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Plant loving publisher discovers paradise
But a few months after the two met, Derelie put behind her a successful, 20-year publishing career, during which time she commissioned books by top Australian and New Zealand authors and gained a doctorate in history.
She left it all to take up residence on a 92 hectare ‘paradise’ high on a NSW Central Coast plateau about an hour’s drive north of Sydney. With Bob, the man who wooed her with bucket loads of flowers, she was about to live her dream of having two dogs and a garden. And what a garden it turned out to be.
Before she knew it Derelie was caught up in a new world of gardening, from breeding and planting, open garden weekends, garden shows and private tours of Paradise, the garden empire built by Bob.
Paradise is not only home to an outstanding range of camellias and hundreds of other plants grown in Australian and sold world-wide but is the habitat of goannas, three-metre long diamond pythons, echidnas and pelicans to name just a few of the animals that have changed Derelie’s life.
Once settled, the couple also started travelling together, their first trip with a small group of obsessed plant collectors to northern Vietnam. Their mission? To find rare and exotic plants.
Since then, Derelie and Bob have trekked through remote parts of the world including the Azores, Iran and Armenia. On one expedition near the Tibetan border in China, Derelie discovered a rare rose that had not been seen in the wild since 1903!
Interestingly, Derelie’s love for exotic travel started long before she met Bob. At 19, much to the dismay of her parents, she jumped at a university cultural exchange scheme that saw her living in a remote Highlands village in Papua New Guinea.
So perhaps it is not so strange that this woman of many talents, who clearly knows her mind, never hesitated to swap suburbia for Paradise. Or that she went on to compile a stunning and visual record of her new life as it has evolved in a unique plantsman’s garden.
There, in Paradise, she is surrounded by a landscape of rare and exotic plants (many grown from seed from all parts of the world), an enormous lake filled with water lilies and lotus, more than 1100 roses, magnificent magnolias, sculptured columns, walkways and fountains – all reminiscent of great and ancient gardens found in Europe.
And it is from this Shangri-la that springs Two Dogs & a Garden which is, indeed, filled with passion, beauty and truly gorgeous photographs. An exquisite book, it provides a picture of daily life at Paradise that will thrill gardeners, artists and book-lovers alike.
It is so easy to be enchanted by the personal manner in which this book is written and with the life that Derelie and Bob have made for themselves but it has not been all roses. The tragic death of the couple’s Cairn Terrier Trudy, to whom the book is dedicated, is sure to bring tears to the eyes of many a reader but it is as much a part of this book’s story as the plants.
A delight to peruse or read thoroughly, Two Dogs & a Garden is real gift material – the kind of ‘pressie’ one would truly cherish. To win a copy, click here!