Well! What a month it has been! The mid-Spring garden has more than compensated for its late start and even though the temperatures are cooler than usual, the days are still sunny. There was an excellent fall of snow on the mountains last week – now that all the ski lifts have closed! The photos below were taken on our trips to Canberra on the 19th (first photo) and 23rd October (last 2 photos) this past week. It was actually snowing in Nimmitabel on Sunday! The cooler weather has prolonged the flowering season of many of the early Spring blooms, including bluebells under the crab apple tree, tulips (early October), hellebores and clivias. The trees have all just about gained their new foliage for the season, the poplars being the last trees to come into leaf, and the plums have finished flowering, while the crab apples are in their final days (photos 3 to 5). The cockatoos (photos 3 and 4) and king parrots loved the blossoms- a bit crazy really, as they are depleting their future fruit source! The latter (photo 2) also love to graze the weeds in the vegie garden, as does the white-faced heron (photo 1)! The apples have luscious white blooms and are setting fruit already. Meantime, the loquat fruits are turning yellow, attracting king parrots and bowerbirds by day and possums and fruit bats at night, the latter occasionally waking us up with their skirmishes. I don’t think we humans will get much of a look in when it comes to the fruit! At least, the white mulberries are starting to ripen and the blueberries and raspberries are in flower. We have been feasting on delicious organic strawberries from our new bed, though I suspect a slug may also have been, as the wire guards preclude attack by birds or rabbits! The rhubarb has also provided delicious desserts and I have been substituting angelica leaves for the sugar, at least in the fruit part of rhubarb and apple crumble- a great success! We have been enjoying our own home-grown onions, lettuce, rainbow chard and baby spinach from the vegetable garden.I also made another batch of cumquat marmalade from the 1 kg fruit we harvested. I would strongly advise NOT to combine blogging with jam making, but I think I just got away with it. Even though the marmalade is darker than usual, it set brilliantly! Fortunately, the cumquat trees are still covered in lots of new blooms. I love their sweet scent as we walk past them. The Michelia has almost finished flowering too, but the Weigela next door has now replaced it. Initially, its blooms opened white and I was a little disappointed, as I had bought it as a pink weigela to complement the pink flowering currant on the other side of the pergola entrance. I thought that the plant must have been mislabelled, but to my great delight, the blooms then turned a soft pink, deepening in intensity as they age. This plant is so pretty with its colour variations! The second photo below is my neighbour’s pure white weigela. Unfortunately, the flowering currant did not flower this year (with all its moves!), but it is doing well and the snowball tree behind it has masses of lime-green, turning white, globular blooms. The choisya has a mass of white starry flowers, which look very similar to the blooms of the citrus trees behind it. The Carolina Allspice has a number of buds this year, as has the Philadelphus virginalis, and I am keen to see the form of the latter’s blooms, as when it first bloomed last year, the flowers were the correct double form, but I did find some single ones later on, which could be root stock. We will just have to wait and see! On our recent trip to the Southern Highlands, we bought a Belle Etoile Philadelphus, with large single very fragrant flowers, which we have planted next to the old lilac on the fence. Ross has cut an archway between the bamboos and a path behind the large stand to access this part of the garden.The blackbird has finished nesting in the bamboo, but a magpie has been very busy creating her brooding chamber high in the top of the Pepperina tree.Our new Katherine Havermeyer lilac is a delight and is growing and blooming well. The Chaenomeles are still throwing out the odd bloom and the red rhododendron and white azalea are in full bloom, though we will probably move the azalea into a less shaded situation after it has finished flowering. My Grevillea ‘Lady X’ is perpetually in flower (last photo)! Unlike the azalea, the Viburnum plicatum however appears to be thriving in full shade and we also bought two different hostas- Peter Pan and Allan P Mc Connell- from Moidart Nursery, near Bowral, to fill out this shady