The spectacular Monaro district, high above the plains to the north and west host some of Australia’s most spectacular private gardens providing aesthetic relief against the challenges of living and farming in a demanding environment.
Designed to compliment the homesteads which are a focus of the historic station properties grazing Merino sheep and cattle, the gardens have been allowed to mature into the vision those who planted them many years ago envisaged.
Enthusiastically maintained by the current generation of custodians who have each added their own touch, three gardens are open during the autumn and spring each year for an exclusive self-drive tour.
Each garden has something different to offer in either season, and are perfect for individuals, couples or groups to enjoy the ambiance and appreciate the dedication of keen gardeners who have made a welcoming respite from daily toil.
The forthcoming Autumn tours start on 2 April and can be previewed through the Private Gardens of the Monaro website www.privategardensofmonaro.com.au
The self-drive tours start at Hazeldean, south of Cooma at 10.00am sharp where guests have the opportunity to spend a leisurely hour and half including morning tea.
The tour then moves onto Shirley near Nimmitabel for lunch before entering the garden at Curry Flat, Nimmitabel for afternoon tea.
Hazeldean was settled by the Litchfield family in 1865, and the sixth generation of the family proudly manage one of the largest and most progressive Merino and Angus seedstock operations in Australia.
The homestead was built in 1907 and following a major renovation during the 1930’s by Professor Leslie Wilkinson, the first Dean of Architecture at the University of Sydney, it now has pride of place on the historic station.
The latest major renovation is nearing completion – the 1964 plans drawn up by Wilkinson to add a second storey finally realised 45 years later.
It is surrounded by a grove of century old English Elm trees within a four hectare parkland.
Closer to the homestead, and current custodians Jim and Libby Litchfield have established new stone walls and expansive lawn terraces.
The two hectare garden features several courtyards, a cross-axis Pear allee, extensive plantings of peonies, a wild garden of Spring flowering bulbs and an orchard.
There are fabulous vistas across the Monaro High Plains, and the garden also features the historic stone stables built from basalt quarried on the property.
Situated between Nimmitabel and Bombala, the garden on Shirely enjoys a higher than usual rainfall than many properties across the Monaro giving it the chance to endure through the periods of drought the region experiences.
Originally designed in the late 1930’s by Claude Crowe, current custodians John and Sally-Ann Cottle are the third generation of the family and maintain and enhance the garden
In 2006 they commissioned Melbourne-based landscape designer to undertake a major renovation.
The work of previous generations has been retained, with John and Sally-Ann assimilating their love of European garden design into an Australian setting.
It has made the garden at Shirley an oasis on the Monaro; and with three and half hectares of expansive lawns, magnificent and mature trees, a parterre garden with a spectacular lake, visitors will find plenty to enjoy while having lunch.
The Curry Flat homestead was designed by well known Monaro architect G.D Cochrane in 1895 and retains the original design featuring gracious verandahs and bay windows.
The garden was designed and laid out by Claude Crowe of Berrima Bridge Nurseries in 1954, and the original intention is still preserved.
The Jardine family settled at Curry Flat in 1846, and Sue and Jim Jardine are the latest of the family to curate and preserve the garden through dry periods.
They have extended the garden, adding a lake near the entrance and planted many deciduous trees.
The charming garden has several ‘rooms’ including a sundial rose garden and a reflection pond.
The self-drive tours are exclusive and for a maximum of only 25 people.
Catered lunch, morning and afternoon tea is included along with tailor made garden tours.