This two-hectare private property in NSW’s Southern Highlands is a garden made for picking. Whether it’s roses in spring or perennials enjoying a second bloom in late summer, the seeds are sown for their eventual fleeting beauty. While cutting flowers for vases means they will fade in time, that doesn’t bother plantsman Colin Blanch, who has worked on the garden for 27 years.
By the time a flower has died, he’s already moved on to the next one. It’s by his design – the garden has peaks in each season so there’s always something to work on, a new bud to enjoy. “We use a technique called successional planting,” says Colin. “Each month, there’s something of interest, not just a big bang in spring.”
Colin first became involved with the garden when his clients in Sydney purchased the property. With established trees and basic gardens, the brief was to improve the bones and create a flowing country garden in an English style. It certainly suits the climate of the area.
Roughly 750 metres above sea level, the locale has four distinct seasons so the work required is constantly evolving. “We need plants that can handle frost and low temperatures. I call it putting the garden to sleep,” says Colin when asked about winter. “I mulch it, cut all the perennials down and then it starts to wake up again in late August.”
“The mist on the lake rolls in from the escarpment, creating the perfect environment for cool climate gardening.”Colin
There are different sections to the sprawling garden, complete with a mix of perennials and annuals. The woodland garden, with its dappled and semi-shaded light, is filled with spring bulbs and hellebores. Meanwhile roses, delphiniums and foxgloves face more direct exposure to sunshine. No matter the season, the rural vistas of hills and the Wingecarribee waterway provide a stunning backdrop.
While the garden has never been open to the public, it was the setting for a recent workshop which raised $27,000 for the Great Dixter historic house and garden in England, where Colin volunteers every July. But he’s too busy to reflect with pride over all he’s created. “I always feel that it’s never complete,” says Colin. “I look at it and think, ‘What can I do next year to improve it?’”
Perfect for picking
- Salvia is a large herbaceous and semi-deciduous flower.
- One of the frilliest flowers around, peony poppies are beautifully feminine.
- Foxglove flowers resemble delicate fairy hats in children’s picture books.
- One of the most romantic blooms, anyone would be tickled pink to receive a herbaceous peony like this.
- Golden columbine always brightens.
- Lupins give rise to towers of flowers.
- With a structural silhouette and delicate petals, bearded irises need plenty of sunshine and protection from strong winds and frosts.
- Sweet peas are delicately fragrant.
Gardener, horticulturalist and plantsman: Colin Blanch, @gardening_4.SOURCE BOOK