A Garden Weekend in the Southern Highlands: Part 1

Last Spring, while impatiently waiting for our garden to wake up, we had a wonderful long weekend away from the 14th to 16th October. It was timed to coincide with the Spring Fair at Glenmore House, Camden, so we based ourselves at Mittagong, so that we could explore some of the other Spring gardens in the Southern Highlands. We had the most wonderful time, starting with Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest, on Friday afternoon, then Glenmore House and Moidart on Saturday and Chinoiserie and Perennial Hill, both in Mittagong, on the Sunday before driving home. All totally different, yet equally special : an artistic romantic garden; an organic vegetable garden; a grand old formal garden; a specialist peony garden and a new collector’s garden. Throw in some browsing in the beautiful shops of Bowral, as well as an amazing needlecraft shop in Mittagong and some antique foraging, and you have the recipe for a perfect weekend away! I have broken this post into three parts, which I will post on three consecutive days, to reduce its word count. In Part 1, I will be describing Red Cow Farm and Moidart. In Part 2, Glenmore House and in Part 3, the newer collectors’ gardens of Perennial Hill and Chinoiserie.

Red Cow Farm

7480 Illawarra Highway Sutton Forest, 5 km south of Mossvale    2.5 hectares (6 acres)

1.5 hours drive from Canberra and Sydney

Phone: (02) 4868 1842; 0448 677647

http://www.redcowfarm.com.au/home.html

Open 8 months of the year from late September to the end of May, 10am – 4 pm. Closed Christmas Day.

