Grounds: Cafe Gardens & Garden Cafes

Secret Garden Cafe at Cottage Garden Nursery

I have the most wonderful studio imaginable. I love it, and swear I can feel my mood, creativity and productivity all improve when I cross the threshold into that calm, dark, cool space.

Despite this insane privilege, I still find it really useful to get out occasionally. The change of setting brings a new perspective to whatever it is I’m pondering.

Now this may get my membership of the design fraternity revoked, but I’m not much of a coffee drinker. The hardest I’ll usually go is a cup of hot soy that’s been waved sort of in the vicinity of the coffee machine. Yes, yes, I know. Lame. Despite this enfeeblement I still like going to cafes, and I’m sure you’ve been to your fair share too.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce Grounds, a new feature where each month I’ll share a different cafe in a garden setting.

To get things started we have The Secret Garden Café, in East Brisbane.

They had me at ‘secret garden’, and on arriving I discovered that the secret was in fact the Cottage Garden Nursery.

The resourceful owners operate the nursery, and lease out space in their corner premises to a florist, three antiques traders, a clothing boutique, and The Secret Garden Café. Unlike some of the big garden centres the scale of Cottage Garden is more intimate. You can flow leisurely from space to space and see it all, or just as easily pop in for a coffee or flowers.

Cottage Garden is just what you need in a local nursery, with a diverse but nicely curated selection of species. Brisbane ratepayers can collect their free native plants; herbs and edibles are well represented; and there’s a whole separate space dedicated to shade-lovers.

 Banksia integrifolia and Lomandra confertifolia in the 'free plants' section.

Banksia integrifolia and Lomandra confertifolia in the 'free plants' section.

 The herbs taking their morning dip.

The herbs taking their morning dip.

 Pothos 'Goldilocks' and a friendly visitor in the shade-lovers area...naturally the only time the sun came out!

Pothos 'Goldilocks' and a friendly visitor in the shade-lovers area...naturally the only time the sun came out!

Whether your thing is arid zone plants or potted colour, Cottage Garden Nursery makes it difficult for plant-lovers to leave empty handed.

 Syzygium australe 'Resilience' and Metrosideros collina 'Little Dugald'.

Syzygium australe 'Resilience' and Metrosideros collina 'Little Dugald'.

 Garden accessories include these little timber herb planters and a range of pots. 

Garden accessories include these little timber herb planters and a range of pots. 

 For the colour fans: Portulacca and Carnation 'Divine'.

For the colour fans: Portulacca and Carnation 'Divine'.

 Dipladenia and Lavender.

Dipladenia and Lavender.

And what about the café? Well, make sure you leave it till last, because you won’t be up to much after a slice of the home made zucchini, lime and pistachio cake. Served on a dainty plate, with a silver cake fork and an indecently large dollop of vanilla-flecked cream, this beauty made for a very happy Landscapologist. Such are the lengths to which I’ll go to for you, Dear Reader. It's a value for money proposition too, because you won't need to eat for the rest of the day.

The cake was marching out of the display cabinet to tables everywhere, along with passionfruit tart, white choc cheesecake with Turkish delight, and a double Lindt extravaganza that would stop the die-hardist chocolholic in their tracks.

Does this place have designer chairs and a sleek fitout? No.

Will you feel right at home with the relaxed vibe and personal service? I think so.

The Secret Garden Café is not so secret anymore.

 

Now it’s over to you.

What do you think of Grounds, our new monthly segment on coffee with a garden setting? We have places in mind for the months ahead, but if you have a favourite that you think we should investigate, please drop me a line or leave a note in the comments below.

If you know someone else who might find this interesting, why not share it.

 

Note: Cottage Garden Nursery is at 999 Stanley Street East (corner of Edgar Street), East Brisbane. Horticulturalist Paul is on hand for friendly advice.