how to create your own edible garden…
Posted in australia, creative ventures, food, nature June 24th, 2015 by pia

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Earlier this year on a drizzly and rather misty Saturday morning in February, I drove down to the very beautiful Glenbernie Orchard in Darkes Forest, in the Northern Illawarra of New South Wales. I had signed up to talented baker Tara Mills of Mill Lane’s workshop on “how to create your own edible garden”, encouraged by my dear friend Jenni who was also attending and lives in the area (I’ll be showcasing Jenni’s gorgeous home here in the (blog)house very soon, in the meantime you can have a little sneak peek here).

I love turning off the highway upon entering the Royal National Park, like other times I’ve traveled in that direction, I wind down all the windows in the car and take deep belly breaths to absorb the gorgeous air. On this occassion, I was playing the latest album of Tenzin Cheogyal called Heart Strings, and so by the time I arrived at Glenbernie, I was well and truly at ease and ready to enjoy the full day workshop ahead. It’s an incredibly rare treat to have an entire Saturday to myself, and to spend it with like-minded people learning all about permaculture and enjoying a glorious home made lunch by Tara made it very special…

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These seasonal workshops, hosted by Tara, take place in a large shed on the Glenbernie Orchard property, looking out over the apple orchard. It is taught by Narelle Happ, horticulturalist and garden designer, who has over ten years experience in permaculture, and is filled with knowledge which she passionately shares throughout the day. She’s a great teacher, very patient and willing to share everything she knows about creating beautiful edible gardens.

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Throughout the day Tara served a delicious array of dishes for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. At lunchtime we sampled the orchards own apple cider, as well as indulged in a glass of sparkling wine, which relaxed us into the afternoon. In the morning we talked about the principles and ethics of permaculture, designing our individual gardens, and creating health soil, while in the afternoon we learnt about specific seasonal and perennial plants, propogation, and seed saving and raising. Narelle incorporated a lot of hands on activity, so we were able to learn through experience which I have always found the best way to soak in information, especially for those of us who are visual learners.

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At the end of the day we each came home with an armful of gardening goodies including our propogated plants, seeds, companion guides, notes, a wooden handled trowel, and some of Tara’s delicious recipes.

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It was a wonderful experience, and to be able to come home to my own garden and see it afresh, implementing Narelle’s advice and teachings over time spent in my own little borrowed patch of earth. I have more confidence now with things I wasn’t sure about like my compost system and soil, as well as the needs of certain vegetables. And I’m inspired to keep trying, keep planting and experimenting, and then to cook as Tara does, with pickings straight from the garden.

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Thank you everyone who attended that day for the wonderful conversations and a big thank you to Tara, Narelle and Jo who owns the farm, for having me along. I am keen to get back down there for Tara’s baking workshop now, called “the art of making French breads” ah oui!

xx

 

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all photographs by Pia Jane Bijkerk

mother. nature.
Posted in australia, mini trips, nature June 8th, 2015 by pia

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A few weekends ago we flew up to Northern NSW  to spend some time out in a beautiful cottage nestled within a macadamia farm, offered to us by a wonderful friend. One morning I walked down to the creek at the bottom of the hill,  alone, and with gum boots on I stood in the middle of the gentle flow of icy water…

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I breathed. I watched. I tried to let go of my thoughts to connect more deeply with the surroundings. In my effort I heard the loudness within. My body and mind throbbing with busyness that I recognise comes from the city we live in and the people that inhabit it, and the intensity of events of the past few months. Years. Instead of feeling at peace to be in natural surroundings, I became more aware of the battle within. And I know for me that open awareness is the first step to healing.

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I’ve been craving nature – to be surrounded by wild nature – and although this craving has always existed within me as a low hum, it is louder and feels more intense and insistent of late. When I explore this craving, my mind is cast back to my childhood, and how being in nature, playing with nature, always felt like my true sanctuary and was often the place I’d run to when I felt the urgent need to escape.

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Today I understand with more clarity why I love being surrounded by nature. It’s where I connect. To myself, and to the world and universe. It’s where I feel freedom. Of spirit. Thought. And emotion…

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As I gain clarity, I continue to observe. And remain open. The winter darkness allows me to rest more. And to be.

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And I write. And write. And write. I know I am in the midst of making another book. I can feel the energy of it. In time, it will take form. For now, I write.

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our corner store…
Posted in australia, country style, creative ventures November 7th, 2012 by pia

There is a beautiful new store in Bangalow, in northern NSW called Our Corner Store. Inspired by the traditional corner store it has a little bit of everything and values good old fashion service. Owners Aneka and Miranda have a beauitful aesthetic, each item is carefully selected to fit into a natural, organic style.  “We are passionate about the home and celebration, and sell goods that make living simply better and more beautiful – wire storage and hooks, brass hardware, hemp rugs, jute baskets, canvas camping accessories and stationery.”

I interviewed Aneka and Miranda about their new venture for Country Style, you can read the full interview here. Thank you Aneka and Miranda for sharing your gorgeous space with us! And a big thank you to Natalie McComas for the stunning photographs, and Annique Rousseau for the beautiful styling.

Country Style magazine: the new blog on the block…
Posted in australia, blog favourites, interiors April 21st, 2012 by pia

Last month Country Style launched their very own blog on the beautifully redesigned Homelife website, and I’m thrilled to have been invited to be one of the contributors. So far on the blog fellow contributor Louise Marshall has taken readers to the Sydney Flower Market, Samantha van Egmond guides us through the fabulous Agrarian Kitchen in Tasmania, and gives us all a tour of Hobart, Country Style’s editor Victoria Carey takes us behind the scenes of some wonderful shoots and shares an inspiring video of basket weaver Harriet Goodall made by Annette Cohen, while Lara Hutton takes us to The Mornington Peninsula.

My posts featured on Country Style so far include:

some of my favourite country living blogs, as seen below…

Marte Marie Forsberg’s beautiful Le Voyage Créatif.
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Rohan’s delicious Whole Larder Love.
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Nadia’s ever-delightful La Porte Rouge.
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…my flower wall in Amsterdam which you may recall featured in Anthology Magazine some months back

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… and a trip through Lamington National Park in Queensland.

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It’s been fun writing for their blog, I love that magazines and fellow stylists and photographers here in Australia are now getting into blogging, it makes our virtual community all the more rich and layered.

I have an upcoming post which features some behind the scenes shots from a story I styled that is in this month’s issue of Country Style. The article is about historical Hill End in NSW, photographed by Sharyn Cairns. I had such a blast styling the artist’s cottage featured in the story, and I adore Sharyn’s photographs. Look out of the May issue which is on sale now, and also my blog post about it which will go live on the Country Style blog some time next week.

In the meantime, enjoy perusing the new Country Style blog and be sure to leave comments on posts you like to encourage the contributors along.

Bon weekend

xx

the photos: brisbane book launch…
Posted in australia, handmade, my heart wanders June 15th, 2011 by pia

goodie bags at the door – inside each was a special gift, made by hand by Kylie

I can’t believe this spectacular event in Brisbane was over a month ago. I’ve been wanting to share these photos with you for all that time. They were taken by the very talented Natalie McComas who is a Brisbane-based photographer. Natalie wandered around for the whole afternoon snapping gorgeous moments like you see above and below…

(Click here to read more…)