Fairy­tale End­ing

A Vic­to­rian gar­den cre­ated from scratch has been nur­tured and en­joyed for 45 years.

Australian House & Garden - - Content - STORY Jackie Brygel | STYLING Beckie Lit­tler | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY An­nette O’Brien

Vis­i­tors to Chris­tine and Ian Jel­bart’s gar­den in north-east Mel­bourne need no prompt to stop and smell the roses. Brim­ming with fairy­tale beauty, it’s an ever-fra­grant and colour­ful feast for the senses. “The gar­den changes through­out the year and there’s al­ways some­thing flow­er­ing,” says Chris­tine.

The multi-level sanc­tu­ary that flour­ishes on the prop­erty today is a world away from its bald be­gin­nings. Built in the late 1940s by Ian’s fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, Kin­loch – a gra­cious manor-style home with Tu­dor fea­tures – was for many years miss­ing its equally im­por­tant part­ner: a gar­den.

“We moved to the prop­erty when I was six,” says Ian, a re­tired ar­chi­tect. “It was the era af­ter the war, so there wasn’t a lot of money, and much of the mud­brick and ren­der house was built by hand with very ba­sic pul­leys. The prop­erty was orig­i­nally on 250 acres [101 hectares], but has since been sub­di­vided; the main house is now on an acre and a half [6000m2].”

Born in France, Chris­tine met Ken in Lon­don, mar­ried him in Aus­tralia and moved to her new home of Kin­loch in 1973. “The place was quite bleak,” she says. “There was no gar­den to speak of when I ar­rived, ex­cept for one climb­ing rose bush that was planted by Ian’s grand­mother 75 years ago,” says Chris­tine. “That bush is still here today and it’s lovely.”

Chris­tine has ded­i­cated much of the past four decades to cre­at­ing and nur­tur­ing a Euro­pean-in­spired gar­den that en­hances the home and forms a pic­turesque land­scape for it to nes­tle in.

Play­ing a key role in this scheme are a num­ber of old-fash­ioned roses, which Chris­tine loves for their shape and colour, as well as their scents. She has a fond­ness for David Austin va­ri­eties and has planted many – along with climb­ing roses – in var­i­ous shades of pink and white.

‘We’ve held two fam­ily wed­dings in this gar­den, which were both beau­ti­ful.’ Chris­tine Jel­bart

ABOVE The south­ern fa­cade has the sym­me­try of a clas­sic parterre gar­den. Bushes of English laven­der, with stan­dard Ice­berg roses in the cen­tres, are bor­dered by box. Blue-flow­er­ing wis­te­ria is trained along the ex­te­rior walls and un­der the slate roof. Urn, Had­don­stone.

OP­PO­SITE Clipped English clock­wise from top left laven­der and box top­i­ary balls frame a long view of a sculp­ture near the en­try. Nod­ding spikes of fox­gloves ( Dig­i­talis). Dou­ble mock orange ( Philadel­phus). Rosa ‘ Bor­dure Nacrée’ with but­ter­fly-at­tract­ing Nepeta ‘ Six Hills Gi­ant’. A web-footed vis­i­tor – “We get lots of ducks on the prop­erty,” says Ian – in front of flow­er­ing French laven­der, with pink ‘Feli­cia’ and white Ice­berg roses in the back­ground. A del­i­cate poppy emerges. Pas­tel ‘Jude the Ob­scure’ roses against the feath­ery fo­liage of love-in-a-mist.

Ian has also been in­stru­men­tal in shap­ing the gar­den. Over the past 30 years, he has in­tro­duced the ter­raced lev­els that fea­ture so strongly today. “The ter­rac­ing works in well with the hill­top lo­ca­tion,” he ex­plains. “It’s been very much a work in progress.”

He and Chris­tine have learnt a lot about plants and what thrives in the lo­cal cli­mate. “Many of our plants are de­cid­u­ous and tra­di­tional, so we need a lot of top­soil and mulch,” says Ian. “It can be a bat­tle if it’s not a na­tive gar­den, but that’s what you do with your life – you try to cre­ate some­thing of beauty.”

De­spite their ef­forts, the gar­den has had its chal­lenges. “The soil in this part of Mel­bourne is not the best; it’s clay, and that can be a prob­lem for some plants, al­though it’s ac­tu­ally good for roses,” says Chris­tine. “Pe­ri­ods of drought have also been ter­ri­ble but, thank­fully, many of the roses sur­vived. The gar­den did come back to life and I think it’s ac­tu­ally bet­ter than ever now.”

In­deed, it’s a thriv­ing col­lage of roses, aro­matic laven­der, bellflower, hy­drangeas and mock orange, as well as tow­er­ing maple and oak trees. Lush wis­te­ria drips off the house and from per­go­las fram­ing peb­bled paths. Ex­panses of lawn are bor­dered by im­mac­u­lately pruned box hedges, cre­at­ing the sense of sep­a­rate out­door rooms. Sil­vered tim­ber bench seats po­si­tioned un­der shady canopies of­fer quiet spots for con­tem­pla­tion and the en­joy­ment of lo­cal birdlife and, of course, the in­cred­i­ble blooms.

Over the years, the prop­erty has been the per­fect venue for big fam­ily func­tions. “We’ve held two wed­dings in this gar­den, which were both beau­ti­ful,” says Chris­tine.

Now grand­par­ents, she and Ian are mov­ing to France to be closer to fam­ily, though Kin­loch will al­ways be in their hearts. “The gar­den in­volved a lot of love and hard work, but has given us so much plea­sure,” says Chris­tine, re­flect­ing on the mem­o­ries. “In that sense, we will be tak­ing it with us.”

ABOVE LEFT A cot­tage gar­den bed on the north side of the prop­erty, com­posed of French laven­der, Nepeta, fox­gloves, pen­ste­mon and ‘Eglan­tyne’ roses, with de­cid­u­ous Vir­ginia creeper grow­ing along the brick wall.

ABOVE RIGHT Brick pav­ing de­lin­eates this out­door din­ing space on the eastern side of the house. At left, ‘New Dawn’ and ‘Nancy Hay­ward’ roses climb. For sim­i­lar chairs, try Dun­lin. Table­cloth, Bon­nie and Neil.

OP­PO­SITE A thick canopy of wis­te­ria above this tim­ber bench cre­ates a pri­vate bower.

“It’s so lovely when the wis­te­ria is flow­er­ing, and it smells delicious,” says Chris­tine. Lemon-tinged ‘La­mar­que’ roses, an old-fash­ioned climb­ing va­ri­ety, bloom re­peat­edly through­out the sea­son. For Where to Buy, see page 221.

‘Pe­ri­ods of drought have been ter­ri­ble, but the gar­den did come back to life and it’s bet­ter than ever.’ Chris­tine

Wide steps to the terrace add a sense of grandeur to the manor-style home. Own­ers Chris­tine and Ian cre­ated the gar­den from noth­ing. Chris­tine’s roses in­clude fra­grant ‘Pene­lope’ over the per­gola and pot­ted David Austins by the steps. “At one time, we must have had 200 va­ri­eties,” she says. Benches, Schots Home Em­po­rium.

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