Mr MG and I have recently visited the garden of friends who live on a property near Mudgee. Their house is perfectly situated in an idyllic location in the centre of an amphitheatre of low hills, overlooking a large, tranquilly full, picturesque dam. Surrounding the house is a wonderful garden.
Honey-coloured walls using rocks excavated during the levelling of the site greet the visitor upon arrival. Prostrate rosemary softens the walls and helps create a welcoming entry to a garden full of surprises and unusual plants, the result of meticulous planning to allow for relief from the western sun and to provide cooling for the house.
This is an old property, and some of the buildings date back to the late nineteenth century. Careful and considerate design has ensured that new additions complement the stone and lime mortar walls of the old parts of the house.
From the front of the house, there’s a view over the lake.
The front garden is comprised of gravelled areas and plantings, amongst them drought hardy grasses, lavender and rosemary, all combining to provide an invitation to sit and enjoy the serene backdrop.
At the back of the house is an imposing bank covered with Mediterranean-style plants: lavender and rosemary, spiky artichoke to add textural interest and an intriguing collection of grey-leafed plants well-known for their ability to withstand drought. Tonnes of compost topped with mulch have been added here with spectacular results. As with many Mudgee gardens, attention must be paid to plants that can withstand extremes of heat and cold: phlomis, swaying grasses, miscanthus, irises and bulbs. There are roses too, carefully placed amongst the shrubs, creating soft pools of colour and added interest.
A wonderful collection of cacti and succulents abides near the walls of the house, providing maximum sunlight while ensuring the frost, which can be severe in these parts, doesn’t damage the plants.
There are delights all around the garden: a velvety rose, a crabapple with golden fruit, an agave creating ‘agave-envy’, softly blushing dahlias, a perfumed magnolia. All wait to captivate and charm a visitor strolling along paths and through garden rooms.
There are oddities as well: Loofah and New Guinea Bean.
As with so many old properties there are items to be found some of which have probably lain idle for generations and which can be used as decoration or sculpture.
Our visit was an uplifting one: a wonderful garden and inspirational use and restoration of the old buildings with their time-worn stone walls and history concealed in their corners. So many old buildings in Australia have been pulled down or left to fall down and it’s always such a pleasure to see some that have been saved and enhanced by a delightful and abundant garden.