Open Garden: Glenalta, SA.
55 Old Carey Gully Road, Stirling, SA Open this Sunday only, 10am-4.30pm Entry $8, under-18s free Gardener: Carolyn Armstrong for owner Geoff Stewart
DESCRIBE THE GARDEN:
Glenalta is a historic garden set on a 32ha property of pasture and rural paddocks in the Adelaide Hills. The garden of about 1ha is dominated by deciduous trees planted more than 100 years ago. It is heritage-listed because it’s one of the few remaining intact examples in SA of a 1920s garden. Premier John Downer established the property after he spotted a row of Lombardy poplars along a creek in 1863; they are now 40m tall. His son JF Downer further developed the garden in the 1920s, and then it expanded under Henry Rymill, who owned it until 1972. When the current owner bought it 28 years ago, it was overgrown and neglected. Periwinkle and ivy were rampant, the creek banks were crumbling and dead branches blocked the stream. Despite this, it exerted a magical appeal. Preserving and enhancing that magical quality is a high priority.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL:
The grand, century-old deciduous trees include oaks, elms, poplars, lindens, ginkgo and magnolia. They provide interest in every season — vibrant new growth in spring; deep, cool shade in summer; blazing colour in autumn; and distinctive silhouettes in winter. The diversity of the garden is amazing, with a collection of unusual shrubs and plants from Europe, Asia and the Americas, typical of hill station gardens of the era. Huge candlebarks, indigenous to the area, line the driveway.
Maintenance. Caring for old trees requires regular pruning and good quality, regular
water. We’re lucky that we have a creek-fed lake and a bore. Thanks to regular applications of composted manure and leaves, the soil is now a rich loam.
I love the perennial flower border, which is 2m-3m wide and about 20m long. It is colour themed down the length from whites and blues to yellow to orange to red, then purple and pink. It’s a horticultural challenge to keep it looking good and get the combinations right. The roses, lilies and dahlias should be in flower, and the pineapple lilies behind the pool.
YOU HOPE VISITORS WILL:
Appreciate the diversity and how much big trees can cool the property in summer.
The grass terraces in front of the house create a sense of arrival. The Secret Garden features romantic plants such as roses and pretty annuals and perennials, with period timber arches and seats. Through the woodlands there are lovely views to the new lake.
Tea and cakes for sale; plant stall. Funds raised go to Team TLC, a charity for early onset dementia.
Glenalta is heritagelisted because it is one of the few remaining intact examples in South Australia of a 1920s garden