$10 Adults; $8 Seniors and $4 children (4 to 14 years old)blog-rcf20reszdimg_0317We first discovered Red Cow Farm last Autumn and resolved to revisit it in Spring to see the 800 old roses in bloom, but unfortunately, it was a little early, due to the cooler temperatures we have been experiencing, so it’s a definite on our holiday agenda next year in early November! Here is a Spring rose and an Autumn rose from each visit.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0908blog-rcf20reszdimg_0110 Despite the lack of old rose blooms, it was still well worth visiting the gardens again for all the beautiful Spring flowers. In fact, I would visit in any season, except obviously Winter, when the garden is closed! It is one of my favourite gardens! I love its size and scale; the different garden areas; the unusual and rare plantings; the variety of texture, form and colour in all the plantings; and the wonderful use of colour, as well as light and shade.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0081This beautiful romantic English style cool climate garden was created by Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrisey, who bought the property back in 1990. They designed a series of 20 garden rooms and spaces around the 1820s stone cottage, which was originally built by ex-convict, George Sewell, as a gentleman’s residence and named Red Cow Farm after the red Hereford cattle in the paddocks next door. Here is a photo of the garden plan, given to us on our first visit:blogsth-highlds50reszdimage-193Starting from the cottage garden in front of the house,blog-rcf20reszdimg_0305blog-rcf20reszdimg_0083 the camellia walk leads via the Apollo Walkblog-rcf20reszdimg_0085blog-rcf20reszdimg_0842blog-rcf20reszdimg_0843 to the Abbess’s Garden, complete with its own chapel and angel statue;blog-rcf20reszdimg_0852blog-rcf20reszdimg_0864blog-rcf20reszdimg_0865 topiared cones; and beds full of exuberant plantings of old roses, dahlias, tulips and perennials and wonderful colour combinations.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0096blog-rcf20reszdimg_0121blog-rcf20reszdimg_0123 The riot of colour and form contrasts dramatically with the Beech Walk next to it.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0129 Two portals are cut into the high hedges, which were being trimmed on our first visit.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0093 The top of the walk leads back to a circular pergola, clothed in climbing roses and the house courtyard,blog-rcf20reszdimg_0131blog-rcf20reszdimg_0132blog-rcf20reszdimg_0090blog-rcf20reszdimg_0225blog-rcf20reszdimg_0310 while the lower doorway leads down to a beautiful Hazelnut Walk, under-planted with hostas, primroses, hellebores, euphorbias, tulips and other bulbs.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0873blog-rcf20reszdimg_0886blog-rcf20reszdimg_0877blog-rcf20reszdimg_0894blog-rcf20reszdimg_0880 and the pond, with its own island and antique sailing boat and the bog garden, lined with yellow and blue iris.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0898blog-rcf20reszdimg_0139blog-rcf20reszdimg_1010blog-rcf20reszdimg_1023blog-rcf20reszdimg_0905 I loved the golden light in the woodland and the play of dappled light and shade.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0167blog-rcf20reszdimg_0194blog-rcf20reszdimg_0201 Resisting the temptation to explore the island on the lake, we meandered down the long herbaceous border, which ended with an obelisk and a wonderful borrowed landscape view of cattle quietly grazing the hillside beyond.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0150blog-rcf20reszdimg_0153 We had to retrace our steps to the next border, as the ground was a bit boggy and the bees in their beehives very active!blog-rcf20reszdimg_0917blog-rcf20reszdimg_0970 I love the variety in textures, colour and form in this garden, which was equally lovely last Autumn with all the deciduous foliage starting to colour.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0148blog-rcf20reszdimg_0183blog-rcf20reszdimg_0979 Red maples contrast with blue conifers and trees with golden and variegated foliage and stems like this wonderful stand of bamboo.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0935blog-rcf20reszdimg_1039blog-rcf20reszdimg_1011 I love the use of grasses in this garden!blog-rcf20reszdimg_0149 The woodland contains many rare trees and maples and is under-planted with massive rhododendrons and birches with paths leading to seats and restful shady corners, as well as back to the lake.