Isobel has the heart and soul of a gardener – nurturing, patient and filled with joy at the promise of seeing a garden grow.
Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland, she remembers her father as a great gardener. ‘He had an allotment and I used to go with him when I was about seven or eight years old.’
Isobel married in 1963 and together with her husband Ian, they came to Australia in search of a new life. ‘We came to Perth first and as we had no children, we lived in a hotel which cost us a fortune’, she says.
By the 1970s, and with two sons, she and Ian moved to Whyalla.
‘We read in the newspaper that BHP were looking for steelworkers in Whyalla. I can still remember that drive along the Nullarbor. It was horrendous. Torrential rain, dirt roads and our two boys and a dog in the backseat. I remember crying my eyes out when we got here. Everything seemed so dry and desolate and remote. We were always saving up to go back to Perth, but somehow our plans would always change, or fall through, and here we stayed.’
Gardening remained a constant in her life. ‘I had to relearn how to garden for the climate here. I went to the library and my neighbours gave me advice. The realisation that I could actually grow fruit trees was heaven’, she recalls with delight. ‘My first success was a nectarine tree and my boys grew to hate nectarines because they were so sick of eating them!’
These days, Isobel continues to nurture a garden at Yeltana in Whyalla. ‘My garden is everything. It is my heaven and my solace’, she says.
Her advice for would be gardeners is just to get started. ‘Buy some pots and seeds. I think anyone can be a gardener, but not everyone loves it. I find it very therapeutic and there is an overwhelming satisfaction in cultivating a healthy plant from seeds. I plant tomatoes and share them with my family and anyone here who would like them. I can’t understand why people don’t love gardening.’
As the proverb goes: ‘She who plants a garden, plants happiness. ‘
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