Spring is just around the corner and I can barely wait! Every day, I pop down to the garden at least three times to check on its progress and any new developments!
The days are very slowly lengthening, but we still get the odd sharp frost to remind us not to get ahead of ourselves and remove any protective mulch or hessian! The days have been just beautiful with stunning sunrises, followed by clear blue sunny skies. New leaf is starting to form on the quince tree (photo below) and roses in anticipation and the Spring bulbs are starting to appear.
I love my little treasure garden in the rockery beside the steps. Photos from all angles…!!! The Paper Daisies, Coconut Ice Pink and English primroses are all in full bloom and have been joined by miniature Tête à Tête daffodils, grape hyacinth and now a royal blue hyacinth! The violets behind them are still in full bloom and have even started colonizing the steps down to the garden. In the Cutting Garden, the Paperwhite Zivas have been joined by Erlicheer Jonquils, fragrant Golden Dawn and Double Daffodil, Wintersun. The Bokassa Gold tulips are in full glory, having started the month as a closed elegant bud, gradually colouring, then opening to a beautiful golden goblet, which looks magnificent when it catches the sun! The little species tulips (photos 2 & 3) and Grandma’s Freesias (photo 1) are also in bud and the leaves of last year’s tulips (photo 4) are growing madly, though I suspect their blooms will not quite match those of last Spring! We also still have snowdrops (photo 1) and snowflakes (photos 2 and 3).
The hellebores are also persisting, despite the nasty tactics of the bowerbirds, who like to behead both hellebore and erlicheer blooms! Quite distressing, as they are still such precious specimens- I am so looking forward to the day when I have masses of hellebores and snowflakes like my neighbour’s garden, so that the odd discarded bloom doesn’t matter!!! Other plants booming in the garden include : Wallflowers in the Soho Bed; Daphne and Winter Honeysuckle, whose flowering season issadly drawing to a close;Pink Diosma and red Lady X Grevillea; the red Japonica;A few early flowers of the crab apple tree nearby;A stunning new orange daisy; and of course, the loyal camellias!So, there has still been enough flowering for the odd Winter vase. The Spring sap rising and new bulbs has revitalized my creative juices as well and I have just made 6 delightful tiny cushions to celebrate the imminent arrival of Spring! We have also been very busy in the garden: Pruning buddleias; Thinning Peony Poppy Seed, though we have a way to go! We must have had a 100 percent strike rate! The crates in the background of the first photo below will form a new compost heap in the same position;
Weeding the Soho Bed; Here are before and after shots! And planting new vegies, as well as making long wire guards to protect them from the ravages of the bowerbirds! Little did they realize about the treasures beneath the soil! The Crimson Rosellas have also been enjoying the Soho Bed and the lawn. A very tame pair of Grey Thrush have taken up residence in the garden, delighting us with their friendliness, inquisitive nature and beautiful melodic song! They seem to have struck a deal with the resident blackbirds, sharing the sundial and birdbath. Other visitors to the bird bath include a Willy Wagtail and a Lewin Honeyeater.A large mixed flock of silvereyes and fairy wrens have been doing laps of the garden, investigating all the new leaf and gobbling up any insects they can find!We have also had King Parrots and even Carrier Pidgeons! Perhaps they were delivering the message of Spring! I’m looking forward to more concrete evidence in September!!!
Last week, I finished with a brief description of the Light-to-Light walk and while we have still to do the whole walk over 3 days, we have visited all the spots we can access by car, so I thought a photo essay with a few brief notes about each spot would give you an idea of this magical spot! The photo below is of the National Park board of the northern and middle section of the park:Northern End : Pambula River and Bar Beach
Pambula River mouth, extending up the river;
National Parks and Wildlife lookout;
Walking trail up the side of the river and an amazing swing !;
Interesting rock formations and lots of quartz veining;
Popular with daytrippers, holiday makers, artists and fishermen.
Always lorikeets in the trees beside the picnic area.
Bird hide and walks at Panboola Wetland Conservation Area, Pambula.
Middle Section :
500m walk through old farming property to a beach and massive 4000 year old aboriginal middens near the mouth of Pambula Lake, 1km inland up the Pambula River;
Shifting sandbars, so the river landscape is constantly changing.Barmouth Beach
Can be accessed by road through tall open coastal forest or a track from Haycock Point.
Sheltered north- facing beach, overlooking Pambula River mouth and beach.
George Bass, who was in an open whale boat with 6 crew members, sheltered from a gale here in 1797. He named the river ‘Barmouth Creek’, after the large sandbars at the mouth of the river, but it is now known as ‘Pambula River’.
Beach is protected by a tall headland on the ocean side.
Haycock Point and Haycock Beach (North Long Beach)
Ten minute walk through old farmland with regenerating coastal wattle and the odd feral lily to Haystack Rock and purple red rock platforms and rock pools.
Ocean beach is 3 km long and can also be accessed via the North Long Beach road (Red Bloodwoods and Banksia forest).
Long Beach and Quandolo Point
Wide isolated 1km long beach with colourful rock ledges.
Also known as the Quoraburagun Pinnacles.
Eroded gully at northern end of Pinnacles Beach with colourful rock layers of sand, clay and sediment.
White pipe clay used by local aborigines for white ochre, an important trade commodity.
Feral pine trees.
Pinnacles Beach is 3km long and leads into Terrace Beach at the southern end.
Thick coastal scrub and steep colourful cliffs.
One of our favourite spots. We spent New Years Day 2016 here and there were only four other people.
It is fun exploring the rocks at the end, and if you walk the other way, you will reach the Pinnacles.
The Terraces, Lennards Island and North Point are all accessed by the road to the Eden Tip, off the main highway.
Can be accessed at low tide, but becomes an island at high tide.
We saw an a echidna on the beach and a pair of peregrine falcons last time we were here.
North Head (Warong Point)
My daughter loves this place for its wonderful geology and myriad of small shells.
North Point looks across to Aslings Beach and the town of Eden, which separate the middle and lower sections of Ben Boyd National Park, so, even though they are not National Park, I have added a few photos in.
Aslings Beach (2km long)
Stretching round Calle Calle Bay and enclosing Curalo Lagoon and the main surf beach for Eden. Large sea pool at southern end. One day, we saw a dolphin pod catching the waves in.
Not in National Park, but worth a visit en route; Just south of Eden and Rixon’s Beach.
Lots of pelicans, seagulls, rays and even a friendly seal;
Boat launching ramp and fish cleaning tables.
Boydtown Beach– 2km long- adjacent to site of Boydtown and historic Seahorse Inn.
