LIV­ING LEG­END

JOIN MAG­GIE BEER FOR A TOUR OF ONE OF AUS­TRALIA’S GREAT­EST GAR­DEN TREA­SURES

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SEANNA CRONIN

There’s noth­ing hap­haz­ard about Cru­den Farm. On Vic­to­ria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, the prop­erty was lov­ingly looked af­ter for more than eight decades by Dame Elis­a­beth Mur­doch.

Ev­ery tree on the 54ha site has a story and a pur­pose, whether it was planted by Dame Elis­a­beth her­self, her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren or as a gift.

Few peo­ple have had the op­por­tu­nity to plant an acorn and see it grow into a ma­ture oak tree like Dame Elis­a­beth did.

“I first came here as a hor­ti­cul­ture stu­dent and com­ing to meet Dame Elis­a­beth was a great hon­our,” land­scape de­signer Paul Ban­gay says.

“My favourite thing in the gar­den is the oak tree. Dame Elis­a­beth planted it nearly 90 years ago. It’s hard to imag­ine some­one who planted an oak tree and saw it to ma­tu­rity.

“Not many peo­ple get to live in their own gar­den for 80 years.”

Now those trees and the vast, colour­ful ar­ray of plants and the wildlife they at­tract are giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, de­light­ing young and old through pub­lic open days.

In Fox­tel’s new one-hour doc­u­men­tary In­side Dame Elis­a­beth’s Gar­den, cam­eras cap­ture the gar­den in all its splen­dour through­out the four sea­sons and the hard work that goes on be­hind the scenes to keep it that way.

Michael Mor­ri­son was just 27 when he started as a part­time gar­dener at Cru­den Farm. Now, 48 years later, he’s the cus­to­dian to Dame Elis­a­beth’s le­gacy and is still car­ry­ing out her wishes to the let­ter.

“In her later years she was very anx­ious to hand it on in good con­di­tion to the fam­ily look­ing af­ter the trust,” he says.

“She was a very strong­minded per­son with plants. She didn’t like things to look self­con­scious or em­bar­rassed in the gar­den, as she put it.

“She loved the age and the wood of old trees. She con­sid­ered them nat­u­ral sculp­tures.”

The doc­u­men­tary cul­mi­nates in the 90th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions fea­tur­ing a morn­ing tea menu by Mag­gie Beer, who was in­spired by the plants in Cru­den’s pick­ing gar­den.

“It was a joy to ex­pe­ri­ence it (the gar­den) with Paul,” she says.

“By the time I’d fin­ished walk­ing through the gar­den I knew what I wanted to do.

“She made her own lemon­ade so I made lemon­ade scones. The toma­toes were grow­ing in be­tween the roses, so I had to do some­thing with tomato that was savoury but sweet savoury.

“To have Dame Elis­a­beth leave this for the pub­lic to have the chance to come is tes­ta­ment to her.”

In­side Dame Elis­a­beth’s Gar­den airs tonight at 7.30pm Qld, 8.30pm NSW on The Life­style Chan­nel

NOT MANY PEO­PLE GET TO LIVE IN THEIR OWN GAR­DEN FOR 80 YEARS

Paul Ban­gay and Mag­gie Beer in a scene from the doc­u­men­tary In­side Dame Elis­a­beth's Gar­den.

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