The Blue Mountains and art seem to go together well. Isn’t it a lovely concept? Well, if you know the Blue Mountains, including this area of grace and beauty that you reach just before you get to Newcastle – you can’t miss it – then you will know that this special event at the Heritage Gardens of Cold Spring will be a real treat. It’s family friendly, and children under 14 years will be no charge.
I’m also happy that part proceeds will go to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, a UNESCO Heritage site and to me a magical area, any time of the day…or year; and also to the inner city development organisation St. Patrick’s Foundation in Seaview Gardens. Both very different and very worthy causes.
The location is about 3,000 feet above sea level. It is set a little way above the road and overlooking a deep, long slope downwards with a view of Kingston far below. It is a piece of history. The Cold Spring Estate was established in 1746 as a coffee plantation by Admiral Matthew Wallen. He built a house there in 1788. Apparently the coffee – and the spring water – was quite delicious. There are large barbecues, the ruins of a pulpery, floating ponds and other works around the property.
The garden is important. Did you know that Admiral Wallen brought bamboo to Jamaica from Hispaniola? The Irishman designed a lovely garden at Cold Spring, where he introduced different fruit trees and plants, including the nasturtium, watercress, and a range of trees and shrubs. I don’t think many of these plants would flourish in the heat of the plains below. There are quite a few garden plants that I have only ever seen in the Blue Mountains, like hydrangeas for example. When I see them I have a twinge of nostalgia for English country gardens!
It is not far from Hardwar Gap, a favourite birdwatching area just the other side of Newcastle going up to the Gap Café and one of our favourite places to walk, breathe in the cool mountain air and do some binocular work. At the right time of day, the mountainsides ring with birdsong.
Oh, back to the event. The art is going to be fabulous. Just look at the list of names. Make a date for a delightful Sunday afternoon in two weeks’ time…