The following itinerary describes a range of gardens which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2019. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meals.
Ballarat - 3 nights
Day 1: Saturday 23 March, Arrive Melbourne – Ballarat
- Coach journey from Melbourne airport to Ballarat
- Cameron House – a florist’s garden, Golden Point
- 2-course Welcome Dinner in the Princes Room, Craig’s Royal Hotel
Meeting Point: Tullamarine Airport, Terminal 1, Ground Floor Arrivals Hall, at the Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop at 2.35pm.
Our private coach collects us at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport and drives to Ballarat, a city with ornate architecture, built during the prosperous days of the 1850s gold rush. First, we visit Cameron House, a quirky home garden created by Greg Block, an ex-florist with a passion for form, texture and shape. Recycled garden materials, including fronds and branches, have been transformed into beautiful sculptures which enhance a garden overflowing with potted plants, including a big collection of ferns, bonsai and topiary.
We drive to the historic Craig’s Royal Hotel, a grand boutique hotel dating to the gold rush, which will be our home for three nights.
Tonight we enjoy a 2-course Welcome Dinner in the Princes Room at the Craig’s Royal Hotel. After dinner, you may wish to take a leisurely walk through the streets of Ballarat. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) D
Day 2: Sunday 24 March, Ballarat – Trentham – Daylesford – Ascot – Ballarat
- Begonia extravaganza at Robert Clark Conservatory
- Frogmore, the flamboyant country garden of a horticulturalist and a florist, Trentham
- Spa town of Daylesford
- Lambley Nursery, the garden of horticulturalist David Glenn, Ascot
We’ll walk through colourful bedding displays and beneath mature trees in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to visit the spectacular autumn begonia display in the Robert Clark Conservatory. The showcase includes large flowered tuberous begonias in pots and pendulous varieties in baskets with perfect blooms, in a rainbow of colours and forms.
We journey on to Frogmore Gardens, which started in 2002, when florist Zena Bethell and horticulturalist Jack Marshall bought eight acres of land near Trentham. Three hectares adjoining the Wombat State Forest have been transformed into a spectacular garden, with beds overflowing with dramatic perennials and annuals in vivid, colour-themed, wide herbaceous borders. There is a separate drought-tolerant, prairie-style grass garden with a forest backdrop.
Next, we visit the charming spa town of Daylesford. Here, we wander the picturesque streets lined with boutique shops and find a café for lunch.
This afternoon we visit Lambley Nursery in Ascot, home of horticulturalist David Glenn and his wife – the artist – Criss Canning. Their gardens have been created around an old farmhouse. David has learnt to work with Ballarat’s harsh climate and has transformed barren paddocks into a beautifully designed space, overflowing with colour and structure. In autumn, the spectacular display gardens, which feature many salvias and dahlias, are looking spectacular. The striking dry garden, which is watered no more than four times a year, will supply inspiration to those gardening with limited water. David is a plant breeder; his best known release is Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’. He also trials flowers, fruits and vegetables which are on display in his bountiful edible garden. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B
Day 3: Monday 25 March, Ballarat – Denver – Blackwood – Ballarat
The day is spent in the country and our first stop is the home of Paul Bangay, widely regarded as the foremost garden designer in Australia. For more than 25 years, he has created timeless and elegant designs around the world. He will take us through his own spectacular rural garden called Stonefields, and will talk to us about the process of design as he shows us through the garden’s series of elegant and formal garden rooms. They include an entry court, front courtyard with water rill, burgundy rose garden, white garden with formal pond, apple walk, mirror image back garden overlooking the countryside and relaxed woodland garden.
Midday, we continue to the Garden of St Erth in Blackwood, where we enjoy a light lunch followed by a guided tour of the garden. The garden is built around an 1860s sandstone cottage and features espaliered fruit and heirloom vegetables. Drought-tolerant annual and perennial flowers and grasses add colour and texture to the herbaceous borders. The garden is run by the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust, which strives to conserve historic gardens and buildings and to protect heirloom seeds. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) BL
Melbourne - 3 nights
Day 4: Tuesday 26 March, Ballarat – Macedon Ranges – Melbourne
We leave Ballarat for the green heart of the Macedon Ranges to meet Bridget Robertson, who bought Bolobek – a historic working cattle property – with husband Hugh in 2006. This garden was laid out in the early 1900s and today demonstrates how a creative design style can be overlaid on an earlier garden landscape. Bolobek is on the Victorian Heritage Register because of the quality of its design, artistry and plantings. Bridget will share stories of the people that made the garden and we’ll admire its geometric design, which focuses on attractive bark, soft green foliage and white flowers.
Following a light lunch at Bolobek, we continue to Melbourne, where Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, has kindly agreed to give us a private guided tour of the gardens. Tim is a highly respected scientist and scientific communicator, with a broad interest in plants, science and gardens. He was director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust for eight years, and spent two years at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew before returning to Australia. Tim will guide you through Melbourne’s 173-year-old heritage botanic garden, described as one of the most beautiful botanic garden landscapes in the world. You’ll discover rare and unusual plants as well, as hear stories about the history and creation of this masterpiece.
