WHEN IT COMES TO ROSES, Brookhaven gar­den on the out­skirts of Delo­raine in north­ern Tas­ma­nia, has them in abun­dance. Not your tame gar­den va­ri­eties but wild and thorny shrubs, ram­blers and climbers that cas­cade down the hill­side or tum­ble from pur­pose-built per­go­las. If you stand still, they may en­gulf you. In sum­mer and au­tumn when the roses are in full bloom, the scent is over­whelm­ing and the jewel-like colours of­fer a vis­ual feast. The gar­den flows across a hill­side and down to a lake. It re­cently spread to in­clude a small is­land in the lake. Beyond the gar­den is the lush, rolling green agri­cul­tural land­scape of north­ern Tas­ma­nia. Be­hind is the ma­jes­tic Quamby Bluff. Plant­ing started at Brookhaven some 14 years ago with the clear­ing of a hill­side of gorse. The hard work has con­tin­ued ever since. The re­sult is an as­ton­ish­ing gar­den main­tained by Tom Lyons and part­ner Fraser Young, a re­tired sur­geon. Tom says he pictures his gar­den in his imag­i­na­tion be­fore plant­ing it in the soil and it is con­stantly evolv­ing. The gar­den is the set­ting for the cou­ple’s mod­ern house and stu­dio. The old farm­house, which stood on the flat part of their 26-hectare block, was beyond re­pair and was de­mol­ished. “Rather than re­build­ing on that site it made sense to de­mol­ish what was left of the old build­ing and start again on the hill­side, leav­ing the flat part of the farm for crop­ping and a lake, with the rough ground for the gar­den,” Tom ex­plains. Work­ing with Ho­bart ar­chi­tect Bruce Glanville, the pair de­signed their home and stu­dio to make the most of the site and soak up the north­ern sun. There are a se­ries of decks that over­look the gar­den and con­nect the two pav­il­ion-like struc­tures. It’s pos­si­ble to see most of the gar­den from the house, but once out­side, walk­ing is the only way to dis­cover this vast space. As well as be­ing crossed by paths, the gar­den is di­vided by hedges, con­ceal­ing the plant­ings. The hedg­ing was started when Tom planted a long row of hakeas to block out the road that snakes along one bound­ary. More hedges fol­lowed, roughly di­vid­ing the hill­side into three ar­eas. He then made rough mown grass paths across the prop­erty. De­spite the scale of the gar­den and its con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion, Tom has never com­mit­ted a de­sign to pa­per. In­stead he walks the kilo­me­tre or more of paths that criss­cross the site, ob­serv­ing the flow of the gar­den and the progress of plant­ings. New ideas ger­mi­nate and blos­som on his daily walks. The gar­den is an ex­pe­ri­ence to be en­joyed walk­ing from one vista to the next be­fore fi­nally reach­ing the lake. In open ar­eas trees cast shade across the grass paths. On windy days — and there are many in this part of north­ern Tas­ma­nia, lo­cated amid the strong winds of the Roar­ing For­ties — the hedges form pro­tected mi­cro­cli­mates and pro­vide much needed shel­ter for the plants. >

Tom says he had a long-held pas­sion for roses but it was when he went to a talk by lo­cal rosar­ian and au­thor Su­san Irvine, who spoke about Scots roses, that he re­alised what sort of rose gar­den he wanted to cre­ate. “She men­tioned a book by Mary Mc­mur­trie called Scots Roses of Hedgerows and Wild Gar­dens,” Tom re­calls. “She de­scribed a hill­side gar­den planted with broad sweeps of wild roses, heath and cis­tus.” With those words he had the vi­sion for his gar­den and soon enough he also had a copy of Mary Mc­mur­trie’s book. In­spired by her rose de­scrip­tions and beau­ti­ful wa­ter­colour il­lus­tra­tions, he be­gan broad-brush plant­ings of species, her­itage and David Austin roses. Tom has also planted many climbers in­clud­ing his favourite ‘Sander’s White Ram­bler’. While this gar­den is a rose-lover’s par­adise, it is more than roses. Cher­ries and crabap­ples (both mem­bers of the rose fam­ily) also star along with massed birch, bud­dleia, cop­pices of wat­tles and re­cently planted New Zealand kowhai trees (Sophora mi­cro­phylla). In late win­ter and spring daf­fodils car­pet the ground, while in sum­mer tall spires of lupins and fox­gloves make colour­ful clumps among the roses. In one area a stand of or­na­men­tal cher­ries and crabap­ples has been hid­den within a hedged gar­den to sur­prise vis­i­tors. In­cluded here and in pock­ets through the rest of the gar­den, is Tom’s favourite crabap­ple, Malus ioen­sis ‘Plena’. But, of course, roses are the main fo­cus, and the climb­ing roses are man­aged on large and or­nate tim­ber ar­bours. Re­al­is­ing he wanted ar­bours that were strong enough to sup­port the ram­pant rose growth, yet could also be gar­den fea­tures, Tom called in lo­cal crafts­man and builder Paul No­or­danus to cre­ate ar­bours that were both func­tional and dec­o­ra­tive. Paul used sal­vaged wood and other tim­ber for the struc­tures, then carved flour­ishes and dec­o­ra­tive de­tails. Paul’s prac­ti­cal and artis­tic con­tri­bu­tions ex­tend to the wooden gates he built through­out the gar­den. The glo­ri­ous chicken coop is also his handy work, as is the Cal­i­for­nian red­wood boathouse be­side the lake. Com­plet­ing the boathouse at the edge of the lake drew Tom’s at­ten­tion on the is­land at its cen­tre, which is known as Eto­line’s Is­land (named for Fraser’s mother, who in turn was named af­ter the Alaskan is­land Etolin). That patch of land is now fes­tooned with roses, flow­er­ing an­nu­als and peren­ni­als. Such a large gar­den, par­tic­u­larly one planted with big, very thorny roses, could get out of con­trol with­out reg­u­lar main­te­nance. In­deed Tom and Fraser spend much of their time work­ing out­doors. The large swathes of lawn and broad grass paths are cut reg­u­larly with a ride-on mower, while un­even ar­eas are kept in check with a brush­cut­ter. Win­ter is prun­ing time at Brookhaven and with so many roses to be cut back, this isn’t a task that’s tack­led with small se­ca­teurs. Much of the prun­ing is done with a hedge trim­mer.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT A small bridge con­tin­ues the gar­den path around the out­side of the lake; Eto­line’s Is­land is filled with flow­er­ing plants in­clud­ing fox­gloves; a close-up look at ‘Win­drush’ flow­ers; Tom on the pon­toon boat, which he uses to reach the is­land; grass paths criss­cross the wild gar­den; a ‘Blush­ing Pierre de Ron­sard’ rose; hard at work in the gar­den.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM ABOVE RIGHT The boathouse, crafted by Paul No­or­danus from red­wood tim­ber milled from a fallen tree; Paul also made the gates through­out the gar­den; the striped ‘Sen­ti­men­tal’ rose; a ram­bling rose bush be­side the hen house; a glimpse of the lake with its boathouse and is­land; a ‘Sander’s White Ram­bler’ rose; Tom be­side the Key­hole Gate. He walks through his large gar­den ev­ery day.

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