A Suburban Backyard

The first time I can recall visiting the home of my great uncle and aunt was in 1977.  Having just moved to Australia from New Zealand, Doug and Margaret were the only relatives we had in our new country.

An arbour covered with wisteria

An arbour covered with wisteria

Doug was an author and a poet and Margaret, a painter.  After living in Circular Quay which was a trendy and bohemian place where all the artists gathered, they decided to move to the suburbs to raise their daughter.  They bought a humble two-bedroom brick cottage with an attached carport on a level, rectangular block of land.

Sandstone paths

Sandstone paths

There wasn’t much more that was there but over the years they turned the barren backyard into an ever-flowering garden with ponds and bird baths and trees for shade and rambling paths, and places to sit and rest and feel like you were enfolded in your own place of serenity.



A garden to explore

A garden to explore

From the very first time I  visited Doug and Margaret I just loved the backyard.  It’s not an enormous space but because of the way it has been designed it seems much bigger than it actually is.  I loved how I could ‘go on an explore’ and follow the paths with their twists and turns that would lead into a new section of the garden I hadn’t yet discovered.  There was always something new to see.



A bird bath

A bird bath

A favourite destination of mine was the fish pond where I would sit on the edge of the sandstone pond and watch the fish.  The pond always had to be covered with metal webbing or otherwise the kookaburras would swoop down and eat the fish.  A big thrill was being asked if I would like to feed the fish and careful supervision was necessary to make sure I didn’t kill them with kindness.

A table of treasures

A table of treasures

Often on my visits, Doug and Margaret would be outside and either doing some work in the garden or just having a stroll along its paths.  The garden was a favourite place for them to be and gave them great joy.  I would follow behind them as they picked a few lemons, gathered some herbs for dinner, picked some camellias, gardenias or jasmine, or just sprinkled the pond with fish food.

The fish pond

The fish pond

Margaret, being an artist, would often pick flowers and other foliage and bring it inside to put in vases beside her easel where she would begin to sketch and paint what she had just brought in from her garden.

A place to sit under the shade of a tree

A place to sit under the shade of a tree

Doug and Margaret are sadly both deceased and their daughter, my father’s cousin, has returned to live in the home.  I visited her recently and took myself on a tour of the garden.  What I absolutely noticed was that it is as if time has stood still.  It is very much the same as it has always been since I first visited in 1977.

A sun dial

A sun dial

Because it is exactly as I remember it being when I would visit Doug and Margaret, as you stroll the paths you have the sense that they are still very much a part of their garden and that as you round the next corner, you’ll be certain to find them.

Herbs of every variety

Herbs of every variety

It’s lovely to be able to feel their presence in what they created.

A veggie patch

A veggie patch

Here is a poem Doug wrote about Margaret as he noticed her walking through their garden.  I believe I read this to the congregation at Margaret’s funeral.

Winding paths

Winding paths


My wife, my life, my almost obligatory love,

Heaven forbid that I should seem your slave,

But perhaps I should say I saw you once in the garden

Rounding your arms to hold a most delicate burden

Of violets and lemons, fruits of the winter earth,

Violets and lemons, and as you came up the path –

Dark hair, blue eyes, some dress that has got me beaten –

And bowing your face to their fragrance, the sweet and the sharp,

You were lit with delight that I have never forgotten.

A place to relax


  1. What a lovely tribute to your uncle and aunt – and what a lovely place to visit when you first moved to Australia. I can see why you might spend a long time watching the fish in the pond too. Hope you have more opportunities to sit there.

  2. This is lovely Charlie. How wonderful to be able to visit again!

  3. What a touching trip through a special garden, full of secret delights and cherished memories. How special that it’s been kept just the way it was, and that you can revisit both garden and memories.

  4. What a beautiful garden and an equally beautiful poem.

  5. How lovely!
    Have a super weekend Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  6. How wonderful, Charlie. That’s such a beautiful garden and to have memories that have lasted so long is testament to how much your aunt and uncle meant to you.

