Business is blooming

Susan Parsons
The "VegTrug", a good height for backyard gardening.
The "VegTrug", a good height for backyard gardening. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Tucked into the Lonsdale Street Traders warehouse, which opened last October, is the florist Moxom and Whitney, and Jenny Shaw's jewellery and other designer wares at Handsomepretty.

The florists, Lou Moxom and Belinda Whitney, both wear clogs from Handsomepretty, one pair in floral, the other gold.

As a decades-long wearer of clogs in the garden, I can attest to their convenience for gardeners and also for chefs, some of whom wear clogs in the kitchen. Shaw says the clogs are made to order in Germany, the next batch due in Braddon in late February, in silver, gold, and red and orange.

Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom with their arrangement of fruit and vegetables, and German-made clogs.
Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom with their arrangement of fruit and vegetables, and German-made clogs. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

For Valentine's Day, the florists have chillies in pots "for my hot, hot lover". For a customer whose parents lived on the land, Whitney created a farm-themed terrarium with crops. She lined a large fish bowl with gravel, charcoal to soak up odours and coconut fibre, then made stooks from raffia, paddocks from moss and creeping thyme, a models of a woman hoeing in sand and a man with a watering can.

Whitney and her husband David Whitney met at Charles Sturt University when she was 19 and have been married for 20 years. Her home garden in Downer is filled with coral bark maples and has a Japanese feel.

Lou Moxom studied floristry at the Canberra Institute of Technology 13 years ago and encouraged her best friend, Whitney, to do the certificate course three years ago. The women have done the flowers at a number of weddings and they encourage couples to include handsome vegetables like artichokes, asparagus and kale in the arrangements. They also use cherries, strawberries, apples, limes or lemons in their bouquets and, at her own weddings, Moxom's posies have all been edible.

Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom's edible posy: a wedding statement.
Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom's edible posy: a wedding statement. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Lou and Dale Moxom live in Dickson, just round the corner form the new wetlands, a great place for a suburban picnic.

The couple met 20 years ago in London where he was with the Queen's Life Guard for 14 years. They parted ways and she married. When her third husband died two years ago, she contacted Dale Moxom who said he had always been looking for her. She flew to England last March and they married.

Dale Moxom grew up on a trout farm in Hampshire, where his father grew vegies, and he is now a keen vegetable grower in Canberra. Because the couple is redoing the backyard, this season he has grown edibles in buckets, tins, an old cot and a pair of timber VegTrugs from Bunnings.

Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom, with German-made clogs.
Belinda Whitney and Lou Moxom, with German-made clogs. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

The VegTrug comes on timber legs so they're at waist-height. Soil is placed in a black cloth liner, which keeps ants out. The couple says the soil depth is perfect for many vegetables and Moxom has added side panniers for extra crops and a rain and temperature gauge to one bed. In the old-fashioned British way, he believes it is cheating unless vegetables are grown from seed.

He has cucumbers, chillies, carrots, beetroot, runner beans, "sweet bite" tomatoes, basil, rocket, spring onions and strawberries that are into their second cropping for this season. Small yellow button squash are a favourite.

As we explored the garden in the company of the dog Trooper, we ate radishes, tomatoes, yellow capsicums and basil fresh from the garden. The Moxoms share their produce with with Sweet Bones, the organic vegan bakery in the Traders mall.