28 May 2013

dreams :: {part two}


This was my grandfather's wheelbarrow. He was a gardener among (many) other things. I remember following him around to many a nursery, many a gardening job... and pottering in the garden with him. Between him and my Mum, if not a green thumb, then certainly an appreciation for time spent outdoors, growing my own food and getting up to my elbows in soil, developed.

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be a landscape designer. Not a Landscape Architect, or a Landscape Gardener, but a Designer. I did work experience with a woman working as a designer and planted petunias in some of the poshest gardens in Toorak. And learning so much along the way... I especially liked how she snuck Australian native plants and edibles into English-style cottage gardens, unbeknownst to the owner... That felt like some sort of guerrilla or activist type of gardening. Making the world a better place, one posh garden at a time...

So I decided that was for me. I set about designing garden beds for my school, which were met with quiet, respectful nods and pleasant smiles, then binned filed. I read up on gardens in France and England and Italy, admiring their patterns and making plans to visit someday... My art teacher was married to a prominent Landscape Architect/Gardener and decided that, knowing the reality of it, it probably wasn't for me. My hands were getting shaky and how was I going to draw up perfect plans with hands like that? Despite my protests that my Grandfather's hands shook and it never became a problem for him... My maths teacher told me my maths wasn't good enough to be a Landscape Architect. And, despite that not being the direction I wanted to go, I listened. I suspect Mum and Dad had higher aspirations for me than Horticulture College (that's where used up footy players went), and for some reason, at that time, I was sensitive to that too. My art teacher encouraged me towards other areas, thinking I'd make an excellent Art Teacher, or Art Historian. And although she was incredibly inspiring, and a great teacher in so many ways, I ignored her advice and went a different way (that she also discouraged) and became a Textile Designer.

I loved Textile Design. I still do. It's certainly a process, and part of my brain, that just works and comes naturally for me. It can be slightly messy and colourful and full of patterns... But garden design was still there.

I began collecting gardening magazines and researching correspondence courses I could do at night, after a long, exhausting day pushing pixels on a screen to put socks on supermarket shelves (I was a sock designer). I visited open gardens on the weekend. I gardened in our backyard and one year managed to grow most of the veggies that we needed for a whole season.

I sat in a tent at a festival one weekend and heard David Holmgren (co-originator of Permaculture) talk... Mind. Blown. Huz (not yet Huz), and I started looking into Permaculture and off-grid living... One day we might move to Tasmania and do that...

I came very close to enrolling in a Diploma of Horticulture at a local TAFE, having abandoned uni plans after almost paying off a sizeable HECS debt... Whe Huz found employment, I planned how I'd quit my job, or do the course in the evening... While I pined for days wasted while sitting at a computer, under fluoro lights, for a pittance.

I needed to be outdoors. Out in the real world...

And then a little voice came and chatted in my ear... I had a dream where I walked into a red and yellow tent at a different festival. A little girl, aged about five or six, took my hand and said "I'm Audrey. You're going to be my Mama". And so it was...

I've heard a few little voices since then (including one I'm having stern words with right now). And I kept working with socks as long as I could manage in amongst moving to Tasmania, Grandfather's wheelbarrow and all, and the rest which is documented in this blog...


We have three living owlets and a menagerie of animals living with us and although we've been in our nest for almost six years now, and the natives out the front have come along and look great... we have no established garden. No design. No food forest. We've had not much time or money to devote to it and although we've improved the soil immeasurably in places, you wouldn't know it to look at it. I'd all but given up on me and gardening. And still that other big niggling voice is still there...


Get out in the garden. Learn all about it and how it works. Find a way to make the world better. One garden at a time... starting with ours.

I imagined and dreamed of gardening courses... workshops came and went as I faced facts that I was here, with owlets all day long, loving that, but needing something for me. Something useful. So I decided if the timing was right, the stars would align and it would just work out. It always does.

And then Milkwood Permaculture advertised that they were coming to Tasmania to teach Urban Permaculture Design. And I umm-ed and ahh-ed until the very last minute...

And I made the stars align...


And right now now Tiny is up from her nap, so I'll continue the rest later... But do come back to read all about the course and where to next... I feel like I'm on an exciting new journey and I'd love to have some company along the way. xx


  1. What a journey! Thank you for sharing your story Lauren. It's inspiring. I look forward to part two!


  2. I can't wait to read about what happens next!

  3. from one Lauren to another, I wait with excitement to hear more about this!! :)

  4. As a felllow Hobartian with dinner started and no time to comment I say go for it and ASPARAGUS....ready to go in now for spring bliss (in a couple of years from now!!)

  5. Oh I'm looking forward to reading on more. I LOVE permaculture ever since I taught a unit on it with my prac class at Uni. The kids at that school had a fully functioning permaculture garden, and it was very inspiring!

    I would love to do more of it myself. :)


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