The Garden Cottage in Yarralumla has been the home of Dr John and Aylwen Gardiner-Garden and their family for 22 years. The garden has changed since my visit a decade ago as fruit and nut trees and ornamental species have created a leafy canopy, so lavender hedges have been replanted with clipped box shrubs and there are more pavers leading to seating nooks. Ornamental arches are overhung with old roses and chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) with brown and purple flowers, a sour cherry tree, a quince and a Nashi pear.
The Gardiner-Gardens will welcome visitors for Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of October 12-13. John's garden notes follow a clockwise stroll and kitchen gardeners will find Dutch and Nottingham medlars, from which Aylwen makes jelly, dogwoods for fruit, Canadian and English elderberries with blooms used to make syrup, and a mandarin in a protected corner beside a kitchen window for breakfast citrus.
Nut trees include pistachio, chestnut, a large pecan and a hazelnut hedge while there are Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apple trees, crabapples, loquats, cumquat and calamondin bushes, a Rowan, fig tree, plum, persimmon, pomegranate, cherry guava, tea camellias and a rare mountain pawpaw. The choice of plants has been determined by Aylwen's interest in craft, dyeing, fibre art and cooking.
After all this abundance, you might be ready for refreshments and on the open weekend, they will be served in the back area of the garden (gold coin donation). Plants raised by Aylwen will also be for sale.
For the open days, Earthly Delights Historic Dance will perform at 11am, noon and 1.30pm, with music on Saturday from Shakespeare to Jane Austen and, on Sunday, to live music, there will be Victorian era dancing which you can watch, listen to or join in.
In a kitchen courtyard there is space for seats, a fountain, a worm farm and compost container, a barbecue plus a waist-high edible salad trough. It is possum-protected as are four timber raised beds on the front porch which are filled with celery, herbs and young vegies. Box hedges to either side of a brick pathway enclose a pair of generous raised beds filled with silverbeet, self-sown edible peas, and other kitchen essentials.
For the family table, this year Aylwen also has a plot at Canberra Organic Growers' Society Betty Cornhill community garden in Curtin. Betty Cornhill had visited the Gardiner-Gardens' earlier home garden so it was a delight for Aylwen to be presented with a packet of Betty's beans when she joined COGS. Silverbeet from the plot is used in a dish based on an online recipe from Ozlem's Turkish Table called Kis Sarmasi. Her recipe follows.
- The Garden Cottage, 87 Schlich Street, Yarralumla, will be open October 12-13, from 10am to 4pm, entry $8 adults.
STUFFED SILVERBEET WITH MINCE AND RICE - SARMA
500g large silverbeet leaves
250g beef mince
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped finely
1 cup cooked brown rice
bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cooking water mixture:
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
Tomato paste sauce:
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
Garlic yoghurt sauce:
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 cup natural plain yoghurt
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chopped mint
1. Place fresh, trimmed leaves into boiling water until they soften (approx 30 seconds). Drain and refresh leaves in bowl of cold water to retain their colour.
2. Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
3. Place one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp of the stuffing near the end of the leaf. Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing, fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with remaining filling and leaves.
4. Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a deep large saucepan, pour the cooking water mixture over, cover pan, bring to boil and cook over low heat for about 30-40 minutes until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.
5. Prepare garlic yoghurt by combining chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well, adding salt and mint.
6. For the tomato paste sauce, combine all ingredients in a small pan and stir over low heat. Season.
7. Place hot rolls on a bed of cooked brown rice, drizzle with the tomato paste sauce and serve garlic yoghurt on the side.