nook. I also discovered some Winter Aconite Eranthis hyemalis there- very expensive, as it is very difficult to source here in Australia- in fact, this is the only place I have ever seen it- and I may also let it run riot here among the snowdrops, though initially will put it in the treasure bed until I am sure it germinates next year! Here are the treasures we brought home! We also bought some blue primroses, a lovely deep blue auricula (photo 3), Pulsatilla vulgaris, Rhodohypoxis baurii (photo 4), a variegated Arabis procurrens and Azorella trifurcata to fill out the gaps in this bed as the grape hyacinth die down- I love their little seed pods (photo 2)! We planted the new plants in the treasure bed yesterday morning. The Lily of the Valley (photo 1) are also up and the Rosalie Geranium has returned. The Acanthus soldiers and blue Convovulus mauritanicus (photo 2) are on the march nearby. I love the pattern and form of the Acanthus, the photos below showing why their common name is Oyster Plant, and their colour really compliments the house walls. The Garden beds have been such a treat this Spring! The Cutting Garden is a delight with lots of clear royal blue, pale hyacinth blue, bright gold and clean white Dutch Iris and blue cornflowers, forming a backdrop to the bright intense jewel-like ranunculus. Such a treat! The beautifully-scented freesias (photo 1) have just about finished, but the nigella amongst it is in bud. I suspect they are the self-seeded progeny of last year’s lime-green variety (photo 2), rather than the new blue nigella, which we sowed last Autumn. The foxglove is in bloom again, its flowers displaying a similar habit to the weigela- white turning pink, from the base up (photos 3 and 4)! The Iceland Poppies from last year also self-seeded, producing white, gold and orange blooms. So stunning and long-lasting when cut. Here are more photos of the individual ranunculus blooms.The Soho Bed is such a picture and there is very little bare ground to be seen! I am a bit eclectic when it comes to style and colour, but somehow the jumble of colours seems to work – in my eyes anyway! The loyal wallflowers have been joined by a variety of other mauves and purples in the catmint, the wild poppies and the stunning Italian Lavender; blue forget-me-knot; pink thrift and verbena and gold highlights in the old gold bearded iris and now the geum. The bees, both honey bees and native bees, and butterflies are in heaven! Here are two Spring vases from the garden! The Moon Bed is also very beautiful with soft mauve bearded iris, rescued from the heavy shade of the cumquat trees and transplanted to the new Moon Bed, where they can recapture the glory of their flowering period. We did not know what colour they would be, so waited with baited breath as their blooms slowly opened. We were delighted with their dreamy colour, Ross’s favourite, and one which really suits the Moon Bed, while the gold bearded iris are perfect in our sunny Soho Bed! The blue salvia, yellow Paris daisies and day lilies and pink peony (1st photo below) are all growing madly and the roses all have fat buds and are just about to open! SO exciting! November is going to be heavenly! Even the roses from my cuttings last year are in bud! The second photo below shows the blooms of a white tree paeony Paeonia suffruticosa, which we saw at Red Cow Farm on our recent trip to the Southern Highlands , promptly purchasing a seedling, which we will plant at the bottom of the steps next to the pergola and the Philadelphus next Autumn! I will be describing this trip in more detail in my Favourite Gardens post in December. The highlight of the October roses has been the Yellow Banksia, R. banksia lutea, over the outdoor eating area. I can safely report it has now fully recovered from its drastic initial haircut and has been a mass of bright gold and softer lemon blooms! The Spirea on the fence nearby has also been a mass of blooms, but is now finishing off, while the honeysuckle is set to take over. The white banksia rose, R.banksiae alba plena, on the bottom future chook fence, has also been in full bloom, as has its partner, the Jasmine, Jasminium polyanthum. I think both of them are vigorous enough to compete with each other, as I have seen two instances out and about this Spring- a wall covered in yellow banksia and potato vine and an old pergola obliterated by a white banksia, a jasmine and a snail creeper! The Rugosas have also been beautiful, scenting the air round the vegie garden: in order, Frau Dagmar Hastrup, Mme Georges Bruant and Roseraie de L’Hay.Mutabilis and Stanwell