Visiting Annie Smithers' garden...

12 May, 2015

I love checking out other people's gardens. Mainly I check them out on other people's blogs, but occasionally I get a chance to see them in the flesh.

Most recently I visited the garden of Annie Smithers as part of a garden tour. Some of you may know of Annie (I feel like I can call her Annie, as she was so friendly and welcoming to all of us who attended) who is a chef who runs a restaurant du Fermier which is well known in the home garden land as a restaurant which is big on local food and reducing food miles, as well as the obvious things like flavour and food sustainability.

One of their strategies in ensuring the kitchen runs mainly with local food is to grow it themselves. In Annie's backyard.

As part of the Daylesford Macedon Harvest Festival Annie and her gardener (for the life of me I can't remember her name and for that am deeply apologetic) opened their garden for a walk-around-and-chat style tour, as well as a delicious morning tea and lunch. Despite the grey skies and threatening clouds it was a great experience.

Annie lives on a 1 acre (or maybe slightly more, I can't recall exactly) block in a town "just up the road" from the Kyneton restaurant. In her backyard is the main veg garden for the restaurant. It amazing supplies most of the produce for 200 or so meals a week.

From this relatively small plot comes such abundance.

I love how the veg patch is firmly in the home garden realm, with other properties dotted around. It really feels like a home garden, despite its big outputs.

I also loved the focus on food quality. Much of the discussion was around which varieties of veg were especially worth growing for their flavour.

I got so many useful tips.

Plant Brussels sprouts seed in October and plant out 6 weeks later for bountiful harvests like this.

Don't prune the ends of brambles in their active new growth stage, as this promotes lateral growths and fruit production.

Just think, this small space produced enough berries for over 300 summer puddings. Mmm, summer pudding...

There was some clever interplanting in the rows, to maximise harvests.

There was also a extended perennial patch with asparagus, artichokes and berry and bush fruits including strawberries and currants.

The beautiful golden foliage of asparagus.

But it wasn't just about the veg. There was many a fruit tree on the property, with a dedicated orchard type space with underplantings, and other trees dotted around the perimeter of the veg patch.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who chooses apple varieties by name alone.

Not only culinary apples were included, but also some beautiful crab apples for the making of preserves and jellies.

The pears and stone fruit around the outside of the veg patch are guarded by geese. I love the Sebastopol's.

I think I love the mixed breed one most of all.

Not suprisingly there are also chickens, and a beehive.

This goose seems to like the chicken's company best.

Overall it was a lovely experience to check out what can be done in a larger space. Thanks for the many garden tips, the ideas and the lovely food.


  1. What a lovely garden/tiny farm.

  2. Annie's book is by my bedside! I'm just so inspired by her garden diary and use of seasonal produce in her cooking. I wish I had half as much as her in my sad looking patch at the moment.

    1. I've been meaning to check out her book for a while now. Must add that to the to do list!

  3. Certainly looks like a super productive big backyard.
    What a great way to supply your own restaurant.

    1. So true, though she did talk a lot about it being a struggle to make it cost equal to buying in produce. But it is obviously worth the effort to them.

  4. I love garden tours & especially edible garden tours - how lucky you were to experience such a wonderful garden first hand.

    1. Same here! I'm so happy I read about it in time to book. I usually find out about these things only after they have run.

  5. It's great visiting a place and coming away so inspired and full of good advice! Even I've learned something through your photos - I may split my artichoke and move it under the apple tree next spring, and I'm definitely sowing carrots next to my chard (silverbeet).

    1. Yes, there are always good ideas to pick up! I think from memory it was beetroot next to the carrots, but close enough. They are the same botanical name, so I guess are interchangeable when it comes to companion planting.

  6. thankyou for taking us on the garden tour with you :-) that cloud of asparagus is amazing! I also like the hooped frames for netting the fruit trees. I hope to do that next year.

    1. My pleasure! The hooped frames are on my to do list too. She did specify that the wider polytube was best to allow it to slip over the top of the star pickets, which was easier to do than bolting smaller diameter tubing.