Here is a National Parks map of the southern end of Ben Boyd National Park, encompassing the Light-to-Light Walk from Boyds Tower to Green Cape Light Station:Whale Beach and Davidson Whaling Station
Long isolated 2 km long beach protecting mouth of Towamba River and Kiah Inlet.
Once the site for onshore whaling operations at historic Davidson Whaling Station on Brierley Point.
This is a photo of an information board at the Killer Whale Museum.
Boyd’s Tower and Red Point
See post last week on Ben Boyd National Park for its history.Leatherjacket Bay
Isolated rock and pebble beach;
Granite boulders covered in bright orange lichen.
500 m long beach bordered by 2 creeks and small lagoons
A lovely spot with an estuarine lagoons with reeds and rushes, melaleuca thickets, forest (rough barked apple and old-growth tall trees, full of hollows) and coastal foredunes, providing a variety of habitats for native flora and fauna and a veritable feast for the local aborigines, as evidenced by their middens.
Shrubby heath provides a habitat for the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus. We have yet to visit this bay, as it can only be accessed on the walk.
Old ruins of the Imlay’s ‘Bittangabee House’. The Imlays based their whaling operations here. Boats launched from Bittangabee Bay and Mowarra Point could attack northward migrating whales before the crews at Twofold Bay, giving the Imlays a commercial advantage. However, with their financial demise, the Imlays had to cancel the work on the house, and in 1848, Boyd took over the site on their departure.
Shed used to store supplies for Green Cape Light Station from 1880-1927. There was a horse-drawn tramway to the light station, 7km away.
The rocks provide homes for with limpets, chitons, snails, crabs and seaweeds. Sand Hoppers and Weedy Sea Dragons, Phyllopteryx taenolatus, live in the kelp beds.
Small white sand beach, backed by thick eucalypt forest.
Healthy Superb Lyrebird population.
Land-based game fishing, as it is very close to the continental shelf.
Deep water immediately offshore and sheltered sites in most wind conditions, making this a popular site for snorkelling and scuba diving.
From the road to Green Cape, there is a spectacular view over Disaster Bay, so named because Matthew Flinders lost 8 sailors, when they went ashore for water and were killed by aborigines in 1802. Nine ships were also lost in the area between 1862 and 1917.
Disaster Bay is a cove between Bay Cliff and Green Cape. Bay Cliff is a 350 Million year old rock formed by waves and it was an island 10,000 years ago. Since then, ocean currents have deposited sand to form parallel dunes and beaches.
Wonboyn River flows into Disaster Bay, just north of Bay Cliff.
Both are accessed by a road from the highway, further south of Ben Boyd National Park, and it is well worth spending a whole day there. It is one of the most stunningly scenic spots I have ever seen and warrants its own post later on in the year!
What a lovely idea and a great way to start Spring- at least for we bloggers (and gardeners!) in the Southern Hemisphere, that is! I have been nominated for this award by the lovely Lisa, from http://www.fromdreamtoplan.net. Lisa writes a great travel blog and is always so positive, enthusiastic and full of life! She also has a lovely singing voice and enjoys making handmade gifts, so if you love travelling, music and creativity, it is well worth following her blog!
The Sunshine Award is given by fellow bloggers to bloggers, who ‘are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere’, so Lisa certainly deserves her award and it’s so lovely that she enjoys my blog too! I get so much joy from my garden, the beauty of our local environment and the natural world and from developing my creative side, and blogging has been a wonderful way to share that happiness, as well as meet some wonderful, positive, like-minded people from all over the world in the process! So thank you again, Lisa!
Here are the rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award:
Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.
Here are my responses to Lisa’s questions:
1.What are the challenges that you face in writing an article?
Keeping the word count down and being selective about the photos I use! Sometimes, I will post an article over 2 weeks, if it is more than 5000 words and can be divided into two logical parts. Trouble is, there is always so much to write about!!! The same goes for the photos and they are even harder! I hope that I am improving slowly!!!
2.What keeps you motivated?
I think that I may have already answered this question in my introductory blurb! I love my garden and seeing all the new growth, especially at this time of year, when the garden is very very slowly starting to wake up after a long Winter! The excitement of the first new leaves unfurling, the first daffodil opening, the first crab apple flower- I pop down into the garden at least 4 times a day to check on its progress, to help Ross out or pick flowers for the house. I love flower arranging- all the scents, colour, textures and forms- and easily lose myself in this other world! Nature, birds, our precious environment and beauty are also strong motivational factors for me!
3.What is your favourite travel destination?
This is a difficult one! There are so many wonderful places to visit and we have enjoyed all our holidays! This time, I might nominate Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia- well worth visiting if, like us, you enjoy bushwalking, beautiful natural environments, cycling, swimming and snorkelling and bird watching. It is a pretty special place! For more information, read my post on Landmark Birthdays: Part 1 at: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/05/31/landmark-birthdays-part-1/.
4.Do you speak any foreign languages?
I learnt French at school for 4 years and while I don’t get a lot of opportunity to practise it, I have used it at a very basic level on our two trips to France, as well as translating a book, written totally in French, about one of my favourite Old Rose gardens in Lyons, which leads to my next question…!
5.List 3 things on your bucket list.
Given Lisa asked the question and is a travel writer, here is my travel bucket list!
To visit the Old Rose gardens of Europe, in particular the subject of the book, which required translation: Odile Masquelier’s wonderful garden, La Bonne Maison, in Lyons, as well as Eléonore Cruse’s blowsy rose garden ‘Roseraie de Berty’ at Largentière, Ardeche and of course, the Garden of Ninfa in Lazio, south of Rome, Italy.
To visit more gardens in Britain: Sissinghurst, Sarah Raven’s Cutting garden, Great Dixter, the Old Rose nurseries of Peter Beales and David Austin, the gardens of the Cotswolds: Hidcote Manor, Kiftsgate Court, Snowshill Manor, Barnsley House, William Morris’s Kelmscott and Prince Charles organic garden at Highgrove, Montisfont Abbey… the list is endless!
And finally, on the way home: the beautiful exotic tropical paradise of Tahiti!
6.What is the favourite thing about yourself?
Another toughie, but I would probably have to say my adaptability! We have lived in a number of different places and led a number of different lives, all involving fresh starts and lots of variety and interest! Life is never boring!
7.If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
Probably the ability to time travel, as I love history, as well as visiting new places!
8.What is your favourite recipe of all time?
I love desserts! It’s the basis of my menu planning! And I love tropical fruit salad, so my choice would have to be: Fruit Salad with Ginger Mint, Served in a Carved Watermelon. I have made this dessert a number of times and love it for its variety of flavours, colours and creativity. It is great fun carving designs on the melon bowl and you can vary the fruits used, plus the syrup includes lime juice and orange flower water- always a winner! See my post on The Sweet Spot at: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/10/01/the-sweet-spot/.
