And now, for our final two gardens, both relatively young and both collectors’ gardens: Perennial Hill and Chinoiserie!
1 Nero St. Mittagong Ph 0409244200 or 0413004740 1 acre
September to March: September Open Daily 10am – 4pm; October to November Open weekends; December Open the first two weekends; then finally, an Autumn Festival in April.
$8 Adults; $7 Seniors; Under 16 years old: Free.
Established on the sunny side of Mt. Gibraltar in 2001 by Craig and Julie Hulbert, Perennial Hill has been described as ‘a jewel in the making’ and also contains many rare botanical treasures. Craig has had his own landscaping business for many years, while Julie has extensive horticultural experience, having worked in a number of nurseries. Her passion is perennials, while Craig’s love is rockery plants and conifers and together, they have been able to indulge those interests in a series of rooms with different themes and styles. Even though it is only 1 acre and still a relatively new garden, it feels much larger and older. It is amazing that when they first built their house, it was a completely bare paddock with a few eucalypts on the lower bottom corner and a small grouping at the top of the block. The garden is situated on a steep exposed slope and has good volcanic soil and good drainage. From the road and entry, only the conifer area and rockery garden is visible, but there is so much more, hidden behind high Leyland Cypress hedges. On one side of the house is a walled garden and rose avenue and on the other side, a potting shed and propagating area. The area behind the house is more level and is cooler, wetter and shadier than the front, allowing a totally different set of plants to flourish. There is a French parterre, topiared shapes and poplar hurdles and dry stone walls, as well as a sunken garden with a dwarf Mondo grass floor, and double mixed perennial and shrub borders. Perennials include: Pulmonarias; Campanulas; Salvias; Geums; Penstemons; Filipendulas; Monardas; Lysimachias; Francas; Helianthus and Rudbeckias. Other plants include: Ranunculus; Leucadendrons; and Echiums with Digitalis. I loved all the different combinations with a strong emphasis on colour and texture, as well as light and shade. I also like all the garden accessories from birdcages to pots and statues.Craig and Julie have a large collection of Sambucus and Cornus, including the rare Cornus alternifolia argentea. They also have some very rare trees including: Dacrydium cupressinum (New Zealand Rimu) , Cunninghamiana lanceolata (China Fir); Cedrus atlantica glauca pendula (Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar); Abies lasiocarpa compacta (Dwarf Arizona Fir); Cedrela sinensis (Chinese Cedar); Pseudolarix amabilis (Japanese Larch) and Fagas sylvatica pendula (Weeping Beech).Julie runs a number of propagating workshops, as well as workshops with titles like: Gardening in a Cool Climate; Creating a Summer Border; and An Introduction to Perennials, which covers the main family groups; use of perennials in the garden; soil preparation prior to planting; ongoing maintenance and pests and diseases. They have a market stall, as well as selling plants and gift ware in their garden shop in the house. They are also opened the garden for the inaugural Rare Plants Market Day on the last weekend of November. I look forward to seeing the development of this garden over the next few years. Julie and Craig are a lovely couple and very generous with their knowledge and time. They are constantly looking at new ideas to incorporate in their garden. Their new herbaceous perennial garden was inspired by Alan Bloom’s garden at Bressington, Norfolk, one of the 42 gardens they visited during a recent 5 week trip overseas. If you would like to see more photos, Australian Country Magazine wrote an article on this beautiful garden in their November issue.
23 Webb St Mittagong 1.25 acres
Ph (02) 4872 3003; 0412 507547; 0411 783883
Late September to the end of November 10 am to 4.30 pm $7 per adult
Not far away from Perennial Hill is another plant collector’s garden, established by Chris Styles and Dominic Wong in 1999 and specializing in peonies! They grow over 100 varieties of peonies from Chinese and Japanese Tree Peonies, which flower from mid-September to mid-October; European and American Tree Peonies, which bloom from mid-October to early November and Herbaceous Peonies, which finish the peony season from early to late November. The peony nursery is close to the house, the umbrellas shading the blooms from the intense sun. This pink peony is Hanabi from Japan.We visited this lovely garden last Autumn, but while we were in the area this weekend, we popped in for a quick sniff of the peonies, which were in full Spring bloom. Not all peonies are scented, so I was keen to smell them before making any decisions on peony selection, as tree peonies are quite expensive. They certainly have an unusual scent and I was really pleased that I made the effort to check and could now open the whole ballpark as far as peony choice was concerned. I loved the white ones and coral ones, but the deep reds were also very attractive! The first photo below is the Japanese Mekoho, while the second photo is Pink Hawaiian Coral.Peonies are the National flower of China and part of Dominic’s heritage, as his mother was Chinese. Apparently, during the early Chinese Dynasties, only the Emperor could grow peonies, so during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse Tung ordered the destruction of all peonies, because of their association with the royal family. Fortunately, they were also grown in monastery gardens and monks were able to preserve them, because their roots were used as medicine to purify the blood and treat female problems. The first photo below is Kronos from America. I’m not sure of the identity of the second peony.Dominic honed his horticultural skills on a 500 square metre block (plus the adjoining nature strip!) in