Perpetual have also had their first blooms.My birthday Souvenir de la Malmaison appears to like her position in the middle of the pergola and her first blooms have been dreamy, though this particular lady does not like wet weather and has a tendency to ball, which is why she is in the middle rather than the more prominent ends of the pergola! Here are some other early starters in order: Just Jude (2 photos); Viridiflora; Lamarque; Alister Stella Grey; Adam; Evelyn; Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose (2 photos); Countess Bertha; and Château de Clos Vougeot (2 photos). My climbing Cécile Brünner (1st photo) on the front arch is just starting to bloom, a late small camellia beside her mirroring her form and colour (2nd photo).Spring is such a wonderful season! It’s hard dividing my time between the garden, blogging, cooking and sewing! I did finally finish assembling the small Spring cushions, helped my daughter make a bag and baked a delicious sponge for my husband’s birthday in mid-October.And we have had visitors: Oliver and his son, Fagan, who miss the budgies (who have moved to my daughter’s flat) or probably more accurately, their bird seed! A brush-tailed possum, who wants to set up residence in the roof of the shed; And finally, some Shetland ponies, who give rides to kids at the monthly markets and who are currently doing the rounds of Candelo, mowing lawns and paddocks in exchange for free feed! It’s such a great idea!
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!We 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. 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! We were really thrilled to see the bluebells in bud under the crab apple ! 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.The 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;The violets to the new maple leaf and bulbs of the treasure garden in early September, the latter in turn to be supplanted by the cutting garden as the month progressed; The pink violets to the red grevillea, Lady X; The japonicas, camellias and hellebores to the exochorda, lilacs, red rhododendron and roses; The deep red hellebore finally got its act together with a late show of flowers.The 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.Along the back path, the lilies are shooting madly, the acanthus has new flower spikes and the Italian lavender and daisies are in full bloom.The sunny heads of the calendula complement the bright golden laburnum nearby.The 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.A sole blossom on Narcissus panizzianus (1st photo below) has joined the clivea buds, which have opened into clear orange bells. The Cutting Garden is gaining more and more colour every day. We 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! 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. In the daffodil row, Golden Dawn and Winter Sun have been joined by the delicate Actaea and luscious Acropolis. The divinely-scented freesias have finally opened, as well as a few blue cornflower blooms and a golden Iceberg Poppy from last year. And our first ranunculus is in bloom!We labelled all the daffodil and tulip bulbs, so that when their foliage dies, I can transplant them to new areas around the garden.In 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! 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! Ross made a separate strawberry bed behind the peony poppies. We weeded the Moon Bed. 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.I 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!The 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!The 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!The Red-browed Firetail Finches and Eastern Spinebills are loving the insect life in the fresh new foliage.The Silvereyes, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots, and Satin Bowerbirds are feasting on the blossom! The latter two are also testing out the ripeness of the loquat fruit on a daily basis. 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! 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!
Finally, a few photos of special moments this first month of Spring… a spider web caught in the dew; a new sun for my daughter’s birthday; a rising moon and a beautiful fluffy sunset cloud.
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)
Very famous old garden, developed over 80 years by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. It 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. (26 minutes into the video).
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.