9.Which is your favourite movie of all time?
I love Mamma Mia: The Movie for its joyous music, beautiful Greek island scenery, fabulous dance scenes and just sheer fun! It always makes me feel good!
10.How long have you been blogging?
One whole year on September the 1st!
11.When did you start your first blog and if it’s not the current one, what was it?
Yes, this is my first blog and its a celebration of our new garden, other people’s lovely gardens, stunning seasonal plants, our beautiful local environment and creativity!Now for my nominations:
What are the most important factors for a happy life and why?
What is the most beautiful place you have ever visited and why?
What is your favourite book and why?
What is your favourite movie and why?
What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind?
Name 3 people who inspire you and say why.
If you could time-travel, which time period would you visit and why?
What is your favourite garden, apart from your own of course! ?
Before blogging, what did you do with your blogging time?!
I really hope my nominees enjoy these questions. It’s good fun and a great way of defining your own goals and values, as well as getting to know a bit more about your fellow bloggers! Happy Blogging and Much Love! Jane
Covering 10,485 hectares and 47 km coastline, Ben Boyd National Park is comprised of three sections : a small area north of Pambula; a central section, north of Eden ; and a large area, south of Eden. Here is a map from ‘The NPA Guide to National Parks of Southern NSW’ by Peter Wright. First gazetted in 1971, it was named after Benjamin Boyd, a larger-than-life, boom-and-bust entrepreneur of the Alan Bond variety, whose financial empire collapsed after only 7 years. Given that the local aborigines had inhabited this area successfully for over 3000 years, we feel an aboriginal name might have been more appropriate!
Ben Boyd National Park is significant for its old growth forests; extensive heath land; estuarine and freshwater wetlands; dune ecosystems; a large number of threatened native animal species and biogeographically significant plant species; aboriginal sites; and historical structures associated with whaling and lighthouses, including Boyd’s Tower, Green Cape Light Station and the ruins at Bittangabee Bay.
Ben Boyd National Park is a geologist’s heaven with two geological zones: sedimentary base rock in the north and middle section and much older metamorphic rock in the southern section. The northern part of the park covers the southern section of the Merimbula Bay barrier dunes, which began accumulating 7000-8000 years ago and stabilized in their current form 5000 years ago. They are one of only four major stationary barriers in Southern New South Wales.
The southern section has some of the oldest rocks on the NSW coast, with more than 80 percent of the Upper Devonian rocks exposed along the coast of South-Eastern Australia found in Ben Boyd National Park. During the Devonian Period, sediments similar to those in the northern section of the park, were laid down in estuaries and were later compressed, heated, folded and twisted into arches and curves. The soft sediments hardened and formed new types of rocks : brown and green shales, sandstones, red siltstones, conglomerates and quartzites. These metamorphic rocks of the Devonian Merimbula group are exposed along the cliffs and coastal headlands north to Terrace Beach and west from Haycock Point along the Pambula Estuary. There are only small areas of Tertiary deposits in the Southern section of the park. Red Point below Boyd’s Tower (photos 1-3) and the rock platform, south of Saltwater Creek (photo 7), are excellent examples of heavily folded metamorphic beds.
During the Devonian period (345-410 Million years ago), forests did not exist, though a few land plants grew in local swamps and primitive fish swam in nearby seas. During this time, the drying out of one of the floodplains trapped a school of fish in mud, forming Devonian fish fossils. These extinct species include a plate covered fish and a previously unknown species of air-breathing lobe-finned bony fish, measuring up to 1.5metres long. Younger and softer Tertiary deposits of sands, gravels, clays, ironstones and quartzites lie on top of the Devonian strata in the central section of the park, as seen in the sandy ridges of Long Beach.
The Pinnacles are an erosion feature formed in the finely-mottled well-lateritized Pinnacle Lens of the Quondolo Formation with cliffs of soft white sand, capped with a layer of red gravelly clay, which was laid down in the Tertiary Period, which started more than 60 Million years ago.
Below are more photos of the erosion process.
The sandy soils support a wide variety of coastal habitats from open forest and woodland; dune dry scrub forest; small pockets of warm temperate rainforest; closed heath land and scrub land; estuarine and floodplain wetlands; and perched swamps.
In the central section of the park, Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) grow on the Devonian strata, as well as Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda), Brown Stringbark (E. baxteri), Mountain Grey Gum (E. cypellocarpa), Coast Grey Box (E. bosistoana), Swamp Gum (E. ovata), Ironbark (E. tricarpa), Manna Gum (E. viminalis) and Woollybutt (E. longifolia), with an understorey of Black Sheoak, Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Tea-tree, Port Jackson Pine, Black Wattle, Coast Banksia and Grass Tree. Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi) predominates in the south.
The Dune Dry Scrub Forests of the northern section include Red Bloodwood; Blackbutt; Woollybutt and Forest Red Gum. Moist gullies, next to Disaster Bay, support Warm Temperate patches of rainforest species including Lillypilly, Sassafras, Scentless Rosewood, Cabbage Tree, Smooth Mock Olive, Sweet Pittosporum, Bolwarra, Sandpaper Fig, Muttonwood, Smilax vines and tree ferns.
The closed heath land on the headlands and cliff lines, typified by the vegetation at Green Cape, includes Dwarf Sheoak, Silky Hakea, Coast Westringia, Common Heath, Coral Heath, White Kunzea, Daphne Heath, Native Fuchsia, Boronias, Croweas and Hibbertias. The heathland is significant, not only because of its restricted distribution, but also because it provides important habitat for threatened species like the vulnerable Striated Field Wren.
Closer to the coast, the closed scrubland/ woodland includes Giant Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca armillaris), Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Banksia and Sydney Green Wattle.
The estuarine and floodplains at Pambula are important habitats for salt marsh and mangroves.
The perched swamps of Woodburn and Bittangabee Creek support Bauera, Melaleucas, Sprengelias and Mimulus.
Ben Boyd National Park is also significant, because it contains plants at the limit of their natural distribution. For example, it is the southernmost limit of Blackbutt (middle section of park and on track to the Pinnacles) and Plum Pine and the northernmost limit of Brown Stringybark and Furze Hakea.
The wide variety of habitats are home to 150 species of birds, of which 48 species are water birds; 50 native mammals; 15 reptile species and 2 frog species.
These include :
1 critically endangered bird species : the Hooded Plover (only 50 left in NSW);
4 endangered animal species : Southern Brown Bandicoot: important for the dispersal of fungi; green and Golden Bell Frog; Regent Honeyeater and Gould’s Petrel.
