The following itinerary describes a range of gardens which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (May 2020) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission from the garden owners or may depend on the designer’s availability, which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2021.
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 meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Ballarat - 3 nights
Day 1: Saturday 20 March, 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: Sunday 21 March, Ballarat – Ascot – Clunes – Kooroocheang – Ballarat
- Lambley Nursery, the garden of horticulturalist David Glenn, Ascot
- Historic Clunes
- Private garden of Perry Lane, Kooroocheang
- Art Gallery of Ballarat
This morning 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.
We drive to the charming gold rush town of Clunes. Its well-preserved streetscapes have been used as locations for many Australian films and TV shows, and each year it hosts a popular weekend fair for bibliophiles in its role as an ‘International Book Town’.
Not far from Clunes 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.”
On our return to Ballarat we visit the Art Gallery, Australia’s oldest regional gallery and home to an excellent collection of Australian art from the colonial era to the present. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B
Day 3: Monday 22 March, 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.
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.
This afternoon we travel to near-by Musk. 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 before returning to Ballarat. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B
Melbourne - 3 nights
Day 4: Tuesday 23 March, Ballarat – Macedon Ranges – Melbourne
- Tugurium, private garden of Stephen Ryan
- Bolobek, a historic garden with designer flair
- Lunch in the gardens of Bolobek
- Ard Rudah: Guided tour with Stephen Ryan
We leave Ballarat for the green heart of the Macedon Ranges where 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.
Midday we 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, Stephen will take us on a private tour of Ard Rudah. Also located at Mt Macedon, Ard Rudah is a significant heritage-listed garden originally designed by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller in the 1870s. Many of the original plants are still highlights of the garden, including a Copper Beech that is over 30 metres tall and an enormous Linden tree. The garden features a sunken Italianate walled garden built during the 1930s by architect Christopher Cowper, a woodland of giant oaks and sycamores carpeted in spring by bluebells, an enchanting creek which runs beneath moss-covered stone bridges through a fern gully, and a magnificent maple walk.
In the late afternoon, we transfer to the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne, our home for three nights. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL
Day 5: Wednesday 24 March, Melbourne
- Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (subject to confirmation later in 2020)
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. We take a tour of the landscape displays and meet the designers to discuss their philosophy behind their designs. Deryn will also highlight elements that we can incorporate in our own backyards. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) B
Day 6: Thursday 25 March, Melbourne – Yarra Valley – Kilsyth – Melbourne
We begin the day visiting Fiona Brockhoff’s city garden. Built by her partner David Swann, this 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.
We continue to the Yarra Valley, where 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. Our guide, Daniel Lorenz will explain how the garden was created.
From Lubra Bend we travel 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.
Kuranga Native Nursery is arguably the most impressive and lovely native plant nursery in Australia, set, as it is, in tranquil surroundings at the base of Mt. Dandenong. It certainly has this country’s largest range of Australian native plants. Display gardens and potted stock provide inspiration, and showcase the diversity of form, texture, and colour that exists within native plants. As well as the acclaimed Paperbark Cafe, the nursery also offers a wonderful range of unusual and eye-catching sculptures and garden ornaments, decorative gifts and books.
We then transfer to Kilsyth, where Sandra will host us on a visit to her private home and garden, Woodcote. Woodcote illustrates Sandra’s approach to landscape design. The emphasis here is on plant material for structure, and this garden showcases a very broad range of plants. There is also some inspiring hard landscaping. It is a garden of informal rooms, set on half an acre, and wraps around the very interesting Arts & Crafts Revival home. Much thought has been given to the transition between the different areas in the garden. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL
Flinders - 2 nights
Day 7: Friday 26 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 27 March, Flinders – Sorrento – Moorooduc – Main Ridge – Flinders
- Tour of designer Fiona Brockhoff’s coastal home garden, Sorrento (subject to confirmation)
- Visit and lunch at The Garden Vineyard, one of Australia’s finest gardens, Moorooduc (subject to confirmation)
- Private Garden designed by Paul Bangay, Main Ridge
- Talk on using indigenous plants in design by Jim Fogarty at his beach house
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.
Our next visit is to 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.
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
South Yarra, Melbourne - 1 night
Day 9: Sunday 28 March, Flinders – Langwarrin – Jindivick – Melbourne
- Tour of Cruden Farm with garden manager Michael Morrison, Langwarrin
- The Garden at Broughton Hall, Jindivick
- Farewell Dinner, Da Noi
This morning 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.
‘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.
Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight South Yarra) BLD
Day 10: Monday 29 March, 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