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0174blog-rcf20reszdimg_0950blog-rcf20reszdimg_0187blog-rcf20reszdimg_1041blog-rcf20reszdimg_0976blog-rcf20reszdimg_0915 I loved the bluebells, buttercups, cyclamen, fothergilla, rhododendrons and trilliums.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0969blog-rcf20reszdimg_0971blog-rcf20reszdimg_0948blog-rcf20reszdimg_0204blog-rcf20reszdimg_0986blog-rcf20reszdimg_0967There are numerous statues of cherubs, nude males, mythological gods and gargoyles throughout the garden.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0940blog-rcf20reszdimg_0888The island is accessed via a bridge covered with old roses, Lamarque (see bottom photo) and Albertine, falling into the water.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0210blog-rcf20reszdimg_1035blog-rcf20reszdimg_1021blog-rcf20reszdimg_1016blog-rcf20reszdimg_1020blog-rcf20reszdimg_0222blog-rcf20reszdimg_1026 We saw two very monstrous carp feeding in the pond.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1008We then wandered back through the shrub and flower walk to the old gardener’s cottageblog-rcf20reszdimg_0991blog-rcf20reszdimg_0993 and chook pen, where crimson rosellas, galahs, mickeys and crested pigeons were also feeding with the hens!blog-rcf20reszdimg_0247blog-rcf20reszdimg_0990blog-rcf20reszdimg_1050 It is such a delightful old cottage with so much charm!blog-rcf20reszdimg_0228blog-rcf20reszdimg_0229blog-rcf20reszdimg_1077 I love the circular flowerbed in the courtyard, which was filled to the brim with bright colourful zinnias last Autumn.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0223blog-rcf20reszdimg_0235blog-rcf20reszdimg_0226 This Spring, two large tubs of tree peonies Paeonia suffruticosa were in full bloom at the end of the pergola.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1053blog-rcf20reszdimg_1068blog-rcf20reszdimg_1064blog-rcf20reszdimg_1070 Against the house is a long pond with much prettier smaller goldfish. The flower/shrub borders are separated from the orchard of apples, pears and stone fruits by the Crab Apple Walk.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1073blog-rcf20reszdimg_1102Just above the orchard is the Monastery Garden, a walled garden, measuring 25m by 8m, built in 1996 in the design of a Celtic cross.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0240 The formal beds are separated by paths, made of a mix of bluestone, sand and cement, and defined by English box hedging Buxus sempervirens.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0250 Plantings include:  Maltese Cross Lychnis chalcedonica; Cascade Penstemon Penstemon serrulatus; Delphinium ‘Black Knight’; Geranium x riversleaianum ‘Russell Prichard’; tulips; and old roses: Reine des Violettes, Pax and Felicia.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1090blog-rcf20reszdimg_1093blog-rcf20reszdimg_1096 Statues of saints on plinths abound in the monastery beds including : St. Jude, St. Joseph and St. Anthony, all imported from Canada; St. Francis from Mexico and the patron saint of gardens, St Fiacre, a commissioned artwork by an Australian artist.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1103 There is also a large stone wishing well with intricately carved sides in the centre of the cross, a huge carved bell and a large Gothic baptismal font just outside the stone arch entrance to this part of the garden.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0261blog-rcf20reszdimg_1100blog-rcf20reszdimg_0265blog-rcf20reszdimg_0259 A wisteria walk separates the vegetable garden and Montfort’s Nursery from the Monastery Garden. The kitchen garden is sheltered from the wind by huge old pine trees and is full of fresh vegetables and herbs.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0284blog-rcf20reszdimg_0272 The nursery contains many rare self-propagated plants for sale.  Ali is very knowledgeable about all the plants, having had over 20 years of experience designing private gardens in Sydney and  Canberra, as well as on the South Coast and the Southern Highlands.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0237blog-rcf20reszdimg_0268blog-rcf20reszdimg_0246 The final section of the garden is a walled garden next to the house, full of colour and scent and a birdbath in the corner.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0298blog-rcf20reszdimg_1125blog-rcf20reszdimg_1131blog-rcf20reszdimg_0300blog-rcf20reszdimg_1114 A small shop in the front room of the house contains gifts and garden souvenirs: home-made jams, scented candles and framed prints of the garden. The garden is also used for weddings and photo shoots.blog-rcf20reszdimg_0316

