Monday, April 21, 2014

Sepia Saturday 224: 19 April 2014

Alan from Sepia Saturday says:

The other week I made a confession about my aversion to gardening and all things horticultural and I was challenged to include a possible gardening theme for a future Sepia Saturday. Well, here it is - for Sepia Saturday 224 (post your post on or around Saturday 19th April 2014) you can choose from gardens, gardening, watering cans, and men stood watching women do all the work. The title of this 1943 photograph, which appears on the US National Archives stream on Flickr, is "Frequent watering of the Victory Garden is necessary during the early stages of growth". You are, of course, able to interpret the theme image in any way you want.

Anyone who knows me well, GrandPurlBaa for example, knows that gardening is not my forte.  I appreciate a beautiful garden...really appreciate it but will do nothing to create my own.  Lazy sod that I am.

And yet I can't blame it on my genes.  Both sides of my family seem to have loved gardens and been quite good at creating them. 

10 December 1936 from State Library of Queensland

I live in Queensland, blessed with sunshine and a sub-tropical environment - great for growing lots of things but not necessarily bulbs, which I love.

Going through my family albums, I am reminded that most of the beautiful gardens that I admired in my youth were in the Blue Mountains.

I have posted this photo before but it bears repeating.  It's my lovely Gran Ethel Conner (nee Carrett) and her husband, Edwin Arthur James Conner,my paternal grandfather who I never knew but who I also understand was lots of fun.  They lived at Springwood in the Blue Mountains - 30 Valley Road to be precise.  The house was called Natoma or Mybush And yes I have blogged about it before in Sepia Saturday here.  They lived here from 1949 until 1960.

I assume this is taken out the back of the house.  

Here's another photo of Mybush.  I think that my grandmother and grandfather must have renovated the house because I also have this photo.  Unless Mybush was in one part of Valley Road and Natoma was in another.  Must ask my father.

which bears a remarkable resemblance to what is there today....

View Larger Map

Interestingly, all the pine trees at the front have been removed.

Now I am particularly intrigued by the name Natoma.  This is after my grandmother's childhood home at Parsley Bay in Sydney. 

Xmas card  1914

And yes, I realise that the card says Natona rather than Natoma but I think that's a typo.  

A search of Trove reveals that this was up for auction in 1951 and described as being 61 Fitzwilliam Road Vaucluse, though we always knew it as Parsley Bay.

View Larger Map

It now seems to be called appropriately Le Mer.  

So why call your home Natoma?  I've googled Natoma (yes, lazy I know) and it seems to be an opera from 1911, a motorboat from the US Navy from 1917 to 1919 and of course there is Natoma in Kansas and Lake Natoma in Sacramento, California.  The opera was a bit of a flop as far as I can tell.  Although I do feel obliged to include a photo of the soprano who played the part of Natoma as her surname does seem to link with this week's theme.

Mary Garden as Natoma in Victor Herbert's "Natoma" Photo was published in the 1909 U.S. book "Heart Songs", so no later than that year.
But there is a bit of me that hangs on to the Natoma based in California.  I understand that my grandmother's father George Henry Charles Carrett, who was a builder, went to the U.S. in 1906 after the earthquake to help rebuild San Francisco.  

Here's a picture of Natoma Street in San Francisco after the quake and if you want to see more of the devastation on Natoma Street, check out Stanford University's website here.  Maybe my great-grandfather wanted to commemorate his work in Natoma Street??? I'm happy for others to volunteer opinions.

So that's one garden story.

Here's another photo from the other side of the family.

Kit and Barbara 
My mother, Barbara, is holding a rake so I'm taking that as a sign that she was gardening at her Aunt's place at Newcastle.

My mother always put a lot of work into her gardens and Lord knows, they were often bleak enough to begin with.

This is a very blurred photograph of 3 Nungara Street Aranda when we were building there in the late 1960s.  That's my mother on the left and my grandmother on the right.  My grandmother's stance says it all I think..."Oh dear, there's work to be done".

3 Nungara Street

And here it is, in all its glory...finished...well the building that the gardening had to start...

3 Nungara Street Aranda, Canberra

Here is my father making a start on the front garden....and here's me walking out the front door with my skipping rope, determined to have or no garden.

