While not strictly part of the Southern Highlands, being slightly further north and at a lower altitude, I am describing this wonderful property as part of my Southern Highlands garden post, because it was part of our terrific weekend away- in fact, it was the initial draw card, as its Spring Fair was being held this particular weekend and Glenmore House was only a 45 minute drive from Mittagong, where we were staying.
Glenmore House is a very dreamy romantic garden and we were delighted to be able to visit it for their annual Spring Fair, having originally read about Mickey Robinson’s Kitchen Garden in the ABC Organic Garden magazine and subscribing to her blog. Her home and garden are an absolute delight and a must for anyone who loves organic vegetable gardening, as well as old farm buildings! Mickey, an interior decorator, and her husband Larry, a leadership communication consultant, bought the dilapidated old Georgian sandstone cottage (1840) with all its equally dilapidated outbuildings in 1988 and have renovated them all to the wonderful state they are in today. They also developed a beautiful garden with many different spaces, all visible from the house and full of plants, chosen for their scent and the family memories they evoked. Mickey has written about their journey in a beautiful coffee table book called ‘The House and Garden at Glenmore’, which was launched at the Spring Fair and contains many beautiful photographs and very informative text, as well as some delicious recipes! She describes all the different garden areas in detail, which have been illustrated in this map by Catherine O’Neill: Her favourite section is the kitchen garden and she gave us a very interesting tour and talk on the day. She also runs lots of workshops, which are advertised on her website and include:
Kitchen Gardening Days: Seasonal vegetable gardening with Linda Ross: crop rotation; successional planting; staking and structures; pruning; harvesting and storage; seed collection; compost making; pests – basically everything to do with planting and growing produce. Includes a delicious seasonal lunch in the loggia.
Making risottos; desserts; cordials; jams and marmalades;
Preserving days; Slow Food days; and Tomato days.
Open Garden and Spring Fair
Spring Chamber Music Concerts
Other creative workshops:
Natural Christmas : Christmas decorating and table settings.
Christmas Willow Vines and Foliage workshop with Penny Simons.
Flower Workshops with Jardine Hansen, who arranges lovely blowsy bouquets of seasonal local flowers.
Herbal Garden workshops with Anthia Koullouros, a naturopath and herbalist, who founded Ovvio Teas (http://www.ovvioorganics.com.au/), which are totally organic and certified, and include a range of 38 teas – quite delicious, as we later discovered, having purchased three different varieties at the fair.
Natural Dyeing workshops with India Flint: Bag Stories; Botanical Alchemy.
A Journey Round Italy with Stefano Manfredi.We had a wonderful morning exploring all the different sections of the garden, as well as looking at the stalls including :
Secret Garden : Herbs and perennials
Camden Park : Rare plants
Patio Plants : Vegetable seedlings
Sibella Court : Tinkered hardware
Twig Furniture : Rustic garden furnitureMickey was also selling garden tools, baskets, vases, soaps and creams, scented water and and her trademark hat dress and apron from the Barn, the centre of her interior decorating business.Like Red Cow Farm, there is so much to this garden. It is well worth buying her book for more detail, but here are a few photos, illustrating some of our favourite aspects :
1.The Persimmon Lawn at the entrance with its old Silk Floss tree Cebia speciosa; the peppercorn tree, under-planted with orange clivias; a pair of old persimmon trees; an old macadamia tree and a hoop pine.2. The old stone cottage was very sympathetically restored with two new wings, separate to the house, so it did not compromise the integrity of the original dwelling, and so similar in style that it is difficult to discern that they are not original. The front courtyard has a round pond of bulrushes, a dry stone wall and huge dramatic agaves Agave americana. Beautifully- scented frost-tender plants like ginger, ornamental banana, stephanotis, justicia, shell ginger and coral cannas fill the space between the main cottage and the bedroom wing. There is also a bed of Bourbon roses: Mme Isaac Pereire, LaReine Victoria and Souvenir de la Malmaison next to the house.3. The back courtyard with the steps to the gallery flanked by a pair of bay trees; a raised hexagonal stone pond with white lotus Nelumbo nucifera ‘Bliss’; crazy paving; a pair of timber Lutyens-style benches; a copper of Japanese Iris; verandahs clothed in grape vines; and numerous terracotta pots of succulents; pelargoniums; box spheres and pyramids; and mint and chives for the kitchen nearby. I loved its emphasis on white with hybrid musk rose Prosperity, Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ and Viburnum opulus; Hydrangea quercifolia and Japanese windflowers.4. The arc between the house, driveway and paddocks with its old peppercorn tree, yuccas, germander row and sphere; phlomis; romneya; philadelphus; santolina and salvias; Rosabrunonii along the fence; and a firepit.5. The Barn Garden with its Malus ioensis plena in full flower, a White Cedar tree, their daughters’ old cubbyhouse, a juniper hedge, philadelphus, maybush and roses. Rambling rose Félicité etPerpétue grows over the Barn and an espaliered pear tree ‘Sensation’ is trained on the end wall in between topiared balls of cotoneaster. I loved the belfry and the stable doors, painted with auriculas by artist Xanga Connelley.6. The Old Stables, which were converted to a pool house and have a pair of frangipani trees planted on the front wall, under-planted with Gardenia radicans, and a Climbing Cécile Brünner rose over the end of the building. The fence is covered with Trachelospermum jasminoides, with further scent provided by an apricot Datura and an Osmanthus fragrans at the bottom end of the pool enclosure.7. The beautiful 3 metre wide double herbaceous borders, which ran the length of the pool fence and were a riot of colour and scent with plantings of : Daybreak Yoshino Cherry Prunusyedoensis ‘Akebono’; New Zealand Flax Phormium tenax with its strappy bronze leaves; striking stands of Miscanthus sinensis; Rugosa roses Sarah Van Fleet and Fru Dagmar Hastrup; apricot canna lilies and burgundy pompom dahlias; cardoons and Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’; Achillea ‘Moonshine’; pink Valerian; Salvia guaranitica; clary sage; Russian sage Petrovskiaatriplicifolia ; pink peony poppies; and Knautia macedonia. The southern end is marked by two timber lattice obelisks, supporting the rose New Dawn and a murraya hedge (bottom photo).8. The Dairy Garden with Iceberg roses, Lavandula angustifolia and a wire heart against the wall. The Dairy now has a semi-commercial kitchen and is used for weddings and workshops.9. The old hayshed, where Martin Boetz put on a splendid lunch for the day.10. The Croquet Lawn, complete with Labyrinth, where the stalls were set up, in front of the orchard of almonds, olives, apples, figs and crab apples, all protected with substantial wire guards.11. The Dairy Garden and Chook Citrus Yard (Valencia and Navel oranges, a Clementine and a grape fruit), a perfect combination as their scratching keeps the citrus surface roots free from weed competition. The chooks have the delightful names of Cabbage and Rose! Ross was very impressed with the picket fence of tomato stakes topped with rusty tin cans. I loved the red walls of the dairy covered with jasmine and the shady garden of Acanthus mollis beneath the huge Peppercorn tree.12. And the pièce de résistance, Mickey’s Kitchen Garden! It was so impressive with its black bamboo and mulberry supporting structures; raised traditional beds with crop rotation from legumes to leafy greens, fruit and root vegetables and the occasional green manure crop and chook cleanup at the end of the season; the intermingled guild beds, which confused the pests; the espaliered fruit trees and apple tunnel; the fully netted raspberry house; and the use of numerous companion plants: wild poppies; fennel; nasturtiums; tansy; wormwood; borage; lovage; calendula; sorrel and oregano.We also loved the behind-the-scenes area, hidden behind the potting shed, with beds of garlic, leek and onion; lots of potted plants; four huge compost bays, worked by a tractor; two aerobins for kitchen scraps; a worm farm in a bath and sinks of comfrey tea; as well as new workshop plots for natural dyeing and herbal remedies.And finally, there are informal areas beyond the garden fence, as well as the rest of the farm beyond. Mickey and Larry run a small herd of Red Angus cattle. Tomorrow, I will post the last section of our Southern Highlands garden treat!
