How Mau­reen Gard­ner turned a con­crete block into Bowral’s garden oa­sis, known as Green Lane.

MAU­REEN GARD­NER HAS a way with plants and is the cre­ative spirit be­hind the oa­sis known as Green Lane in Bowral. It all started when a friend opened a shop over­look­ing the con­crete load­ing dock of Dirty Jane’s, a well-known an­tique em­po­rium on the main street. The space needed a lit­tle beau­ti­fi­ca­tion, so Mau­reen bought in a ute load of plants from home. Then an­other. And an­other. As she made her de­liv­er­ies an idea started to form — maybe this empty con­crete slab could be a garden cen­tre. “I spoke to the land­lord, bought the site of­fice that was sit­ting empty, put an awning on it and away we went,” Mau­reen says. Know­ing she couldn’t com­pete with the big nurs­eries, Mau­reen de­cided to spe­cialise in top­i­ary, cit­rus, for­mal plants, heir­loom peren­ni­als and ed­i­bles. It wasn’t long be­fore the load­ing dock was un­recog­nis­able as Mau­reen crowded it with large and small table­top top­i­aries in ter­ra­cotta pots, suc­cu­lents in shades of green and grey, and spindly out­door metal ta­bles amassed with pots of flow­er­ing plants, from gera­ni­ums to marigolds and hy­drangeas, de­pend­ing on the sea­son. With a back­ground in events and pub­lic­ity — early in her ca­reer she’d worked for the com­pany that toured the Bol­shoi Bal­let and rock mu­sic acts such as Leonard Co­hen and was later in­volved in events such as the Magic Mil­lions year­ling sale in Queens­land — Mau­reen knows how to wow a crowd, and added fur­ni­ture and sculp­tural garden pieces to the mix. Old shut­ters, their paint peeled, lean up against the wall. Wil­low cloches for keep­ing rab­bits off the straw­ber­ries and obelisks, just right for trail­ing clema­tis or green beans, are stacked in tow­ers. Rus­tic tim­ber fur­ni­ture abounds: there’s an old bench from the Bur­radoo Rail­way Sta­tion as well as stick pieces by lo­cal fur­ni­ture maker Joe Vinks. The re­sults charmed the lo­cals who added a turn of the nurs­ery, which she’d called The Pot­ting Shed, to their morn­ing walk. Three years on and those same lo­cals can now stop for tea and cake, or even a glass of cham­pagne, as Mau­reen’s hus­band Chris has re­cently joined her on Green Lane, open­ing Green Lane Street Kitchen for take­away food and cof­fee, as well as Harry’s — a res­tau­rant and bar. Not con­tent to rest on her lau­rels, Mau­reen has also cre­ated a con­ser­va­tory, The Orangery, which she’s filled with es­tab­lished ferns and palm trees and fur­nished with mar­ble-topped con­soles and huge gilded mir­rors, all for sale. Mau­reen in­her­ited her love of plants from her mother, who cre­ated a garden on the fam­ily sheep farm in Cen­tral Otago, New Zealand, where she grew up. When Mau­reen and Chris bought an old farm­house on 40 hectares in the South­ern High­lands 11 years ago, she too dis­cov­ered the joys of gar­den­ing on a large scale, plant­ing out about five hectares with her favourite flow­ers; del­phini­ums, fox­glove, lupins, pe­onys and helle­bore. When she’s not gar­den­ing, or talk­ing to gar­den­ers about gar­den­ing, Mau­reen’s at­ten­tion is claimed by the flock of Suf­folk sheep and menagerie of an­i­mals in­clud­ing don­keys, goats and a pig that she and Chris keep. The Pot­ting Shed is about more than the plants on show. “It’s about help­ing peo­ple learn to garden, giv­ing them ideas and en­cour­ag­ing them to try new things,” says Mau­reen. That in­cludes chil­dren. Mau­reen gives them tiny ter­ra­cotta pots planted with suc­cu­lents to keep in their bed­room. “You never know,” she says. “It might sow a seed.” The Pot­ting Shed, Rear court­yard Dirty Jane’s, 15–17 Banyette Street, Bowral. 0419 154 860; the­p­ot­ting­shed­

White Veron­ica, pink An­gelo­nia an­gus­ti­fo­lia and Salvia Cathe­dral Sky Blue cosy to­gether on a table­top at The Pot­ting Shed. FAC­ING PAGE Mau­reen Gard­ner at­tends to a small top­i­ary in her Bowral garden cen­tre.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.