiful, the surrounds and care taken with the grounds is as equally impressive.  What was your inspiration there?  Do you have a horticultural background?

This is a combined passion, but  also Greg’s profession.  Yes Greg began his career in Horticulture at Black Spur Plant Nursery here in Healesville.  His design career then expanded, to working with some great garden designers and mentors throughout inner city Melbourne , London and other parts of the UK.  The London experience that resulted in a great business partnership with local landscape designers and 2 silver medals at Chelsea Flower Show (2002 & 2008).  Much of Greg’s landscape design business is now focused on working in the hospitality industry and the transformation of rural and inner city estate gardens.
I have a passion and background in Natural Medicine.  So the Willow House in many respects, is the fusion of our two passions and professions.  It is a sensory escape, a place where the garden (a natural bridge to the wider nature) helps us connect to a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.
It was important the garden was a full sensory experience.  Not just something of  visual impact .  Fragrance is a critical component of the garden, as well as the unfolding and discovery that take place in a garden design that changes with the seasons.  It was also important to include a harvest garden to support a demand and seasonal supply of fresh food from ‘garden to plate’.  And finally, the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Orangerie of Versailles had a great influence on our medicinal and citrus gardens.
WillowHouse_MG_1594

The seasonal gift offered to every guest is a lovely touch.  Will this be an ongoing feature and what other delights do you have in mind?

Thank you and absolutely.  Rosmarinus officinalis is our summer gift and we are discussing/debating the best fit for an autumn gift.  It is really important to us that that a ‘living’ gift leaves The Willow House with our guests. The culinary or medicinal herbs with their fragrance and as well as their visual qualities are fondly praised  by our guests.  We have had to add a second gift for our guests who travel to Melbourne and the Yarra Valley by air.  We are finding many international and interstate guests are staying at The Willow House and it is proving to be a little difficult to transport a terracotta pot of rosemary home with them.  Therefore beautiful handmade, natural soaps from the Botanica Editions apothecary (with the assistance of Dindi Naturals) are going home with our air travelling guests.
WillowHouse_MG_1684

You have just completed Willow House and I believe you are already knee deep in another venture…

I know, we thought we were going to have some time off, but destiny had a different idea.  Our neighbour mentioned she wanted to sell late last year and therefore,  extending the parkland gardens, complete with Billabong, meandering Picanniny creek and Pinoak nursery seemed a natural addition to The Willow House.  The second house is still to be named (and renovated), but the appropriate Botanical name is likely to reveal itself at the right time.
 WillowHouse_MG_1599

What does your ideal Yarra Valley weekend consist of?

Right now, it seems to be renovations.
My ideal weekend, is when friends come to visit.  We explore a couple of boutique wineries (not too many in one day, because we love spending extended time chatting with the owners or winemakers); somewhere great to eat (either café or harvesting from the organic market or local fine food stores); and a good old bush walk (Badger Weir or Maroondah Dam are our current favourites – and very easy) to work off all the food, wine and lazing about socialising.  Throw in a bit of retail therapy and a massage/spa treatment from one of our secret providers and then we have an easy Yarra Valley weekend.  Who has time for renovating???!

Do you have any favourite blogs/websites or magazines that are your go to for inspiration?

We are really lucky being surrounded by some very creative designers in a variety of disciplines, so inspiration is often via their work and collaborating with them.
I am currently enjoying the Share Design blog (quick bites that I don’t see anywhere else) and (it’s not because I am writing to you) morris brown are always sending through great links and shares of really inspirational work.  Mags = Habitat, Slow, Green Magazine.  Along with a number of Health and Wellbeing publications (part of the profession!).  I am sure I have missed a bundle of important ones, but don’t want to bombard you.

 Thanks so much to Karen and Greg for answering all of my stickybeak questions!  It has certainly been a labour of love and I am sure the next door version of Willow House will be as equally beautiful.  When I asked Karen for the photo of the gorgeous kitchen setting with the wooden table, she explained the table and dresser were a rescue job; saved from Greg’s grandparents house before being tossed in a skip.  Maybe thats’ why Botanica Editions resonates so much with morris brown: it has the horticultural background we are familiar with, and the love of seeing beauty where perhaps others don’t see… Obviously they are doing something right as their guest book is overflowing with gorgeous comments and promises of return visits!