There are so many beautiful country gardens in Australia and many highly talented gardeners and garden designers. The wide variety of climatic conditions, altitudes and soil types allow for a huge variation in gardens and the size of country gardens is only limited by the time required to maintain them. During our sojourn in Victoria from 2009 to 2014 , we were lucky enough to visit a large number of gardens through the Australian Open Gardens Scheme and local garden festivals , including the Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens Inc. and the Dandenongs Garden Festival. Fortunately, it is still possible to visit these gardens through these local festivals and Open Gardens Victoria has taken up where the Australian Open Garden Scheme left off, though the number of open gardens is greatly reduced. Some properties have since been sold or are up for sale and some are or have become accommodation, so it is still possible to visit most of them, even if it does cost a bomb! I guess at least you get them to yourselves, rather than having to contend with huge crowds! Because this post is so large, I have divided it into two sections:
Part 1 : Beechmont; Westport; Bringalbit; Corinella Country House; and The Garden Vineyard
Part 2 : Villa Lettisier; Barb and Pete’s Garden; Musk Farm; and Lixouri
12 Mernda Rd Olinda (3km from Olinda) 4.05 Ha (of which the garden is 2.3 hectares)Illustrated map from Open Gardens visit.
We visited this lovely garden on the 11th October 2009, as part of the Dandenongs Garden Festival: Inspiring in Spring, and it certainly was! At the time, it was owned by Simon and Marcia Begg, who bought the hilltop garden with its 1970s house and separate 2 bedroom cottage in January 1997.The flat area on the north side of the house already had established garden beds containing viburnums, rhododendrons, edgeworthii, camellias, magnolias, cornus and other exotics. There were a number of large native and exotic trees including Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans); Blackwood Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon); a very tall Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera); a Bunya Bunya Pine and Hoop Pine and 8o year old Beech trees of the Fagus and Nothofagus genera, hence the name: ‘Beechmont’. Marcia and Simon were keen to collect as many beeches from both genera as possible.Most of their initial efforts were directed to the south side of the house, converting an old horse paddock to sweeping lawns and garden beds with strong vistas and focal points and a natural progression from one are to the next. At the front of the house, a blue crystal-glazed porcelain urn marks the top of a serpentine rill (pebble water run), which flows down the hill to a large reflective pond.They raised many of the plants themselves, including shrubs, cottage garden plants and Vireya rhododendrons. Garden beds are heavily mulched and watered by drip irrigation. An irrigation bore, installed in 2004, was a godsend during the drought and is supplemented by large rain water tanks.In 2002, they remodelled the old tennis court on the north side of the house into a walled garden with a central pond and perennial borders, affectionately dubbing the project ‘the SKI garden’ (‘Spending the Kids Inheritance’). The old tennis court fence is clothed in clematis and wisteria. The entrance is marked with the owners’ initials. The walled garden is connected to the South Garden by the Blueberry Avenue, which contains scented plants and a daphne collection.In 2006, the nursery was replaced with a parterre garden, inspired by Alice In Wonderland. Hedged flower beds in the shape of card suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) frame a central garden bed with a terracotta urn. Two recently-released Wollemi Pines, Wollemi nobilis, were planted in the north and south lawn. Smaller beds were extended to get the proportions right in the garden and the hen yard became another Vireya garden. In 2009. a new shade house and propogation bed for vireyas was built.Other features of the garden include: a hidden secret garden; a wheel parterre; a native garden with spectacular views as far as the Mornington Peninsula on a clear day; a South African bed; a rare plants bed; a bed of maples and deciduous azaleas; a rockery with small ponds and quirky sculptures throughout the garden.In November 2012, the Beggs sold to Cherrie Miriklis, the owner of Flowers Vasette, the well-known Fitzroy florist (http://flowersvasette.com.au/). Read her story on : http://www.yarravalleymagazine.com.au/beechmont-olinda/.
