Even since I was a child I have loved to look at gardens. Usually over the fence as I walked home from school or even from the train as I travelled on the Shorncliffe line to Brisbane.
Looking over the fences you could see the plants and so much more. Many people went to great lengths to make their gardens useful and there were vegetable gardens, flowers, bbq areas, car ports ,clothes lines , pathways and low chain wire fences. Every home seemed to have a point of difference and there were people who obviously took great pride in their garden spaces.
Naturally there were others who couldn't care less and cursory lawn mowing may be all that was done or not.
The garden is a reflection of the owner and making a home can extend into the outdoor space.
Roy Strong in his book ,'The Lasket' states,"Gardens are not created in limbo. How few books I have read on particular gardens have ever spelt out the social,political and economic climate against which they were conceived."
When I think of those suburban Brisbane gardens in the late 60's and 70's there was a definate mend and make do aspect to gardens suggesting the economic restraints. I remember one garden right near the Sandgate station that was quite flash because it had so much concrete and fancy balustrading. It all seemed to be home made and someone obviously put time and money into that garden. People didn't seem to spend money on gardens when we lived. There might be one or two people who had lovely lawns and a sense of design. Often the arrangements looked like the Yates Garden Guide cover and the fashion for gerbras and low brick fences reminds me of that time.
Most people had gardens that were grown from cuttings . Plants that were shared over the fence mean't that certain hardy plants became the common staples of everyones garden.
When you were riding home on the afternoon train during summer the sea breeze would get into full swing at about Nudgee. The wind would rush through the carriage and you would forget the heat of Brisbane and the stillness of the inner city suburbs.
The houses with their back yards up against the rail line would begin to become shady and the dry clothes flapped wildly on rotary hills hoists. The green lawns looked subdued and welcoming. Sometimes there would be children and dogs playing there. Waving hands stretched up at the train and gone in a flash.
I love that domestic garden space and I like that there are people doing diffent things in every garden. Someone might be building a boat, fixing a car, arriving home from work, someone is watering the garden, mowing the lawn, bringing in the washing. It is that the space outdoors has a use that intrigues me. It may be the home made trellis , uneven paving, obviously repaired fences and repainted letter boxes that make the space unique. It may not be a work of art or classic garden but it tells of the social and economic time.