25 vulnerable species including the Ground Parrot and Striated Field Wren of the coastal heathlands; the Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl and Masked Owl and Yellow-Bellied Gliders of the tall open forest; Glossy Black Cockatoos; Tiger Quolls, Koalas, Long-nosed Potoroos and White-footed Dunnarts; Pied and Sooty Oyster Catchers; and Providence Petrels and Wandering Albatrosses.
The sea life is amazingly abundant too.
There are also a significant number of feral weeds and pests including: pine trees; bitou bush; blackberry; bridal creeper; sea spurge; wild dogs; foxes; deer; rabbits and cats (especially round the Eden tip, which is the gateway to Terrace Beach, Lennards Island and North Head). The pines are remnants of Forestry plantations from the 1940s.
Ben Boyd National Park has a long history of aboriginal occupation with more than 50 sites, most of which are on headlands, including middens and artefact scatters, campsites and rock shelters, scarred trees, stone arrangements and possible axe grinding grooves. In South Eastern New South Wales, there were 2 aboriginal nations, the Monaroo and the Yuin, and within these 2 nations were a number of tribes and language groups. The aborigines of Twofold Bay, the South Coast and the South Monaro Tablelands included the Dhurga; Dyirringan; Bidawal; Dthawa; Maneroo; Kudingal and Ngarigo language groups and clans. There were well-established trade routes for trade and exchange of white pipe clay used for white ochre, quartz crystals and twine, and large groups would congregate for celebrations and the exchange of marriage partners.
At Severs Beach on Pambula River, there is an occupation site dating back 3000 years and there are a number of middens on the headlands and banks of estuaries, including Lennards Island, Haycock Point, Pambula Estuary and Severs Beach.
The middens are basically giant rubbish heaps and contain :
: the shells of oysters and mussels, collected from the rock platforms, reefs and estuaries;
: fish bones. Fish were baited with pieces of crayfish, sea eggs or cunjevoi or stunned by biodegradable poisons, then caught with spears, grass nets and fish traps;
: the bones of sea mammals. From 2300 years ago, increasing population and pressure on fish resources led to the expansion of dietary resources from fish to marine species, enabled by the use of canoes;
: the bones of kangaroos and wallabies; potoroos and bandicoots and possums and gliders;
: charcoal; and
: bone tools and artefacts : cores, flakes and resharpening fragments.
The midden near Boyds Tower was used as a source of lime in the construction of the tower. An Aboriginal Cultural Camp has been established at Haycocks Point. The photos below show dolphins surfing at Aslings Beach, Eden.Aborigines played a major part in the early whaling history of Twofold Bay, working for the Imlay, Boyd and Davidson families. The men crewed whale boats for rations, tobacco and whale products, while some of the women worked as servants in the houses of the whaling families.The aborigines had a unique relationship with a pack of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), who returned to their base in Leatherjacket Bay every June to November between 1843 and the 1930s to hunt for migrating whales, including Finback, Right Whales and Humpbacks. Every June, whales migrate north to the tropics to give birth and in Spring, return back south to their Summer feeding waters in the Antarctic. Up to 36 orcas would split into 3 packs and herd whales into Twofold Bay. Their leader, Old Tom, whose skeleton can be seen in the Killer Whale Museum in Eden, would swim to Kiah Inlet, where he would leap out of the water and splash to alert the whalers that a whale was in the bay and then, he would lead them to the whale. After the men had harpooned and killed the whale, its carcass was anchored to the seabed and marked with a buoy and the killer whales would eat the tongue and lips, after which they disappeared to look for more whales.
Twofold Bay is the third deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere and has 6.5 square miles of navigable water with safe anchorages. Captain Thomas Raine opened the first shore-based whaling station here at Snug Cove back in 1828. The Imlay brothers were the first to settle the area in 1834, exporting pigs, sheep, cattle and whaling products from Cattle Bay. By 1840, the Imlay Whaling Station was producing 200 tuns ( 1 tun is equivalent to 252 gallons or 1150 litres) of whale oil from 50-60 whales. The whale oil was used to lubricate engines and for lighting, the clear smokeless flame far superior to that of tallow and far cheaper than beeswax candles. The baleen strainer plates of the upper jaws, used by the whale to sieve plankton and krill, was used to make stays for corsets and hooped skirts. By 1845, up to 27 whaling boats were operating out of Twofold Bay. Competition between rival whaling stations was fierce. The Imlays built an unfinished house at Bittangabee Bay to catch the northbound whales before the crews at Eden, but by 1847, they were bankrupt. This is a photo of an information board at the Killer Whale Museum, Eden. See: http://killerwhalemuseum.com.au/.Benjamin Boyd, a London stockbroker, arrived in New South Wales in 1842 with the dream of creating his own empire, based on trading, shipping, grazing and whaling. By 1844, he was one of the largest land owners in the colony with huge properties in the Monara and Riverina and a whaling station at East Boyd, managed by artist Oswald Brierly. Boyd established Boydtown as a port to serve his Monaro properties, using coastal steamers to export his cattle, wool, wheat and whaling products. At one stage, the depot at Boydtown held 9 ocean-going vessels and 30 whale boats for deep sea and offshore whaling. In 1846, he built a lighthouse at Red Point on the southern shore of Twofold Bay, also known as South Point. Pyrmont sandstone was shipped from Sydney, unloaded at East Boyd and hauled to the building site by bullock teams, where it was worked by master stonemasons into a tower with 5 timber platforms and etched with Boyd’s name on the top. A dispute with the government meant it could not be used as a lighthouse, so the tower became a whale watching lookout. Boyd’s empire collapsed within 7 years and he left Australia, his businesses in liquidation, in 1849. Two tears later, he went ashore at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and was never seen again.Alexander Davidson emigrated from Scotland with his wife and 6 children in 1842 and initially worked as a carpenter in Boydtown. In the 1860s, he bought whaling boats and operated a try works at Kiah Inlet. The business was continued by son John, then grandson George, who built a cottage with his wife Sara at ‘Loch Garra’ on 17 acres of freehold land on Kiah Inlet in 1896. The family were self-sufficient in fruit, meat, vegetables and dairy products. This is a photo of the National Parks map at Davidson Whaling Station. The Davidsons used Boyd’s Tower to watch out for whales. The minute a whale was spotted, a gun was fired and the resultant puff of smoke alerted waiting whalers to launch their boats, then row within 8 metres of the huge beast, which would then be harpooned. At the height of their operations, the Davidson family were catching 10-15 whales each year. In between sightings, life would have been very cold and boring for the watchers and they often whiled away the time with board games like draughts (photo below).