74 Ferrier Rd New Gisborne 1.6 ha (4 acres) 3km to Gisborne; 52 km to Melbourne CBD.
Set at the foot of Mt. Macedon, Westport is another lovely garden to visit in the Spring-time. We discovered this garden on 8th September 2014. At the time, it was owned by Neil Robertson, who was the National Executive Officer of the Australian Open Gardens Scheme from 1990 to 2010. He did have the property on the market in October 2014, so I don’t know if he still owns it. His forebears by marriage, the Ferrier-Hamiltons, were the original squatters in the area in the 1840s and when Thomas Ferrier-Hamilton died, he left each child 80 acres of land. His son, Vereker, who married Neil’s Great Aunt Nina, in 1898, built a country house on his portion. Vereker and Nina were keen gardeners and planted many trees, which still exist today: pines on the Western boundary; oaks lining the driveway; pinoaks near the house; a weeping elm; a large collection of Arbutus and a grove of silver birches, as well as thousands of daffodils, some bred by Alister Clark.Neil bought Westport from a cousin 32 years ago. The house had been let for 25 years and the middle storey of the original garden had disappeared, except for 5 camellias, a couple of rhododendrons, a winter woodbine and roses. Over the past 30 years, Neil planted more trees, shrubs and bulbs within the framework of the old garden, defined by the mature trees. Shrubberies screen garden rooms, creating surprise and illusion across the flat site. Plants had to cope with poor drainage, frosts, hot Summers and hot, dry northerly winds.Shrubs include : camellias, viburnums, daphne, spireae, magnolis, forsythias, Winter woodbine, wintersweet, chaenomeles and lots of old roses! There are hellebores and masses of bulbs- daffodils, muscari and bluebells.And lots of pot plants.3a.Bringalbit
512 Sidonia Rd Sidonia via Kyneton 4 ha garden Susan Fox Ph (03) 5423 7223
We first discovered this lovely garden on 6th September 2009, as part of the annual Kyneton Daffodil and Arts Festival, then stayed here in a delightful old rustic cottage on the weekend of the 6th – 7th June 2014. This historic property on the granite hills, 18 km north of Kyneton, is owned by the Fox family and has an 1870s granite homestead and 10 acres (4 ha) of parkland and garden, developed over 130 years. Here is Susan’s map of the property, which hangs on the wall of the cottage, as well as photos of Susan and her dogs.
Originally 1263 acres of land, the property was settled by John Apperley in 1858. Between 1866 and 1877, the current homestead was built in stages by John Lang, starting in 1871. William Fysh, who owned the property between 1887 and 1908, landscaped the lake and planted the surrounding parkland with oaks, deodars, pine windbreaks and poplar stands. Exotic trees surround the ornamental lake, which looks beautiful in December with its pink and white water lilies in flower. The walk down to the lake is enhanced by a mass planting of deep roses, salvias and agapanthus on the embankment of the old tennis court. The 1km long driveway is lined with Mahogany Gums.The Fox family bought the property in 1990 and restored the house and garden. There were no garden beds, so they developed a paddock on the northern side of the house into a garden, containing a crab apple walk, a quince walk, shrubs and perennial borders, a vegetable garden, an olive grove and an orchard. They used lichen covered honey-colored stone, quarried on the property, to build walls, steps and terraces.Susan is an artist and her touch can be seen in perennial border at the front of the house, which has a blue-and-grey colour scheme with lavenders, delphiniums and forget-me-nots. Cecile Brunner, Iceberg and Sea Foam roses climb up the verandah poles. Round the back of the house, stone walls edge a lavender garden with rose standards of Penelope and Delicata, under-planted with shrub rose, Honey Flow, and David Austin’s Mary Rose. The north-facing sunny terrace beds are filled with roses, lavenders, dianthus and gaura and edged with the silver-foliaged Snow-in-Summer. An arbour, covered with a Mme Alfred Carrière rose, leads to a scented garden, surrounded by lilac, and a parterre of santolina, set off by a weeping white hawthorne. I would love to see this garden in Summer for all its old roses! There was still an old bloom of Souvenir de St Anne during our Winter stay (1st photo below).The 50 metre long Crab Apple Walk rises from a double perennial border of mauve, white and pink Spring blooms, followed by white and blue agapanthus, lemon evening primroses and red hot pokers in Summer. The 60 metre long Quince Walk is spectacular in Spring (flowers) and Autumn (fruit and Autumn foliage) and leads to an old gate overlooking the Cobaw Hills. The daffodil walk is a highlight in September and leads to an original stone shed, shaded by an huge old evergreen oak, Quercus canariensis. There are many pots of succulents on the blue stands next to the shed and beside the house. Peacocks, guinea fowl, bantams and chooks free-range the garden, while cats snooze in the sun on the cottage verandah and long-horned Highland Cattle and black-faced sheep graze the surrounding paddocks. The old chook house is smothered by Lamarque, a lemony-scented Noisette rose. Bringalbit has an historic old shearing shed, numerous farm buildings and a range of self-contained accommodation options. We stayed in the Gardeners Cottage beside the main house (a very reasonable tariff of $115 per night) and the décor was delightfully eclectic and quaint! I would highly recommend staying there! There is also self-contained accommodation in the Shearers’ Shack and Woolshed Hill House and for a bit of old-fashioned luxury, bed-and-breakfast in the grand old house. The website has a terrific video about the house and garden. The garden and shearing shed are available for weddings, parties and corporate functions. It is also open to the public every weekend 10am-4pm and weekdays by appointment at $5 per head. If you are visiting during the Kyneton Daffodil Festival, it is also worth visiting nearby ‘Corinella’:
3b. Corinella Country House
998 Kyneton-Metcalfe Rd Green Hill Ph (03) 5423 2474 or 0438 269 651
First farmed in the 1870s and owned by Sue and Steve Wright, the 130 year old house has been fully restored and is now a guest house. Self-catering and bed-and-breakfast options are available. See: http://www.corinella.net/. The 2 acre garden has no lawn, just gravel paths winding through established old trees (planted in the 1900s), shrubs and masses of bulbs. In Spring, the garden is a sea of gold and blue!4.The Garden Vineyard
174 Graydens Rd. Moorooduc 1.5 hours from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula 1ha
Phone : (03) 5978 8661 or 0408 351 809
