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