The try works below the house was housed in a 10 m shed with cutting tables, brick furnaces, try pots for boiling down the blubber and storage tanks for cooling the whale oil, after which it poured into casks and shipped across the bay to Eden. A capstan was used to winch the whale carcass into position and to remove the blubber as it was cut away with a sharp boat spade. George Davidson continued to use the capstan, even after steam-powered winches became available to whalers, thus preserving the history and integrity of the 19th Century whaling station. Large flensed blanket strips of blubber were winched up to the try works, then cut into manageable pieces and sliced finely before being dropped into the try pots to boil them down for oil. The blubber scraps were used to fuel the fire. This is a photo of the National Parks information board at the Tryworks at Davidson Whaling Station. It was a very smelly business and I wouldn’t have fancied being Sara, looking after all those men! Life was hard and tough in those early days and the Davidsons had their fair share of tragedy. Son Jack (1890-1926) drowned, trying unsuccessfully to save his children Roy (10) and Patricia (3) after their dinghy capsized, though his wife Ann and 8 year old daughter Marion survived. Apparently, a film called ‘The Law of the Tongue’, chronicling this event, is in the offing.
As whale oil was replaced by coal gas lighting, kerosene, mineral oils and electricity and the fashions changed, the demand for and income from whale products decreased dramatically and by the 1920s, the family had to supplement their earnings from other sources. Only 2 whales were taken in 1925 and the last whale was caught in Twofold Bay in 1929 and the Davidson Whaling Station was closed, thus ending the longest continuously operating whaling station, run by 3 generations of the same family, in Australia. George and Sara moved into Eden in the 1940s, though family members continued on at ‘Loch Garra’. The present garden was established by Dr and Mrs Boyd between 1954 and 1984, then the 6ha property was acquired by the Coastal Council of NSW, before being taken on by National Parks and Wildlife Service as an historic site in 1986. Even though it has a fairly gruesome history, it is well worth visiting ‘Loch Garra’ as an example of early pioneer life in coastal NSW, as well as being an incredibly beautiful spot! Ironically, when my husband was a young schoolboy, he and his classmates were taken on a school trip to see Tangalooma Whaling Station on Moreton Island off Brisbane before it closed in 1962. Little wonder, that he turned into a keen environmentalist! The photo below is the National Parks and Wildlife map of Green Cape Light Station.The other site of major historical significance in the southern section of Ben Boyd National Park is the 29m high Green Cape Light House, built in 1883. It is a very early example of the use of mass concrete and was the largest mass concrete structure in New South Wales at that time. The lighthouse was designed by Colonial architect, James Barnett, and has an octagonal tower on a square base, corbelling, a domed oil store and a distinctive balcony railing.
The light station complex also includes 2 cottages for the Head and Assistant Keeper; several sheds including a generator shed, a former telegraph office and a signal flag locker; a quarry; a garden/ tip site and old stables, later used as a workshop and garage. Nearby is the Cemetery, housing bodies from the Ly-ee-Moon shipwreck in 1886. The steamer struck an offshore reef on its journey from Melbourne to Sydney and only 15 of the 86 people on board survived.The lighthouse was manned all night, every night in four-hour shifts from 1883-1992, after which it was replaced by an automated light tower (now powered by solar panels). The National Parks and Wildlife Service took over management of the historic site in 1997 and now rent out the cottages for holidays. It would be lovely to stay there for a few days to enjoy all the natural history and atmosphere of the place.
It is a wonderful spot for whale and dolphin watching, October and November being the best months to see Southern Right and Humpback whales, as well as observing the annual migration of Short-Tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus tenuirostris, which travel from the Northern Hemisphere to their breeding burrows on islands in Southern waters from late September to early November. I remember watching this spectacle from Coffs Harbour years ago – there was a long, low, endless black cloud of migrating birds. Other birds of note seen at Green Cape include the Yellow-Nosed Albatross (late Winter/ Early Spring), gannets and the Southern Emu-Wren, which loves to hide in the coastal heath.
I remember visiting Green Cape one day and seeing what appeared to be the burnt-out broken carcass of a rowboat off-shore… except, it kept moving! On careful inspection through the binoculars, we discovered it was in fact a ring of bachelor Fur Seals, Arctocephalus pusillus, who commonly exhibit this behaviour!The lighthouse is now the bottom end of the 31km Light to Light walk, which starts at Boyd’s Tower and takes 3 days to complete. There are camping grounds along the way at Salt Water Creek (14 sites)and Bittangabee Bay (30 sites) and it is also possibly to drive into these spots. Here is a photo of a map of the Light to Light Walk, taken from an information board at Green Cape. Next week, I will post a photo essay on Ben Boyd National Park, with a few brief notes about all the wonderful spots to explore, but in the mean time, more information can be found at : http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20100979BenBoydBellBirdCreek.pdf
P.S. The feature photo is Terrace Beach, one of our favourite spots!
Camellias are indispensable to the Winter garden and bloom generously from late Autumn through to mid Spring. They are long-lived, evergreen ornamental shrubs and small trees (up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide) with glossy, dark green leaves.Their blooms exhibit great variability in :
Colour: Pure white to deep dark red; Bicolour combinations
Size: Miniature: less than 6cm; Small: 6-7.5 cm; Medium: 7.5-9cm; Medium-Large: 9-10cm; Large: 10-12.5cm; and Very Large: more than 12.5cm; and
Flowering period (these times refer to Australia and Southern Hemisphere):
Early: Autumn: March to June; Mid: Autumn to Winter:Mid June to August; Late: Winter to Spring: Late August to October.My only reservation about these beautiful flowers is that most of them have no scent, but I have named a few fragrant varieties later on! Despite that, it doesn’t seem to worry the bees! The fruit of the camellia is a globe-shaped capsule with 3 compartments (locules), each with 1-2 large brown seeds.
