For a $5 donation, we wandered around admiring the beauty and the hard work that has gone into creating such a garden. In just 11 years, Rick (aged 73) has transformed abandoned pine forest, gorse, bare fields and thistle into a little oasis. There's a dam full of tadpoles and frogs, ponds with lilies, native and introduced trees like Canadian spruce, rhododendrons, roses, hollyhocks, plenty of quiet places to sit, sculptures of birds and Buddhas and the beginnings of a ferny glen with local giant manferns planted. Like all such gardens, it is a work in progress. But unlike other serious gardeners I have met, he had a healthy attitude regarding the success of plants - if they die, they weren't meant to be there. He does only minimal weeding.
Today's garden envy was entirely different. I attended a 'poultry breeding masterclass' at breeder Paul Healy's place in Judbury, a follow-up to the workshop I went to back in March. I didn't really take much of a look at his garden, but this one is not about aesthetics. It's all about plants with a purpose, food, herbs and organic insect control. He's currently writing a book about it. But what interested me more was the housing of his Barnevelder chooks. Everywhere I looked there were small innovations, the result of many years' experience, trial and error no doubt. I'm glad I went to the class today, it gave me more confidence in being able to breed and manage my own small flock of birds.