In the late afternoon, we transfer to the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne, our home for three nights. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL
Day 5: Wednesday 27 March, Melbourne
It’s a ten-minute stroll from our hotel to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, the biggest and best in the Southern Hemisphere. We shall get there at 9am, as the gates open. The show is ranked in the top ten flower shows in the world and floral displays fill the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
Deryn will be joined by ASA garden leader Sabrina Hahn, best known as ABC Perth garden talkback presenter, and for her weekly chat with Trevor Chappell on ABC Radio Overnights. Deryn and Sabrina will ensure you get the most out of the show. Together, we shall take a tour of the landscape displays, meet the designers to discuss their philosophy behind their designs. Deryn and Sabrina will also highlight elements that we can incorporate in our own backyards. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) B
Day 6: Thursday 28 March, Melbourne – Yarra Valley – Melbourne
- Private Garden of Kate Herd, Alphington
- Lunch and garden tour of Alowyn Gardens by its owner, John Van de Linde, Yarra Glen
- Visit to Lubra Bend designed by Phillip Johnson, Yarra Glen
Kate Herd is an artist, garden designer and garden writer who has used her love of plants and artist’s eye to create a diverse garden on a 2.4-hectare property in Alphington (7km north-east of the Melbourne). Adjoining the 1890s house are stone-walled, terraced gardens, filled with sun loving plants which zig-zag down the slope. The family has owned the property since 1994 and Kate, who’s been wheelchair-bound since a diving accident at 16, has created a garden featuring plants that provide dramatic colour and texture, and cope with hot dry summers. Working with volunteers, she has re-established thousands of indigenous plants around the dam and flood plain, which covers 1.6 hectares of the property. The area also has a big vegetable bed she shares with her neighbours.
From Alphington we continue to the Yarra Valley, where we will hear about the creation of a garden from bare paddocks by owner, John Van de Linde from Alowyn Gardens. After three years of clearing blackberry from paddocks and improving the soil, the first tree was planted in 1999. The four-acre gardens are designed along strong symmetrical lines and include a perennial border, a silver birch forest, edible garden, and a formal parterre garden leading through to a series of small courtyards and display gardens.
In the afternoon we visit Lubra Bend, designed by Phillip Johnson – the only Australian designer to win a gold medal and a ‘Best In Show’ award for his landscape display at the Chelsea Garden Show. Here, Phillip has created sprawling wetlands from a dry garden by capturing water to sustain a network of billabongs which cascade down to the Yarra River. Land was recontoured and boulders selected and positioned by hand to create natural sculptures. Patrick Ashton, an Environmental Scientist, will explain how the garden was created. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL
Flinders - 2 nights
Day 7: Friday 29 March, Melbourne – Olinda – Cranbourne – Flinders
- Vaughn Greenhill takes us though designer Phillip Johnson’s natural billabong garden
- Jeremy Francis’ Cloudehill, a masterpiece garden in Olinda
- Homely lunch at Seasons Restaurant
- Designer Jim Fogarty gives us a tour of The Australian Garden at Cranbourne
We meet Vaughn Greenhill today as he takes us through the home garden that Phillip Johnson created at Olinda, which inspired his award-winning Chelsea garden in 2013 for Flemings Nurseries. His gorgeous garden has a sustainable billabong, surrounded by tree ferns, that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. It has a waterfall, spa and is surrounded by a garden featuring many indigenous plants.
Just down the road is Cloudehill, where a maze of stone walls and jewel-like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool-climate trees. Over the last 25, years Jeremy Francis has created a garden on deep volcanic loam and a rainfall of 1.25 metres a year, on a site that was formerly a cut flower nursery. Jeremy is a master gardener with an exquisite eye for detail and design. He will guide us to areas looking their best in autumn, including the tranquil water garden, the warm coloured perennial borders and two of Australia’s best Japanese maples. Keep an eye out for the detailed paving – few gardens do it as well as Cloudehill.
We’ll enjoy an old-fashioned, tasty lunch in Seasons Restaurant, which has windows overlooking the gorgeous Cloudehill gardens.
In the afternoon we travel to Cranbourne, where award-winning Melbourne designer Jim Fogarty, who is also a leader for ASA, takes us on a private tour of the multi-award winning Australian Garden, designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean with Paul Thompson. The garden shows the dramatic variety of Australian plants in an inspiring and immersive display of flora, landscapes, art and architecture. Set over 15 hectares, the garden follows the journey of water from the arid inland landscapes of central Australia, along dry river beds and down mighty rivers to the coastal fringes of the continent.
Our tour will take in the dramatic Red Sand Garden, Rockpool Waterway, Eucalypt Walk and exhibition gardens (all featuring Australian plants), and Jim will use his designer eye to explain the design concept and plantings.