  7. How wonderful! I love that she kept it just as they had it. It must bring back nice memories for her too 🙂

  8. What a lovely poem – and a lovely tribute garden that remains to honour them both. It does look like a place full of little hidden corners and tucked away plants, which is just the kind of garden I like.

  9. wow what a stunning garden

  10. What a beautiful garden and wonderful tribute to your aunt and uncle.

  11. Lovely, post Charlie and fab shots of the garden too and great memories – thanks for sharing.

  12. What a lovely poem and the garden is gorgeous. And such a beautiful memory you have of your aunt and uncle, I’m sure they would have loved to read your beautiful post.

  13. Your garden reminds me of my friend’s, so much greenery and lovely fairly tale-esque pathways everywhere 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. What a beautiful garden!

  15. Charlie, it’s wonderful that the garden has remained almost as you first remembered it and it is garden full of old-world charm. I think I may know who your great-aunt is as I have a book called “Autobiography of my Mother” and it’s a fascinating look into her world and the artists she met.

  16. Such a lovely garden, and a beautiful poem as well!

  17. What a wonderful garden. So many interesting nooks, it seems. Looks like a peaceful place.

  18. A lovely story Charlie and a Majical garden. I am glad you got to visit again

  19. How loVely. Gardens can be such powerful places, this one still holding lots of memories.

  20. What a touching post, Charlie. And what a special garden, replete with love and memories. How nice that you got to visit it again and give honor to your relatives.

  21. A place of peace and relaxation showing what beauty can be achieved in quite a small area: glad to see it is being kept up . . .

  22. G’day! What a touching poem and post today Charlie!
    it’s lovely to have such wonderful memories of extraordinary people!
    Cheers! Joanne

  23. Charlie, I’ve enjoyed reading every single word in this lovely post. Your uncle and aunt did an awesome job in creating this heaven, I would love to have one like this in my backyard. Visiting places that we’ve been in with our deceased loved ones sure brings back lots and lots of memories and makes us feel that they are there, as if they are looking at us and smiling that we are still remember them. I liked the poem so much, may they both RIP.

  24. Awww…what a sweet and lovely poem. I instantly love the garden, too! You took me somewhere in time with you, Charlie!

    Gourmet Getaways xx

  25. What a lovely couple they must have been. I love gardens like this – they remind me of my own childhood garden and that of my grandmother.

  26. Wow obviously a very creative couple and how nice that that joyous garden is still in the family and you can remember your childhood via it.

  27. How wonderful that you can still go back to a place that was so special to you as a child. It’s a lovely garden.

  28. What wonderful memories Charlie! Isn’t it lovely that your aunt and uncle sowed bits of their souls into the garden as they worked- what a beautiful legacy xox

  29. What a touching post Charlie. Its so wonderful that this home did not get sold to strangers but has stayed in the family to be cherished. Not only do I see so much love put into this backyard, but through his poem, this was a couple very much in love and it cleared showed through what they did. So glad you shared this.

  30. Charlie, this is just the most beautiful and touching stroll through a garden filled with memories of very special people. I feel like I would have loved your aunt and uncle. The poem is such a tender and poignant view of love from an ordinary daily life perspective and it touched me deeply. The garden is exactly the kind of garden I most enjoy and find as sanctuary against all the challenges that lie outside a home’s perimeter. I am so glad you shared this with me. ox

  31. That poem is absolutely heart-stopping. So romantic! The gardens are absolutely stunning. What a respite. I would have a hard time ever wanting to come out of the gardens. Glad you were able to revisit and share with us. 🙂

  32. Wow the backyard looks just lovely! Great photos, thanks for sharing 🙂

  33. Such a loving post, Charlie. How I’d love to see their garden — yes, it will always be “their garden”. I’m glad that their daughter haas chosen to keep it as it always was and I can only imagine how moving it must have been for you to stroll about its paths.

  34. What a beautiful backyard and great place to spend the day! I’m envious of all of the “green”! So lush and beautiful, something that is not abundant in the high desert. 🙂

  35. Loved this, beautiful post.

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