Have you enjoyed the photographs?  We certainly drooled over them!  They are the work of Matina Gremmola, and you can see more of her beautiful work at www.gemmola.com.

Would you like more information on the availability of Botanica Editions?  They have an easy website to navigate , and you can enjoy more beautiful photographs!  After all, there is Labour Day and Easter breaks coming up, not to mention Anzac Day falls on a Friday this year also… pop over here and take a look!

 

 

 

Weekend Delights- Botanica Editions, Yarra Valley

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Do you dream of weekend escapes, where you indulge in some of the finer things life has to offer?  One of my New Year Resolutions is to run away a little more, quick dashes to the places seen in magazines and on the Internet, bookmarked for that free weekend.  (Between the cricket and football seasons of a small boy!)  We shall see how that eventuates!

Of course, my first stop would have to be in the Yarra Valley itself, and there are so many places to choose from… I have been totally seduced by a newcomer on the block, so to speak!  Appealing to the gardener in me is the new, ever so beautiful Botanica Editions, located close to the Healesville Sanctuary, in Badger Creek.  Actually, to say Id like to stay here is an understatement; I think I would just like to move right in…  Karen has been a regular at morris brown for the past few years, and I have been hearing about their adventures renovating an old house with a creek for a while ( love a good renovation conversation!!).  When she arrived one day, offering her divine postcards for us to distribute, I couldn’t wait to get home and check it out on the Internet.  Complete swoon…It is so beautiful and the amazing photography capture the atmosphere so perfectly.

Owners Greg and Karen have created a truly beautiful oasis, primarily designed with relaxation and de stressing in mind.  All mod cons, beautifully fitted, there are so many touches to the place that add so many extra layers and set it apart.  How many B & B places do you visit that actually have their own abundantly planted veggie garden that is yours for the duration? Feel like salad to go with your purchases from the wide range of choices in Healesvilles’ Main Street- go right ahead a pick your self a bunch!

But to completely understand what drives this beautiful space, we were lucky enough to have a little chat with one of the owners Karen Dickson, and ask some tough (!!) questions…

WillowHouse_MG_1307

What inspired you to create such a beautiful setting in Healesville?

Healesville is our home and we love to share it with friends who visit.  We both grew up in the Yarra Valley (Greg was born here) and careers took us away for a while.  We returned to assist family and community with the 2009 bushfire recovery process and decided to make the YV our home again.  Reminded of the extraordinary beauty in this Valley and the surrounding mountains, coupled with the great food, wine and art in the region, it was hard to leave.
 With Healesville as our base again, we love to host visiting family and friends.  Bush walks, wine tasting, the occasional art exhibition and lots and lots of fine food were typical weekends with visiting friends, who kept returning and suggesting others also visit.
We came to the understanding that people loved visiting Healesville and the Yarra Valley and wanted to create a place where guests had a beautiful place to stay.  A place where the garden was critical in providing a relaxing and rejuvenating environment.  It was also really important that people felt at home when they came to visit, in the same way we like our family and friends to feel when they visit, so we found it easy to make renovating and interior design decisions.  It was critical for the house to feel like home and if it ever felt like it was becoming a hotel design or furnishing, we knew we were heading off track.
WillowHouse_MG_1289

What is your favourite part of Willow House and why?

