A garden of joys and simple pleasures

The Mudgee Garden Spectacular gave visitors the chance to enjoy the experience of exploring Claire and Greg Toole’s three-acre garden in south Mudgee. Pleasing, simple design gives this garden a sense of space and tranquillity.

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Understated brick and stone edgings meander along, connecting garden beds and defining broad areas of pebble and wood chip ground covers. This design, complemented by swathes of pigface, now showing its brilliant purple spring flowers, gives a sense of continuity and movement throughout the landscape.

Large aloes, yuccas, eucalypts and big old melaleucas are balanced by groundcovers and low shrubs, enhancing the spacious feel by giving clear views across the garden to points of interest beyond.

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The whole effect evokes, for me, a flat, outback landscape, with dry, pebbly stream beds bordered by abundant drought tolerant plants. I’m motivated to walk and follow these paths, wherever they lead!

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The pebble groundcovers blend well with the subdued colours of the garden.

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Like islands in the stream, there are several feature areas displaying special plants, like this white banksia rose…

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and whimsical structures like this old salvaged paling fence adorned with jasmine. Each of these special spots has a name and a story from the family’s folklore.

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Moving through the garden, there’s an interesting transition, through a hedge and under a tree, leading to a more formally designed area. An elegant poplar walk defines the southern boundary. Winter sun streaming through the bare branches highlights the beautiful silvery-white bark with its distinctive dark grey markings.

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In spring, the soft green-grey hues of the young poplar leaves provide a gentle canopy which entices one to linger whilst strolling along the pebbled pathway.

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Throughout the garden, the quintessential dry-climate palette of silvery greens, greys and browns is broken by shots of primary colour from brightly painted garden furniture. The hidden “red” and “blue” corners provide colour during the colder months.

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Found objects and clearing sale curiosities to put a stamp of unique character and joyful humour on this garden. There’s a tiny cottage with a colourful history called Battery Point,

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and many more quirky treasures.

It’s so nice to see humble “pigface” performing a starring role in this wonderful garden.

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This garden is “at home” in the central west of NSW, so it’s no surprise that it feels “just right”. The garden’s openness and visibility makes it an asset to the south Mudgee area.

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. It would have been a wonderful weekend to check out these gardens.I am sorry I missed it. Mel

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      It was really good. The gardens were all so different and interesting. Good news is, it’s happening again next year!

      1. OK – will keep my eye for it in 2019!

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    A fascinating garden indeed, with its walks and curiosities. I particularly like poplar walk- what a charming place to stroll. I often wonder where the name pig face originated!

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Thanks Jane. Yes pigface is an odd name, but somehow seems to suit the plant. I had never really appreciated it until I saw how it works so well in Claire’s garden.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Are those poplars native, or native to Australia?

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Hi Tony, they are not native to Australia. There are only two or three types of deciduous trees native to Australia. The clusters of poplars which grow by the roadsides or along stream banks here make a beautiful autumn display in an otherwise green-grey landscape.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I thought they looked like they were a long way from home, but did not want to be presumptuous. We do not all have the same species of poplars, but there are not many places in North America where there is not some sort of native poplar.

      2. My Dream Garden says:

        Am I correct in thinking that the aspen is very closely related to poplar?

      3. tonytomeo says:

        Yes. Aspen is a type of poplar. Quaking aspen is Populus tremuloides. Is that what yours are? Other American poplars are known as cottonwoods. The Lombardy poplar is the same genus, but is known as a poplar.

      4. My Dream Garden says:

        Hi Tony
        I have some information for you. I’ve been informed that the poplars in this garden are Populus alba, known here as white or silver poplar. The most common poplar here is the Lombardy poplar.

      5. tonytomeo says:

        Oh, so both are European. The silver poplar is rare here. (There is a native silver poplar in Idaho and Montana that actually looks similar, but it is a different species.) Lombardy popular used to be more popular, and I grew a few for firewood. The wood is not the best, but it grows fast.

  4. My Dream Garden says:

    Hi Tony, we have a few varieties of poplar here, but I don’t know their names. Maybe someone else can help out with that information.

  5. Penelope Cheetham says:

    I visited this garden twice & really loved the meandering paths & “rooms”. Claire Toole has done a terrific job

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      I thoroughly agree, Penelope!

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