Moidart

19 – 21 Eridge Park Rd Burradoo, near Bowral   5 acres

Ph (02) 4861 2600

Open mid-September to late October each year; 10am to 4pm.  $7 per adult

http://www.highlandsnsw.com.au/gardens/moidart/

One of the grand old gardens of the Southern Highlands, Moidart was built in 1932 by James Burn, a member of the Burns Philp company, after it was split off from the Eridge Park Estate, and was named after a district on the west coast of Scotland. This iconic garden was constructed concurrently with the house, so was relatively well-established by the time the building was completed in 1935. The garden was designed by landscaper gardener Mr Buckingham, with much consultation with the architect of the house, Laidley Dowling, so it all fits seamlessly together as an integrated whole , the basic design remaining unchanged for over almost 90 years, although plant growth has altered the emphasis in some parts of the garden. For example, the conifers at the front of the house have now blocked all the views out of the garden and the huge mature trees are casting much greater shade over the garden, altering plant habitats and the growth of plants underneath. The same family still owns the property and lives in the grand old house.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1428blog-rcf20reszdimg_1392Much of the work was done by Bowral local, the late Clarie Worner, who apparently prepared the ground for planting by using dynamite to disrupt the solid layer of shale on the surface! A family friend and amateur botanist, DWC Shiress, chose many of the exotic tree and shrub species, which include specimens of  Giant Sequoia (photos above); Cypress conifers; Monterey Cypress; Chestnut; Red Oak; Copper Beech; London Plane; Golden Ash; Golden Elm; Weeping Elm; Weeping Cherry; Tulip Tree; Crab Apple; Dogwoods; Cornus contraversa variegata; Davidia involucrata; Edgeworthia; Camellias and Echiums. Their relative positions can be seen on this mudmap of the garden design:blogsth-highlds30reszdimage-195The main driveway winds through a mature woodland to a turning circle, where the main house finally comes into view, before ending in a garage at the side of the house.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1293blog-rcf20reszdimg_1307blog-rcf20reszdimg_1310blog-rcf20reszdimg_1309blog-rcf20reszdimg_1311 However, we entered the garden through a woodland past the hosta walk; hellebores, bluebells and pulmonaria; rhododendrons, azaleas and viburnums; and the Bamboo Garden;blog-rcf20reszdimg_1295blog-rcf20reszdimg_1296blog-rcf20reszdimg_1300blog-rcf20reszdimg_1301blog-rcf20reszdimg_1439blog-rcf20reszdimg_1440blog-rcf20reszdimg_1430emerging at a huge old camellia, very similar to the one at our front door.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1305blog-rcf20reszdimg_1299 Below the camellia is an expansive lawn, studded with mature deciduous trees in fresh new leaf : elm, beech and plane trees.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1397blog-rcf20reszdimg_1306blog-rcf20reszdimg_1395blog-rcf20reszdimg_1426blog-rcf20reszdimg_1353 To the right is a serene round goldfish pond.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1303blog-rcf20reszdimg_1308 We wandered down to the courtyard in front of the house, full of Iceberg standard roses and a silver garden.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1316blog-rcf20reszdimg_1317blog-rcf20reszdimg_1319 The central stone circular steps lead down to the first terrace,blog-rcf20reszdimg_1390blog-rcf20reszdimg_1386blog-rcf20reszdimg_1389blog-rcf20reszdimg_1318 blog-rcf20reszdimg_1384but the further two terraces must be walked the whole length to access them.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1415blog-rcf20reszdimg_1413blog-rcf20reszdimg_1400 It is such a lovely stroll past mature trees and shrubs like azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and viburnums and herbaceous perennial borders.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1402blog-rcf20reszdimg_1385blog-rcf20reszdimg_1414 We looked down over the hellebore and bluebell walk to a paddock and large dam with geese and Highland cattle.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1412blog-rcf20reszdimg_1411blog-rcf20reszdimg_1403blog-rcf20reszdimg_1421blog-rcf20reszdimg_1401To the south of the house is a delightful sunken rose garden, which is viewed from the house over a box hedge.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1345blog-rcf20reszdimg_1342 It is formally laid out with box-edged garden beds, gravel paths, a central flowering crab apple and two sandstone semi-circular seats at either end.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1324blog-rcf20reszdimg_1341blog-rcf20reszdimg_1327blog-rcf20reszdimg_1322blog-rcf20reszdimg_1344 While it was too early for the roses, the peonies were a real show!blog-rcf20reszdimg_1348blog-rcf20reszdimg_1328blog-rcf20reszdimg_1332blog-rcf20reszdimg_1356 Behind the sunken garden is the daffodil walk in amongst beautiful lilacs and dogwoods in full bloom, including an unusual double form of Cornus.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1371blog-rcf20reszdimg_1362blog-rcf20reszdimg_1380blog-rcf20reszdimg_1379blog-rcf20reszdimg_1374blog-rcf20reszdimg_1381blog-rcf20reszdimg_1377There is a lovely pink dogwood at the back of the house.blog-rcf20reszdimg_1368blog-rcf20reszdimg_1434blog-rcf20reszdimg_1433Moidart is famous for its collection of rare plants, bulbs, shrubs and trees and fortunately, it is possible to purchase many of them at a plant stall at the entrance, as well as online from Moidart Rare Plants:  http://www.moidart.com.au/. More tomorrow…!!!blog-rcf20reszdimg_1294

