Shearstone’s house site and garden, carved out of a steep, rocky hillside north of Mudgee, delighted visitors at the 2018 Mudgee Garden Spectacular a few weeks ago.
The site presents challenges and opportunities, and owners Karol and Dallas Lawry have made the most of its unique natural resources of rock and stone.
The site has been sculpted and landscaped expertly, with broad terraced areas separated by retaining walls made from piles of huge, carefully placed boulders. These are the focus for the decorative plantings, despite the minimal available soil.
Karol has mastered the craft of building dry-stone retaining walls, using flat stones collected on the property. Their rich colours are complemented by a fringe of native violets along the base. A collection of weathered old farming implements matches the colours in the walls and adds a sense of nostalgia and tranquillity.
Nestled into the hill, the north side of the house looks out onto a wall of predominantly green and silver-grey plants with small white, pink and mauve blossoms- catmint, snow in summer, erigeron, star jasmine and a lush carpet of “baby tears”. The effect of the masses of small flowers is captivating and romantic.
A rock slab staircase leads to the top level.
On this level, the expanse of lawn is surrounded by dry stone walls interrupted dramatically here and there by groupings of huge, silvery-grey, outcropping boulders. This area is reminiscent of an ancient amphitheatre, and provides breathtaking views over the valley below, to Mudgee and the hills beyond.
The spring flower display is dominated by cascades and carpets of white blossoming shrubs.
Pastel blue masses of catmint have been added, to create a lovely carpeting effect. The use of these low-growing shrubs and restricted colour palette, enables the drama of the rocks and stone to dominate the landscape.
The slopes above the amphitheatre are planted with many deciduous trees, which were beautiful with subtle colour when I visited in autumn.
Karol and Dallas have created a unique and beautiful masterpiece at Shearstone.