Open Gar­den: Glenalta, SA.


The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE -


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


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.


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.


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

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