On Sunday, I visited a garden in Australia's Open Garden Scheme. I could have taken more pictures but the battery gave up. However, there are plenty of pictures in the slide show above to give you an idea of how wonderful it is - and the skills and resources it takes to maintain it.
Astolat, 530 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria was buiit circa 1882-1884 by Thomas Plumley Denham Junior, a solicitor. The residence is typical of late 19th century Italianate architecture of the Melbourne upper middle class. It has an asymmetrical building form, return cast iron verandahs, refined cement render detailing, intct fenestration, chimneys and a slate roof. The name, Astolat, is derived from Tennyson's Idyll of the King.
The garden was developed soon after the completion of the mansion and is recognised as a typical 19th century suburban villa garden. At the front of the house is an oval lawn formed by the carriage drive, a tennis court with original pavilion built in 1890, an elaborate timber picket fence, and well established tree and shrub species of the era.
From 1985, the garden underwent many changes as a reult of new owners. Many Australian native species were planted. Structural additions such as urns, a small circular temple, the recessed seating west of the court and new additional buildings at the rear of the mansion diverted from the original design and changed the Victorian feel of the garden.
In 1995, the present owners bought the property and have proceeded to slowly rejuvenate the garden and return it to its original Victorian glory. A tree replacement programme has been implemented and is slowly removing self-sown and inappropriate tree species, replacining them with species of the Victorian era. Garden renovations have created seven specific themses within the garden: a fern garden; tropical garden; cherry walk; woodland garden; hot perennial border; grey border; and a winter border.
These gardens act like rooms encouraging one to venture further, provoking curiosity to see what is around the next corner. The addition of themed gardens helps generate interest throughout the year through texture, form, and colour.
Australia is in the middle of the greatest drought since white settlement in 1788. This year, underground tank has been installed at Astolat beneath the lawn to the east of the residence. The capacity of the tank is over 300,000 litres and is fed from run off from the buildings and drains throughout the two-acre property. This development will ensure the garden will remain healthy and intact. The garden is maintained by the equivalent of four person days per week under the oversight of a qualified landscape gardener