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Bannockburn & District Garden Club

April saw 26 members and friends travel by bus to Coombe Cottage, the former home and estate of Dame Nellie Melba at Coldstream.

Dame Nellie purchased the sixty-acre dairy farm in 1909 and architects immediately set about designing elaborate extensions to the existing cottage.   The property, now consisting of over 600 acres covered in grape vines, remains as the Australian home of her descendants.

On arrival our tour guide warmly welcomed us and showed us to the dining room where we had a convivial, scrumptious Devonshire morning tea. 

Whilst we were unable to see inside the grand home, we were able to walk around it on a guided tour of the 7 acre gardens which were prepared under the personal direction of W.R. Guildfoyle, former curator of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and friend of Melba.   

On the death of her granddaughter, Lady Pamela Vestey in 2011, the family spent three years renovating the run down garden and turning the three existing buildings, which were used as stables, tack room and eventually a motor house with clock tower, into a wine tasting area, up-to-date kitchen and fine dining restaurant, plus providore area.   The dining room included the renovated clock tower which rings out on the hour for all to hear.   The estate was opened to the public eighteen months ago.

Our tour leader gave an excellent account of the grand Edwardian family life with Dame Nellie as we toured the gardens around the home, firstly walking past the original drive lined by elm trees, along some of the 600 metres of cypress hedges (even through some of the hedge where Melba had had it opened inside for her grandchildren to play hide and seek).   

We all admired a fine old oak tree, the succession of terraced lawns, one which was used as the crochet lawn, rose, native, Italian and vegetable gardens, an old tennis court, a newly established arbor for roses and the oldest swimming pool in Victoria.

Following the tour the group browsed the providore area, making purchases of the many products for sale, especially the produce made in the kitchen and a wonderful dark red pelegonium. 

Our next meeting to take the form of a perennial swap, will be held on 24th May at 1.30pm at 79 Lumb Road, Sutherlands Creek.   Depart Lions Park 1.15pm    ALL WELCOME.

For further information please call Freda 5281 1907 or Lyn 5281 1467