By Michael Turner – garden and art historian, formerly the Senior Curator of the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.
I grew up in England surrounded by beautiful gardens and landscapes. Memories of the smell of honeysuckle on a warm summer’s morning wafting in through the kitchen window of my grand-parents 16th century farmhouse in the Lake District still moves me viscerally, as does the smell of mown hay in the Top Field, the views across to the high fells from the top of a newly made hay-stack, the feel of early morning dew on the grass between my toes, the heady smell of roses, stocks and wall flowers, and the fascinating round, paper-like seed heads of honesty. My father wrote on garden design for Country Life and my mother created a classic Arts & Crafts ‘roomed’ garden full of roses and herbaceous plants at our family home in Cheshire. And all the time, as if by osmosis, I was soaking it up. In my 20s, I created my own first garden, experimenting wildly with height, scent, colour and weird plantings; the Japanese Nettle Garden in a shaded corner is still spoken of in the family with bemused shakes of the head!