http://www.gardenvineyard.com.au/While a little too formal and ordered for me, yet very bold and dramatic, this garden is very famous and has been described as one of the ten best gardens in Australia by Don Burke (http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/gardens/garden-vineyard-2/#) and is featured on Monty Don’s Round the World in 80 Gardens. See: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwzd7r_around-the-world-in-80-gardens-2-australia-and-new-zealand_lifestyle. (31 minutes into the video). The map above is from our visit on the day.It was recommended to us by my sister, who raved about it, so we visited it on the 11th April 2010, which was very fortuitous, as it was the last weekend that the garden was open to the public (as well as the first time it had opened in Autumn). Its owners, Di and Doug Johnson, were selling and they opened it to thank the Australian Open Garden Scheme for all their support. The day before (10th April), 1200 visitors turned up! Little wonder that Di looked so exhausted!!! Di is English, so when they bought the property in 1996, she was keen to establish an English-style garden. The sparse farmland only had a couple of Eucalyptus scoparia and Spotted Gum, Eucalyptus maculata, as well as sheoaks, banksias and 1 acre Pinot Noir grapes. The top soil was thin and acidic and had a mix of shale and gravel underneath, locally known as spew, which compacts in Summer and turned to mush in Winter. Add to this the westerly orientation of the block with baking afternoon sun and only 600-750 mm annual rainfall and they certainly faced an uphill challenge! With the help of landscape designer Robert Boyle and gardener Martin Edney and plants bought from Lambley Nursery and Clive Blazely’s Diggers catalogue, Di and Doug have created a wonderful garden with a strong architectural structure of different garden rooms, bound by tall hedges and perfectly clipped plant shapes, sustainable plantings and stunning vistas. Symmetry is achieved with the repetition of plants in different sections of the garden design eg the clipped balls of westringia throughout the garden and lemon-scented gums repeated in different garden rooms. The soil has been improved over the years by applying copious amounts of horse and chook manure. A slow release complete fertilizer is raked in in late Winter, only becoming active when the soil temperature reaches 21-23 degrees. Pellets of ‘Organic Life’ are applied in early April and late Winter and lime is added to the soil every few years. The garden borders are watered by drip irrigation.Di started with the walled garden, which was inspired by a Mediterranean garden in Provence, created by Nicole de Vésian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZQWbQ0QhRg) and featuring a colour palette of grey and green tones, sculpted plants and stone walls, benches and balls. They excavated the boggy ground and built walls with English bond brickwork. The walled garden was replanted 2 ½ years before our visit with plants with low water needs, including lagerstroemias, clipped globes of Pittosporum tobira (under-planted with Mondo grass) and bush germander, Teucrium fruticans, natural mounds of Lavandula angustifolia ‘Grosso’, regular and prostrate rosemary, cistus, Buddleia crispa and Berberis thunbergia. They designed a small gravel courtyard to the west of the walled garden, surrounded by a hedge of drought-tolerant escallonia (Escallonia iveyi), then turned their attention to a long grass walk with perennial and shrub borders, full of heliotropes (Heliotropium arborescens), salvias (Salvia x sylvestris ‘Lubecca’ and Salvia x superba ‘Superba’), achilleas (Achillea millefolium ‘Fanal’), echiums (Echium candicans), cardoons (Cynara cardunculus), agastaches, grasses and roses. The long grass walk is connected to the formal areas by an avenue of lemon-scented gums, under-planted with lavender, helichrysum, echiums, westringia and artemisia, all drought-tolerant plants. The formal Italianate Garden was created next with silver borders and clipped lillypilly standards, Syzgium australe. The final addition to the garden was an Australian native garden, created by daughter Jenny and filled with acacias, grevilleas, banksias, hakeas, eucalypts, correas, lillypillys, eriostemons, teucriums, wattles, buddlejas and westringias. There is also a vegetable garden.A seat at the southern end of the garden provides a view through the silver borders and formal garden over the Australian garden to the Mt Eliza ridge. There is also a lovely view from the terrace over the lawn to the vineyard. The latter was extended to 3 acres with 1 acre Pinot Gris grape vines and a copse of silver birches, Betula pendula ‘Jack Moss’, was planted at the entrance to the property. Pierre de Ronsard roses climb the verandah posts of the house and are under-planted with Lavandula stoechas ‘Ploughmans’ Purple’.
Sue and Daryl McFall bought the property in October 2010. The garden can still be visited for prearranged groups of 12 people at $20 per head.
Next week, I will be posting Favourite Private Country Gardens: Part 2 , which will cover the wonderful gardens of Villa Lettisier; Barb and Pete’s Garden; Musk Farm; and Lixouri.
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. The cottages were small and simple with rustic stone on the lower levels, dark shingles on the upper gable ends, simple low-set multi-paned casement windows, dormer windows in high-pitched roofs, stone and brick chimneys and French doors and patios. All the gardens bear Edna’s signature trademarks of : densely planted trees and shrubs; stone walls and steps; stone and timber pergolas; low front fences of timber, stone and wire; paths linking garden rooms; ponds and arbours; mossy lawns; and the use of exotic and native vegetation.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, 16 cottages were built, each one different in size and character, but still relating harmoniously with each other, as well as the natural environment. A subdivision in the 1950s created more than 30 properties. Edna moved to ‘The Barn’, built in 1951 and then Buderim, Queensland in 1967.
Today, the village is managed by the Friends of Bickleigh Vale, a group comprising of all the owners. The trees are now fully mature and their shade has changed the nature of the gardens. The cottages have been adapted to suit modern needs. They were described by the National Trust as a Classified Landscape in 1978 and were included in the Victorian Heritage Register in 2005. See: http://www.onmydoorstep.com.au/heritage-listing/1856/bickleigh-vale.
In 1988, Devon Lane was renamed Edna Walling Lane. We were lucky enough to visit Bickleigh Vale in May 2012, as the owner of Badger’s Wood, Anna Beesley, was a fellow student in my garden design course and she organized a class visit. See: http://www.bickleighvalevillage.com.au/badgers-wood.html .
In Spring later that year, 7 Edna Walling gardens were open to the public : Badger’s Wood 1937; Devon Cottage 1956; Downderry; Mistover 1930; The Sheilan; The Barn 1928; and Wimbourne 1940.Design
Edna Walling’s design principles included:
Garden rooms, in which the bare rooms are visible in Winter;
Green is the most important colour, with texture and foliage playing an important role;Trees are planted in copses and ground covers are allowed to take over; andGardens should be mulched and not over-watered. They should be allowed to grow naturally and should be left alone with minimal pruning;Plantings include : old remnant gums (Eucalypts and Corymbias) and indigenous blackwoods; exotic conifers including cypress, pines and cedars; exotic deciduous trees including oaks, elms, poplars and aspens, birches, beeches, hornbeams, ash, Japanese Maples, Liquidambars, Crepe Myrtles, Hawthornes and crab apples. The woodland gardens were underplanted with hellebores and naturalized bulbs (freesias, bluebells) in the grass, as well as lots of her signature plants including azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, roses and jasmine.
