Making a garden in a valley is often challenging.
You can usually count on good soil and shelter from gales, but you're exposed to heavier frosts and thicker fogs than your neighbours higher up the slope.
Gardening, though, is about solutions, not problems.
Julie and Pat Condon's garden on their property Milford, on the O'Connell Plains east of Bathurst, is designed to take advantage of views to the nearby hills and planted to provide shade and shelter from the extremes of hot, dry summers and icy winters.
Pat's father owned the original property at O'Connell but when Pat and Julie were married, over 50 years ago, Pat bought an adjoining block to extend the family's holding.
The stone cottage that came with it was one of the earliest homesteads in the then new settlement of Bathurst and built for Reverend Thomas Hassall in about 1825.
It had been uninhabited for six years when Pat and Julie moved in and they briefly considered demolition rather than renovation. "Luckily we changed our minds!" said Julie. Lucky indeed: repaired and extended, it became a perfect family home for the three children who were to come and is now much valued for its contribution to the early history and architecture of the district.
The original garden was almost non-existent and Julie, like many of us in this situation, was young and had little interest in gardening.
Two things helped her when she started. Firstly, she had grown up in the district on her parents' property south of Rockley, so she understood the local climate.
Secondly, after leaving school she had trained as a theatre nurse, a position in which you are responsible for getting everything exactly right before work can start, an excellent foundation for making a garden.
Trees are a landscape's foundation and Julie and Pat planted them extensively, beginning with an entrance avenue of silver birches (Betula pendula).
Other trees were chosen for blossom, autumn colour and interesting leaves, including Norway maples (Acer platanoides), pears Pyrus Chanticleer, P. ussuriensis, Judas tree (Cercis), tulip tree (Liriodendron) and evergreen Magnolia grandiflora.
Julie extended the garden with formal, clipped hedges and a wide selection of shrubs, bulbs and perennials.
Although Julie loves strict formality in a garden she understands that country gardens need some wildness if they're to sit comfortably in their surroundings.
At Milford the two combine to encircle and complement the old homestead.
Milford, OConnell, is open for Bathurst Spring Spectacular on October 28/29. Visit www.bathurstgardenclub.org.au
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