Comfort & Joy No.11 - An Interview with Mickey Robertson & a preview of her new book

Photograph by Daniel Shipp

We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting a book signing with Mickey Robertson at our party on the 25th May. She will have flown all the way from Australia to launch her book in our darling Sydney Street shop. 

It couldn't be more perfect timing, over the week of Chelsea Flower Show, for Mickey to launch her beautiful & inspirational book about the loving restoration of the House & Garden at Glenmore where Mickey has built this amazing garden from scratch. 

We would highly recommend following Mickey's beautiful instagram @glenmorehouse and you can read/see more on her websites below

xx C&R xx

Picking peas in the Kitchen Garden (Daniel Shipp)

Mickey grew up in Sydney, Australia, enjoying a childhood of sand and sea, alongside exposure to that city’s exotic colonial parks and gardens. Combined, they have had a long-lasting affect on her way of life, her interior design practice and botanical desires.

Setting up for a winter’s lunch in the Hayshed (Mickey Robertson) 

Arriving in London in 1983, Mickey worked at Asprey, Pulbrook & Gould and George Cooper Interiors. She also worked with hatter David Shilling, studied at the Inchbald School of Design. A whirlwind romance led to Mickey marrying former Irish Guards Captain Larry Robertson in 1986, ultimately starting a new life together in New South Wales.

Olive tree foliage contrasts with the rusty corrugated iron roof of the Hayshed. (Mickey Robertson)

The unplanned purchase of a collection of dilapidated colonial vernacular buildings in the former Colony’s earliest farming district, the making of a world class garden and a whole new way of life, unfolds in The House and Garden at Glenmore. While the setting of the story is undeniably Australian, the inspiration that holds it together owes much to her husband's heritage and a romantic attachment with the northern hemisphere, reflected in both the interior and garden style – from the exotic to the rustic.

Mr MacGregor’s gate (Daniel Shipp)

Mickey continues her interior design practice from Glenmore, as well as running myriad successful workshops and events with visiting cooks, gardeners and artists, and her own Kitchen Gardening Days. 

Mickey (Daniel Shipp)

We have been speaking to Mickey over the past few months planning this special event and we are overwhelmingly excited to finally meet her and see this beautiful book. 

If you would like to attend, please don't forget to RSVP so we have a good idea of numbers to 

Here is our interview with her

A froth of romneya, salvia and philadelphus meet clipped teucrium and spiky yuccas in the Arc in spring at Glenmore House (Mickey Robertson)


For novice gardeners, what is the most important aspect in creating a garden from scratch?

Sun, soil and water: adequate light, enriched soil and ample irrigation are vital before you get hooked on the pretty stuff!  Get these things right then your imagination can run riot…whether ornamental, edible, romantic or disciplined, but read books, visit gardens and absorb all you can.

Companion planting in the Kitchen Garden….a haze of poppies, borage and calendula. Early spring. (Mickey Robertson)

Obviously climate and the fact that British and Australian seasons are upside down, where do the two meet?    Is it possible to create a very English garden in Australia and vice versa?

The seasons probably meet in our respective springs….blossom, bulbs, lilac, roses…. funnily enough there are pockets in Australia that look incredibly ‘English’.  Perhaps the two meet in a glasshouse - I love the glasshouses at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London – they make me think of colonial verandahs in Sydney. Also the Gulf Stream gardens of England’s west coast happily grow similar vegetation. I think the creation of a garden is also down to personality type in either country, and if it’s a romantic garden you’re after, there’s enough plant material to choose from to enable you to do so, even in Australia!  I wish I’d realized years ago that I could create a pretty meadow garden by allowing veg to bolt and flower! 

Carrot flowers have a lovely scent of England on a summer’s day. (Luisa Brimble

There are also great similarities in the Kitchen Garden, though we can’t necessarily grow the same things at the same time…I discovered this a few years ago when I attended a fabulous cooking day at Daylesford (in Gloucestershire) where the recipe called for peas, beans and tomatoes amongst other garden produce.  There’s no way I can grow peas and beans at the same time!  For me, beans go with tomatoes in the summer and I can only grow peas through the winter and spring. And it was the BEST soup too – tragic for me L

Pea & Lovage Soup p.221 in the recipe chapter (Daniel Shipp)

If you weren’t a gardener, what would you be?
Funny, I still don’t really think of myself as a gardener – I’m an interior designer who got waylaid in the garden and the kitchen.  Hmmm….I wish I could sing better.

Pom pom dahlias, canna lilies, miscanthus and flax in the autumn Borders. (Mickey Robertson)

What has been your proudest moment?