 3 places, but all for the same reason – The Garden.
I love the lounge.
 No matter the weather, it is easy to lounge about – comforted with cushions and throw rugs – and simply day dream!  Connect with the garden that drifts to the Picanniny Creek, through the harvest garden and up to the ‘green wedge’ vacant land beyond the garden of The Willow House.  It is easy to loose time in this day dreaming, contemplation space.
WillowHouse_MG_1087
The Harvest Garden.
 I love to sit in this space, looking back through the willow to the house.  There is something about sitting in a space full of life and to discover the gifts the garden provides.  We have dozens of Roma tomatos, extra ordinarily spreading their ripening dates so our guests have been able to harvest over the last few weeks and this looks like it will continue for another few weeks yet.  The basil and mint seem to grow in front of my eyes and the beans have taken over the Morris Brown ‘bean tipi’ (what I call it, am sure it has a more suitable name).  It’s like playing a game of hide and seek as you look for the fruits of the harvest garden.  And there is nothing like eating green beans straight from the vine. Figs are a couple of weeks off, ready for jam making and I have made up stories about the Kiwi fruiting vines where we have 1 male to 3 girls (apparently he can handle a harem of 7).  It is like I am a couples counsellor, encouraging the girls to connect up with the guy.  Winding them along the support wire, to make their way closer.  I am sure the Bees can handle flying the short distance between each of the plants, but I like to play Mother Nature, helping them out.
The reading room.
  We found an old club chair in Greg’s fathers shed (Bruce, Greg’s father was the local upholsterer for many years) and had it covered in a fabric called Willow, by a craftsman Upholsterer equal to Bruce’s skill.  From this chair, you can snuggle and read or journal, while still daydreaming out over the garden towards the Willow Tree.
WillowHouse_MG_1586

You have a lovely mix of “up cycled pieces” and contemporary design.  Is this a reflection of your personal taste?  Why does this type of interiors inspire you?

We have always admired designers who are able to achieve a simple and stylish, eclectic design.  We have also been really lucky to work with some professionals who do this very well.  Their influences seems to be part of The Willow House design coupled with Greg’s good eye for considered placement.
We also dislike waste and how older pieces, with quality craftsmanship are often discarded along with the history, value and love their previous owners shared during celebrations, tribulations, happiness and sadness – Life.  Not to mention the environmental impact each time houses and furniture are discarded and replaced with with an inferior, massed produced plastic version.  The Willow House has into a bit of a ’cause’ for us.  To demonstrate  it is just as easy to restore and renovate as it is to demolish and build ‘poo brown brick’ blocks that seem to be the flavour of the month around town – don’t print that!   Similarly, we were mortified when much of the weathered and dated  furniture in Greg’s grandfathers place was about to leave the family when we were cleaning the house.  Decades of  life stories that would have been shared around the furniture.  The baking stories that would have come from the kitchen dresser if it could speak, the meals shared around the dining table and the relaxation on the 60?s retro lounge, are all to be cherished.  Non of the furniture is of high $ value, but it has amazing ‘value of life experiences and  colourful stories’.  So restoring the furniture and placing it carefully throughout The Willow House was an obvious thing to do if we were going to add to the energy of helping guests feel at home and to be treated like family with all our family pieces shared, – btw, it’s amazing how many people walk in and say my grandmother/father had a dresser/table/lounge/etc like this.  Instantly they feel at home.  We stumbled on that little gem, that guests would connect so well to the furniture.
The ‘upcycled’ booth table tops – from Giant Steps when they refurbished their dinning areas – were turned into bed heads, and a result of Greg’s passion for fine pieces of timber.  I suppose that comes from his love of trees and the garden.
The contemporary components of the Willow House serve the practical needs.  We all love a clean, well functioning kitchen and bathroom.
 WillowHouse_MG_1211
WillowHouse_MG_1117

While the house is beautiful, the surrounds and care taken with the grounds is as equally impressive.  What was your inspiration there?  Do you have a horticultural background?

This is a combined passion, but  also Greg’s profession.  Yes Greg began his career in Horticulture at Black Spur Plant Nursery here in Healesville.  His design career then expanded, to working with some great garden designers and mentors throughout inner city Melbourne , London and other parts of the UK.  The London experience that resulted in a great business partnership with local landscape designers and 2 silver medals at Chelsea Flower Show (2002 & 2008).  Much of Greg’s landscape design business is now focused on working in the hospitality industry and the transformation of rural and inner city estate gardens.
I have a passion and background in Natural Medicine.  So the Willow House in many respects, is the fusion of our two passions and professions.  It is a sensory escape, a place where the garden (a natural bridge to the wider nature) helps us connect to a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.
It was important the garden was a full sensory experience.  Not just something of  visual impact .  Fragrance is a critical component of the garden, as well as the unfolding and discovery that take place in a garden design that changes with the seasons.  It was also important to include a harvest garden to support a demand and seasonal supply of fresh food from ‘garden to plate’.  And finally, the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Orangerie of Versailles had a great influence on our medicinal and citrus gardens.
WillowHouse_MG_1594

The seasonal gift offered to every guest is a lovely touch.  Will this be an ongoing feature and what other delights do you have in mind?

