Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Beach and Country Gardens

With my front and back gardens both ravaged it seems opportune that I take you on a wander through two special gardens that I have visited recently. Both were open for the soon to be no more "Open Garden Scheme'. 
Welcome to the Yallambie vegetable garden and orchard
I visited the first garden on a searing 42 degree day in the Gough's Bay area - just a hop, step and a jump (not that I could have done that in the heat) from Mansfield - in Victoria's High Country. But it was a journey of another kind that took me there. My dear friend Pamela, who has taken herself off to retire 'from the law' in Palermo, Sicily - not the usual choice but.. was visiting Australia for her annual 'pilgrimage' home. She was off to stay with her friend, and a long lost friend of mine, in order not just to catch up but to help with the throngs of people (even in that heat) who were expected to attend (and did) when Ann opened her garden. I was staying with a friend a mere 2 hour drive away (nothing to these country folk) and so we decided to head off to see the garden and my friends. After all the air-conditioner in the car was a great way to stay cool on the journey through Victoria's tinder-dry countryside.
Cool clear water
Yallambie is a 5 acre garden on the banks of the Delatite River (which can be prone to flooding and wiping out a good part of the garden) and Ann and Jim Lahore have done marvels since 'giving up the law' in exchange for 'digging in the soil'. The transformation since their arrival full time almost a decade ago is extraordinary. I didn't tell my friend Pamela that I was coming. I thought it would be a surprise and it certainly was! And she was the first person I saw when we arrived! So after much air-kissing we were off to explore the garden.
The 3 of us - happiness on a HOT Day - 'the writer', Pamela and gardener extraordinaire Ann
It has been a trial and error affair - as are most gardens. But Ann has had to contend with the river which provides much needed water (the garden was not too parched even on a searing hot day) but much of the garden goes under water when it floods. Imagine seeing your 40 newly planted roses and 100 clumps of perennials planted by the tennis court swept away by the flooding river. Heartbreaking. And then there are the kangaroos, rabbits, wombats and cockatoos to name a few who 'share' the garden as well. But as only Ann could in her inimitable way she had persisted with planting rare and unusual trees and as they have matured they have created their own microclimate. There is a walled vegetable garden that would be the envy of many cityslickers, there are birch glades, underplantings of nasturtiums and good old cosmos, there are cooling lawns and the ubiquitous crabapple walk.  Ann describes it as 'idiosyncratic and it is. Of course the wonderful sculptures dotted throughout the garden certainly help to take one's eye to the outside world. So come with me on a walk through Yallambie. 
Green, green, green thanks to the 'prone to' flooding Delatite River
Cool, cool, cool in searing 42 degree heat
Here a sculpture

There a sculpture - I'm sure it's not a disused bomb welcoming guests!
And so we leave Yallambie - with a view to the high country beyond the garden. Wonderful
By contrast I visited a coastal garden at Anglesea which was also part of the Open Garden Scheme. Sunnymeade was recently awarded 'Best use of Plants in the Landscape' and we could see why. It was enchanting. It was on a regular block (perhaps a bit bigger) in contrast to the 5 acre garden in Gough's Bay. 
Welcomed by a magnificent tree (and rustic tree house)
The garden included magnificent twisted stringy barks (such an Aussie sounding name) which graced much of the front garden. We were entranced by the lawn hills which had been created. It was explained that the trees take so much goodness from the soil preventing a lawn to grow but that by creating mounds with great soil the lawn could thrive and was lush and green. And those mounds were great for rolling down (just wish I was younger!) 
A free spirit (hope she stays that way!) rolling on the hilly grass
The owner runs his own landscaping business www.orl.com.au but as is so often the way he never seemed to have the time for his own garden and so called in help to lay it out! And the results of the collaboration were terrific. As with Yallambie there were many sculptures dotted throughout the garden giving the eye a great focus.
I love these 'rustic' sculptures
I thought the summation by the judges when awarding this garden summed it up "WOW! This is an exceptional garden. The plants in this garden are the landscape. The existing trees have been made features in the overall landscape, and new plantings have been done to complement and further highlight the existing trees".
Every plant compliments the next
What fun I have had exploring two such different gardens. What I will take from them is that gardeners have such a passion for their surroundings and both have incorporated the garden features into their surroundings. It was wonderful to be able to share that passion - and their vision. 

There is a place for everything
(I'm hoping to get mine back as my bookend disasters at home are resolved and recover!)

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