14 November – Introducing the SPRING FAIR STALLHOLDERS! no.3

Where it’s all about fennel….

Hello everyone,

What a dreadful week…while baking heat, dust storms and wind do not go hand in glove with gardens (and especially about-to-open ones), we’re so grateful we’ve had nothing worse and thank our lucky stars. Our hearts goes out to those in dire fire circumstances. Writing the details below seems rather insignificant given the disastrous situation for so many and yet….life goes on. You know where the proceeds from opening the garden will be heading. 

I imagine you may also be wondering why oh why we thought to open the garden in November (it’s because it can be one of the most captivating months of all…heavy with scent, imminent summer blooms; the sound of bees humming at their work – see Tuesday’s insta  clip in the kitchen garden) and will still be. Let’s hope for no wind on the days and perhaps, if we’re very lucky, a downpour beforehand…black cockatoos have made several visits here this week – their beautiful prehistoric call sends my pulse racing with delight because around here, that means rain on the way. So fingers crossed….and not just for here.

This third newsletter will be the final in the series introducing the Stallholders participating at our SPRING GARDEN FAIR on 23 & 24 NOVEMBER. This time, I’ll focus on who you’ll find in the Dairy. 
Do you recall the fabulous exhibition of paintings by MATILDA DUMAS here two years ago?  I’m sure those who have been Glenmore followers for some time certainly will….from the lunch to launch and all through that enchanting weekend when Til painted as visitors perambulated around the garden; to those who participated in her inspiring Abstract Painting Workshop here last year.  I’ve known Til for a long time and enjoy watching her work evolve. Her use of colour is exuberant, joyful, bold and full of life….mostly landscapes, sometimes (and I get very excited when she does them..) interiors too! While the entire Dairy won’t be devoted to her work this time, I am so excited that she’s going to create a mini-exhibition, an artist’s studio of sorts, at one end of the big room!  It looked so inviting when we did this at last year’s workshop, that installing a repeat performance for open garden was imagined right there and then! While Til will be bringing her familiar framed works along to hang, I hope she’ll also have some of those delightful long boards that I have propped up on my kitchen dresser…they are completely irresistible!

NICOLA HART works with clay, paint and her hands; and I can’t wait to see her ceramics in near sight of Til’s paintings…how I’d like to take pieces from each of them, to inspire an imagined house….very white, in the country, by the sea or down a little urban lane with a frangipani tree outside (but there I go, getting carried away as usual!).  I was delighted to persuade Nicola here a couple of years ago,  to set a table laden with her pieces at the spring launch of Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s book OSTRO  (it was the first day of spring and a corresponding table was laden with Julia’s cakes from her book…interspersed with pitchers of blossom and banksia rose, pea flowers, poppies and wild flowers from the garden). Nicola’s ceramics just added to the delight of it all; pretty as they are, in the most delicate duck egg or cobalt blues, pale and luscious greens, shell pink or soft white….all manner and size of plates, bowls and little dishes…some with wavy edges; pin hole or pierced decoration…and all of them to be used! I’ll be excited to see her table groaning under the weight of it all. The greatest problem with Nicola’s work is choosing which piece you want to take home….they look so enchanting stacked, that it seems such a shame to separate them! I’m sure more than one friend may be on the receiving end of a Christmas treat from Nicola’s stall…if you can bare to give them away! (Just imagine having a stack in the cupboard to choose from!).
Sadly I’ve just had a last minute cancellation for the flower stall but never fear…I’ve already had a brilliant idea! 

