I met Karie and Matthew Hall last Sunday at their home in Scottsdale, Northern Tasmania. I had heard about Karie’s story from a friend of mine. She told me that Karie had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Friday the 1st of February 2013 and despite hearing such confronting and heartbreaking news, she went to work on Saturday, 2nd February to make bouquets and floral arrangements for a wedding, because she refused to let the bride down. Not a word was mentioned. Instead Karie’s creativity and professionalism shone through. And it continues to shine through and give her strength. I was humbled to meet her.After leaving Launceston I encountered heavy rain as I passed over The Sidling, which was not going to be ideal. I was relieved to find the weather was improving in Scottsdale by the time I got there, with sunshine peeking through dark clouds. My photoshoot with Karie and her family was to be all about the magical garden she is creating. Heavy rain would have made this impossible. Instead we had perfect light, hints of sunshine and the occasional shower which just added to the mood for the afternoon, especially when a rainbow appeared!
Karie’s artistic flair for creating stunning garden rooms and whimsical spaces around their home is encouraged and supported by her husband, Matthew. Their garden has provided a focus and sense of purpose, not just to Karie but to the whole family. As I walked around, enchanted by everything I came across, I understood just how special this project has become to them. Not only has it allowed Karie a distraction over the past 9 months, but it has provided a focus for both she and her young family to get through her illness and the confronting treatment she has had to endure. Their garden has become a place where they can escape harsh reality and enter a wonderful world of imagination. A world full of fairies and secret places. A garden full of love, togetherness and hope. I was blown away …As I pulled into their driveway I was met by 3 excited young children; Billie, Joe and Charli who were keen to show me the beautiful gardens of ‘Adawood’, the place they call home.
Karie had ‘set designed’ an afternoon tea party for her family in a garden room overlooking the lush green pastures surrounding them. The centre table was laden with goodies. Delicious cheeses and home-made biscuits were presented artistically with fabrics and complimentary pieces of antique china. There were glass bottles hanging from tree branches, gently swaying in the breeze and a long strip of homemade bunting making a simple statement across the space completing the vintage look. There was talk and laughter and lots of bubbles being blown, plus quiet tender moments that I didn’t have the heart to interrupt. I set my camera up just outside the space and let the scene unfold before me.
The whimsical gardens of Adawood have become a family project and what really struck me was the pride they all share in the garden and the respect they give to the little spots that each one has made their own. The children excitedly showed me around and led me to their favourite places including the chook shed where Charli pointed out a chicken that was laying an egg under an old chaise lounge. It was a perfect nesting ‘box’ with straw filling the spot the seat should have been. Joe wanted to show me his cubby and tree houses and how expert he was at bouncing a basketball. Billie obviously takes great pride tending the vegetable garden with her Mum and also wanted me to see the fairy garden. Every corner I turned there was another treasure to uncover – mirrors, glass jars, old bikes, minature fairy’s and delicate silver bowls with tiny cacti hanging from plants and trellis’s. There were tables covered with tea sets and peony roses in lace wrapped jars. Trinkets hidden under foliage that could only be found if you took time to explore the exquisite canvas that was unfolding before me.
I was intrigued by the caravan perched up on the hill, surrounded by fruit trees with red woollen pompoms hanging from their branches, dancing in the wind. It beckoned me closer. Inside was a treasure trove of tea party delights, antique bric-a-brac and children’s games. You know … the real sort where you sit and play with imaginary or real friends. No technology in site, just imagination by the bucket load on offer.
I spoke to Karie afterwards, about our shoot and asked her how she wanted to share the images and her story. I wasn’t sure at first, so I gave her the option of purely focusing on the garden and capturing the children enjoying ‘Adawood’, but she told me she would like the story to focus on her fight against breast cancer. Karie wanted to tell her story to help raise awareness of the risk of breast cancer in young women and to share her garden which has been her focus over the past 9 months to help her get through her illness and the confronting treatment she has had to endure. She wants people to know that in creating their garden it has given her family precious time together. It has helped them form an even closer bond and opened up a world of imagination they can all share.