Errr….pride comes before a fall?  Becoming a mother pretty much eclipses all else.

Newly built bamboo structures for the summer Kitchen Garden at Glenmore House. (Mickey Robertson)

Best recipe from home produce?

Oh there are gazillions!  That’s impossible and depends on the season! Read them in The House and Garden at Glenmore!  But home-grown tomatoes picked from the vine with cream cheese and torn basil leaves drizzled with olive oil and a twist of pepper on toast is pretty hard to beat.  Same goes for figs and persimmons – you can often find me standing over the kitchen sink at lunch time with olive oil running down my chin!

Sunflowers and fennel - companion planting in the Kitchen Garden, mid-summer. (Mickey Robertson)


What makes you happy?

A weekend in the garden and being at home with Larry.  Extra special if the girls are home too.

View from the Hayshed to the hills, early winter morning. (Mickey Robertson)

Who would be your perfect dinner party guests, dead or alive?

Monty Don, James Basson, Thomas Jefferson; John Stefanidis, Jasper Conran, William Yeoward; Nigel Slater, Skye Gyngell, Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day.  There….perfect numbers - quite a party! Except I forgot Larry….better invite Barbara Streisand or Goldie Hawn too and add Prince Charles – I’d like to talk about soil and compost and biodynamic principles with him.  Better have BS and GH
to even it up! Oh but I forgot Oscar de la Renta…..invitationitis….

Zinnias at the garden’s extremity - Mickey promised Larry years ago not to garden beyond the fences - this little frivolity s really pushing the boundaries!!! (Mickey Robertson)

What would be your last supper?

Spaghetti alle vongole at the Cipriani in Venice.  (guess there’s little chance of getting the timing right there!).

Weighing out rhubarb as close to the source as possible, to be sure there’s enough for a batch of rhubarb & elder-flower jam…’s a bit of a trek back to the kitchen! (Mickey Robertson)

What is the kindest thing you have ever done?

Hmmm…..I’m more a ‘many small acts’ kind of girl….you know – reach the item on the top shelf in the supermarket and read the ingredients for those who can’t….give way in traffic for the greater good!  Best to always be kind J

David Austin’s rose ‘Abraham Darby’ and arching Philadelphus scent the Barn Garden in early spring, Glenmore House.  (Mickey Robertson)

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

Picked up my girls from school when I was stuck in traffic on numerous occasions.  Eternally grateful to several dear friends.  (All working mothers will understand the sheer panic and dread of that situation!).

A swathe of cliveas in late winter. (Daniel Shipp)    
Who would play you in a film about your life?

Susan Hampshire or Felicity Kendal: marry Monarch of the Glen with the Good Life….either way Richard Brier’s antics in both series so often make me think of Larry that I can’t help but feel like a combination of Molly McDonald and Barbara Good!).

An armful of flowers heading for the Dairy in the early morning of an event day. (Daniel Shipp)
What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A painting.

Peony Poppies. (Daniel Shipp)  
Your desert island luxury?

A large and beautiful straw hat. (That’s assuming I already have food and water!).

An explosion of pink in the early spring Borders - peony poppies, spires of Echium virescens  and the blossom of Prunus x yedoensis ‘Akeboono’. (Mickey Robertson)

The first 3 things you would do if you won £34million in the lottery?

Buy Larry the Aston Martin he’s always wanted – absolute priority!

Make a very large donation to charity – would think long and hard
about this and set aside enough to see us through too.  So 2nd thing would
require a lot of thought. 

Third?  Buy a small house with thick white walls and olive trees somewhere in the Mediterranean where I can create another garden!

A glimpse of the potting shed through wild spring paddock grass. (Mickey Robertson)


What is your favourite piece from the Spring/Summer collection?

The Navy Evie Dress.  Will look forward to trying one on!

A melange of colour and texture in the Arc, early spring. (Mickey Robertson)

As a brand, what does Cabbages & Roses say to you?    What do you love about it?

Cabbages and Roses epitomizes all the dreams I had as a young girl of England’s green and pleasant land….it’s romantic, whimsical, lighthearted …it speaks of summer picnics on soft grass in billowing gardens or by enchanting rivers, streams or the sea. In one fell swoop it represents landscape, home, family, friends and fun….  a way of life where all is right with the world. 

Beyond……(Mickey Robertson)


Clare Jenkinson said...

Lovely interview with a very lovely, down to earth lady who creates beauty with whatever she does...
my kind of lady!

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness that is all very true of clever inspiring very stylish Mickey Robertson & her dedication to a beautiful way to live. Brava

Rose said...

What a beautiful garden and what a beautiful way of life!