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. 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 meal.
Ballarat - 3 nights
Day 1: Wednesday 4 November, Arrive Melbourne – Ballarat
- Coach journey from Melbourne airport to Ballarat
- Visits to 2 contemporary gardens, hosted by local designer Paddy Milne
- 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 2.00pm.
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. We begin our tour with visits to two private urban gardens in Newington, close to the centre of Ballarat. Local designer Paddy Milne, the ‘Scape Artist’, will explain his designs and the challenges faced in creating and maintaining these gardens, which have become local icons.
The first stop is St Leger’s Close, where Paddy created Ballarat’s largest greenwall – a vertical garden positioned at the rear of a large contemporary home, complete with inground pool, spa and bluestone paving throughout. The kitchen and living room have a 180-degree view of the backyard through a wall of windows. Before the installation of the greenwall, the view was of an old timber fence with a few climbing plants past their use-by date. Using a revolutionary automated modular system, the entire space has been made to look and feel lush and welcoming, without compromising on precious space. The plant combination gives great interest with varied foliage and colour.
Nearby on Sturt Street, the second garden on our tour takes pride of place in one of Ballarat’s busiest spots. It has been a talking point for many years. The house that overlooks this triangular outdoor space has its own style and history too – the building functioned as a pub many years ago. Its iconic granite boulder fence has been at the centre of many discussions – for better or worse! The well-travelled owners wanted a ‘taste’ of Italy in the garden; this is reflected in recycled red bricks, plant choices and the three existing olive trees standing together in the lawn. Other features include pleached bay trees around the boundary to prove an ‘upside down hedge’ and the central curving arbor bringing together the narrowing sight lines toward the point of the block. It captures the water feature and pleached Tilia ‘winter orange’ in the background.
We then drive a short distance 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 hotel’s Princes Room. After dinner, you may wish to take a leisurely walk through the streets of Ballarat. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) D
Day 2: Thursday 5 November, Ballarat – Musk – Daylesford – Kooroocheang – Newlyn – Ballarat
- Musk Farm: Guided tour with Ray Robinson & Cathy Wagner; Devonshire Tea
- Spa town of Daylesford
- Private garden of Perry Lane, Kooroocheang
- Bank House Newlyn, private garden of Andrew Lowth and Nigel Smith
This morning we head north-east to Musk, near Daylesford. Here we are privileged to take a guided tour of the rarely-opened Musk Farm, with the owners, Ray Robinson and Cathy Wagner. Musk Farm began as a school; after closing down and falling into disrepair, it was purchased by Stuart Rattle in 1998. Stuart Rattle spent many years transforming the grounds into a semi-formal 3.5 acre garden comprising 14 garden rooms interconnected by paths and hedging. These are separated by the wooden trellising which has become a signature of Musk Farm. The garden design itself is striking, with axes drawing attention to particular vistas and plantings. Many rare and unusual plants are featured – these include a huge variety of hydrangeas, rhododendrons, viburnum and bulbs. Other highlights include the old school oval, which is now a wonderful hedged lawn, a rhododendron garden, woodland walks, a formal pond and a summer garden. Musk Farm is instantly recognisable by the formal motor court entrance with clipped buxus balls framing the doorway of the house. A rose arboretum has been added and, in keeping with the school-yard heritage, a clock tower. After our tour of the garden we stop for Devonshire tea.
Next, we visit the charming spa town of Daylesford. Here, there will be time to wander the picturesque streets lined with boutique shops and find a café for lunch at leisure.
