Georgiana's Garden 2013 Wardandi Boodja Augusta Western Australia
One of the first migrants to settle in Augusta, Georgiana Molloy arrived in 1830 with husband Captain John Molloy, The Bussells and William Turner. Georgiana’s own life was one of struggle where she turned to nature for solace. A keen gardener she was alone (within the first settlers) in her pleasure and determination to grow flowers.
Georgiana had mixed feelings about the new country noting the beauty of the abundant purple creeper (hardenbergia comptoniana) but still found the bush ”not so interesting as our own and after the novelty has passed soon cease to please”.(1.) Things changed with an unexpected package from Captain James Mangles, RN in 1837, of “a box of many wished for seeds, along with the request that she refill the box with seeds and specimens of her region and return them to him” (2.)
This hortus siccus, encouraged Georgiana to finally embrace and really appreciate the landscape, “Indeed my dear sir, I have been more frequently from my home this year in making up your collection than in the whole of the nearly eight years we have lived in Augusta”( 3. ) She became the first to collect and document many local species and became a strong advocate for the native species. However, through the ‘treasured seeds’ she introduced the arrum lilly, watsonia, freesias and cape gooseberries into the cape two of which are now serious weed invaders, threatening the local flora.
The site specific work was created on the old home site of GM and completed on January 25th 2013 the exact day she completed collecting the seeds for the hortus siccus in 1838. I wanted to create a work which explored the tensions between these two realities of loving and being an advocate of the West Australian bush and at the same time introducing noxious weeds. Inspired by the quote “I am sitting on the verandah surrounded by my little flower garden of British, Cape and Australian flowers pouring forth their odour (for the large white lily is now in bloom).” (4.) I set out to create a garden bed created with local and introduced species’ seed pods and seeds, incorporating the design outlines of one of her favourite landscape designers Humphrey Repton, who advocated small beds around the house and long sweeping driveways/walkways.
1.Georgiana Molloy to James Mangles, 25/1/1838, BL 479A/1-2
2.Holly Kerr Forsyth, Remembered Gardens pg 57
3.Georgiana Molloy to James Mangles, 25/1/1838, BL 479A/1-2
4.Georgiana Molloy to her sister Elizabeth, 7/11/1832, WAA501
Collaborators - Evan Coumbe, Nelle Clocherty-Coumbe, Banjo Clocherty-Coumbe (In stomach!) Cynamon Aeria, Uta Sommer