Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Riversdale Garden

Last weekend Jo and I visited Riversdale Garden just outside of Balhannah in the Hills. We didn't have a lot of time as we were off on a Christmas shopping spree, but as this garden is not very large, we were able to have a good look around.
The property on Wicks Road has been there for many years and was originally a large farming property extending almost into Oakbank, but it is now much smaller. I have to apologise because I had a very informative fact sheet which I carelessly mislaid, so I cannot tell you much about the history.
The house is a beautiful old farmhouse built from local Balhannah soap stone, sitting on the hill behind Oakbank and Balhannah, with lovely views of Oakbank.

The garden is quite formal in design with a perennial border in front of the house and roses along  the drive side of the house. There is a lush looking green lawn with a wide perennial border around the lawn. The owners have chosen mass plantings of perennials and roses that they know will do well with  minimal watering (I do remember that from the fact sheet).

There are mature  trees and shrubs around the outer perimeter of the garden, creating a peaceful and secluded haven for the owners.

The outer border of the garden overlooking the paddocks and a dam.
I loved the colour here with that deep pink foxglove. Mine look quite wishy washy by comparison. That's one I'll have to look for.
Lovely use of stone steps and walls with roses and  perennials
I enjoyed this garden - it looks like I would like mine to look - tidy and well kept. The one feature I did not show you, because I thought it spoilt the look of a lovely garden is the large in ground swimming pool in the middle of the front lawn. You can see a corner of it in the third photo.

Liz Needle

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ashgrove Iris Garden

Last weekend I visited Ashgrove Iris Garden at Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills. Ashgrove began as a 1 acre cow paddock 27 years ago and has been developed almost singlehandedly by its owner Dianne Michalk. From the road it looks like an ordinary garden with an iris patch that appears to be under water during the winter, but as you walk through the gates a stunning garden reveals itself.

Dianne, who is, coincidentally an ex-student of mine, was named ABC Australian Gardener of the Year in 2013, an award she justly deserves. I'd like to be able to say I taught her gardening, but I was her Physical Education teacher -  a subject which she admits she did not like.

Looking across the rose garden to the house.

Looking back down the drive to the rose garden.

The rose garden is mass planted with David Austin varieties and has a central fountain with gardens encircling the fountain. Entrance is through rose covered arches.


Irises and roses look beautiful together. Below is a shot of the iris garden containing hundreds of irises.

                           Another lovely fountain with the house in the background.

My favourite part is the woodland garden.

This area is shaded by large mature trees under planted  with shade loving perennials, ferns and shrubs. You just can't resist following the winding path.

One of the self sown aquilegias.

"Just Joey" a favourite rose.

Some of the iris varieties

Dianne has plans to extend her garden with several projects in mind. We can only hope that there will be some way to continue the Open Gardens Scheme so we can revisit this delightful garden.

Liz Needle

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Anlaby Garden

"To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul"  --  Alfred Austin
January 4th   - the last time I wrote in my Blog. I can't believe it is so long. Time I put pen to paper  - or fingers to keyboard and got on with it.
This year I have spent a huge amount of time in my garden and I am very pleased with the results of my labour, but today this is not about my garden, but a wonderful garden Jo and I visited recently.

Anlaby Station was established in 1839 14 kilometres north of Kadina in the mid north of South Australia by John Finiss and then acquired by Frederick Dutton in 1841. At one stage it consisted of 70 000 acres but the size was reduced over the years. The history of the property and of the garden is interesting and involved and I am not going to attempt to cover it here. If you are interested, go to Google. Deakin University has a very interesting history of the garden that can be easily accessed.

Suffice to say that the garden was extensive(10 acres) and full of exotic plant species that required more water than was readily available and by the early 1900s required 14 gardeners to maintain it in Utopian splendour. The station and its garden reached it heyday in this period and hosted such important people as the Prince of Wales. Among its attractions were an orchid house, a stove house, a pelargonium house, a chrysanthemum house, an azalea and rhododendron house, 2 shade houses, a stone grotto, a stove house, mushroom house, cucumber house, grape house, apple storehouse, greenhouse, 2 rosaries, 3 lily ponds, a peacock pavilion, a tennis lawn and walled vegetable gardens, not to mention house gardens to provide house flowers. No wonder they needed 14 gardeners.

The garden was not well maintained further into the 20th century and after the Duttons sold it   in the 1970s the house and gardens fell into a sad state of disrepair. New owners acquired it around 2002 and set about the huge task of renovating both house and garden. They started clearing the mass of overgrown shrubs and trees, working from the house out, discovering in the process some amazing garden structure. Then they went back and started re planting the gardens, again from the house out.

What we see in 2014 is a beautiful property in a state of renovation. These photos I took should give you some idea of the size and beauty of the property.

This is the main house and front garden. As far as I can establish it was built around 1857 with later additions. It has 23 rooms, including a servants' wing.

This delightful hose was the managers residence and farm office . This is now a three bedroom B & B.

Tours of the garden and main house are available but need to be pre- arranged

This paved area houses the stables, tack rooms and carriage house.

The Head gardener's residence

One of the several walled vegetable gardens.

This structure is built from terracotta tiles and was the apple storehouse. Inside it is lined with wide wooden shelves.

The renovated peacock pavilion.

The folly, overlooking the tennis lawn. This delightful building was originally a stone water tank. The room upstairs was where the 'squire' retired to get away from his family to read and write in peace. The bottom room was used as a piano room by the mistress of the house. This building was used by Geoffrey Dutton, the writer.

Below are views of the renovated garden around the house.


The tennis lawn and main house viewed from the Folly.


 a delightful walk

This  area, still to be replanted was probably the house garden where flowers were grown for picking for the house.

Part of the original stone grotto that is being renovated.

This amazing garden is a work in progress. It is astounding to think that it was established in the dry mid north of South Australia where there is no permanent natural water supply. Originally it was watered from dams, but in drought conditions water was scarce and many plants did not survive. Now the water is supplied by a bore.

Hopefully Anlaby will be open to the public next year and we can return to see what further improvements have been made.  Truly a fascinating visit. If you would like to see more of this property, go to the website in the link above.

Liz Needle


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Skywatch Friday

Finally a proper summer sunset. I was lucky to get it as I was working at the computer and only noticed it when I got up to get a drink. Here it is.

I love how the colour streaks across the sky.

Zooming in closer

Moving across to the left

Just beautiful.

Liz Needle   ---   linking with Skywatch Friday.