Thank you and absolutely.  Rosmarinus officinalis is our summer gift and we are discussing/debating the best fit for an autumn gift.  It is really important to us that that a ‘living’ gift leaves The Willow House with our guests. The culinary or medicinal herbs with their fragrance and as well as their visual qualities are fondly praised  by our guests.  We have had to add a second gift for our guests who travel to Melbourne and the Yarra Valley by air.  We are finding many international and interstate guests are staying at The Willow House and it is proving to be a little difficult to transport a terracotta pot of rosemary home with them.  Therefore beautiful handmade, natural soaps from the Botanica Editions apothecary (with the assistance of Dindi Naturals) are going home with our air travelling guests.
WillowHouse_MG_1684

You have just completed Willow House and I believe you are already knee deep in another venture…

I know, we thought we were going to have some time off, but destiny had a different idea.  Our neighbour mentioned she wanted to sell late last year and therefore,  extending the parkland gardens, complete with Billabong, meandering Picanniny creek and Pinoak nursery seemed a natural addition to The Willow House.  The second house is still to be named (and renovated), but the appropriate Botanical name is likely to reveal itself at the right time.
 WillowHouse_MG_1599

What does your ideal Yarra Valley weekend consist of?

Right now, it seems to be renovations.
My ideal weekend, is when friends come to visit.  We explore a couple of boutique wineries (not too many in one day, because we love spending extended time chatting with the owners or winemakers); somewhere great to eat (either café or harvesting from the organic market or local fine food stores); and a good old bush walk (Badger Weir or Maroondah Dam are our current favourites – and very easy) to work off all the food, wine and lazing about socialising.  Throw in a bit of retail therapy and a massage/spa treatment from one of our secret providers and then we have an easy Yarra Valley weekend.  Who has time for renovating???!

Do you have any favourite blogs/websites or magazines that are your go to for inspiration?

We are really lucky being surrounded by some very creative designers in a variety of disciplines, so inspiration is often via their work and collaborating with them.
I am currently enjoying the Share Design blog (quick bites that I don’t see anywhere else) and (it’s not because I am writing to you) morris brown are always sending through great links and shares of really inspirational work.  Mags = Habitat, Slow, Green Magazine.  Along with a number of Health and Wellbeing publications (part of the profession!).  I am sure I have missed a bundle of important ones, but don’t want to bombard you.

 Thanks so much to Karen and Greg for answering all of my stickybeak questions!  It has certainly been a labour of love and I am sure the next door version of Willow House will be as equally beautiful.  When I asked Karen for the photo of the gorgeous kitchen setting with the wooden table, she explained the table and dresser were a rescue job; saved from Greg’s grandparents house before being tossed in a skip.  Maybe thats’ why Botanica Editions resonates so much with morris brown: it has the horticultural background we are familiar with, and the love of seeing beauty where perhaps others don’t see… Obviously they are doing something right as their guest book is overflowing with gorgeous comments and promises of return visits!

Have you enjoyed the photographs?  We certainly drooled over them!  They are the work of Matina Gremmola, and you can see more of her beautiful work at www.gemmola.com.

Would you like more information on the availability of Botanica Editions?  They have an easy website to navigate , and you can enjoy more beautiful photographs!  After all, there is Labour Day and Easter breaks coming up, not to mention Anzac Day falls on a Friday this year also… pop over here and take a look!

 

 

Elk and other arrivals… this week in store!

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Lovely Linen Top with Elk Bag

Lovely Linen Top with Elk Bag

New Elk Jewellery Winter 2014

New Elk Jewellery Winter 2014

Lovely Elk Wooden necklace

Lovely Elk Wooden necklace

Elk Classic Dress, with gorgeous leather bag, look at the Plaited detail!

Elk Classic Dress, with gorgeous leather bag, look at the Plaited detail!

Shiny shoes, also in green...

