Garden tours with Helen Young

John: Welcome. Helen, you’re on the air with John Deeks and Kaye Fallick and of course, Mind Your Own Retirement. Uh, thank you so much. I’ll just tell everybody how you’ve been a long-term regular on the ABC Sydney radio Saturday morning gardening talkback program. How long have you been doing that?

Helen Young: Um, I have to confess, more than 20 years.

John: And also,

Helen: 20 years of lemon questions.

John: Fantastic. And that gardening column in the weekend Australian magazine. It’s a great honour to have you on the show here, Helen. Um, Kaye. We’re going to lead you up the garden path.

Kaye: Good morning, Helen, and we’re delighted to have you join us.

Helen: It’s my very great pleasure, I’m always happy to talk about gardens.

Kaye: And talk about Renaissance Garden tours in particular. So our first question for you is, what is a garden tour?

Helen: Well, I mean, I suppose it’s not rocket science. It’s a tour that’s curated around going to see gardens, in much the same way Renaissance do specialist tours for operas, or for concerts, ring cycle and art tours and so forth. And these garden tours are based around gardens. But having said that, of course we don’t just relentlessly go to garden after garden every day.

Kaye: So there’s extra activities that non gardening partners or friends might enjoy.

Helen: Yes. That’s how we try to plan it because often times people might want to come with a husband, sister. There are three sisters who’ve travelled with me a number of times and they are just hilarious, just so much fun to have along. Mothers and daughters, friends, and there are people who come along single and then make friends on the tour. So, the tours are always planned so that there are other sorts of activities, and particularly with overseas tours, that can include things like, you know, boat ride on the lake. It might be a concert in a local church. There might be a local festival, local village market, wine tastings, museums, art galleries. All sort of other things like that.

Kaye: So broader cultural activities in addition to the gardens?

Helen: Yeah.

John: And Helen, I believe, hopefully in October, all things being equal that you’re heading off to the blue mountains. Tell me about that wonderful tour with Renaissance.

Helen: Yes. We hope that that can go ahead. Of course everything is, uh, it’s still very much unknown, as I’m sure everyone appreciates. But part of getting back to travel, I think that people might be more comfortable starting off with something that’s local rather than flying overseas. And of course, we’ve got a wealth of herb gardens on the doorstep of Sydney, going up and over the blue mountains.

Kaye: So spring will be springing.

Helen: Yes.

Kaye: And, that’s obviously going to be a feature of some of the gardens your visiting.

Helen: Yeah, that’s right. It’s kind of the peak time of year for what are essentially cool climate gardens. So they tend to be, where you’ve got a cool climate, they tend to be gardens, where in wintertime they’re a bit asleep. You have deciduous trees that are bare and so forth. And then in spring, everything wakes up and happens.

Kaye: So Helen, we’ve all been cooped up at home for a long time, and I was excited when I heard you’re available to speak with us because I feel you can now take us traveling, and I’d like you to take us to the best garden you’ve ever visited.

Helen: Gosh, that’s a hard question. I’m lucky enough to have led, well, I think probably 25 tours overseas in my time, but I do have a great fondness for Italian gardens. And I love traveling in Italy just because Italy is fun. So one of my favourite gardens of all is a garden called Ninfa. And Ninfa is just 70 kilometres south of Rome, and it’s a most unusual garden because it’s been created amongst the ruins of medieval village. So Ninfa was at the top of its game, I think, in the end of the 13th century, and it was actually destroyed in 1382 and left untouched, for years and years, until the 1920s. And then it was taken back by the family who’d originally owned it, and they built this beautiful romantic garden. So there’s roses growing up over the stone ruins and magnificent trees. It’s got very good soil and it’s incredibly atmospheric.

Kaye: That sounds so beautiful.

Helen: Oh it’s just the most magical place.

John: So apart from the wine, apart from the food, we can go to Ninfa and have a look at that fabulous garden.

Kaye: So how do we spell that?

Helen: Oh, it’s NINFA in Finelli. Yeah, Ninfa. And it’s hard to tell whether it’s natural or created. Of course it’s created, but it’s done with such a light touch. And absolutely I don’t know anyone who has been to that garden, who hasn’t, you know that it hasn’t imprinted itself on their soul.

Kaye: Well, I’m on your next tour there, okay. I’m with you.

John: Absolutely. Helen Young is whom we’ve been speaking with from the Renaissance Garden tours and Helen can be heard on the ABC, Sydney radio Saturday morning gardening talk back program with Simon and also of course in the weekend Australian magazine as well. You can go to [email protected] or and of course we will put up the link on our website as well. Helen, thank you so much for giving up your time today. We do appreciate it. Uh, Helen Young, who is, can be heard on the ABC of course, on Saturday mornings and also in the weekend Australian and so many other places. Well. If you’d like to get in contact with Helen, you just go to [email protected] and for the renaissance tours – one word and we’ll see you down the garden path. We’ve had a very interesting show today, Kaye.