Mrs Dorothy Rae’s Garden
Mr and Mrs Rae built our new (to us) house in the mid fifties – I’m guessing originally as a holiday house as the house is compact and modest. They did, however, engage an architect to design it, so I’m also guessing they had some money. I think the house is very cool since I am a big fan of modernism (my secret is revealed) and have always wanted to live in a mid- 20th Century house. And while I love the house (though it has definitely seen better days), the lure of the place was the flat half acre of land. With this land came a very neglected garden, that once was spectacular according to neighbours – Mrs Rae had planned, planted and tended it. The people we bought the place from, evidently were overwhelmed by it or not interested or both. Most of the silver birches have been so badly pruned that it has hastened their demise. I know that they are short lived trees but why would you want to make them look so bad? I’ll spare you the pictorial evidence.
Now, while I would not plant a garden such as this, I do admire the sheer courage of using such dramatic and showy colours in the azaleas and rhodos – both of which come in evergreen and deciduous varieties. There are also ponds, (now dry) stream beds, a small Monet style bridge (was painted in the Giverny green) and even remnants of climbing roses. Not so much in the fruit and vegetable department but this will change!
As things have flowered with the onset of spring, we keep walking around saying things like, “Oh wow, that’s a…..” or “What sort of tree is that?” Reference books have come in handy.
Can anyone help with identifying this tree?
One set of neighbours is worried that, with a focus on food growing, we are going to clear fell the block. Their block was once part of ours, until Mr Rae died and Mrs Rae sub-divided and built a low maintenance brick house on the back quarter acre. She subdivided so as to not ruin the garden aspect of both places. I like Mrs Rae – I wish she still lived in her other little house. We had to ensure the neigbours that we were not vandals or insensitive to our surroundings. Moreover, the local planning authority would be unlikely to allow such dramatic alterations to the streetscape. However, what I wanted to ask them – are vegetables and fruit trees not as beautiful as a camellia or tulip or maple? To me they are, and I think that this is where Mrs Rae and I would have disagreed. Oh and on the use of colour.