Winding down at The Willow House
Sometimes, one of the best things about living in the city is being able to leave it behind, even if only for a little while. Luckily for me, my latest collaboration with Sitchu.com.au has me often venturing out to beautiful pockets of Australia, getting to know the area, learning from the locals, and writing about them in my upcoming series of travel guides.
And just as that familiar longing of hitting the ‘pause button’ crept in, a trip to the Yarra Valley was on the horizon. We visited here in May during mid-autumn, taking a short road trip from Melbourne with two of our friends who reside there. It’s hard to believe how close this idyllic place is to the city; one moment we were in the CBD, the next, I looked outside my window, and rolling hills covered in vines appeared outside my window.
Whilst the Yarra Valley is known for its abundance of wineries, the ‘back to nature’ pull of the area holds a rejuvenating effect that is not to be underestimated. Take The Willow House as an example, our choice of accommodation during our stay; as soon as we arrived at the driveway, I quickly noticed how the house itself had a direct impact on my mood, merging seamlessly with the surrounding lush landscape and giving me a mental breather as a result.
As we stepped inside, it was as if the crackling fireplace gave me a big welcome hug — instantly, I felt at home. Waiting on the wooden dining table was a personalised ‘welcome note’, a box of gifts, plus my very own rosemary potted plant to take home.
Not long after checking in, Karen, the owner, met us briefly at the house. She was kind enough to walk us through the lovingly curated backyard, under the shade of hanging willow trees, pointing out the seasonal herb garden as a curious kookaburra watched us closely nearby. During our walk, we also made our way toward the Habitat House next door, the second dwelling that makes up Botanica Editions. The connecting gardens were in sync with each other, as if they were singing one sweet song, all for me to hear.
With all that there was to see and do during our weekend visit, I found myself craving to be back at The Willow House just to ‘be’. Luckily, there was enough downtime to experience the home in all of its different lights and shades; like waking up to the willow shedding its leaves, as if snow was falling, first thing in the morning; or sitting on one of the antique armchairs on the porch with a cup of coffee, watching the garden put on a colourful display during golden hour. There was even enough time to stay home and cook an early dinner one night, giving me the chance to handpick some fresh chillies from the garden.
Once it was time for us to check-out, I made a point to walk around the garden once more, taking in the autumn shades of gold, deep burgundy and honey yellows, scattered throughout. I couldn’t help but relate to Mother Nature at that moment, as she shares a final burst of garden growth before she decides to take rest for winter — in returning home, I vowed to do the same.