The September Garden

It’s such an exciting month in the garden, as it is just waking up from its long Winter sleep. Every day, I look for new discoveries – fresh leaf, new blossom and the emergence of long-lost bulbs and perennials, which have disappeared over Winter. By the end of the month, the garden is positively exploding with fresh colour!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-10-27-36blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-40-24blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-13-13-19blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-22-13-14-39We have been fortunate to get good rain to start the growing season , the frosts have almost finished and the sunny days are getting longer and longer.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-08-49-57blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-11-09-35-29 The crab apple is in full bloom and beat the white prunus this year, though the latter quickly caught up and now dominates the garden by its sheer size!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-39-35blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-17-38-10 We were really thrilled to see the bluebells in bud under the crab apple !blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-11-02-25blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-11-02-48 The white mulberry and the maples have new leaf and buds forming, as have a number of the shrubs like the new pink weigela and spireae and viburnum, the latter two now opening up.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-13-15-21blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-12-12-11-13blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-36-43The garden is experiencing the changing of the guard from the final blooms of Winter honeysuckle and daphne to the yellow banksia rose and white maybush;blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-23-23blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-23-35The violets to the new maple leaf and bulbs of the treasure garden in early September,blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-02-18-38-02blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-11-19-00-04blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-15-21-56 the latter in turn to be supplanted by the cutting garden as the month progressed;blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-11-05-26 The pink violets to the red grevillea, Lady X;blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-14-11-36-09 The japonicas, camellias and hellebores to the exochorda, lilacs, red rhododendron and roses; blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-17-11-50-13blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-35-46blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-33-13 blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-16-28-01The deep red hellebore finally got its act together with a late show of flowers.blogsept-garden20reszdimg_1147The roses have been shooting new leaves proliferously and the early roses are in bud: Chateau de Clos Vougeot (photo below) is the most advanced this year; the Banksia rose and Fortuneana are set to explode and we have new buds on Viridiflora and Countess Bertha,  Alister Stella Gray,  Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis,  Adam and the new Souvenir de la Malmaison.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-17-22-03Along the back path, the lilies are shooting madly, the acanthus has new flower spikes and the Italian lavender and daisies are in full bloom.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-13-10-32blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-15-16-51-28blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-12-41-11The sunny heads of the calendula complement the bright golden laburnum nearby.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-13-10-53blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-08-48-49The Peony has finally surfaced, as have the Snakes’ Head Fritillaries, whose pendant buds have such a distinctive chequerboard pattern. Here is the bud opening over the week.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-24-48blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-23-18-28-48blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-25-09-54-55A sole blossom on Narcissus panizzianus (1st photo below) has joined the clivea buds, which have opened into clear orange bells.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-16-00-56blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-22-10-30-52 The Cutting Garden is gaining more and more colour every day.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-13-14blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-12-50blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-46-36 blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-18-00-06We started the season with Bokassa Gold and Clusiana species tulips, which are now guarded by wire cages, since their first bloom (photo 2) was decapitated by the bower birds!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-13-32-44blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-05-13-02-15blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-09-17-39-14blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-13-30-16 The tulips are now in full steam. In order, two photos of each : Lily Tulips Claudia and Synaeda Orange; Destiny Parrot Tulip; Bokassa Red and Verandi; and pale pink Monet Tulips.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-12-11-42-43blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-24-33blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-45-55blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-09-13-55-35blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-12-54blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-12-04blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-12-30blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-11-52blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-16-46-27blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-11-32blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-25-12-46-49blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-13-13-47 In the daffodil row, Golden Dawn and Winter Sun have been joined by the delicate Actaea and luscious Acropolis.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-05-16-14-30blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-05-16-14-50blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-17-11-44-11blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-10-59-57 The divinely-scented freesias have finally opened, as well as a few blue  cornflower blooms and  a golden Iceberg Poppy from last year.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-23-18-31-29blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-32-54blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-14-11-24-48blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-17-34-43 And our first ranunculus is in bloom!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-25-12-47-51We labelled all the daffodil and tulip bulbs, so that when their foliage dies, I can transplant them to new areas around the garden.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-11-05-26In the Soho Bed, the loyal Wallflowers are now joined by pink verbena blooms, Italian Lavender, pink thrift and recovering catmint , as well as masses of sweet little forget-me-knots. We have even had our first wild poppy!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-10-27-55blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-18-13-25-34blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-13-13-58blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-10-56-33blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-17-11-41-23blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-22-10-38-23 We still need to thin out the peony poppies, which self-seeded from last year’s crop, but we have done the deed in the hand-sown bed, so it is looking much more ordered!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-18-17-18 Ross made a separate strawberry bed behind the peony poppies. blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-18-17-24 We weeded the Moon Bed.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-07-11-06-53 Ross has also done lots of work in the vegetable garden, including making protective wire guards. He has also potted new cuttings and planted out the rose cuttings, which were struck last year.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-11-09-36-14I too have been busy! In early September, I made a second batch of Spring bulb cushion panels, as well as some based on spring blossom and tulips, to keep me occupied until the garden started exploding in Spring growth. It is such an exciting time of year!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-14-00-16blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-11-18-36-17blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-10-14-00The birds are also loving the Spring! The female blackbird has made a nest in the giant bamboo, well away from the neighbourhood cats, but her mate still keeps a watchful eye on proceedings!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-09-54-36blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-14-46-05The male bower bird is in full decorating mode in his attempts to impress a mate! We caught him in the act, plucking a blue cornflower, the colour complementing his violet-blue eyes!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-25-09-50-40The Red-browed Firetail Finches and Eastern Spinebills are loving the insect life in the fresh new foliage.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-09-55-02blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-14-23-41blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-14-23-30The Silvereyes, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots, and Satin Bowerbirds are feasting on the blossom!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-10-46-59blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-17-43-44 The latter two are also testing out the ripeness of the loquat fruit on a daily basis.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-17-15-44blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-18-06-12blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-18-08-04 It’s lovely to watch the parrots grazing in amongst the bluebells, the grass kept unmown for the bulbs, though I still hate it when the birds (I blame the bowerbirds!) cut off flower heads and new growth! Even the roses and grevillea have been attacked!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-16-08-46blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-16-08-34 And if that weren’t enough food, there is always grain to scavenge from my daughter’s budgie cage on the verandah! These birds are such characters!

blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-17-56-03
Do you think we should?
blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-17-57-31
What are they up to?
blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-17-57-49
Got it!
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I only have eyes for you!
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Lean pickings!
blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-18-01-49
A very handsome bird!

Finally, a few photos of special moments this first month of Spring… a spider web caught in the dew;blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-10-06-25blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-04-10-07-10 a new sun for my daughter’s birthday;blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-08-51-50blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-06-08-52-27 a rising moon and a beautiful fluffy sunset cloud.blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-13-19-35-58blogsept-garden20reszdimg_1084blogsept-garden20reszdimg_1091

Favourite Private Country Gardens: Part 1

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

1.Beechmont  

12 Mernda Rd Olinda (3km from Olinda) 4.05 Ha (of which the garden is 2.3 hectares)BlogPrivCountry20%Reszd2016-07-13 15.05.18Illustrated 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 075BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 016The flat area on the north side of the house already had established garden beds containing viburnums, rhododendrons, edgeworthii, camellias, magnolias, cornus and other exotics.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 034BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 028BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 030 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 092BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 091BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 061Most 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 066BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 063BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 062They 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 093BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 036BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 022BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 014BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 012In 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 042BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 047BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 046In 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 049 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 055BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 051Other 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 076BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 079BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 074BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdoctober 2 041In 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/.

The house, now known as Beechmont Garden Retreat, is used for luxury accommodation. See : http://www.vrgetaways.com.au/beechmont-gardens/.

2.Westport

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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 062BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 060 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 033BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 034BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 037BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 109 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 118BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 096BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 106BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 019BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 016BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 011Neil 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 050BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 041BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 043BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 044BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 047 Over the past 30 years, Neil planted more trees, shrubs and bulbs within the framework of the old garden, defined by the mature trees.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 077BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 081BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 080BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 083 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 111BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 120BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 066BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 055Shrubs include : camellias, viburnums, daphne, spireae, magnolis, forsythias, Winter woodbine, wintersweet, chaenomeles and lots of old roses!BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 071BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 054BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 048BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 051 There are hellebores and masses of bulbs- daffodils, muscari and bluebells.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 122BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 101BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 074BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 113BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 049BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 012And lots of pot plants.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 036BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdsept 2012 0323a.Bringalbit

512 Sidonia Rd Sidonia via Kyneton   4 ha garden  Susan Fox   Ph (03) 5423 7223

http://bringalbit.com.au

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.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4385BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 150 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.

BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4463BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4462BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4442Originally 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.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4433BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4424The Fox family bought the property in 1990 and restored the house and garden.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4482BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 146 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.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 157BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4382BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4377BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4450 They used lichen covered honey-colored stone, quarried on the property, to build walls, steps and terraces.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4436BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4438BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4466Susan 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).BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4467BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 158BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 159The 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.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4480 The daffodil walk is a highlight in September and leads to an original stone shed, shaded by an huge old evergreen oak, Quercus canariensis.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4409BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4428 There are many pots of succulents on the blue stands next to the shed and beside the house.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4429BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4376 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.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4449BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 148BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4484BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 160BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4445BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4419BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4398BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 147BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4405 The old chook house is smothered by Lamarque, a lemony-scented Noisette rose. BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4414BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 143Bringalbit has an historic old shearing shed, numerous farm buildings and a range of self-contained accommodation options.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4448BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4459BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4452 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!BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 149BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4389 BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4469 (2)BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4475There 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.BlogPrivCountry20%ReszdIMG_4451 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/.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 197BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 203 The 2 acre garden has no lawn, just gravel paths winding through established old trees (planted in the 1900s), shrubs and masses of bulbs.BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 180BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 198BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 189BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 181 In Spring, the garden is a sea of gold and blue!BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 202BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 188BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 190BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 178BlogPrivCountry25%Reszdseptember 186 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/BlogPrivCountry20%Reszd2016-07-14 10.25.40While 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 529It 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 559 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 535BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 532 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!BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 514 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 506BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 528 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 572BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 525BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 511 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 571BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 546BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 545BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 540Di 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 557BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 501 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 562BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 564BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 567BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 565 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 536BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 537BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 542BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 539BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 541BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 547 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 552BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 551 The formal Italianate Garden was created next with silver borders and clipped lillypilly standards, Syzgium australe.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 510BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 527BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 530BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 531 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 521BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 523BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 519 There is also a vegetable garden.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 508A 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.BlogPrivCountry50%Reszdmarchapril 558

