The Weekend Australian - Life - - GARDENING - Lubra Bend 135 Simp­son Lane, Yarra Glen, Vic­to­ria 10am-4.30pm, en­try $10, un­der 18 free Owner Rose­mary Simp­son


I have a coun­try prop­erty in the Yarra Val­ley of 121ha, with a large gar­den that runs down to 4km of river frontage. A drive­way kilo­me­tres long of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views of the coun­try­side as you en­ter. It mar­ries a 60-year-old tra­di­tional gar­den with a con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian gar­den, de­signed and built by Phillip John­son five years be­fore he won best in show at Lon­don’s Chelsea Flower Show. He cre­ated a 600m cas­cade run­ning down to the river, with mas­sive rocks, a lushly planted bil­l­abong and over­flow­ing pools sur­rounded by tough, dry-tol­er­ant na­tives. The bil­l­abong is fed by wa­ter col­lected off the roof; so­lar pan­els run the pumps. When my late hus­band and I came here in 2000, we in­her­ited a mar­vel­lous but derelict gar­den of camel­lias, mag­no­lias and roses that took five years to re­store. To the long per­gola cov­ered in ‘ La­mar­que’ roses, we added a Seville or­ange walk. The orchard has an orig­i­nal mag­nif­i­cent fig tree, now joined by six other fig va­ri­eties, plus nec­tarines, peaches, apri­cots, pears, quinces and ap­ples. A small olive grove and large veg­etable beds are nearby.


Mar­garet Stokes spent 50 years here, plant­ing things that do well. She was a won­der­ful gar­dener. She col­lected acorns at the Mel­bourne Botanic Gar­dens and planted about 100 oaks around the house gar­den and as wind­breaks. They are mar­vel­lously tough: af­ter the fires went through them they just started up again. She also planted cop­per beech, English ash and claret ash. I’ve added jacaran­das and

Gre­vil­lea ro­busta to give me a thrill, re­mind­ing me of Syd­ney Har­bour where I grew up. I also adore banksias so there are huge num­bers of those in the dry gar­den.

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