28 November – OPEN GARDEN – IT’S A WRAP!

Where it was all about fennel….

Hello everyone,

This is a big and heartfelt thank you everyone who came to visit our SPRING GARDEN FAIR celebrating 30 years at GLENMORE HOUSE last weekend!  How incredibly lucky we were with the weather – we’re still pinching ourselves on that score! A heavy downpour on Friday afternoon washed away the dust that had accumulated and quite unbelievably, was followed up by some unexpected drizzle in the wee hours of Sunday morning, ensuring all was refreshed once again for the second day…how absolutely extraordinary! Clearly, someone up there was smiling on us!

It was so lovely to see many, many familiar faces from over the years – from personal friends who remember Glenmore from our earliest days here (when we would picnic and return to Sydney, wondering what on earth we’d done….no running water, electricity or habitable building etc!), to those who have attended workshops – whether just one, two, or repeatedly. Then there were oh so many new faces; amongst them many podcast followers! What fun for them to see the kitchen garden layout in real life; to see where the early summer planting is at so they could compare notes (and to try those morsels of fresh fennel seed I do go on about!). Thank you to everyone for your kind words, but don’t worry, it won’t go to our heads…we know only too well that the garden has many flaws! 

I’m so thrilled you got to meet our stallholders and hope those introductory newsletters over the past few weeks helped to familiarise you with who they were. They were all delighted to meet you and from my perspective, I was thrilled to have each and every one of them here; to contribute their diverse offerings to my idea of an idyllic day out: to visit a garden in a country setting, where there’s delicious food, plants to buy, a tidbit to learn, a treasure to discover; the opportunity to fill the car to the brim for the journey home, feeling inspired, with a smile that can’t be suppressed and a spring in my step!

That’s my  kind of idyllic day out! 

That stallholders also sparked ideas for future collaborations amongst themselves tickles me even more pink (with one in particular that I can’t wait to nut out here…watch this space!) To the person who told Til that Glenmore is on the market….they must be mad! There are still way too many ideas to pursue here by a long shot! We ain’t done yet!!!! In fact on that score…I’ll soon be getting to work on the programme for 2020 with some repeat, as well as new events planned (one in particular I’ll let you in on soon…because those who have followed me and Glenmore for awhile now, know full well that I like to balance the frivolous with the serious….I put opening the garden into the more frivolous category, but then we do all need some fun….So: think soil, the future of farming and our food: all topics that concern me deeply; and I’ll release news of a panel discussion I’ve been striving to bring about next May, with a diverse group of experts across generations and perspectives – I just need to cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s before announcing this event). But back to the open garden wrap…

A big thank you too, to our volunteers who managed the gate entry – they’re all friends and were SO kind to help out in shifts throughout the weekend….we couldn’t have done it without them. And the boys from St. Greg’s who helped with car parking at the last minute too. Thank you for contributing to their bucket. Kim Smith, who spent two frantic days in the Barn and was still beaming from ear to ear at the end, despite the sheer chaos in there! Thank you for your patience – the Barn generally only opens for a very brief time on event days, so isn’t a proper shop – none of us is skilled in retail! Kim will be familiar to many of you who attend workshops here, keeping it all together for me out the back while I try to be out the front and behind the scenes at the same time…which only works because of Kim’s resilient, thoughtful and dependable nature (I wish I could make events run full time to take her on permanently!). To Larry who gets to deal with niggles, which inevitably occur – an event on this kind of scale is not something we’re in the habit of doing! It was private, unsponsored and run on a shoe string, so thank you for your patience…if there was a queue at the loo and we ran out of hand-towels I’m sorry – open garden is the only time there aren’t fluffy white ones that I’ve washed, dried in the sun and personally rolled! (I’m still kicking myself that I never got around to hanging bunches of rose scented pelargoniums in the loos as I usually do, but the like of tying string around misbehaving tent structures and doing things on ladders took priority as the clock ticked dangerously towards 10am!).

The stall holders all took a risk (or huge leap of faith anyway!) participating in the weekend…we have no way of knowing how many visitors, if any, will arrive! So I’d like to thank them all for believing that being here would be worthwhile and all our visitors for making their weekend a joy! They were: Lunch MARTIN BOETZ, COOKS CO-OP, cakes JILLIE ARNOTT (she baked 75!), tea ANTHIA KOULLOUROS, OVVIO, botanical drinks SEEDLIP, bee books & info DOUG PURDIE, THE URBAN BEEHIVE, veg & herb seedlings PATIO PLANTS, romantic plants SECRET GARDEN NURSERY, veg boxes & edible flowers PICCOLO FARM, ewe’s milk cheese PECORA DAIRY, twig furniture JOE VINKS, landscape oil paintings MATILDA DUMAS, ceramics NICOLA HART, candle scent trail RACONTEUR, buckets of heavenly hydrangeas THE VISUAL FEAST and…JODY VASSALLO for the FARMER COOKBOOK (this last I just have to report had the most exceptional weekend…our fair aside. Jody appeared on TV for a couple of minutes at 7am on Sunday morning…to talk about the book; how it came to be and the monies raised towards those so badly affected by drought. In the time it took her to drive from Ultimo to Glenmore to set up for the second day, $35,000.00 had poured in…her eyes were out on stalks! By the time she packed up on Sunday afternoon, the figure had risen to $50,000! What an achievement!  The book’s gone into reprint, so you should be able to pick up a copy before Christmas if you missed out here – I can’t think of a better present to give). 

Also on that score, we were just shy of 1,000 visitors over the weekend (not including children), so we’ll be able to make donations too, to the CWA, Drought Angels and the RFS (even if not on the scale of Farmer Cookbook!). Thank you all for your contribution.

Well…that was fun! People keep asking if I’m going away or hope I’m having a rest! That would be a resounding NO! There’s too much to do!  There’s still a bit of planting for summer in the kitchen garden, looking after the whole garden of course, and a year of events to plan! But yes, it’s a relief to know this effort that’s been a fixture in our diaries for just on a year; and 30 years in the making, seemed to make a lot of people happy. 

I’ll be in touch again soon.

Very best wishes as always,


ps I was thrilled to see my fennel seed basket empty at the end of each day…I hope you scattered your seed before the downpour on Monday, and that seedlings pop up soon, so you too, will have an annual fennel cycle :))

pps if you missed out, there are some pics (though not enough!) on my insta stories here!