During November our Queensland branch of 'Heritage Roses in Australia' (HRIA) toured gardens at Warwick, Glen Innes, Tamworth and then enjoyed the St.Peters garden weekend in Armidale where 10 gardens were on display.
Once again hanks goes to Barbara and Vic Beerling for the research and organization which made this trip so successful. For our part after an extra night at Armidale we travelled on to Mt Wilson via the Upper hunter and Bylong Valley to Mt. Wilson in the Blue Mountains.
For Queenslanders the European trees in New England and the Blue Mountains, the Acers, Oaks, Elms, Liriodendron, copper Beech, Poplars, Willows and conifers such as Norwegian Spruce are are visual contrast to what we see around us at home. Shrubs such as the Rhododendrons, Kolwitzias, Laurels, Crabapples and Peonies are also new experiences for Queensland eyes.
The exuberant growth of so many fabulous roses reinforced how difficult our aspiration for rose growing is in the sub-tropics. However, I did notice a conspicuous lack of the sort of old tea, china and noisette roses which grow in our climate.
The heritage rose garden established at 'Pringle Cottage' at Warwick is a credit to the society who manages this historic precinct. We stayed at 'Guy House' with some beautiful gardens in Warwick.
At Glen Innes we visited the beautiful country gardens of Eileen Landers and her son next door.
In cattle country near Tamworth we visited an extraordinary garden of Evelyn Loseby with collections of all sorts including roses, iris, pelargonium and elegantly displayed large cacti of all sorts.
The tour was a marvellous and varied experience, in perfect weather. Unexpected pleasures came from our visit to Nundle with its working woolen mill and the wonderful hospitality of Sue and Rob Bedford and their neighbours with a bar-b-que for the HRIA group at their beautiful garden in Armidale.
We hired a car while the others travelled in a hired bus and at Armidale we stayed at Lindsay House overlooking the beautiful park and cathedral precinct. Our car enabled us to enjoy a wonderful afternoon at the house and garden of Saumarez Homestead at Armidale and visit Booloominbah House in the grounds of the New England University.
It is quite a long step to Mt.Wilson from Armidale (and home again) but the roadside scenery was dramatic and always wonderful to see. Towns such as Scone, Murrurundi and Rylstone on the way there and back, including Tenterfield of course, had some surprisingly good cafes. The industrial landscape around Lithgow is dramatic in itself.
At Mount Wilson we stayed at the old teachers cottage and met Tim Gow who had agreed to show us around. Luckily for us the bush was full of wild flowers including both red and white waratah and the beautiful Mountain Ash. The large 19th century hill station gardens at Mt.Wilson are so special as to defy description. Very few people actually seem to live there, there are no shops , cafes and almost no one around. The silence is deafening.
We visited 'Bebeah' (Tim Gow was staying at Bebeah Cottage) with 12 acres of manicured garden rooms, century old oaks, a large ornamental lake and collections of Rhododendron, Maple, Azaleas (including Mollis Azaleas) and much more. The owner Barry Byrne was apparently away.
Next we went to 'Withycombe' yet another extraordinary collection of fine old, European trees ornamental shrubs, lawns and terraces around a beautiful house encircled by verandahs. Yet again the owners were not home sadly.
At 'Merry Garth' yet another garden, the result of 30 years of expert plant collecting, where, this time, Keith Raines but sadly not Libby Raines was at home. With views to the valleys far below 'Merry Garth' contains an enormous variety in many genus including alpine species, Rhododendrons, Maples and the remarkable Kalmias.
Storm damage, which was not so obvious to us had dramatically affected some residents such as the owner of 'Wynstay'. Mt. Wilson had lost part of its historic avenue of Elms. We visted St.Georges Church and yard with its ancient tree ferns and the dramatic stony Wynnes lookout.
We visited 'Sefton Cottage' with its stone walls and may beautiful shrubs and perennials. With a camera each our collection of photographs was expanding by this stage.
At 'Windyridge' the beautifully diverse terraces, steps, ponds and paths contained a wild variety of ornamental plants in excellent condition. As always no owner around but we did find a gardener to speak to.
Now we love our quiet at Montville but the degree of isolation and even loneliness at Mount Wilson made it quite a relief to visit Mt.Victoria and then on to Katoomba and the unmissable view from Echo point. At Leura we even found a present for our grandson Leo.
In spite of all the diverse beauty we saw in those elevated cold climate gardens we are so glad to live and garden at Montville in Queensland.