Last but not least inside the building (where could possibly be more appropriate?) we have PECORA DAIRY.  I am just thrilled that Cressida will be joining us, even if it is on the Saturday only. Situated only a hop, skip and a jump from here at Robertson in the Southern Highlands, Pecora is an artisan sheep milk dairy and cheesery, established by Michael and Cressida McNamara in 2011, choosing to throw in their city life to pursue their passion. While caring for the land, their ewes and their young family; they make a range of award winning ewe’s milk cheeses in season; that are simply exquisite. While I just want it all (yes, greedy guts!) a favourite is their Bloomy; and I often pop it onto one of Nicola’s pretty plates…another match made in heaven! Once again, I suggest you bring a cold bag to make sure you get some of Cressida’s precious cargo home in one piece (well….that’s if you can wait that long!). Why not make a plan for your return home on Saturday evening, to scatter a handful of Lizzie’s Piccolo Farm flowers (see last newsletter) over a collection of Cressida’s cheeses? Something like this? Now there’s a perfect way to end your garden visit! 

Over the weekend, the Dairy doors will be flung open wide to the covered, gravel area we call the Loggia.  It’s here you will find my dear friend JILLIE ARNOTT (or at least Jillie herself will be between ovens and mixing bowls, probably dusted with flour, as she bakes all the cake recipes from The House and Garden at Glenmore!). I don’t know how she does it….I’m a one cake at a time kind of gal, but Jillie manages to carry on a lovely conversation and pull six cakes out of the oven in the blink of an eye (such is the experience of a seasoned country caterer with strings of weddings and parties to her name). This will be the fourth time she’s spent an open garden weekend baking here and I can’t wait!  We love to see people sampling a slice of each cake, divvying them up between them, sitting on the cushion-covered stone wall; backs in the sun, merging with the plants in the borders behind! 

To enjoy with your cake, of course you’ll need a cup of tea….so I’m delighted to have ANTHIA KOULLOUROS of OVVIO ORGANICS here to pour you a cup! She’ll also have tins and boxes of her teas so you can top up your reserves or choose to gift. Anthia is a well-renowned herbalist and naturopath, and it’s time we ran another Herbal Workshop….where participants take a garden wander and Anthia explains the medicinal properties and likely application of all manner of plants; along with a session of steeping, mixing and preparing concoctions. Anthia is pure delight; her knowledge endless…I could listen to her all day….and I intend to have her commit to a date for 2020 before the open weekend is done!  The little physic garden I planted especially for these workshops in its own enclosure in the home paddock a few years ago is just filling out in its spring flourish…with the dog rose R.canina, German chamomile, Lavandulaangustifolia, Burdock, lemon verbena, lemon thyme and Echinacea whose whorls of petals are just forming now.

So there you have the stallholders in the Dairy….who’ll have treasures for you, gifts for others, and sustenance!  Just before I leave you (because I do want next week’s news to be about the garden itself)….don’t forget the BARN! I’ve just collected the latest batch of dresses, and hats, have beautiful handmade trugs and willow fitch baskets from my two favourite highly skilled craftsmen in New Zealand; as well as favourite linen tea towels, enamelware, veg & nail brushes & those fab Dutch style brooms; balls of string and elephant grass fans from Ghana (because they’re traditional, beautiful, and I think summer heat suggests we should all be using fans!). There will also be plants from the garden (at least those we’ve managed to keep alive) and….I’ve taken a new delivery of boxes of The House and Garden at Glenmore! I know there’s more on the shelves in there but I just can’t think…I’m all in a whirl!

You can find all the details on the Open Garden webpage and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Very best wishes as always,


ps remember ENTRY will be $10 CASH ONLY! If you pop away a note or two now, it will make life for our volunteers at the gate more simple and prevent queues along our little road. Although once inside there is better coverage, reception in the country (even this close to Sydney) can be erratic, so please be prepared. While some of our stallholders may have card facilities, others are not generally in the business of markets, so I do suggest you please bring cash too.

pps If you missed out on a place at lunch in the Hayshed, Marty is also going to make ‘tartines’ for you to enjoy on the hoof….’til he runs out of ingredients! In keeping with my fennel theme, they will be either pickled fennel, chicken and mayonnaise or fennel seed salami, rocket, tomato, eggplant relish …on sourdough.