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Fifty Shades of Grey Foliage

Australia’s Open Garden Scheme comes to the Golden Plains

The Golden Plains are blessed with some truly great gardens and gardeners alike.  And on November 9th and 10th, you have the opportunity to see a couple of our region’s best.  View Valley and Briar Hill lay adjacent to each other in Sutherland Street, Teesdale, owners Jutta and Ian inviting all to experience their magnificent gardens. I was lucky enough to get a preview of Ian Nash’s Garden today and what a treat it is! 

Now this is a cleverly designed garden. As with many well designed gardens, they have such a relaxed feel about them, creating spaces to unwind and really soak up and enjoy your surrounds. It really is a garden you can enjoy as a plant enthusiast, a designer/artist but just as much by the novice o beginner looking for some ideas and inspiration. 

Framed by a number of gums, their bark ranging from rough and almost black, to so pale smooth you just want to hug and rub them, the front garden combines predominantly natives and succulents in a blend which really works.

Shape, foliage colour, form and texture dominate the garden with splashes of flower throughout designed for all year round interest. Some natives are clipped into domes transforming otherwise non-descript plants into real features. The Fifty shades of grey you will encounter also incorporates splashes of rich burgundy in the succulents Aeonium Schwarkzkopp and his cousin aptly called “Chocolate”, amid deep greens, grey greens and Blues.

Ian has patience and vision and blends a mix of faster growing species which give you a “return” in a relatively short period of time but includes slower growing species such as bottle trees, which will keep adding more and more value to the landscape in decades to come.

I love how the garden shows no plant “snobbery” using a wide range of very commonly accessible plants available from your local garden centre.  Some of these, including Westringias( Native Rosemary), are used throughout the garden linking gardens and tying the whole design together. Alongside these, Ian has also hunted down a treasure trove of stunning and less common plants on his travels including a large collection of Eremophila ( Emu bush), Phebalium, unusual Correas and many more.

Now every good Aussie garden has a water feature and although this one has a few, the stand out for me is a series of small interconnecting ponds in the backyard under a cluster of gums trees. Interesting water plants help clean the water and nearby shrubs offer protection for the various birds which use it to hydrate and bath.

Behind this, a potager garden is the best local example I’ve seen. This is just a fancy term for a decorative vegie patch but done well is both highly ornamental and productive.  Ian combines beautiful flowers alongside vegetables and a large array of decorative and functional herbs to create a sensation for all the senses.

Ian’s sustainable principles see careful plant selection and positioning. This allow him to create a garden that basically survives with almost no additional water throughout the majority of his garden.  Clever use of decorative pebbles and gravels are used as mulch retaining soil moisture and reducing evaporation but also enabling precious water to easily penetrate, unlike so many bark mulches. This is an idea very worthy of consideration.

The garden has features and garden art everywhere you look drawing you around the garden.  Natural elements and recycled materials are predominantly used and include wood, stone and wrought iron. It’s a garden I feel you could circle 10 times and see something new every time. To tell you any more would be giving away too much, you will have to go and see for yourself!

Oh and if you are interested in chooks, and I confess to being a real novice, Ian houses an array of rare breeds and will be showcasing some amazing poultry on the day also. Plants will be for sale on the day and refreshments will also be available.

All proceeds on the day are being donated to the local CFA a very worthy cause and another good reason to put the date down in your calendar and make sure you go along.

Enjoy!,  Chris Hose