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.

 

 

Favourite Private Gardens: Historic Gardens: Part 2

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.

Bolobek        1911

370 Mt Macedon Rd, Mt Macedon    3.6 ha (9 ac)   Less than 1 hour drive from Melbourne

http://bolobek.com.au/

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s4034491.htm

https://vimeo.com/abodetv/review/124387849/30b995a54b

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

History

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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.22.30 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.Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.29.32In 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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.17.16Design

Modern formal garden style in 2.5 ha inner garden, with larger informal areas in the outer garden and park.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.13.40Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.19.51 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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.25.37Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.22.00

Cross axes contains a pergola and a sculpture of a girl  at the end of the apple walk.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.20.33Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.18.46Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.19.04Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.22.46Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.24.11 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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.21.53 A hedge of white Iceberg roses complement the white bark of the silver birches behind, the leggy rose stems hidden behind box hedges.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.15.09Formal design elements include :

Lime, Lombardy poplar and crab apple (Golden Hornet) walks, the latter underplanted with English primroses and aquilegas.

Wisteria pergola and dovecot;Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.21.13Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.21.00Walled rose garden; Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.16.04Herbaceous borders;Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.16.34Woodland plantings including shrubs, bulbs, hellebores, columbines and Soloman’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum);Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.22.57Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.23.08Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.23.35Sweeping lawns with mature shrubs, deciduous trees and naturalized bulbs;Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.13.05Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.20.08I also loved seeing the Flowering quince shrubs in full bloom- white, pink-and-white and red forms and the exquisite magnolias.Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.29.55Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.30.58Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.31.04Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.31.25Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.23.12Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.28.28Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.28.35Statuary including a sundial and a marble statue.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.23.43 Ornamental lake and a pool with a figure;

Rows of silver birch and Bhutan cypress and Laurustinus and Lilac hedges;Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.22.12Stone-lined channels and paths;Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.23.58Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.12.54White gravel courtyard and curved undulating gravel driveway and an avenue of Southern Mahogany (Eucalyptus botryoides).Blog PHGPT2 30%Reszd2014-09-20 10.28.10I 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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.16.21Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.16.10Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.15.00Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.14.35Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.13.46 There are 4 symmetrical beds, around the central sundial, separated by mellow brick paths.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.14.01Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.15.20Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.13.50Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.14.27 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.Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.15.37Blog PHGPT2 25%Reszd2014-09-20 10.15.43Bickleigh Vale Village  1920s

Bickleigh Vale Rd and Edna Walling Lane, Mooroolbark     3 ha

http://www.bickleighvalevillage.com.au/

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.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1898

History

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.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1825Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1871 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.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1836Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1835Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1894 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. Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1843Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1846Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1845Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1853The 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.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1863Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1859Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1885Design

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;Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1844Trees are planted in copses and ground covers are allowed to take over; andBlog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1852Gardens should be mulched and not over-watered. They should be allowed to grow naturally and should be left alone with minimal pruning;Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1856Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1839Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1878Plantings 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.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1890

Local stone was used to create dry-stone walls, footpaths, patios and steps.Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1841Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1831Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1821Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1826Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1850Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1822Blog PHGPT1 50%ReszdIMG_1837Mawarra 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)

https://www.vrgetaways.com.au/accommodation/sherbrooke/mawarra/

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’.Blog PHGPT1 25%Reszdgrampians 1 030Blog PHGPT1 25%Reszdgrampians 1 028History

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.Blog PHGPT1 25%Reszdgrampians 1 026 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.Blog PHGPT1 25%Reszdgrampians 1 063