Not far from Daylesford is the private home of artist and designer Perry Lane, at Kooroocheang. The garden is a naturalistic garden with a difference. Perry’s primary interest was to integrate the garden with the broader landscape and allow the plants, to some extent, to colonise where they wanted, so that the natural rhythm of the seasons can be observed with minimal intervention. He usually cuts the whole garden to the ground in early spring and then doesn’t interfere until the following year, aside from watering to keep things alive when necessary and removing plants that have grown too far over the paths. The planting is dynamic and changes dramatically from year to year, depending on the seasonal conditions and which plants have self-seeded. Nothing is pruned or deadheaded so by autumn there are hundreds of dried flowers and seed pods, which provide structure and protection over winter and the following year’s volunteer seedlings. This approach allows a more full experience of each season, the garden being a part of, not insulated or separate from, its environment. Paddy writes, “Kooroocheang has a subtle beauty and atmosphere that will reward contemplation and I look forward to welcoming visitors to experience a different kind of garden.”
A leisurely drive brings us to Bank House Newlyn. Bank House once served as the National Bank of Australasia’s Newlyn branch, but now, the historic weatherboard cottage is a country home set in an extraordinary garden. Andrew Lowth and Nigel Smith, with a nod to English landscape and perennial gardening, have created a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, combining formal structure and exuberant and rare plantings in a romantic garden design. Behind the house, a gentle slope leads to a series of surprises concealed behind hedges of hornbeam, privet and japonica. Formal allées are juxtaposed with woodland glades and walks, a meadow garden and a lush, ornamental vegetable garden. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B
Day 3: Friday 6 November, Ballarat – Denver – Ballarat – Ascot – Ballarat
Our first stop today is the home of Paul Bangay, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost garden designers in Australia. For more than 25 years, he has created timeless and elegant designs around the world. Paul will take us through his own spectacular rural garden, 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.
We return to Ballarat, where there will be time for lunch at leisure.
This afternoon we visit Lambley Nursery in Ascot, home of horticulturalist David Glenn and his wife, 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 spring, the spectacular display gardens are a rich tapestry of colour. 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
Lancefield - 2 nights
Day 4: Saturday 7 November, Ballarat – Trentham – Macedon Ranges – Lancefield
- Private garden of Simon Rickard, Trentham
- Lunch in the gardens of Bolobek
- Bolobek, a historic garden with designer flair: visit with owner Brigid Robertson
This morning we depart Ballarat for Trentham to visit the private gardens of Simon Rickard. Simon’s home garden was never intended for public display. It was conceived as a private space where he could test new ideas, plants, and combinations before foisting them on his unsuspecting clients, as well as indulging his plantsman’s love of the rare and unusual. Simon’s challenge has been to cobble these eclectic tastes into something coherent and beautiful.
We leave Trentham for the green heart of the Macedon Ranges to meet Brigid 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. Brigid 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.
In the late afternoon, we transfer to Cleveland Winery in Lancefield, our home for two nights. (Overnight Cleveland Winery) BLD
Day 5: Sunday 8 November, Lancefield – Mt Macedon – Lancefield
- Full day in Mt Macedon hosted by Stephen Ryan, including Tugurium, his home garden
We spend the day with Stephen Ryan, nurseryman, plant collector and former host of ABC’s Gardening Australia. Stephen will show us a number of private gardens in the Macedon Ranges including his 25 year-old home garden, Tugurium, which includes a woodland area beneath a eucalypt canopy, an orchard with a circular lawn, vegetable garden, perennial border and pond. The garden is filled with a collection of rare and unusual plants, including species on the Plant Trust National Plant Collections Register. (Overnight Cleveland Winery) BLD
Euroa – 2 nights
Day 6: Monday 9 November, Lancefield – Strath Creek – Creightons Creek – Euroa
- Waiora, Strath Creek
- Private garden of Bryan & Paula Gurry, designed by Paul Bangay: Guided Tour with Paula Gurry
The building of a new garden at Waiora, a six-and-a-half-acre property in Strath Creek in 2016, was broadcast by ABC TV’s Dream Gardens program in January 2018. Stewart and Sandra Hart moved to the property, which is surrounded by hills that provide a striking backdrop, after losing a nearby house and garden in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire. They developed the 1930s home’s informal west and north gardens themselves and commissioned designer Paul Bangay to create a more formal garden to the south and east of the home. It includes a pool, a lawn, a patio with wisteria and flowering borders with roses, lavender and iris.
