Sunday, 11 May 2008

Mount Wilson and its attractions

Mount Wilson is a little enclave, tucked away at the end of a narrow, winding road in the Blue Mountains. The "village" consists of a community hall, a bushfire brigade depot, and an attractive old church. There are no shops. A couple of caf├ęs open at the whim of their owners, usually on weekends. But not always.
Those who live at Mt Wilson are a mix of wealthy retirees, artists and writers, weekend cottagers and, above all, gardeners. The mountain is one of the basalt-capped outcrops of this area with rich, fertile soil, and has been attracting people fleeing the humidity of the coast for close to 150 years. Many of the early settlers took advantage of the cool climate to plant English oaks and beeches along with Japanese and American maples among the magnificent tree ferns that grow in profusion there.
As these have matured, the resulting splendid parks and avenues have become a destination for Australians wanting a taste of the autumn colour so absent in the native landscape.
Mothers' Day weekend saw numerous private estates open as a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and I went along to enjoy the vistas and perhaps find some ideas that I could translate to the scale of my modest yard. Saturday's weather was bright and sunny, but by Sunday, clouds had moved in and it was, for the most part, overcast. It cleared somewhat in the afternoon so that I was able to get at least of few shots of sunlight falling through the autumn leaves.

Nooroo was the first property I visited. I've wanted to see it for a long time, but have never been at Mt. Wilson when it was open. It is most famous for its collection of wisteria, so a better time to see it is in spring, but I found its autumn dress very attractive. I particularly appreciated the drifts of white nerines emerging through a carpet of fallen leaves in through the old part of the garden.

The second garden was Bebeah, a 12-acre blend of parkland, formal beds and water features.

Like many of the Mt. Wilson gardens, Bebeah had its share of delightful statuary.

The patina on this sphinx exactly matched the eucalypt behind it.

Yengo sculpture garden was my last stop.

Maples had thrown a dropsheet over the deserted tennis court.

The sculptures are spread throughout the large estate and you come upon them unexpectedly as you round a corner or cross a lawn. The majority are modern but representational bronzes of humans, particularly children, engaged in various activities. I preferred this youth, back turned to passers-by, and found those of birds such as the peacock the most appealing.

However, there was one human figure that I really liked. I almost missed her as she's tucked away in a remote corner where few people go, I suspect. Unlike the others, she's made of wood. Perhaps I identify more with her expression than with the serene, contemplative bronzes.

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