Thursday, January 30, 2014

On the road again

It's been quite a while since Pam and I hit the road on holidays, but last week we managed to squeeze in a very enjoyable 2000-km ramble from Sydney down to see old friends in Kyneton, Victoria (hi Amanda and Mike!), then back home the long way through inland New South Wales. It's high summer here at the moment, and the whole of south-eastern Australia is a pale straw colour, thanks to drought and heatwaves. And yet we managed to find a beautiful cool, green oasis in the midst of this sunburnt summer, at the Japanese Gardens in Cowra. 

Designed by Japanese master gardener Ken Nakajima (whose
ashes are now buried here) this Japanese garden design follows
traditional principles which are best summed up by saying they
seek to symbolise a whole country, with hills and mountains, rivers
cascading down the slopes to the foothills, then onto the sea.
This view from the township side of the garden looks over to the
lofty, rocky hills in the distance.
And here's the view from those hills, looking across the lake
to where I stood to take the previous photo. Many existing native
gum trees are part of this garden, and they also form a boundary
screen that smooths the transition from this stylised mini Japan to
the wide expanses of Australia beyond.
Stepping back a few feet from that hilltop view and you can
see that Mr Nakajima has once again placed his garden seats
perfectly, for visitors to enjoy the views as long as you like. All
around the gardens, the seat placements are many and perfect.
Some of the seats are simple plank benches, others more deluxe
affairs, but they all provide a view that invites you to rest a while.
It's true the gardens are at their best in autumn
and spring, but part of its design is to have
something in flower at all times, and the loftier
summer colour comes from the red, white or pink
flowers of the crepe myrtle trees in bloom.
And the ground-level colour department is handled capably
all through the hottest summer by white or mauve agapanthus.
At this time of year, pleasant as the little patches
of flower colour can be, the real colour heroes
are the many different shades of green foliage.
There are conifers of so many varieties that I
was out of my depth recognising them, and so
I am sorry to say I liked this one the best and
haven't got a clue what it's called.
Discreetly half hidden from view, this bonsai house is like a
very large matchstick model. It's all frame, no roof.
It was hard to photograph any of the many
bonsais here, due to the sharp black shadow
lines cast by the 'roof' frame, but both Pam
and I loved this 'forest' of half a dozen
bonsai trees in the one wide, shallow pot.

So, if you're from Sydney and are ever driving west, or coming from interstate, or travelling our fair land while visiting from overseas, see if you can work Cowra and its Japanese Gardens into your plans. 

Here's a link to the gardens website:

The good news is that Cowra offers several lovely places to stay, some great restaurants (try Niela) and several vineyards to visit. While out there you could try ballooning at Canowindra (we didn't!), and also head to Orange, another great foodie destination. 


dirtgirl said...

Thanks Jamie, for sharing those beautiful photos of the Cowra Japanese Gardens. That is one Japanese garden that has so far alluded me, but it's there on the bucket list!

Shivangni said...

Beautiful, will visit it when I manage to visit Australia ! Till then your posts make us happy, BTW agapanthus tubers I planted just disappeared,

Jamie said...

Dirtgirl: it's worth it, and Cowra generally is a fine place to stay at.
Shivangni: hopefully your agapanthus will v bounce back, they're almost indestructible here in Australia, and are in fact a weed in southern Australia.

Padaek said...

What a wonderful/magical garden that I never new existed. I love Japanese gardens - there's an allure to their planning/organisation and natural/harmonious beauty. Love how the Cowra Japanese garden has been created to be enjoyed for the whole year. Have a great day! :)