We continue to Creightons Creek, where Paula Gurry will show us around her garden. Designed by Paul Bangay in 2009, the garden was inspired by Paul’s own property in Woodend. The main drive is flanked by horse paddocks and a picturesque lagoon, and a long avenue of plane trees leads to a forecourt bounded by a rosemary-hedged retaining wall. The home overlooks the lagoon, a large lawn, and the distant hills.
From Creightons Creek we transfer to nearby Euroa, where we shall stay for the next two nights. (Overnight Euroa) BLD
Day 7: Tuesday 10 November, Euroa – Terip Terip – Avenel – Longwood – Euroa
- Lakithi: Guided tour with designer Gail van Rooyen
- Lunch at Fowles Wine, Avenel
- The Falls, private garden of Ian and Joan Ball, Longwood
We begin the day with a visit to Bryan and Gail van Rooyen’s ‘Lakithi’, which means ‘our home’ in Zulu. Gail, a designer and botanical artist, will show us around her garden. Hailing from South Africa, Bryan and Gail bought the property in 1996 to run Angus cattle. They were drawn to the rolling hills, granite rocks and plentiful water supply. The garden covers more than 3 hectares with its expansive lawns and abundant plantings. It is a symphony of colour in springtime.
We transfer to Avenel to indulge in lunch at award-winning Fowles Wine. The restaurant serves local and seasonal dishes created from the region’s freshest produce, crafted to complement the estate’s wine. We shall enjoy lunch, sample the wine and take a moment to admire the Phillip Johnson-designed cellar door.
Our final visit for the day is to The Falls, owned by Ian and Joan Ball. This working farm and country homestead is set at the foot of a spectacular granite ridgeline; the garden overlooks a natural waterfall with views out to the landscape beyond. Andrew and Elly Cameron, who purchased the property in 1967, planted many trees, including Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair tree), Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese elm), macadamia and avocado groves. There are also cork oaks, birches, and magnificent native trees. The more recent garden spaces, designed by Robert Boyle and shaped by the current owners, feature extensive stone work, an ornamental lake and contemporary plantings of roses and perennials. (Overnight Euroa) BLD
Warburton – 1 night
Day 8: Wednesday 11 November, Euroa – Coldstream – Mt Evelyn – Kilsyth – Olinda – Warburton
- Ridgefield, designed by Robert Boyle
- Kuranga Native Plant Nursery: Introduction by Sandra McMahon
- Sandra McMahon, Gardenscape Design: Private tour of Sandra’s Kilsyth residence and garden
- Phillip Johnson‘s natural billabong garden, Olinda
Today we depart Euroa and travel south to the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges. Our first stop is Ridgefield, the private garden of Warwick and Paulette Bisley, at Coldstream. Designed by Robert Boyle in 1997, the garden has since evolved in response to the climate and local wildlife. Here, elegant walkways lead down a terraced hillside with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The formal part of the garden has box hedges, salvias and penstemon and clipped westringia balls, while abundant plantings of roses provide a breathtaking sight in spring and autumn. Shrubs, perennials, courtyards, and colonnaded terraces surround the house and a birch walk leads to a crab apple lawn, a croquet lawn and a walled garden. We have morning tea on arrival before taking a tour of this remarkable garden.
We continue south a short way to Mt Evelyn, where we have lunch on arrival at Kuranga Native Plant Nursery. Sandra McMahon of Gardenscape Design will then introduce the nursery to us. Sandra is a landscape designer whose work has been featured regularly in the print media and on television; her gardens have been open to the public through various open garden schemes, and in the biennial Garden Designfest since its inception. She also lectures in landscape design and plant selection at the Burnley Horticultural Campus of the University of Melbourne.
We then transfer to Kilsyth, where Sandra will host us on a visit to her private home and garden.