Local stone was used to create dry-stone walls, footpaths, patios and steps.Mawarra at The Grove 1932
6 Sherbrooke Rd. Sherbrooke Dandenong Ranges, close to the Alfred Nicholas Gardens and next to Sherbrooke Forest 1.2 ha (3 ac)
A beautiful temperate mountain garden designed by Edna Walling and considered to be one of the finest examples of her work. She described it as ‘ a symphony in steps and beautiful trees’.History
Originally, the property was called ‘The Grove’ and the house was built in 1932 by Phyllis Mc Millan for her mother Flora May Marshall and her unmarried sisters. It was named after their uncle’s home at 31 The Grove, Boltons, Kensington, where the sisters often stayed when visiting their wealthy bachelor uncles in London. Edna Walling was employed to design and develop the garden from 1932-1935, but abandoned the project after an argument with Phyllis over a minor sum of money (20 shillings), compared to the overall cost of the stonework (7500 pounds, equivalent to $750 000 today!). The garden path named ’20 Shillings’ was created to show where Edna stopped working and others began. Edna had employed Eric Hammond to do much of the stonework, so after Edna left, it fell to Eric to complete the task.In 1936, he also built ‘Wendy’s Cottage, based on the Marshall sisters’ uncles home ‘Nalderswood’ in Surrey, England, with the help of his friend H Roy Langley. The life-sized doll’s house was enjoyed by all the sisters’ nephews and nieces.In 1960, Mr and Mrs Frank Walker and Mrs Carol Sallah became the second owners and renamed the property ‘Mawarra’, an aboriginal word meaning ‘a peaceful place’, the original name taken by the sisters to their new abode in Mornington. Later, the name was returned to the property by Norman Marshall, the grandson of Flora May, so the house was called ‘Mawarra Manor’. Mr Jess Exiner and Mr Peter Harris bought the property in 2002 and restored the house over 2 years and the garden over 5 years. It is now owned by John Champion , who has continued to restore the garden over the last 8-10 years. Erigeron is a major problem, its roots damaging the rock walls and stonework. It is possible to stay in both ‘Mawarra Manor’ and ‘Wendy’s Cottage’. There is even a heated indoor pool, sauna and gym in the main house.Design
Italianate Terrace style due to the steep slope of the site;
Large scale with many long walkways and avenues, secret paths and many surprises; Driveway is long, dark and narrow and opens out into bright light around the house;Grand stone staircase with broad shallow steps down to an octagonal reflecting pond;Mossy low stone walls, flagged fern-lined paths and terraces;Croquet lawn surrounded by birch;Lots of mature exotic trees: weeping cherries, oaks, elms, birch, maples and European beech trees, underplanted with bluebells;Exotic shrubs : azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons;Wendy House with its own garden; andMiniature Tudor village.Cruden Farm 1928
60 Cranbourne Rd Langwarrin, VIC, 3210 8ha (20 ac) garden, 54 ha farm ; 50 km from CBD Melbourne (1 hour drive)
Originally a 90 ac orchard and farm, Cruden Farm was bought by Sir Keith Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present for his bride, Elisabeth Greene (1909-2012). The small cottage was significantly extended by architect, Harold Desbrowe-Annear. The original garden was also small and simple and the only survivor from those early days was a camphor laurel on the northern corner of the house. Over the years, a further 45 ac adjoining property was added to the farm. Percy Meldrum designed the stables and dairy complex, which were built out of stone from Moorooduc Quarry. The ironwork was rescued from the demolished Caulfield stables and had originally been imported from England.In 1930, Edna Walling was employed to make 2 walled gardens for fruit trees and roses, but they are now used for herbaceous borders and a swimming pool respectively. Elisabeth was responsible for the design of the majority of the garden and did much of the planting, along with her Head Gardener, Michael Morrison, who has worked there since 1971.
In 1944, a huge fire through the NE corner of the property burnt a large number of trees and shrubs, including some of the iconic avenue of Lemon-Scented Gums (Eucalyptus citriodora), planted by Elisabeth down the driveway. The missing trees were replaced and linked to existing Melaleuca stypheloides with other native plants. The plantings and layout were simplified. In 1987, a lake was added in the undulating paddock east of the house. A deep dam was created to supplement the water supply in 1997 and both bodies of water attract lots of birds and are surrounded by daffodils in Spring. A variety of oaks surround the lake and were planted from acorns collected by Elisabeth’s grand-daughters.
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch died in 2012 at 103 years old. The 54 ha estate was transferred within Cruden Custodian Limited in 2014. It is used for a large number of community and charity events, including jazz concerts, family fun days and open garden days twice a month from 10am-2pm. The next open days are on 23 – 24 June and 28 – 29 July 2016. See: Groups and individuals can also visit the garden for $20 pp.Design
Temperatures vary between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius, 762 mm rain and sandy loam soil;
Lemon-Scented Gum avenue, planted in 1930s by Elisabeth;
Lawn dotted with mature trees including oaks. National Trust has classified a giant weeping oak; andHerbaceous borders and shrub walks including magnolias and azaleas, wisteria and blossom trees.I loved all the mature old climbers, wreathing the buildings;The vegetable garden;The picking garden: for roses and perennials for the house: reds, pinks, mauves, yellows and creams, including the yellow and crimson Dame Elisabeth Murdoch rose (photo 2);
The walled gardens
: the walled garden, originally designed for fruit trees, was too hot for them and now contains twin English-style herbaceous borders of pink, mauve and yellow perennials and climbers lasting 4-5 months, as well as a statue ‘Dancing Brolga’ by Lesley Bowles. One espaliered apple remains from the original garden.
: the lower walled garden, which was originally designed for roses, is now a swimming pool;
and the sculptures
: Daedalus : Edwin Fabian : just inside the entrance
: Pisces : Douglas Stephen : 2 dolphins embracing: corner to east of walled garden
: Shiva 4 : Lenton Parr : on edge of native garden near the tennis court
Ibis : Phil Price, NZ : on peninsula jutting into the lake : gift from her children to Elisabeth on her 100th birthday.
Next month, I will be featuring some beautiful private country gardens in Victoria.
Victoria certainly deserves its reputation as the ‘Garden State’, as publicized on their car number plates! Last month, we looked at the larger, very well-known general retail nurseries with fabulous display gardens open to the public. This month, I am focusing on a few of the many wonderful smaller specialist nurseries in Victoria. I have divided these nurseries according to their specialist plant type and have started with Dahlias, which were fairly well-covered in last week’s Feature Plant post. I will then move onto nurseries specializing in orchids, hellebores, rhododendrons, and natives, before finally giving a taster of the many wonderful plant fairs, which enable purchases from nurseries, which are often too far away to visit and well as increase their exposure to a wider audience. Please note my beloved roses have their very own section later in the year!
