Driving anywhere from Mudgee (I'm including Gulgong and Rylstone in 'Mudgee') is a reasonably lengthy business. We're slightly isolated here and it's at least an hour and a half of driving before we reach anywhere else. This is nothing, I know, compared to the distances people all over Australia drive, but it sometimes seems a chore to have to do it. On this last day of 2017, however, it was a trip well worth making. After a couple of tiffs with our GPS, and a pleasant diversion through Portland, we found ourselves at the gates of Hillandale Garden and Nursery in Yetholme, about 20km from Bathurst.
A long winding drive took us downhill to the property, which is so aptly named. A short walk past a dam found us at the start of a light-speckled path through stands of mature trees, natives and exotics, which then opens out onto a long vista over hummocky mounds and dales.
A short walk across the garden over handmade stone bridges and past the dam (rather low in this long dry period) brings the visitor to the pièce de résistance: the herbaceous perennial border.
This border is 100 metres long, and 7 metres wide. Yes, really! It has a softly mulched path meandering though the centre, and meander we did, admiring a luxuriance of plants in an array of colours worthy of M. Monet's palette. It's an absolute explosion of colour, seemingly without plan, and yet the natural juxtaposition of colours, textures and shapes work together to create a decidedly pleasing pastiche. Along the way we caught glimpses of the old farmhouse and its attractive outhouses (potting shed, glasshouse, ex-packing shed: the property was once an orchard) gently reposing amongst the flower beds and grassy knolls. There are hundreds of different perennials in this border, and at this time of the year, they are resplendently abloom. Adding interesting height in the border are shrubs and small trees such as buddleias in various colours, strappy grasses and smoke bushes.
At the top of the border we reached the various outbuildings where we met Sarah and Andrew, the extremely hard-working owners of the property, and spent some time having a pleasant chat with them. Sarah explained to me that each winter the border, with the exception of trees and shrubs, is mowed to the ground, the clippings left as mulch and straw laid on top. All ready for next Spring when perennials, as they are wont to do, explode out of the ground ready for the next season.
A walk on the south side of the house led us through massed shade-loving plantings to a grassy glen where in rainier times there would be a streamlet running....not much more than a trickle now. I was surprised to see tree ferns growing happily here and looking outstandingly healthy in a climate that is perhaps a little outside their comfort zone. And there we reached the end of our visit. What an inspiration it was to visit this beautiful place: I think another visit in a different season would be in order