With Autumn colds, exploratory trips of the local area and the demands of general day-to-day life, we have not spent as much time as we would have liked in the garden this month, but the weather has been superb! Hence, the recent excursions to the national parks of the hinterland and the escarpment, before it gets too cold or too snowy!!! We’ve visited Tuross Falls and the Cascades (Wadbilliga National Park); Deua National Park, both covered in last week’s post, and this last weekend, Lake Crackenback Resort, between Jindabyne and Thredbo.Ross has however managed to upkeep the vegetable garden from liming the soil to planting out new vegetable seedlings (sugarloaf cabbage, cauliflower, Winter greens and onions) and sowing spinach and snow pea seed. The capsicum are still productive, but the tomatoes are taking much longer to ripen. We harvested them all today to make Green Tomato Chutney!He has also totally finished the pergola, with all the wiring done as well, so we should be able to train the climbers correctly for next season. We were rewarded with some late blooms of the climbing tea rose Adam.Other roses still throwing out blooms include: Alister Stella Gray; Jude the Obscure and Evelyn; Heritage, Eglantyne and Alnwick; Mrs Herbert Stevens and Lamarque; Icegirl and The Children’s Rose; and Mutabilis and Monsieur Tillier.As you can see from the pergola photos, the Autumn foliage of the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus) has been superb from muted golds (south) to fiery reds (north). The Carolina Allspice beneath the snowball tree is also turning, its golden green leaves contrasting well with the red of the latter.At the bottom of the garden, where the poplar and plums are bare, the pomegranate provides a welcome splash of gold. A softer gold carpet is forming under the Floribunda Crab Apple Tree. The maples too vary from an green-orange-red combination to more red-purple-orange hues, depending on the variety. In fact, the whole backdrop to the garden is in its most interesting and colourful phase.The Paris daisies are in full gold regalia in the Moon Bed and attract many butterflies. The dahlias are the other major highlight in the May Garden. The tree dahlias are finally in bloom, their fragile, soft mauve-pink flowers and buds superbly contrasted against the intense blue Autumn skies. This is why I still grow them, despite their instant capitulation to wind and frost!The seed dahlias have provided us with such joy and are unfortunately slowly finishing off for the season. Knowing that their days are limited, their foliage already touched up by a few early light frosts, I have started cutting them with longer stems for beautiful floral arrangements for the house. It is such a shame that they don’t flower over Winter, as they really cheer the place up with their wonderful colours. While I love the flamboyance of the deep reds, deep gold and bright oranges and pinks, I equally love the softer warm orange-pink shades. I suspect this is the last dahlia bouquet for the season!Here is the last zinnia bouquet, picked in early May as we cleaned up the cutting garden, as well as a sweet little posy of violets, the first of the season.We attacked the chaos of the late Autumn cutting garden with a vengeance, pruning back the rampant wayward stems of the ‘Meadow Lea’ dahlia, removing spent plants and transplanting the Angelica and Lady’s Mantle to more appropriate (ie larger) sites of the garden. We transplanted the foxgloves to the back of the cutting garden and left the old biennial stock, the new cornflowers and a very brave, tenacious but foolish Iceland poppy seedling ! I have sowed seed of Ladybird Poppies, Linum and more Stock in egg cartons, for less disruptive transplantation in the cutting garden later on. All the old bulbs are surfacing, except for the De Caen anemones, whose corms have disintegrated to nothing! Possibly, the ground was too wet during their dormant period or maybe the greedy zinnias took all their nourishment! We planted out Species Tulips (Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’), as well as 3 ‘Bokassa Gold’ Tulips, down the centre of their empty bed on Mothers’ Day. We also moved 2 camellias (‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Nuccio’s Gem’) forward, so they get more light, while still being shaded, and removed the dying Maple on the north-west corner of the cutting garden, which will be a great improvement , as it will decrease the amount of Winter shade on the bed. Earlier this month, we also planted the bulbs of Snake’s Head Fritillary, a Delft Blue Hyacinth and miniature Tête à Tête daffodils in the rockery garden, as well as 25 Grape Hyacinth, which are already up. I also planted some pinks: Valda Wyatt, Dianthus Pretty and Coconut Sundae into this bed . The Rockery Garden is a good spot for all my smaller treasures! We moved the Rozanne Geranium into the end of the bed, and while it will die back with the frosts, it should come again in Spring.Across the way, the heliotrope continues to colour the foot of the climbing rose Mrs. Herbert Stevens.