Sydney, growing drought-tolerant plants around his Californian bungalow, but was keen for a larger garden and in 1999, bought a vacant block with Chris on sloping land with a creek at the bottom. They built a classic storybook cottage, which they run as a Bed-and-Breakfast with two guestrooms and a choice of an English or Chinese Yum-Cha breakfast. They designed the garden to be seen from the dining room windows, as the Winters are so cold. Here is their map of the overall design:I loved the long formal herbaceous perennial borders, which provide a constant colour from Spring to late Autumn and display great variation in colour, texture and leaf shape. Perennials include: Penstemons, Salvias, Centauras, Euphorbias, Alstroemerias, Phlomis, Oriental Iris, Verbascums, Cannas, Verbenas, Stachys, Scented Geraniums, Abutilon and Tree Lupins. There are also larger perennials like Melianthus, Romneya, Tree Dahlias, Stipa gigantea and Foxtail Lilies. There is also a potager, hedged with Hidcote lavenders, and full of vegetables and herbs; a chook boudoir; formal lawns, a parterre garden, a Chinese garden; a circular rose garden; an angel garden; an alpine garden with Lewisias, Pasque flowers and small alpine plants; a pond and stream garden, which is actually two ponds with a stream in between, growing Astilbes and Hostas, with a Chinese Peony pavilion beside the pond; and a developing woodland with trees like Tulip Tree, a Weeping Willow, a Trident Maple, Gingko, Pear, Birch, Beech, Sopora, Cherry, Judas Tree and Chinese Elm, all under-planted with rhododendrons, azaleas and bluebells. I love the little extra garden furnishings:There are also a number of lovely roses: Mme Grégoire Staechlin over the arbour; Crépuscule with an orange Abutilon neighbour; Lorraine Lea and Duchesse de Brabant on an arch over the path; as well as Abraham Darby , Complicata; Sparrieshoop and Rugspin. Dominic and Chris sell a number of perennials, as well as their main focus: herbaceous and tree peonies.
Other Places to Visit in the Southern Highlands:
Lydie du Bray Antiques
117 Old Hume Highway Braemar, near Mittagong. Ph: (02) 4872 2844
A wonderful selection of imported French antiques and decorative items, housed in the house, outbuildings and garden of Kamilaroi, a turn-of-the-century homestead. We particularly loved all the garden furniture and accoutrements including: garden gates, arbours and gazebos; tables, chairs and benches; statues and fountains; bird baths and bird cages; jardinières, urns and a variety of pots of different types and sizes.Dirty Jane’s
13 – 15 Banquette St Bowral Phone : (02) 4861 3231
A wonderful vintage mecca with over 75 individual dealers in three warehouse spaces. We finally found our four beautiful full-length lounge room curtains in the far corner of one of the sheds and after slight modification from a triple to a double pleat, they fit the windows perfectly and already being fully lined, saved us a mountain of work and expense! The fabric alone (at least 5 metres per curtain), a vintage Sanderson fabric called Salad Days, would cost a mint and is a perfect backdrop for our old cream and silver American Embassy lounge suites, which we found in our local antique shop. The curtains, which ironically were imported from America three weeks beforehand, look so sumptuous in the room and it feels like they have been there forever, even though we still pinch ourselves that we have been so lucky!Country Accents
Home of incredibly life-like artificial flowers, as well as products by Crabtree and Evelyn and Occitaine; candles and soaps; earthenware jugs and glassware.Victoria House Needlecraft
Corner Old Hume Highway and Helena St Mittagong Ph (02) 4871 1682
Open 7 days a week 9am to 5pm and online
A veritable treasure trove for anyone interested in textile crafts with separate rooms devoted to cross-stitch and tapestry; embroidery threads (photo below); knitting wool and needles; beads; and books and patterns.
370 Bong Bong St Bowral Ph 0439 025853
Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm; Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
Beautiful selection of fabrics for dressmaking. I am looking forward to sewing a dress from this beautiful blue and white fabric! The book titled ‘Art and the Gardener‘ is for Christmas, while the book about Glenmore was a birthday present for Ross.
Mt Murray Nursery
Lot 1 Old Dairy Close (off Berrima Road) Moss Vale NSW 2577 Ph ( 02) 48694111
Open 7 days a week 9 am to 5 pm.
Stocks a wonderful range of cool climate plants including maples, conifers and native trees; shrubs like rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias; roses and clematis; hedging plants; fruiting plants; vegetables and herbs; annuals and perennials and pots and ornaments. These are the garden spoils, collected on our trip from the various gardens and nurseries.Manning Lookout
We drove home via Fitzroy Falls and Kangaroo Valley. It is well worth taking a short detour up a rough gravel road (Manning Lookout Rd) to a spectacular cliff line and views over Kangaroo Valley.We had a wonderful weekend away in the Southern Highlands and could easily repeat the experience every Spring, revisiting these and other gardens including Retford Park, Milton Park and Camden House! For more on the wonderful open gardens in this area in Spring, as well as opening dates, please see:
For more information about the history of these gardens, it is also worth reading:
Gardens of the Southern Highlands New South Wales 1828 – 1988: A Fine Extensive Pleasure Ground by Jane Cavanough, Anthea Prell and Tim North.
This is the last of my general garden posts for the year. Next year, I will be focusing more on rose gardens. It is also the second last post for 2016! I will be posting the December Garden on Boxing Day. I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing Christmas and a well-earned break for the year! Much Love and Best Wishes to you all, Jane and Ross xxx