We drive to the Flinders Hotel, home for the next two nights. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BL
Day 8: Saturday 30 March, Flinders – Sorrento – Moorooduc – Flinders
Designer Fiona Brockhoff’s Sorrento garden, called Karkalla, is more than 20 years old and showcases the importance of creating gardens in sympathy with the local environment. It is influential and much admired for the way it embraces its coastal location, modern aesthetic and sculptural use of Australian plants.
We continue to Moorooduc to visit the Garden Vineyard, which features in Monte Don’s book and television program Around the World in 80 Gardens. Architects Sue McFall and her husband Darryl are the owners of one of Australia’s finest gardens. It was created in 1986 with many European plants, but the plant palate has changed to suit our drying climate. There are several European-style rooms, including a memorable silver garden, walled courtyard, a big perennial border and a formal area flanked by lilly pillys. The terrace overlooks a lawn that rolls down to a garden with only Australian plants, and the adjoining lawns lead to a display of maples in the glorious red foliage of autumn.
Designer Rick Eckersley’s sustainable garden, Musk Cottage, is on a ten-acre block and was purchased to showcase a different way of creating gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. It combines Australian plants with others that suit a low maintenance, no-water garden. He describes it as a ‘multicultural melting pot’ of plants and wants the garden to look like it might have occurred naturally. Boggy areas have been transformed into a wetland in a 12-year-old garden that continues to evolve and mature.
Jim Fogarty welcomes us to his beach house in Flinders. He will talk about how the design was inspired by indigenous shapes of moving water and waterholes, and will address the design challenges, including a small budget and a site that floods each winter. Jim worked with Charles Solomon from Garawana Creative on this project. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BL
Melbourne - 1 night
Day 9: Sunday 31 March, Flinders – Main Ridge – Red Hill South – Langwarrin – Melbourne
- Villa Lettisier, a private garden designed by Paul Bangay, Flinders
- Private Garden designed by Paul Bangay, Main Ridge
- Tour of Cruden Farm with garden manager Michael Morrison, Langwarrin
- Farewell Dinner
This morning, we visit two private gardens designed by Paul Bangay.
A love of Italy and cliff top ocean views have inspired the creation of Villa Lettisier. The house is styled on 16th-century Palladian architecture and designed to have uninterrupted views of the ocean. Paul Bangay designed the formal garden to suit the architecture and coastal site. The property’s original dairy shed has been kept as part of the site’s history and the existing cypresses, oak trees and Moreton Bay figs have created a parkland effect. A driveway provides glimpses of the house and ocean, before straightening to become a long formal approach to the forecourt in front of the villa. Both the house and garden design are perfectly symmetrical.
The second garden, in Main Ridge, has been carved into a working vineyard and is nestled into a protected valley. Three garden terraces are carved into the hill, all designed to create abundance and colour as the owners wanted to pick flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. The first terrace has a big herb garden with paving softened with interplantings of thyme, and a shaded rear garden with massed hydrangea and helleborus. The central terrace has a formal rose garden which has a vegetable garden either side, each with a picturesque structure, one a library and the other a potting shed. A long, narrow walk of white crepe myrtle, underplanted with box spheres and softened with a mass planting of catmint, adds drama to the final terrace.
After time at leisure for lunch in Red Hill South, we travel to one of Australia’s best known gardens, Cruden Farm, which was given to the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. She cherished the farm at Langwarrin throughout her long life and created a fine garden with garden manager Michael Morrison, who will lead us on a garden tour. We’ll take a stroll to the lake and walk through herbaceous borders, the picking garden, shrub walks, rose garden and famous avenue of lemon scented gums that lead to the house.
Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BD
Day 10: Monday 1 April, Depart Melbourne
- Inner-city Glen Iris garden with designer Jim Fogarty
- Fiona Brockhoff’s city garden
- Light Lunch at private residence with courtyard design by John Patrick
- Transfer to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport
This morning we learn more about the process of garden design when we reconnect with ASA leader Jim Fogarty, who will take us through a private garden he designed in Glen Iris.
Jim will take us through the owner’s design brief and explain how he came up with an attractive and traditional design that followed the owner’s instructions. They did not want a garden full of hedges, like most gardens in their suburb, and asked him to retain some of the mature trees, connect the front porch with the garden and reduced areas of red brick paving. We’ll get to see the results!
Fiona Brockhoff’s city garden which, was built by her partner David Swann, is a small, leafy design in Toorak. Its three spaces include a gravel entry courtyard, a leafy side passageway and a rear courtyard. Timber screens on the home provide a simple backdrop to the garden, which has a raised concrete tank swimming pool. It’s unusual plant palette includes striking plant combinations featuring big leafed plants like elephant’s ears, angel’s trumpets, castor oil plants and giant birds of paradise.
Following our visit, we enjoy a light lunch at a private home. The Victorian Terrace features a small courtyard designed by John Patrick.
Our tour officially ends at approximately 2.30pm, on arrival at Tullamarine Airport. BL