We were lucky enough to inherit a huge old camellia tree right at our entrance and its white, pale pink, striped pink and deep pink double blooms sustain our spirits all Winter. They look beautiful against the dark green foliage and their fallen blooms form an attractive carpet underneath, interspersed with violets and hellebores. Their seeds strike well, producing many tiny seedlings beneath the parent plant. Up until now, I went along with the suggestion that it was a multi-graft camellia, since it bears flowers of a number of different colour combinations, but during my research for this post, I came across an article (www.gardenclinic.com.au/how-to-grow-article/australia-s-first-camellia) by Graham Ross about an early Australian variety: C.japonica ‘Aspasia Macarthur’, which also throws blooms of a number of different colours. It has flowers of variable colour from a pale flesh or cream colour with pinkish/ red splashes, reverting to pure pink and pure red flowers. It also has a number of sports including ‘Lady Loch’ 1889, which has medium to large pale pink peony flowers, and ‘Otahuhu Beauty’ 1904 with medium informal double rose pink blooms. For photos of all the sports, see : http://www.camellias.pics/mutations-gb.php?langue=gb#ANC-ID1106 and https://humecamellia.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/850/ . I have strong suspicions that my old plant might be ‘Aspasia Macarthur’ or at least related to it, as its flowers are very similar to all of these varieties. Graham Ross states that his plant dates from 1920 and our plant could well be the same, as our house was built in 1925. There is also a useful site for camellia identification: www.camellias.pics/index-gb.php?langue=gb, though I was a bit confused as to which flower to include in their search facility!I have also planted some new camellia plants along the fence line:
C.vernalis ‘Star above Star’ : I first saw this beautiful camellia at my friend’s place at Black Mountain, NSW (1st photo below) and on the way home, I found a plant at a nursery. It has just bloomed for the first time, its creamy-pink bloom ageing to a lolly-pink (2nd and 3rd photos below);
C.japonica ‘Nuccio’s Gem’: I was thrilled to discover a tiny specimen at our local hardware store, as its exquisite, formal double white flower has always been a favourite of mine;
And C.japonica ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ : It has had a number of eye-catching, pretty, pure red formal double blooms this year.Camellias belong to the order Ericales, which includes azaleas and blueberries, and the family Theaceae, which also contains Stewartia and Gordonia, all plants having serrated glossy leaves (mostly evergreen), flowers with multi-stamens and fruit in capsules or seedpods. The genus Camellia, named after the Jesuit priest and botanist, George Kamel (1661-1706), has between 200 and 300 species. Here are some brief notes about some of the main species:
The most famous species is Camellia japonica, from which thousands of cultivars have been developed. It hails from the forests of Japan, as well as China and South Korea (300-1100m altitude), where it is pollinated by the Japanese White Eye bird (Zosterops japonica). It grows best in partial shade.Camellia sasanqua is also very well-known. It is a smaller shrub with denser, smaller, rounded foliage and smaller flowers with a similar form and colour to the Japonicas. Unlike the blooms of the latter, which fall intact, sasanqua flowers shatter on impact, carpeting the ground below with petals rather than flowers. They also tolerate more sun than C.japonica, ‘sasanqua’ being the Japanese word for ‘sun’. Sasanquas are native to Southern Japan and the Liu Kiu Islands.Camellia vernalis is a cross between C.japonica and C.sasanqua and its blooms do not shatter easily like the sasanquas.‘Star above Star’ is an example.Camellia reticulata is also grown as an ornamental shrub in many gardens and has larger, showy flowers and leaves with distinct veins. It also tolerate a fair amount of sun. There are a number of hybrids, which have been produced by crosses between C.reticulata and C.japonica/ C.sasanqua.
Camellia sinesis, from China (as well as Japan and the rest of South East Asia), is a very important commercial plant, as it is the source of all our black and green tea and Camelliaoleifera is harvested for its oil, which is used in cooking and cosmetics. I have just bought a plant of C.sinensis at our local hardware store for its lovely little white flowers and novelty value, as well as in deference to our family’s huge consumption of tea! It has very small, simple, semi-fragrant , white flowers with a boss of gold stamens from late Summer to early Autumn. Bees and butterflies love the flowers, while humans prefer the leaves! Tea leaves were used as medicine in the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) and have been consumed as a beverage since the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE). In green tea, the leaves are dried and steamed, while in black tea, the leaves are dried and fermented. We enjoyed an informative visit to the Nerada Tea plantation on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland. (http://www.neradatea.com.au) in 2008. We learnt that C.sinensis can reach a height of 5-10 m if left untrimmed (see old tree in the first photo below) and that it takes up to 7 years before the leaves can be harvested for tea, after which the plant will produce leaves for tea for 100 years! We also had a guided tour of the processing factory (2nd photo below).Other species have smaller leaves and miniature flowers and a few are even scented like C.lutchuensis, C.transnokoensis, C.fraterna; C.kissi; C.yuhsienensis and C.grijsii. The japonica cultivar ‘Kramer’s Supreme’ is slightly fragrant, while the fragrance of the sasanqua cultivar ‘Daydream’ is more intense, but not sweet. Other fragrant hybrids, using C.fraterna, C.yuhsienensis and C.grijsii as breeding stock, include : ‘ Cinammon Cindy’; ‘Cinammon Scentsation’; ‘Fragrant Joy’; ‘Fragrant Pink’; ‘Helen B’; ‘Hallstone Spicy’; ‘High Fragrance’; ‘Sweet Emily Kate’ and ‘Scentuous’.
Camellias originated in Eastern and Southern Asia from the Himalayas to Japan and Indonesia. Camellia japonica was portrayed in 11th Century Chinese porcelain and paintings, usually as a single red bloom. The oldest camellia in the world, at the Panlong Monastery in China, dates from 1347. The camellia was introduced to the West by the Dutch East India Company surgeon, Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716), who discovered them while in Japan. On his return, he described the details of more than 30 varieties. The oldest camellia trees in Europe were planted at the end of the 16th century at Campobello, Portugal.
The first camellias in Australia were planted by Alexander Macleay in 1826 at Elizabeth Bay House. The history of the camellia in Australia is recounted in http://www.gardenclinic.com.au/how-to-grow-article/australia-s-first-camellia. One of the early pioneers was the Waratah Camellia, C.japonica ‘Anemoniflora’, planted in the Sydney Botanic Garden in 1828 and by William Macarthur in 1831 at Camden Park Estate to be used in his breeding program. Other varieties imported in the same 1831 shipment were: ‘Alba Plena’, ‘Camura’ (Syn.’Incamata’) ‘Myrtifolia’, ‘Rubra’ and ‘Welbankiana’. In 1850, Macarthur listed 62 hand-bred varieties, the first of which was C.japonica ‘Aspasia’ or ‘Aspasia Macarthur’, as it is now known. By 1883, the leading nursery in Australia, Shepherd and Company, listed 160 varieties of C.japonica, but by 1891, the number of varieties had dropped to 53 and in 1916 to 16.
The revival of the camellia industry in Australia owes an enormous debt to Professor EG Waterhouse, a world authority on camellias,who researched and wrote 2 books about these lovely plants and propagated them between 1914-1977 at his home ‘Eryldene’ (17 McIntosh St Gordon, North Sydney) and nursery, Camellia Grove Nursery, based at St. Ives from 1939 to 2004 and now at Glenorie, 8 Cattai Ridge Rd., Glenorie (http://www.camelliagrove.com.au/). ‘Eryldene’, an Art Deco house built in 1914, is listed on the National Estate and the NSW Heritage Register and is open to the public on selected weekends during Winter. The next open day is 13th and 14th August 2016. See: http://www.eryldene.org.au/ for dates and further information.
