On their 400 acre property “Avlac Hills”, extending from the summit of Mount Knowles, and down its western flank above Melrose Road, Vicki and Arthur’s joyful garden, carved out of raw, rocky terrain, speaks volumes about their passion and flair for gardening. They’ve lived here for ten years- for the first three occupying a large shed while they worked together to build their stylish, contemporary house and establish their garden.
Pebble ground cover, and metal spheres crafted by Arthur
Visiting on a cold, grey June day, the first thing to catch my eye was the elegant curve of a gabion basket-style fence, made by Arthur using steel mesh and rocks gathered on the property.
Set into a steep slope, the gardens extend all the way around the house, with an expanse of pale grey-white pebble ground cover in between providing a dramatic contrast with the greens and browns of the garden and the hillside. The pebble ground cover is practical and low-maintenance too.
Weeping cherry, one of three in the garden
An unexpected pleasure was the strong perfume of roses, caught on the chilly winter wind, thanks to the fragrant late-blooming plants among the 60 or so rose specimens scattered throughout the garden.
Hardy roses soldiering on despite the frost damage, perfuming the garden
As well as providing abundant raw materials for construction of dry stone retaining walls and other features, the rocky site has presented challenges. There have been disappointments as favourite plants have refused to grow in the unforgiving rocky ground.
Vicki’s personality is strongly expressed in the garden. There’s a huge variety of plants, ornaments and decorations, some which Arthur has created. They bring a joyful vitality to the whole of the garden. Family mementoes, such as the wrought iron from Arthur’s father’s house, are used for sculptural or decorative effect.
There’s a thriving orchard with figs, apples, almonds, peacherine, pomegranates and more.
After a great deal of trial and error, Vicki has accepted that she can’t grow everything she wants. She says, “My big mistake was not keeping a record of everything I planted. I don’t remember the names of all the different varieties, particularly the roses. I just didn’t realise, when I started the garden, how much I was going to love it and how big the garden was going to end up being.”
The garden is immaculately cared for. A thick layer of lucerne hay mulch protects all the plants from harsh frosts and dry conditions.
There’s ambition and imagination evident too. These espaliered sasanqua camellias will form a beautiful privacy screen in a few years’ time.
Raised vegetable gardens are necessity given the rocky ground.
I love the succulent gardens with their interesting variety of carefully placed plants and the combination of pots and in-ground plantings.
An enticing winding pathway disappears into a mysterious little forest of eucalypts.
Silver westringia and several varieties of grasses provide a restful vista.
The glossy leaves of these trailing roses catch the late afternoon sun in winter.
This is a garden where everything done “just right”.
As I’m leaving, another of Arthur’s sculptures rolls off the production line- it’s a third sphere made from salvaged metal discs, ready to complete a trio with the two shown in the first photograph in this post.
Vicki’s and Arthur’s dream garden, already lovely, is comparatively young, and holds great promise for the future. I hope I can see it in its spring glory- those roses, and the weeping cherries, will be something to behold, I’m sure.