Shiny shoes, also in green…

Sunday Drives to the Yarra Valley- Alowyn Gardens

Friday, February 14th, 2014

When we were kids, Sunday afternoons were often spent in the back of the Ford Falcon 500, going on drives.  I remember watching the trucks and bulldozers create the site that became Sugarloaf Reservoir Park ( yep, sadly I am that old!) and hearing my dad say Melbourne will never  now run out of water … (slightly wrong), drives through the Black Spur,  trips to Yea and lots of other places.  With our Grandma between us in the back seat, we would pop off  for an adventure, an ice-cream and spend quality time in the car together…No Sunday football, horse racing, and generally the only shop open was the milk bar.  Bliss, no Sunday trading!

So in honour of the Sunday Drives, over the next few months, we will endeavour highlight some of the great places in the Yarra Valley and surrounds that we think are worthy of  that great Aussie tradition, the Sunday Drive…

IMG_5114 alowyn gardens sign

Our first stop on the tour is Alowyn Gardens… Do all drives have to have a destination?…I’m not sure!  But Alowyn Gardens is a favourite place and well worth the effort of a drive.  Situated just outside the town of Yarra Glen on the Melba Highway, the gardens are the creation of Prue and John Van de Linde, and have been a labour of love for many years.  A former trotting stud, the land was extremely rundown when they purchased it in 1997, with the first tree planting done in 1999.  Since then, the garden has grown to 4 acres, with more being added.  A huge maintenance task, the garden has a strong emphasis  on recycling, harvesting of water and where possible organic principles are used.

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The garden has been created using strong design philosophies that are planted out to create a softness and appeal.  The most famous feature is the 100 metre wisteria walk that explodes in Spring into curtain of purple and a riot of happy bees.  It goes on to provide welcome shade from the summer sun and is a favourite wedding photo spot.    We were there on a hot summers day and the shade was so wonderful under the curtain of green!  Sitting underneath looking across the Parterre Garden you could imagine you are a world away in a Parisian Square watching children play and old men natter…

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Fanning out from this amazing spectacle are more areas of garden, including a birch Forest  (yes please, would love one of these at home!) Edible Gardens, parterre gardens, a Perennial Border and a series of Display gardens to inspire and encourage people, demonstrating there are lots of alternatives to a lawn in a suburban block; it just takes a little imagination and some hard work!

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The Garden features use of many recycled pieces, including electricity poles, recycled bricks, ironwork, and in the cafe area, a great wall of fruit boxes filled with treasures collected over many years.  There is even a giant chess set, perhaps inspired by childhood stories…

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Alowyn gardens is open Weekends only, and is closed in Winter.  You can check here for more details… Do you have any favourite Sunday Drives?

New Favorite…simple white platters

Friday, February 7th, 2014

I love a white platter- even the most boring thing comes to life when displayed ( or plonked) on a simple white platter. In fact, i’ve never meet a white platter I didn’t like!  Add a few sprigs of green, mainly rosemary here as we grow it in abundance and there you have it.  I am regularly accused of having an obsession with buying them, and have taken to smuggling them in…

This is my latest love.

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It has a lovely lip and a gentle swirly pattern…I had to take photographs for morris brown online, so thats why it stayed at home for so long ( these things take time and motivation…!) and all of a sudden, it seemed to be in the cupboard.

If you have a similar problem/love (!) we have these lovely platters in store at Healesville and Heathmont mb, as well as http://morrisbrown.com.au/shop/simple-white-platter/

Found Art

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

 

Don’t you think art brings so much character into a home? We don’t have a big, fancy art collection, but have lots of bits that have been found over the years, mainly in junk shops, or flea markets.  Individually, they can look insignificant, but when clustered together, they give great affect.  This wall of flowers started with the one Hydrangea picture, that was bought from a shop many years ago and grew from there. Some were found here, and others in flea markets overseas.
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I Love this Italian scene, painted from memory, photo, or perhaps someone was lucky enough to stand with an easel, and fulfil a dream to paint in the Tuscan countryside.  A market buy for $10, its ugly pine frame was spray painted black.

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This beautiful picture shows how effective a piece of art can be when the found objects around it pull out the colours within the painting. The gorgeous wall colour and paint effect help too…

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Image found here

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Again, on one wall, we have a cluster of paintings, again all found, a couple even painted on maisonette board, with the artist using what was on hand. The colours tie them all together, making an impact that could otherwise be lost individually.

