About The Garden
The garden at Chestnut Brae was planted around 2004 by the then owners Graeme and Marilyn Wells. Graeme’s passion was salvia and heritage roses. We are told that the garden was one of the best and largest collections of salvia in the state.
Gardens and gardening is one of our passions, so we have worked at restoring the garden and John has replanted a number of salvia and more roses along with a selection of plants that are unusual in this region, including a Gunnera that he is nurturing.
One of Linda’s passions is edible gardening and so Linda has inter planted edibles, and particularly herbs for culinary as well as medicinal purposes, in amongst the ornamentals. Plus there is the kitchen garden – we like to source more unusual varieties and heirloom varieties of vegetables for our kitchen garden. What we have found though is that heirloom varieties are heirloom for a reason – they are not easy to grow. Subsequently we have had mixed success. Whenever we travel overseas we buy heirloom varieties, we always declare these at customs as we want to protect our beautiful countries vegetation, and accept that probably 50% of what we have purchased will not be allowed into the country. We are happy to be able to bring the other 50% into the country and are even more excited if they actually grow.
A Walk around the Garden
John has prepared the following information so that you can take a walk around the garden and use this for identification along the way.
As you approach the Old Homestead and the garden area you will see two tall Sweet Gums, Liquidambar styraciflua . Sheltered by the two Liquidambar is a small Japanese Maple Acer palmatum.
Nearby on the other side of the driveway and providing shade for the Harvester Shed is a large Coral Tree, Ethyrina variegata.
Walk south to the bottom of the steps and the blue arches. On the left, just in front of you is a large Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo. This member of the heather family produces fruit and flowers at the same time and the fruit can be used in jam making. Proceed up the steps under the blue archway and take the first turn left to walk along the grass strip. Along this strip you will discover a variety of heritage roses, salvias and other perennial plants. The orange poppies are Californian Poppies Eschscholzia californica. These delightful plants seed naturally in the garden.
At the end of the strip you will be facing a large conifer that turns red in autumn and winter. This is a juvenile form of Cunnighamia, Cryptomeria japonica Elegan. We say juvenile with tongue in cheek, most Cunnighamia’s turn adult when they are around 6 metres tall, this one has carried on producing juvenile foliage, even though it is probably over 12 years old. Now turn towards the shed.
Proceed right and go up past the duck pen and the chook pens and walk up the drive towards the shed. Just in front of the shed is one of the largest European Ash, Fraxinus excelsior you will find in the State. This must have been one of the first plantings on the farm and we suspect it was planted for shelter.
Return back down from the ancient Ash across the lawn and take the top grass strip walking towards the top of the blue arches, you will pass many unusual plants ,including fig, Lilac and heritage roses and you will see that we like to plant edibles in amongst the ornamental plants.
Now walk down the steps and back to where you started this walk then head around to the front of the old Homestead. There you will find three unusual trees. There is a silver birch, Betula pendula and a large Golden Ash, Fraxinus excelsior Jaspidea near the house. Between the Old Homestead and the new Farm House is a Claret Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvannica.
From here, pause and look towards the large south dam and you will see three Bunya Bunya Pines, Araucuaria bidwillii. These trees are related to the Monkey Puzzle tree, originating from Queensland they produce the biggest cones in the world. The cone is a favourite with aboriginal communities in the region. They harvest the nut, burn the nut to remove the arsenic on the outside of the cone and then ground them to make flour.
From the Bunya Bunya pines walk back up towards and past the “chook “pens and you will view the western sweet chestnut orchard. The European sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, is a remarkable tree. One that grew on Mt Edna in Sicily was the largest tree and the oldest in the world. It had a circumference of 74 metres, but alas it was damaged by human activity in the 19th century and is now a smaller tree. We have 1000 stunning trees in the orchard that were planted in the 1980’s bio dynamically.