Here are some more photos of my mother continuing her gardening endeavours - this time in Leura in the Blue Mountains.

Barbara digging at 11 St George's Road Leura c1984

Barbara watering

Barbara cutting a path

No doubt about it.  She was a hard worker and a saint.

I am reminded of a quote from John Williams Stoner which I read for the first time this week....and which I can heartily recommend.

"Now they were in the earth to which they had given their lives; and slowly, year by year, the earth would take them."

A bit sobering but see what others have made of this week's theme go here.


Wendy said...

I love the wide overhang of the roof at Natoma.
That old lawn mower ! Oh my -- what hard work those were. My nephew has a small yard, and that's the kind of lawn mower he uses. His neighbors just shake their heads in disbelief.

La Nightingail said...

I'm very familiar with Lake Natoma in Folsom, Calif. My parents & then my mom, alone after dad passed, lived close by, and for a time a daughter lived there also and often walked or rode her bike along the lakeshore. My mom also suggested the name of the new bridge built a few years ago across the lake. There was a contest to choose a name for the new bridge. Mom suggested "Natoma Crossing". A city council person thought that was good, but decided "Lake Natoma Crossing" was better and mom was denied the prize. We were all quite bitter about it at the time and wanted to cry foul, but mom didn't want to make waves. It still rankles when I think about it, though.

Alex Daw said...

I love the sound of those old lawnmowers. It's very rythmical - a bit like crickets chirruping. But yes, they are very hard work indeed. I love the verandah on Natoma as well.

Alex Daw said...

I'd be pretty cranky too. I wonder if my great-grandfather went to Lake Natoma and thought it reminded him of Parsley Bay and vice versa when he got home. I'd love to find out more about those years.

Sharon said...

I had to look twice as at first glance I thought that your mother had dug what looked like a grave!

Yes, I appreciate a good garden but the only thing that I grow well is weeds (as too busy working or doing family history!)

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness, this is just a lovely, fact and fun filled post, that would be just wonderful in a memory book form indeed for your loved ones. Your grandfather does appear to be a great man to have gotten to spend time with, at least you have the stories to bring him to life! As for those pines trees, they are my favorite friends, and my hubby is now trying to remove a few that I planted here in 1989 (sure they are a bit large, yes they block the house a bit) but has he forgotten how much love and care I have given these old friends in their early days of life?!

Kristin said...

The dirt looks very red in those last photos. That's how our dirt is here in Georgia.

Mike Brubaker said...

I think you've covered every bit of the theme. I inherited my grandfather's push mower, circa 1936, but our lawn is too large and the ground too lumpy to use it. The mower has a sound that can take me back to my grandparent's home too.

Little Nell said...

A very thorough and enjoyable post, and a reminder of the number of ‘virgin’ gardens we have tackled over the last forty years. It always seems daunting at first, but at least you had your priorities right with that skipping rope!

Alex Daw said...

Hi Sharon - that made me giggle. Yes, I am very good at growing weeds too.

Alex Daw said...

Thank you for your kind comments Karen. I do like pine trees I do I do but I understand that to others that they may seem oppressive. I like the sound the wind makes in them.

Alex Daw said...

Hi Kristin. Yes I was very much struck with the colour of the dirt too.

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Mike. It was a great theme and gave me lots of food for thought which is now composting beautifully and bearing fruit.

Alex Daw said...

Thank you Little Nell. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. I really do love blogging and am glad to be able to share with other like minded folk in our lovely world.

Tattered and Lost said...

You are right that gardening is not genetic. There is no green gene. A close friend said years ago she wanted to buy a house. I reminded her she'd have to buy a lawn mower, garden tools, hoses, etc. She hates gardening. Her folks loved it. She didn't buy a house. She is best suited to an apartment or condo. I fear what her yard would look like if she had a house.

It's so much fun with Sepia Saturday to learn about far off places, and there's always lots to learn about Australia. I love seeing the houses. The opera singer is just an added odd treat.

Anonymous said...

Like you I am better at appreciating gardens than producing them But that Leura garden looks as though it is in a bushfire area. I hope it wasn't.

Brett Payne said...

Sounds like quite a few of us sepians are averse to the more physical aspects of gardening.