Here are a few “walls” found over on our Art Board, over on Pinterest …

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Image from here

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image from here…

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Image from here

The pleasure of this wall is that many are again op shop or market finds, but putting them together gives it that ‘zing’ factor!

I love it when we have bits and pieces of paintings or prints in morris brown.  Not so common, they take time to collect, and often time to sell: they wait for that one person who can see the beauty, or see that it can complete another part of their puzzle.  Do you have growing collections found art on your walls at home?

And just on a completely different tangent, I am loving all those gorgeous walls in dark, somber colours…you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Treasure…and some new!

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Did you dream of finding treasure when you were small?  Nowadays, treasure has a new meaning, not trunks of gold and silver guarded by pirate skeletons, but more dusty, worn, and perhaps a little rusty in places.  The treasure map sends us to many places, old country towns, and for new treasure, far off shores…

Old country towns, silent in the heat of the day…

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Hunting and gathering, dusty roads and summer sun.

 

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Discoveries made and adventures had…and some ‘new’ treasure  too…

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Pieces like above are also available online here.

Treasure in store now…

 

 

A Horny Issue…small cow horns available now!

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

It’s always fascinating to watch people’s reactions with some of the bits we stock. Older people exclaim they threw that away years ago, and can’t understand why people would want that now. Children ask what on earth that is,pointing to a dial up telephone or typewriter; instantly making me feel very ancient. Others are less than complementary, and I often wonder why.  Is it something that makes them uncomfortable or challenges their own perception of life a little?  It certainly keeps life interesting…

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Point in case at the moment: we are selling little cow horns, from a property in the western country side of Victoria. I think 90% of reactions have been ranging in mild dislike to absolute horror, a few vaguely interested and asking what you would do with them, some, who know the principles of biodynamics, where you fill the horn with compost and bury it into the ground to make it fertile, and are happy to chat for awhile about it.

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Then, there is that tiny, tiny 1% of people who get it. Who see what we see in the textures, the grooves, the colour variations and the sculptural qualities that the horns have. And that makes up the the 90% of people who didn’t see the beauty that was before them. And that’s ok,because,like most things in this world, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. The other day I watched a woman picking her way through the box, holding each one up,  examining and feeling it, taking loads of time to choose her collection. An artist, they will be used in a three dimensional piece, along side found objects such as feathers, skulls and bones… I am eagerly awaiting my invite to the opening, to me it’s sounds fabulous!

There are lots of things in life they I don’t get either, and thats ok too, for after all, this is what keeps us all different and interesting and completely unique… IMG_4826tray of horns

If you are a one pecenter, we still have the cow horns available at mb Heathmont, Healesville and http://morrisbrown.com.au/shop/cow-horns/

Love Locks… Melbourne

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Made famous in European cities, padlocks have been appearing on bridges all over the world in the past few years. The most famous of all, the Pont des Arts, spanning the River Seine, in arguably the most romantic city in the world, Paris.  This declaration of love involves writing your names of a padlock, then once  you have attached it to the bridge, you, together  throw the keys into the water below to sealing your never ending love… This ritual was apparently inspired by characters in an Italian novel, where the main players did this on a bridge in Rome!

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This may not be the scene from a bridge in Paris, Dublin, New York or many other places around the world, however, old Melbourne town was looking rather special a few Friday nights ago.  Not having been into the City for ages at night, the energy and vibe around Southbank was utterly engaging, and I really loved being a tourist in my own hometown.

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We, apparently now have our own version of the Pont des Arts,  spanning across the Yarra River, which is roughly the same colour and perhaps texture of the Seine (!), the footbridge across the River joining Southbank to the viaduct under Flinder St Station.  Here, there are loads of padlocks attached to the bridge, inscribed with names and dates of past and present loves…

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Romantic…
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Individualised!…

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Love was everywhere, even up in the sky.

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And the view was pretty good too…Some might even say those big light towers in the background are a symbol of love…

At this point, it seems the Melbourne City Council aren’t moving in on the padlocks, like they are in many other places, but who knows what the New Year will bring.  If you are looking for a special padlock to engrave and give to a loved one, we have some available over here

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