Can you believe this stunning property, called Tulip Top, is designed, planted and cared for by two people… Pat and Bill Rhoden.
Twenty years ago, when they lived in Canberra, Pat and Bill had won awards for their suburban garden…so when they retired they decided to find a bigger property and to really indulge their passion for gardening.
They now have a wonderful spring garden on 10 acres (four hectares) just north of Canberra at Sutton.
It seems incredible to me that Pat and Bill manage this property on their own, their son helps with some gardening, and their daughter organises the administration when Tulip Top opens in spring.
They are now 70 years old, and still propagating, pruning, weeding, mowing, sowing, and doing all the other maintenance jobs
……so I can just stop complaining about my knees after a day of gardening!
Twenty years ago they began by planting various trees. To form a canopy for the garden they have English and Chinese elms, conifers (excellent wind breakers) and eucalyptus trees are all in the mix..
Weeping willows give an early spring lace green effect..
The one thousand flowering trees took my breath away…
They have crab-apple, peach, cherry, apricot, quince and plum trees.
A particularly eye-catching tree is the Double Flowering Peach tree..
The Australian Garden History Society has showcased the progress in the garden with photos and articles near the entrance to the gardens..
…here is a short summary of Pat and Bill’s year of gardening..
The garden is open to the public for four weeks in spring (the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October)
In November they lift the bulbs, which are labelled and stored in crates. (500 000 bulbs at last count).
Then two weeks worth of pruning trees..
After a Christmas and holiday break, Pat and Bill begin again in February. They re-shape the beds, add fertilizer, and make sure the PH in the soil is right.
They check bulb catalogues, and trial about 10 to 12 new cultivars each year.
In early autumn the tulips go into cold storage.
Tulip planting begins in May for a six week period….right into our winter, June. As they can’t plant until the soil thaws in the winter mornings, Bill says sometimes they have to work in the dark to make deadlines.
Tulips are planted en masse, with early, mid and late varieties.
Everything is covered in sugar cane mulch…this offers protection against the birds and frost, and saves on watering and keeps the weeds down..
Pat says that World Favourite has always been a good performer for them. In the evening light, the red and yellow tulip looks as there is a light burning inside it.
Paul took a photo of this beauty, but unfortunately we don’t know its name…
This lovely apricot coloured tulip is called Actrice
Do you have a favourite tulip?
I just love all red tulips, and they bloom in the most difficult parts of our garden..
and the white tulips….
One very good reason to plant white tulips in our garden is that cockatoos don’t pick white flowers quite as readily as others (apparently)
…..and if you are looking for some bling, how about this one, aptly named Fabio!
One of the many kind volunteers said that Bill and Pat don’t get much sleep the week or two before opening but they are quoted as saying “just seeing the joy visitors get out of coming to Tulip Tops is the biggest reward for us”
Many thanks to Bill and Pat for a wonderful day..
The gardens are open in the last two weeks of September, and the first two weeks of October. (the beginning of spring in Canberra)