All the states have their own camellia societies, affiliated under an umbrella association called Camellias Australia Inc.(See their website: http://camelliasaustralia.com.au). It also hosts a project called the Camellia Ark, set up to conserve some of the very rare early species in Australia, which are now disappearing. It includes 75 endangered cultivars and species and can be accessed at : http://camelliasaustralia.com.au/gardens/camellia-ark/.Camellias are best selected when in bloom. They should be planted (and transplanted) during Autumn and Winter. Their ideal site is:
Partial shade. Full shade reduces the amount of flowering, while full sun will burn the foliage; White and light pink varieties prefer more shade; C.sasanqua and C.reticulata will tolerate more sun than C.japonica.
Organic, slightly acidic (pH 6-6.5), semi-moist but well-drained soil.
The site should be prepared prior to planting with generous amounts of peat moss, compost or old manure mixed in with the soil. The hole should be twice the diameter of the root ball and 1½ times the depth. The planting depth is critical, otherwise if the root ball is set too deep, the plant may refuse to bloom. Plant, so that the root ball is 1 inch above the existing soil level to allow for settling. Water heavily and keep well-watered until the plant is established. A thick layer (2-3 inches) of mulch (leaf mould or shredded bark) will help to retain moisture. Having said that, make sure the soil is well-drained, as camellias hate wet feet, as too much water results in root rot.
Camellias are very easy, minimal care plants, which seldom require pruning, except for weak, spindly, or dead branches. For a more upright growth, the inner branches can be thinned out and the lower limbs shortened. If you must prune, do it immediately after the blooms fade or in mid Summer. They are not heavy feeders, but if growth is weak or the leaves are yellowing, a slow release Azalea and Camellia Fertilizer can be applied sparingly around the drip line of the plant in December, after which the plant should be watered well. Avoid the use of mushroom compost, fresh chook manure and lime (all too alkaline). A few handfuls of sulphate of potash can be beneficial just before flowering.Diseases are mainly fungal and algal, including;
Spot Disease – round spots and upper side of leaves silvery, leading to loss of leaves
Flower Blight – flowers brown and fall
Canker – caused by fungus Glomerella cingulata, which attacks through wounds.
Physiological diseases include:
Salt Injury – high levels of salt in soil
Chlorosis – insufficient acidity in soil prevents the absorption of essential soil elements
Bud Drop – loss and decay of buds due to over-watering, high temperatures and potbound roots
Bud Balling – treat with 2 tsp Epsom salts to 10 litres water; a good feed of Azalea and Camellia fertilizer or move to a different place.
Camellias can also suffer from oedema and sunburn.
Pests include :
Fuller rose beetle Pantomorus cervinus
Mealy bugs Planococcus citri and Planococcus longispinus
Weevils Otiorhyncus slacatus and Otiothyncus ovatus and
Tea Scale Fiorinia theae
Camellias can be propagated by :
Seed: Hybrid plants may be sterile; Seed is not necessarily true to its parentage; Seeds should be soaked in warm water for 24 hours and sown indoors in Spring and Fall in a 70-75 degree growing medium until germination (within 1-2 months). Our old camellia does not seem to have any trouble producing seedlings under its skirt, without any help from us!
Softwood cuttings: From new growth in early Summer, but is a slow process; Each cutting should have more than 5 nodes; Remove the lowest leaves and trim the other leaves by half. Insert into a mix of sand and peat moss.
Camellias are lovely specimen plants and can also be planted as massed plantings and in mixed borders. Sasanqua camellias planted close together make great hedges and screens. They can be espaliered and trellised, as well as grown in containers and planters on patios, porches, pathways and gazebos. They can even be used in bonsai and topiary or grown as standards.They are the food plant of some Lepidoptera, including the Engrailed Ectropis, Crepuscularia. In China, camellias are lucky symbols, exchanged as gifts during the Chinese New Year (their Spring), and promising prosperity and a long life. They also have a superstition that Chinese women should never wear a camellia in their hair or they won’t be able to bear sons for a long time. In the language of flowers, a white camellia means ‘exquisite loveliness’, while a red camellia means ‘unpretentious excellence’.Camellia foliage is used in floristry as a filler. I like to float their flower heads in a shallow bowl of water, though I use a pottery bowl these days! I once had a lovely glass shallow bowl, but it had a small lip, which led to its downfall and a very memorable dinner party! Filled with floating flowers and tea lights, the candles floated under the edge of the lip and started to heat the glass. I dismissed a small ‘ping’, only to have the whole bowl literally explode a few minutes later, the water pouring all over and even through the dinner table! Very dramatic and certainly a conversation stopper! These are my latest camellia blooms. They can also be used in corsages, wedding bouquets and funeral wreaths. Care should be taken when handling the flowers, as they bruise and brown easily. Flowers last 5-7 days in floral work and may need wiring. Preservative is optional. Here is a photo of a beautiful vase of ‘Star above Star’ in our bedroom, when we visited out friends in Black Mountain. Thank you, Jane xxx
For more information on camellias, which you can enjoy over a pot of China Tea, please see: https://simplebooklet.com/camelliaquide.
Last month, we visited private historic gardens from the late 19th century. This post describes the work of garden designers and keen gardeners in the early 20th century: Joan Law-Smith at Bolobek; Edna Walling at Bickleigh Vale Village and Mawarra at the Grove and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Cruden Farm.
370 Mt Macedon Rd, Mt Macedon 3.6 ha (9 ac) Less than 1 hour drive from Melbourne
One of the finest and most visited, documented and photographed private gardens in Australia and another beautiful old garden in Mt Macedon, established over 100 years ago and made famous by a subsequent owner, Joan Law-Smith. It is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Their site has an excellent map of the garden. See: http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/133719/Bolobek.pdf. The garden is 450 metres above sea level with frequent frosts and snow and 750 mm rain, temperatures ranging from 0 degrees in Winter to 40 degrees in Summer and a grey loam soil on a clay base, tending towards acidity. Unfortunately, the day we visited Bolobek for the Spring plant fair was very grey and rainy, so the photos are all a bit dark, but they still will give you an idea of the garden layout and beauty. For photos in Summer, see: http://aggregata.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/visit-to-bolobek-gardens-in-mt-macedon.html
The land, on which Bolobek was settled, was originally Bolobek Swamp, which provided food for the Wurundjeri aboriginal people, but the swamps were drained in the 19th Century. Bolobek means ‘undulating’ in the local aboriginal dialect. Between 1910-1914, Oswald Syme, the youngest son of David Syme, the founder of the Melbourne Age newspaper, bought more than 900 acres in adjoining parcels of land, which were parts of 2 former pastoral runs, Turitable and Wooling. Wooling, an aboriginal word meaning ‘nestling of many waters’, was originally settled in 1839 by William Robertson and included a 9 acre orchard, a 4 acre kitchen garden and Victoria’s first sawmill, as well as fish ponds, the first breeding grounds of brown trout and English salmon trout on the mainland, the ova being imported from Tasmania in 1862. Oswald and his wife, Mildred, built a three-storey Edwardian mansion in 1911 and lived there for over 60 years. Mildred was a keen gardener and laid out a 5 acre garden, including a 0.5 acre orchard. Many trees (rows of lindens, poplars and oaks) and shrubs have survived from the original garden plan. They built a dam (Syme’s Lake) over the original trout hatchery ponds, supplying reticulated water to a garden tank by gravity for the garden and stock troughs. Oswald was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society and ran a Romney Marsh sheep stud, a Friesian stud and a huge dairy complex on Bolobek, the latter destroyed in the 1952 fires, after which 270 ha on Hamilton Rd were excised. They also had a nine-hole golf course, a croquet lawn, a tennis court and a swimming pool.
