Scottish-born Jimmy Barnes has been a bedrock of the Aussie music scene for close to 50 years. From the heady days of Cold Chisel, and the most famous song about an Australian plant, to a barrow-full of solo albums – you could be forgiven for thinking he had done it all. That is until 2020, when Jimmy Barnes became a gardener!
In 2020, alongside his partner in life and work for 40 years in 2020, like most of us, Jimmy & Jane were grounded. Live music and the performing arts were one of the first industries to be shut down. While they had bought the southern highlands home & garden 15 years ago, Jane & Jimmy had never experienced the 4 full four seasons here.
The large rambling, riverside cottage garden has become the heart of family life, for the 2 of them but also kids and grandkids living with them, or nearby. “We have always been focused on family, in the city my sisters and I had 3 warehouses in a row, we lived next door. It is the same for us here. We felt so grateful to be grounded with family here”.
Jane has always been the head gardener, Jimmy the apprentice, but when he started posting pictures of himself with arms full of flowers on Facebook, it’s fair to say that Gardening Australia noticed! As did the rest of the country, also finding themselves seeking respite and hope in their gardens. “It turns out that I am really good at flower arranging, who would have thought! If you told me I’d be into that 20 years ago, I have thought that was crazy”.
Flowers are a key part of the garden, with something in flower almost all the year. Jane, “all of my favourite flowers are here, from hellebores and over 50 fragrant daphne in the winter, to magnolias in the spring/ There is always something to watch develop, from a bud to a full flower. It’s something you can’t really explain, it’s just so restorative to get to observe it”
Jimmy’s domain is the roses, “I am just a beginner!” but he is learning when to prune and feed, how to work on them. For his 60th birthday, Jimmy asked for everyone to bring a rose creating an impressive collection! Costa has brought Jimmy one of his own family favourites, ‘Double Delight’, which produces a large yellow and red rose. Costa also has another gift for the Barnes’, an Illawarra Flame Tree, the subject of one of Cold Chisel’s most famous songs.
Food is also at the heart of the garden, and family life. Jane, “It always has been our glue, no matter how busy everyone is, we have always come together for lunch or dinner to catch up”. They have hives of honeybees, a developing orchard, and a luscious little picking garden. Jane, “We have just put in 3 new beds in the orchard, production is increasing. But the established picking garden is filled with greens and borage now, but enough to pick for a salad for lunch, Jimmy can make bread and we can BBQ”. The garden is also expanding the Jimmy’s culinary taste, “I am just getting used to eating flowers; it is a new thing. Scottish people don’t eat flowers!”
While life for the Barnes’ is firing up, these years with their family and garden have changed their outlook, and appreciation for the good things in life. Jane – “It is really just such a gift; it brings you joy!” Jimmy – “I’ve spent my life in crowds and making racket, just to sit and look in. Who knew!”
ROSE ‘DOUBLE DELIGHT’ – Rosa cv.
OREGANO – Origanum vulgare cv.
ROSEMARY – Salvia rosmarinus
PARSLEY – Petroselinum crispum cv.
LETTUCE ‘COS’ – Lactuca sativa cv.
BORAGE – Borago officinalis *
DAPHNE – Daphne cv.
EUCALYPTUS – Eucalyptus sp.
ILLAWARRA FLAME TREE – Brachychiton acerifolius
* Check before planting: this may be an environmental weed in your area
Filmed on Gundungurra and Tharawal Country | Southern Highlands, NSW
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