Today’s last visit is to 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 and spa and is surrounded by a garden featuring many indigenous plants. (Overnight Oscar’s on the Yarra, Warburton) BLD
Flinders - 2 nights
Day 9: Thursday 12 November, Warburton – Nayook – Neerim South – Jindivick – Flinders
- Country Farm Perennials: Garden and Nursery with Merryle Johnson
- Picardy Garden: Guided tour with owner Marian Soames & light lunch
- The Garden at Broughton Hall
Today we travel to Nayook to visit Country Farm Perennials. A 2.5-acre private country garden, the property also hosts one of Australia’s leading plant nurseries for unusual and hardy perennial plants. The garden features carefully colour-designed compartments, combining unusual perennials, heritage roses, mature trees, bulbs and perfumed plants. It has beautiful mountain and rural views over the rolling green hills of West Gippsland.
We head south a short distance to Picardy Garden, a romantic country garden. It was designed by Marian and Bryce Somes to complement a French-style rammed earth house and mudbrick barn and dovecote. ‘Paint box’ beds at the front of the house – a homage to Monet’s garden at Giverny – are crammed with roses, iris, poppies and sweet peas in spring. More roses surround a circular lily pond, while crabapple and dogwood walks lead to rambling gardens of old-fashioned roses. A herb garden, small vegetable potager, apple orchard, olive and citrus groves complete the picture.
‘The Garden at Broughton Hall’ was started in 1996, with the planting of Betula Pendula and Betula Nigra in a two-acre area of lawn at the front of the Hall. This is now a dense forest, cut through by a winding driveway leading to the front entrance of the house. On the north side of the hall, meanwhile, a terraced garden cascades down the slope towards the Tarago Reservoir, which provides a picture-perfect backdrop. A dazzling variety of plants and thousands of roses fill the banks dramatically, making spring a perfect time to visit.
We drive to the Flinders Hotel, whose accommodation ‘Quarters’ is our home for the next two nights. (Overnight Quarters, Flinders Hotel) BL
Day 10: Friday 13 November, Flinders – Sorrento – Moorooduc – Dromana – Flinders
This morning we drive to designer Fiona Brockhoff’s Sorrento garden, Karkalla. 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, widely considered to be one of Australia’s finest gardens. It features in Monty Don’s book and television program Around the World in 80 Gardens. Architect Sue McFall and her husband Daryl are the owners. The garden 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.
Our final visit of the day is to Heronswood, in Dromana. Heronswood is a historic property situated on two hectares of formal gardens, with a breathtaking view over Port Philip Bay. It is home to five separate vegetable gardens, extensive plantings of flowers, including perennial borders, dry climate and cottage annual gardens. A feature of the garden is the integration of vegetables and flowers with fruits and herbs. Heronswood is the home of the Diggers Club, Australia’s most respected gardening organisation, dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds and the best gardening traditions. (Overnight Quarters, Flinders Hotel) BL
South Yarra, Melbourne – 1 night
Day 11: Saturday 14 November, Flinders – Main Ridge – Langwarrin – Toorak – South Yarra
- Private Garden designed by Paul Bangay, Main Ridge
- Tour of Cruden Farm with garden manager Michael Morrison, Langwarrin
- Fiona Brockhoff’s city garden
- Farewell Dinner, Da Noi
We begin the day visiting another garden designed by Paul Bangay. This delightful 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
We head north to Langwarrin to visit 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 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.
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. Its 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.
Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight South Yarra) BLD
Day 12: Sunday 15 November, South Yarra – Hawthorn – Depart Melbourne airport
- Visits to two inner-city private gardens with landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw
- Light lunch at the home garden of landscape architect John Patrick
- Transfer to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport
This morning landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw will show us two of his urban garden designs in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. We then transfer a short distance to John Patrick’s home garden, where John will host us for a light lunch.
Our tour officially ends at approximately 3.00pm, on arrival at Tullamarine Airport. BL