195 Mathisons Rd. Winchelsea VIC 3241 (5 km south of Winchelsea, west of Geelong)
The largest collection of dahlias in Australia.Jenny Parish has been growing dahlias since 1976, when an aunt gave her a box of dahlias. Her 2 acre farm now has 20,000 plants of 2,350 different types of dahlia with every conceivable form.
She produces an extensive mail-order catalogue online, but the farm is open to the public during the peak flowering season from 1st March to the 22nd April each year (closed Fridays), costing $7 per head.
If you are interested in Dahlias, it is well worth a visit. It is great to be able to see the Dahlias in bloom and the dahlia paddock is spectacular! Orchids :
Situated on the Bellarine Peninsula, 10 minutes from Geelong, Pioneer Orchid Farm is one of Australia’s leading growers and sellers of high quality flowering Cymbidium orchids.Brenton and Merrilyn McGee opened a small general nursery back in 1979 with a small range of orchids. Over the years, the range and number of orchids grew, so in 1993, they closed the general nursery to concentrate exclusively on flowering cymbidium pot plants for retail sale and wholesale distribution. It is still a family concern. They now have 4,500 squared metres of shadehouse and glasshouse space, holding 250,000 plants in varying stages of development.
By selecting and growing only those orchids at the cutting edge of breeding and development, they have been able to produce a huge variety of high quality orchids.
Their selective breeding program in 1994 has developed new lines like the Boutique Pioneer range.
There is plenty of information on their website about breeding and growing orchids. It is also possible to visit the nursery from mid-June to mid-November 7 days a week from 9.30am-5pm to view their exquisite orchids in bloom. Other times (February to June) by appointment. Their shadehouse in full bloom is such a beautiful sight! They sell direct to the public, as well as supplying other Melbourne nurseries. Hellebores (Winter Roses)
Hellebores are a Winter flowering perennial, originally found in deciduous woodlands in Europe and West Asia, and grown in temperate areas of Australia, including : Tasmania and Victoria; Coastal NSW up to and including Sydney; Inland NSW up to the Queensland border; Toowoomba, Queensland; and temperate areas of South Australia. I shall be discussing Hellebores as a Feature Plant in July, so will concentrate on the nursery for now.The owner and breeder, Peter Leigh, started growing hellebores in his inner-city Melbourne backyard as a keen amateur collector back in the early 1990s. He studied Horticulture at NMIT and Burnley and began importing hellebore seed from the UK and quickly outgrew his Brunswick backyard. He moved to a 20 acre property at Ashbourne, near Woodend, in the Macedon Ranges, established a production nursery and began selling plants to the public.
All the plants are grown from his own breeding stock. Peter imports the very best Hellebore seed and plants, as well as doing his own breeding. He sells 75mm pots mail-order to all states except for Western Australia between April and October, as well as selling 140 mm and 200mm pots wholesale to retail nurseries between Autumn and Spring.
During flowering season, from June to September, there are a series of Open Days on a Sunday only. All other times are by appointment only. At 11am and 2pm, there are tours of the nursery, in which he explains their propogation and growing techniques. There is a huge variety of hellebores for sale with lots of different colours and forms. There is even a small number of rare varieties.Post Office Farm Nursery has the National Hellebore Collection, as registered with the Garden Plant Conservation Association of Australia. They are also members of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Victoria.
Their open days are an excellent opportunity to see the plants in flower and learn all about their requirements, but if you cannot attend an open day, the nursery also participates in the many plant shows around the country. Their website is also excellent with growing information, links and resources and a wonderful gallery of photos, so that you can dream about and choose your next purchases.
While not a private nursery, the gardens do have a nursery attached and because they specialize in rhododendrons and are regularly open to the public, I felt they belonged in this category!
They were developed by the Australian Rhododendron Society in 1961, after leasing a block of land near the township of Olinda from the state government in 1960. Volunteers cleared the land and planted rhododendrons, propagated by the society members from their own collections. Unfortunately, a severe bushfire in 1962 destroyed the original plantings, but it did clear more land, so they started again! Many of the plants have been propagated from seed and plants donated from other international and national rhododendron societies, as well as plant hunting trips to New Guinea, India and Nepal. There are 950 species of rhododendron in the wild, from tiny prostrate alpines to 30m tall trees, and the National Rhododendron Gardens hold 550 of these species. Of the 15,000 plants growing in the gardens, half are species rhodendrons, including evergreen, deciduous and Vireya rhododendrons, and half are hybrids.
Rhododendrons mainly grow in the Northern Hemisphere, predominantly China, Himalayas and North America, but the Vireya group (300 species) grow in tropical regions of the Southern Hemisphere- mainly New Guinea, Indonesia and Borneo. Australia has 2 native species of Vireyas, which grow on the mountains behind Cairns in North Queensland: R. lochiae and R. viriosum, which flower from Spring to Autumn.
The National Rhododendron Gardens cover 43 hectares in the middle of a forest of tall Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), the tallest flowering trees in the world. The specimens next to the parking area are spectacular! They are situated 600m above sea level in the Dandenong Ranges, west of Melbourne, and receive 1200mm rain each year. The soil is deep, slightly acidic, volcanic clay loam with good drainage, perfect for growing not only rhododendrons, but also azaleas (12,000), camellias (3,000) and daffodils (250,000), as well as magnolias, hydrangeas, deciduous trees, flowering cherries, hellebores and cyclamens.
But the predominant focus is on rhododendrons! This slightly battered map shows the layout of the grounds. For a clearer view, consult the website! The area is divided into a number of different areas including a Magnolia Lawn, a Conifer Lawn, a Lyrebird Garden, a Cherry Tree Grove, a Protea Garden and a Camellia Garden, as well as having many beautiful lakes, pavilions, picnic areas, views and paths. It can be a very long walk if you want to cover the whole area, but fortunately, a Garden Explorer bus operates during the peak flowering season in Spring. The full narrated tour takes 25 minutes, but you can hop on and off the bus at various points for a more in-depth exploration of specific areas. The bus costs $10 for adults; $8 for concession and kids; under fives are free and a family costs $35.
The Hanami Cherry Blossom Festival is held in September, when the flowering cherries are in full bloom. The gardens are also available for weddings and photography.
