Ian and Maureen Davenport have lived in Melba for 25 years and their large, mature garden backs onto Mt Rogers Reserve. Maureen says when snow comes down to 600m in Canberra, they get snow in the garden, usually every two years and she makes a small snowman out the back as a tradition. Walking up the steep driveway is a treat as it is lined with scented leafed shrubs, particularly salvias, and massed flowers, mostly blue and white.
On March 26-27 the Davenport garden will welcome visitors for Open Gardens Canberra for which Ian is vice-president and Maureen the treasurer. They greeted me beside a large quince tree, its fruit wrapped by Ian in diamond-white eco-netting from Bunnings which deters birds. Cut into rectangles 20x30cm and tie with black plastic plant ties.
In the front garden one of the largest yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) trees I have seen attracts many species of birds. It benefits from run off from Mt Rogers. Watering in the garden is from a series of tanks and a grey water distribution line.
They wonder if their six-metre tall Eureka lemon tree might be the tallest in Canberra? (please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of large local lemon trees). Evo energy requested that it be cut back as it was encroaching on the power lines. Ian has long-handled pruners and fruit pickers which makes the job easier and safer. An early-cropping Glengarry apricot tree produces a feast or a famine according to the weather, a nectarine, a feijoa and a plum tree. Ian makes plum and apricot jam to a recipe in the bread maker handbook which just needs a dash of jamsetta pectin and 90 minutes to produce a perfect conserve and the teflon bowl is easily washed.
Ian is a DIY handyman (and he sings in musical theatre productions). He made two raised wooden vegetable beds near the back deck. The wicking beds were a practical present from one of their daughters. Vegetables are grown from seedlings from Jamison Trash and Treasure and EPIC farmers' market. They are framed by a herb bed and rosemary shrubs and pollinator attracting lavender bushes. Basil seed came from an open day at Mitchell COGS community garden but saved seed from tomatoes was used to plant this year's crop.
Soil is homemade compost supplemented with Vegi Mix from Canberra Sand and Gravel at Parkwood. The couple goes to the greenwaste depot with a trailer load of prunings and return home with the soil.
They have a greenhouse used to propagate plants using recycled pots from the Green Shed. They turn the pots into mini greenhouses by full encasing them in the clear plastic envelope in which The Canberra Times is delivered (just the right size). They are raising flowers for sale on the Open Day. A low hedge of curry plant, worth brushing against, leads to a rose garden.
Apples and figs are supplied by the neighbours and Maureen served pikelets with Ian's jam for afternoon tea to photographer Keegan and I and an apple sponge pudding still warm from the oven and crisp topped. The recipe for the sponge was passed down from Ian's grandmother, Maria Thyrza Davenport from Victoria. It is Maureen's regular go-to dessert for the family.
Open Gardens Canberra: The Davenport Garden, 31 Bainton Crescent, Melba. Visitors welcome on March 26-27, from 10am-4pm. Members free. Bookings for non-members and early booking recommended. Charity supported: proposed memorial at AWM for Far East Strategy Reserve (Ian was National Serviceman in the Australian Army during the Indonesian Confrontation).
On Saturday, March 19, from 10am to 2pm, volunteers from the Harvest Group at the National Arboretum Canberra will be offering relish, jams, chutneys and preserves for sale, mostly made from figs harvested on site. From the Discovery Garden there will be climbing spinach and strawberry plants for sale and chocolate mint and rosemary from the Sensory Garden. There will also be decoy butterflies which deter living cabbage white butterflies from attacking your winter brassicas.
1 cup self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
500g drained stewed apples
Stew the fruit, drain and place in a pie dish. Cover and keep warm. Sift flour and salt. Cream butter and sugar, add egg and beat well. Mix in sifted ingredients alternately with milk. Place the mixture on the hot fruit and bake in a moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes or until top is brown.
Correction: Last week I wrote by mistake that Les Cook served in WWI. While of course I meant to write WWII, Les is delighted that he's now 120 years old.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.