Cloudehill Garden is located in one of the world’s most outstanding places to garden, the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria. The natural attributes of this region are exceptional. Set at an altitude of 580 metres, Cloudehill has deep volcanic loam soil and 1.25 metres of rainfall per annum. Rain falls most of the year, and there is surprisingly little frost.
Creation of the existing garden at Cloudehill began in 1992, on the site of an old flower farm, which had originally been established as a cherry and raspberry farm in the 1890’s. Visiting Cloudehill Gardens in July, with my cousin Christine, I discovered the subtle beauty and drama of winter in its fullest expression.
Bare shrubs show their structure of twisted, tangled branches.
These leafless stems are punctuated by vibrant magenta berries.
The rigours of the season bring out contrasts and highlight the powerful colours of these hydrangeas.
Succulents display their marvellous range of winter hues.
Paying attention to what’s happening at your feet, pays dividends.
Demure and diminutive delights hide at ground level.
Feathery fronds of grasses capture the winter sunlight.
Cloudehill’s creator Jeremy Francis describes the genesis of the garden. “We found rows of big beech trees (picked for foliage in the old days), hedges of rhododendrons and other shrubs, plantations of deciduous azaleas, bulb meadows (the bulbs imported from Holland … in the ’30s and long naturalized) and scattered everywhere …nursery specimens [the previous owner] grew for propagation purposes…everything was higgledy piggledy to suit the wants of the plants, that meant many could be re-arranged…We could start again, designing a new garden around awe-inspiring long-established plants. There were 25 years worth of weeds mind you, so big bonfires those first months, but the property has been an amazing place for generations: ideal for the garden I’d been thinking about for a very long time.” (cloudehill.com.au/history)
By late July, the spring flowering bulbs and ornamental fruit trees are leading the way as the cycle of the seasons slowly approaches the spring equinox.
A drift of delicate English snowdrops (Galanthus).
A weeping cherry displays its perfection.
Oh how I envy and admire the passionate gardeners, who have made this part of the world their home!