MICKEY ROBERT­SON

Ra­zor­back Range, NSW

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Ground Rules -

“I’d al­ways wanted a gar­den. When my hus­band, Larry, and I bought a col­lec­tion of di­lap­i­dated farm build­ings I was given the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate one much ear­lier than I’d imag­ined. As we re­stored each build­ing, the gar­den evolved to sur­round it. I was only 27 when we be­gan here – how time flies when you’re hav­ing fun.

“As well as our or­na­men­tal gar­den, with every­thing from roses to frangi­pani, suc­cu­lents to peren­ni­als, we have our kitchen gar­den, which has spilled be­yond its orig­i­nal bound­aries. For me, hon­est plant­ing for the very best sea­sonal pro­duce is what makes a great Ital­ian gar­den. Our fruit trees are com­ing into leaf bud or blos­som: we have apri­cots, peaches, plums, cher­ries, pears and quince, but my favourite are the figs.

“We’ve just fin­ished the win­ter Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes and we’re eat­ing the first peas and broad beans. I’m seek­ing out last sea­son’s gar­lic, too – although no longer shiny and new, it’s ed­i­ble – and hope­fully it won’t be too long be­fore this year’s crop can be eaten green.

“This area is fab­u­lous for rose­mary and I use it in the or­na­men­tal gar­den to add solid clumps and for low hedg­ing. One of my favourite herbs is lo­vage. It has a dis­tinct cel­ery flavour and pops up just as the peas hit their fi­nal stride, which means I get to make my favourite pea and lo­vage soup.

“One plant I have yet to mas­ter is cele­riac. I love the taste of that knob­bly root veg­etable. I’ve grown small ones but I’m de­ter­mined to grow a de­cent-sized one.”

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