Daniel Lafferty

Gardening with cats

Twelve months ago, we had just moved into our new house. Inside we were busy arranging our furniture and books, hanging paintings, unpacking pottery and stacking it into the workroom shelves. Outside, in a summer of hot temperatures, low rainfall and high winds, the house rose tall in the middle of the paddock, surrounded by scraped earth. I sat with my sister on the front verandah, imagining a yard transformed by trees casting a dappled shade across the gravel car park, and by green lawns, shrubberies and flower beds softening the angles of the house.

Daniel Lafferty. Moeraki boulders. 2009

Well, we have a long, long way to go but, in spite of another year of drought conditions and extreme temperatures, we have made some progress, as this photo shows. Because of the cut made for the house, the ground in this north-facing bed is rock hard, but we have turned adversity to advantage with native grasses and three wood-fired spheres by Cobargo potter Daniel Lafferty. In the higher bed behind, a row of geranium cuttings from our old house edge the new rose garden. Recent persistent rain has turned the paddocks green again, giving the impression (if you squint a little) of a lawn stretching down to the tree-lined river.

Our two new cream and blue tortoiseshell cats, Merran and Pippin, set off the colour of the bricks and paving nicely. They are also a great help in the garden, as I now take them out with me for an hour or so every morning, hoping to tire them out before the gallery opens.


Here is what happens when you wish for rain in this country of extremes:

Bemboka river in flood