They have been operated by Parks Victoria since 1995 and are open every day from 10am-5pm, except for Christmas day, dangerous weather conditions (eg high wind or high fire risk) and major works. The cafe, Cafe Vireya, operates at weekends and provides picnic baskets for lunch in the gardens, as well as Devonshire Teas. Plants are available for sale, as well as botanical and garden-themed gifts. Entrance is free – little wonder that they attract 50,000 to 60,000 visitors each year! Native Plants
Goldfields Revegetation Nursery : Central & Northern Victoria’s Native Plant Nursery, Wildflower Farm & Land Rehabilitation & Environmental Consultants
A specialist award-winning retail and wholesale native plant nursery with over 2000 indigenous and selected native species, including plants for attracting birds, food & medicinal plants, aquatic plants, cut flowers, climbers, ground covers, herbs and grasses, as well as trees and shrubs for erosion and salt control, farm forestry, honey, fodder, windbreaks and screening. They supply indigenous plants to Central and Northern Victoria, as well as Metropolitan Melbourne. They are open 7 days a week 9am-5pm. All the plants are adapted to the soils, frost and 500mm rain and are propagated from seeds and cuttings collected from many provenances within 3 bio-regions in Central & Northern Victoria.: Victorian Riverina; Goldfields; and Central Victorian Uplands. All plants in their catalogue are labelled with their provenance.
The plant catalogue is accessed by search criteria including : bioregion; plant characteristics; special growing conditions (wetland, salt tolerance; fire resistance; indoor; riparian) and uses (farm forestry; timber; waste water management; landscaping; flora for fauna; honey; cut wildflowers and bush tucker and medicine).
Plants are available in tubes or 150mm pots, with a limited range of advanced plants. They also sell seeds in bulk quantities for revegetation sites, as well as cards and books, nesting boxes and bird feeders, rabbit guards, weed identification posters, terracotta pots and garden ornaments, wildflower bouquets and environmental information.
The nursery was started by Marilyn Sprague, who was very concerned about environmental degradation in the goldfields area, including changes to water quality and vegetation, as well as increasing erosion . The threatened Box-Ironbark forests were of particular concern. She developed a wildflower farm near Bendigo and her subsequent knowledge of seed collection, propagation, raising of seedlings and planting became much sought in the field of revegetation, especially mine-site rehabilitation.
The nursery has a strong commitment to the environment and education. Nursery staff regularly conduct tours and the website also has some great fact sheets eg: What to Plant and Where (establishing wetlands) ; Managing your Bush Block ; Wildflowers for Floristry and the Home Garden and Native Plant Soil Preparation. Landcare groups, school groups and university students studying environmental science also visit the nursery. The nursery has won an award for the operations principles of Best Practice Environment Management, as well as Victorian Tidy Towns Commercial/Industrial Site Award in the Keep Australia Beautiful Rural Pride Awards.
Related services include : Site Inspection, Environmental Management Plans, Seed Collection, Direct Seeding, Contract Growing and Planting, and Revegetation Proposals for Environmental Effect Statements. Current revegetation projects are for Bendigo Mining, Perseverance Corporation and Reef Mining NL. The nursery has also supplied Catchment Management Authorities, Landcare groups, local councils and large corporations like Telstra and VicRoads.
It is well worth a visit in Spring to see the wide variety of Australian wildflowers. The nine hectare nursery site is managed by Ashley Elliot and was designed by Greg Burgess and Taylor and Cullity with display beds for specific regions. The propagation and growing-on areas are separated from the retail operations by extensive areas of wildflowers grown for the cut flower industry. These plants are grown on contoured ridges, covered in weed mat and mulch and watered by sub-surface Israeli dripper tubes.
During Summer, water is supplied via pipe-line from Lake Eppalock, but since this can be cut off at times, there are also 2 large dams on the property. All water is recycled. Water overflows from one dam down a waterfall, alongside a path, underneath the environmental shop and then through a wetland/biological filter of indigenous water plants to end up in a small pond and is returned to the main dam via a submersible pump. All run-off from the nursery ends up either in the dam or the pond – nothing is wasted. Salt and nutrient levels in the water are regularly monitored.
Kuranga Nursery at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges is also a very impressive nursery and has the largest range of native plants in Australia. It has 2 catalogues :
1. General natives : sold in 14cm pots, though a few are sold in 20 cm and 25cm pots.
2. Plants indigenous to the Greater Melbourne area : sold in 50mm square forestry tubes. Tube stock is propagated from seed and cuttings taken from plants in the Greater Melbourne area. Collector’s Corner houses attractive, but hard-to-grow, native plants with more particular requirements.The website also has information on plants in season and an upcoming newsletter.
The Paperbark Cafe and Gift Shop are housed in an architect-designed building made with 100-year old ironbark exposed beams, recycled from Sydney Wharf. Paperbark Cafe has a seasonal menu with a Bush Food twist including : Lemon Myrtle, Mountain Pepper; Quandong and Wattle Seed.
The huge gift shop has an extensive range of books on Australian Native Plants; cards; mugs; garden gifts; homewares; native fragrant body products; bush foods; sculptures and garden ornaments; pottery; bird baths and water bowls; bird feeders and nesting boxes; and decorative metal garden spikes.
The nursery is open 7 days a week, except for Christmas day and Good Friday. The nursery is open from 8.30am-5pm, while the cafe and gift shop close at 4.30pm.
While you are over near the Dandenongs, it is well worth visiting the next two native gardens:
2 hectare garden with more than 1400 different species of native plants, a retail plant nursery, community function room , BBQs and picnic tables and lovely views. The garden is set on a sloping site beneath a canopy of beautiful Mountain Grey Gums (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa) and Messmate (Eucalyptus oblique). ‘Karwarra’ means ‘Place of Many Flowers’.
Established in 1965, Karwarra was developed by the Mount Dandenong Horticultural Society and is one of the few public gardens where native plants are used exclusively, giving visitors the opportunity to see how they can be used effectively as part of a landscaped garden. Garden designer, Kath Deery, guided Karwarra’s early development and her design still informs the garden today. The garden includes a rockery by Ellis Stones. It has been owned and operated by Council since 1989, with support and assistance from the ‘Friends of Karwarra’ group. A 2006 Master Plan was drawn up in 2006 to renovate and rejuvenate the grounds and improve access paths. The ‘Friends of Karwarra’ support the garden by opening the garden on weekends, assisting with plant propagation and garden maintenance, with promotion of the garden and various other activities.
