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 and a Cryptomeria.
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. We seek our heirloom varieties of vegetables and herbs for our gardens as we feel it is so important to preserve the biodiversity of plants and animals. The range of seeds readily available is shrinking and finding organic and heirloom seeds we believe is vital. Hierloom varieties are heirloom for a reason – they are not as easy to grow or produce as prolifically as modern F1 hybrid varieties. But where modern varieties are raised because they are more prolific or bigger or easier – the old heirloom varieties are often tastier and more interesting and certainly provide a wider range of species. 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 which is now Chestnut Cottage Farmstay, you will see our Labyrinth on the north side. If you would like to take a walking meditiation in the Labyrinth you are most welcome. Next to the Labyrinth you will see two tall Sweet Gums, Liquidambar styraciflua, these two trees are stunning in Autumn with their multi coloured leaves . Sheltered by the two Liquidambar is a small Japanese Maple Acer palmatum (which has gorgeous autumn colours) near our meditation garden and statue of Quan Yin.
Nearby on the other side of the driveway and providing shade for the tractor and Harvester Shed is a large Coral Tree, Ethyrina variegata.
Walk south past the Chestnut Cottage to the bottom of the steps and the blue arches. Originally these steps led from the original dairy (which is now Chestnut Cottage) up to the original farmhouse (which burnt down many decades ago). At the base of the steps on your left, in front of Chestnut Cottage 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 and walk along the first lawn strip. Along this lawn strip you will discover a variety of heritage roses, salvias and other perennial plants. The orange poppies are Californian Poppies Eschscholzia californica and the red poppies are Opium Poppies Papaver somniferum and there is also the Remembrance Poppy Papaver rhoeas. These delightful plants seed naturally in the garden.
At the end of the strip you will see in front of you a large conifer that turns burgundy in autumn and winter. This is a juvenile form of Cunnighamia, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’. 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 poultry pens and walk up the drive towards the grading and packing shed. Just in front of the shed is one of the largest European Ash, Fraxinus excelsior you will find in the State. This was one of the first plantings on the farm and it was planted around 80 years ago next to the original farmhouse (which burnt down 60 or 70 years ago).
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 David Austin 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 Chestnut Cottage farmstay. There you will find three unusual trees. There is a silver birch, Betula pendula and a large Golden Ash, Fraxinus excelsior Jaspidea in front of the farmstay. Between Chestnut Cottage and the new farmhouse is a Claret Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvannica. In Autumn the golden colour of the Golden Ash and the deep burgundy colour of the Claret Ash are stunning.
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 grind them to make flour. We have been told the nuts are delicious roasted.
From the Bunya Bunya pines walk back up towards and past the poultry 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 Etna 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 800 stunning trees in the west orchard and 200 chestnut trees in the east orchard that were planted bio-dynamically in 1985 by Scot named John McBain. John named the farm Chestnut Brae: Brae is a Scottish word meaning hillside.