In 1969, Bolobek was bought by Robert and Joan Law-Smith. Robert was a director of Qantas and BHP and a grazier and ran 400 Herefords and 1000 first cross ewes. They demolished the old house and many outbuildings, then built a smaller single storey house on the original site. It was designed by Phyllis and John Murphy and made of white bagged brick with a grey slate roof and large low windows looking straight out into the garden. Joan was a talented gardener, artist and writer. She removed many trees, including the prunus and the bedding plants, and simplified the design, creating geometrically-shaped compartments, with 3 main axes paths, radiating from a central square lawn adjacent to the house and allowing a grand vista, framed by Italian Poplars, towards Mt Robertson. She loved old roses for their scent, floral arrangements and painting and created a walled garden for them from old bricks, sourced from an old demolished house. She also loved soft pastel colours and the garden has a very romantic dreamy feel with its emphasis on green and white.In 1990, the Law-Smiths sold Bolobek and it passed through a number of hands, the garden gradually going into decline. A further 70 ha land was subdivided in the late 1990s. Greville and Jill Egerton bought the property in 2002 and started renovating the garden and property. They sold to the current owners, Hugh and Brigid Robertson, in 2006. They spent the next two years observing the garden through the seasons and then started a major rejuvenation program in the garden. Since 2008, restoration works have included :
Replacing the old watering system;
Replacing the cypress and pine avenues, which were dying from old age and the drought, with oaks;
Replacing the crab apple and Lombardy poplar walks;
Repaving and regravelling paths and replacing the pergola;
Planting a new middle storey in the garden, which was lost from the neglect in the late 1990s;
Replanting the orchard and planting native trees around the farm; and
Designing and planting a large vegetable garden and picking garden, next to the original Syme vegetable garden.
Because of the micro-climates in the garden, affording pockets of shade, moisture and protection from the prevailing NW winds, in 2008 during the peak of the drought, the Robertsons were able to open the garden to visitors for the first time in 20 years and they had 6000 visitors. The property is now 550 ha and runs 1000 Border Leicester X Merino ewes and a self-replacing herd of 500 Angus cattle. There is self-contained accommodation at ‘The Cottage’, the original station hand’s house beside the garden. Open Garden Plant Fairs were held in 2008 and 2011, with over 10 000 visitors over the 4 days. Today, the garden is used for weddings, concerts and many fund-raising events, as well as hosting the Mt Macedon Horticultural Society Annual Garden Lovers Fair, which we attended in September 2014. The next fair is on 17 and 18 September 2016. There are many stalls selling rare and unusual perennials, trees and shrubs, bulbs, succulents and Australian natives, as well as sculpture and specialist tools. Entrance to the garden is $10 pp.Design
Modern formal garden style in 2.5 ha inner garden, with larger informal areas in the outer garden and park. A main axes leads from the house to a distant view of Mt Robertson and there are 2 shorter axes parallel to the main axes, which are lined with weeping birch.
Cross axes contains a pergola and a sculpture of a girl at the end of the apple walk. The colour scheme is very restrained with an emphasis on a variety of green foliage and white, complementing the white house and courtyard and the grey roof and silvery-grey timber fence. White flowers include: white lilies, white nicotiana and white daisies with white watsonias along the poplar walk and a white wisteria, underplanted with double white violets, over the pergola. A hedge of white Iceberg roses complement the white bark of the silver birches behind, the leggy rose stems hidden behind box hedges.Formal design elements include :
Lime, Lombardy poplar and crab apple (Golden Hornet) walks, the latter underplanted with English primroses and aquilegas.
Wisteria pergola and dovecot;Walled rose garden; Herbaceous borders;Woodland plantings including shrubs, bulbs, hellebores, columbines and Soloman’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum);Sweeping lawns with mature shrubs, deciduous trees and naturalized bulbs;I also loved seeing the Flowering quince shrubs in full bloom- white, pink-and-white and red forms and the exquisite magnolias.Statuary including a sundial and a marble statue. Ornamental lake and a pool with a figure;
Rows of silver birch and Bhutan cypress and Laurustinus and Lilac hedges;Stone-lined channels and paths;White gravel courtyard and curved undulating gravel driveway and an avenue of Southern Mahogany (Eucalyptus botryoides).I loved the walled garden with its espaliered pear trees and climbing roses ( including Wedding Day, Constance Spry , Souvenir de la Malmaison, Souvenir de St Anne and Felicité et Perpetué) over the brick walls. There are 4 symmetrical beds, around the central sundial, separated by mellow brick paths. Other Old Roses include Madame Hardy, Charles de Mills, Maxima, Celeste, Boule de Neige, Mme Pierre Oger and Reine des Violettes. The roses are underplanted with blue cranesbill, Alchemilla mollis, dianthus, wild strawberries and lambs’ ears.Bickleigh Vale Village 1920s
Bickleigh Vale Rd and Edna Walling Lane, Mooroolbark 3 ha
The foothills of the Dandenongs, west of Melbourne, are the other famous area for beautiful old gardens and were the canvas for prominent garden designer Edna Walling.
Originally, Edna bought 3 acres and built her cottage, ‘Sonning’, in 1921 out of local stone, timber and recycled materials. Later, she bought 18 adjoining acres, which she subdivided into 1-2 acre lots, creating an English-style village with country laneways, deciduous trees and hedgerows. She named it ‘Bickleigh Vale’ after the village, where she grew up in England. Edna’s goal was to create an environment, in which the houses and gardens related harmoniously with each other, as well as the natural environment, a key tenet of the Arts and Crafts movement. She was also an early advocate of Australian natives. Prospective owners had to agree to have their future cottage and its garden designed by Edna and she supplied all the plants. The properties are all linked by side gates, allowing easy access into each other’s gardens and creating a communal atmosphere.