The aim at Karwarra is to promote the use of Australian plants in horticulture by displaying plants, which perform well in the environment of the garden. Species are selected for their ability to tolerate shade for much of the year. Species being grown including Banksia, Boronia, Correa, Crowea, Ericas, Grevillea, Hakea, Hibbertia, Persoonia, Pomaderris, Prostanthera, Telopea and Thomasia. Many rare and unusual species are grown, as well as rainforest and fern species. There is also a bush food and medicinal trail, as well as educational displays, plant catalogues and flowering calendars. Karwarra has an important role in plant conservation and holds the Garden Plant Conservaton Association of Australia (GPCAA) Boronia and Waratah collections, as well as other significant plant collections.
It is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10am-4pm and 1-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is closed on Mondays, as well as Total Fire Ban Days and during extreme weather. Entry is free, but no pets are allowed.
Karwarra provide a free e-newsletter containing valuable native plant growing information, Karwarra’s events and exhibitions, activities, workshops and plant sales. The retail nursery has plenty of Australian native plants for sale, both as tubestock and more advanced plants in 6 inch pots.
8 acres of magnificent Australian Wildflower gardens with thousands of Australian native plants from all states of Australia. Dot and Bob O’Neill were the 2005 winners of ABC’s ‘Australia’s Gardener of the Year’ competition and are very knowledgeable and passionate about Australian plants and birds.The O’Neills bought a working cherry and plum orchard back in 1976, then gradually cleared the orchard, planting gums and native plants instead. There is a wildlife lake and plenty of birdlife. ‘Katandra’ is the aboriginal word for ‘Song of Birds’ and there are over 75 bird species in the garden.
Katandra Gardens are open for visitors daily. Visitors on bus and coach tours can have a personalized tour of the garden and refreshments or you can stay in their B&B accommodation in 4 self contained cottages, as well as a private B&B suite for up to 14 visitors.
Finally, if you cannot make it to any of these specialist nurseries, they will often come to a Plant Fair near you! While we were in Melbourne, we attended the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show four times! Now that we live in Candelo on the Far South Coast, our closest annual Plant Fair is held in March at Lanyon Homestead, just south of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens Victoria Parade and Nicholson Street , Melbourne, VIC at Stop 11 Tram stop.
16-20 March 2016 9am-5pm each day, with a special twilight session from 6.00pm-9.30 pm on Friday 18th March 2016.
Adult tickets cost $27 and concession $ 23. Children 6-16 years old $10 and Family is $60 for 2 adults and 2 children; The Twilight session is $20 Adults and $10 kids.This is the big garden event for the year and it is mindblowing, especially your first visit! It is always held in March at the beautiful historic Queen Victoria Building and Carlton Gardens in the heart of Melbourne. We attended in 2010 as newcomers to Melbourne; in 2011 as a Floristry student at the Gordon TAFE, Geelong; in 2012 as a Burnley Garden Design postgraduate student and in 2014, when my sister visited us from Qld.
Outside, there are show gardens displaying the latest in landscaping; a Landscaping Victoria Boutique Garden competition for landscape designers and architects, as well as students, where they present a 5metre by 5metre garden design; the Momentum Energy Sustainability Award winning displays; a Children’s Garden;
and a sculpture display, as well as lots of sculptures for sale ; as well as live entertainment, food outlets and lots of stalls showcasing nursery plants and garden and landscaping products and materials.
Inside the building, floristry dominates with : the Great Hall of Flowers, including displays by florists and floristry schools; a Growers Avenue; a Fresh Flower Market and RMIT Floral Fashion displays, whose theme this year was : ‘Hot House : Danger, Desire, Delight’! There are also Floral Design Workshops and presentations, as well as an art exhibition, based on plants and the garden.
It is easy to spend a whole day there, so the price of the ticket is well worth it.
12-13 March 2016 10am-4pm $10 per adult; Under 18s free.Now in its fifth year, Lanyon Plant Fair is hosted by the Horticultural Society of Canberra Inc. There are over 30 local and interstate stallholders from growers of bulbs to trees, natives to exotics, as well as garden art and top quality garden tools. For a list of stallholders, see : http://hsoc.org.au/documents/LanyonPlantFair2016_stallholders_asat22Jan.pdfIf you have any special requests, it is worth phoning the nursery before they leave home, so they can bring your desired plant with you. This is particularly beneficial with nurseries like Yamina Collectors’ Nursery, who normally require a minimum order of $130 plant value plus freight, packing and quarantine fees before they will send out to you. I bought my specimen of Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’ from them this way last year and the owner Don Teese was only too happy to oblige without the hefty minimum order cost or the freight cost. Admittedly, I did end up succumbing to a Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ and a Calycanthus florida from their stall, but I still paid less than $130!!! If you would like to glance at their catalogue, their website is: http://yaminacollectorsnursery.com.au/. Yamina Collectors Nursery is based at 34 Mt Pleasant Rd Monbulk, where a large collection of rare plants are available, mostly in 15-25cm pots. Visiting times are: Weekdays 8.30am-4.30pm; Weekends and Public Holidays 1 -4pm. On Winter weekends (May – August), it is only open on Sat 1-4 pm. The nursery is closed on Sundays.But back to the Plant Fair…! It’s a lovely day out and not only can you buy some wonderful new plants, but there are also talks and demonstrations by garden specialists, as well as special children’s activities. Last year, I bought my two wonderful dahlias, ‘Ellen Huston’ and ‘Meadow Lea’, from Drewitts Bulbs (http://www.drewittsbulbs.com.au/), a small wholesale nursery at Silvan, Victoria, which only sells to the public at plant fairs. This year, I bought some special bulbs from them as well : Fritillaria meleagris; Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ and Species tulip: Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’. I also purchased a stunning purple flowering Salvia called ‘Indigo Spires’ from Q Nursery, which is based in Goulburn and which specializes in cold-tolerant plants, so it should survive our frosts!!!
Lanyon Homestead is a commercial sheep and cattle property on the Murrumbidgee river at the foot of the Brindabella Ranges just south of Canberra. It was established in the 1840s and has lovely old gardens with beds of perennials and roses and a productive heirloom vegetable garden and orchard.
There are also a number of smaller plant fairs throughout the year like the annual Mt. Macedon Plant Lovers’ Market, which we attended at Bolobek on 16 September 2014 and the Winter Plant Day, which we visited at Villa Parma, Hepburn Springs on 20th July 2014. The former will again be held at Bolobek, 370 Mt. Macedon Rd, Macedon on 17-18 September 2016 from 10am-4pm. See the Country Perennial website for a list of upcoming plant fairs : http://www.countryfarmperennials.com.au/index.php/2013-11-11-03-55-00/plant-shows.